News from the Votemaster
• Cruz Leads Trump in Wisconsin
• Trump Calls for Punishing Women Who Have Abortions
• GOP Rules Committee Members Want to Scrap Rule That Helps Trump
• It's Almost Vice President Hunting Season
• Wisconsin's Voter ID Law is a Sham
• Conservative Talk Radio Hosts Are in a Tight Spot
• Democrats Are Beginning to Dare to Dream of a House Majority
• Frank Not Enthralled with Sanders
• Sanders Ballot Controversy Much Ado about Nothing
A new Marquette Law School poll of next Tuesday's Wisconsin Democratic primary shows Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with a small lead. The poll called both landlines and cell phones. Here are the numbers.
The margin of error here was an unusually large 6.3%. In February, Clinton led 44% to 43%, so this poll suggests that some of the previously undecided voters have decided to vote for Sanders. If previous voting patterns hold, Sanders should win this fairly white state. However, winning the nomination is about winning delegates, not states, so a 5% margin will net Sanders 4 or 5 of the 86 delegates, hardly making a dent in Clinton's lead of 263 pledged delegates. (V)
Marquette Law School also surveyed Wisconsin Republicans. Here are the results.
A Cruz victory in a state with relatively few evangelicals would show that he can successfully compete with Trump way outside the South. This could foreshadow better-than-expected results for Cruz in the upcoming primaries along the Atlantic coast. Cruz has virtually no chance to acquire the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. However, if he can deny Trump a first-ballot win, Cruz could possibly win on the second or third or ninth ballot. (V)
If abortion is made illegal in some future Republican administration and the law is upheld in the Supreme Court, then a woman who had one would logically be an accomplice to murder. Republicans don't normally like to talk about that since, although quite logical, it doesn't seem to go over well with women. Donald Trump, ever the enemy of political correctness, yesterday called for punishing women who had an abortion in violation of some current or future law. The comment started a firestorm of criticism and The Donald quickly unsaid what he had just said.
Needless to say, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders condemned Trump in the strongest possible language, but so did many Republicans. Remarks like this just solidify the opposition of many women to Trump. This one remark is not fatal, but a 30-second spot filled with this and similar comments is going to be the core of the Democrats' campaign against him if he is the nominee. For this and so many other reasons, the Republican leadership is scared to death of Trump as their nominee. (V)
In 2012, Mitt Romney's delegates to the Republican National Convention created a rule saying that only candidates that had won majorities in eight states could be nominated to be President. The transparent purpose of the rule was to prevent Ron Paul from being nominated. The rule is still on the books but it could be changed by the convention's Rules Committee. Four early appointees to the Rules Committee have already come out in favor of scrapping the rule.
The obvious reason for scrapping the rule is to deny the nomination to Donald Trump and possibly also to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), both of whom the Republican leadership despises. If Trump falls a little bit short of the 1,237 delegates needed, the party poo-bahs are going to strive mightily to nominate someone else—most likely Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). However, Ryan hasn't won eight primaries, so under the current rules he would be ineligible. By scrapping the rule, the convention could nominate any person who meets the constitutional tests for being President, obviously including Ryan or, in case of emergency, even Mitt Romney. (V)
As the conventions draw nearer, and the nominees come into focus (at least, on one side of the aisle), the commentariat is turning its attention to the possibilities for the #2 slot. ABC News has a rundown of some of the possibilities that are being bandied about, along with the underlying reasoning:Democrats
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro or Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. Both would affirm Clinton-as-Obama's-third-term if she is the nominee, and both would curry favor with Latino voters.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) or Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Both would help win the hearts of progressives, which may be necessary if Clinton is the nominee, and both would help the Democrats play defense in the Rust Belt. Franken, a former professional comedian, could easily match Trump one-liner for one-liner.
Deval Patrick or Kamala Harris. Both would appeal to black voters. Not a huge need for Clinton, but definitely an area where Bernie Sanders could use help.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) or Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). They may be among the few sitting members of Congress willing to accept the slot on a Trump-led ticket. And while neither would help much geographically, they could be a useful source of advice or connections.
Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM). Might help with the Latino vote, at least on a non-Trump ticket. Then again, might not.
Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC). A rising star in the party, though given her anti-Trump SOTU response, and her twin non-Trump endorsements (Marco Rubio, then Ted Cruz), she would presumably only find a home on a non-Trump ticket. In that scenario, may help some with minority and women voters.
Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) or Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN). Like Haley, they've both blasted The Donald. Therefore, they would only be candidates for a non-Trump ticket. If Ted Cruz was the nominee, they'd offer some moderate/establishment balance.
Of course, the conventions are still pretty far away. And the parties have pulled a rabbit out of their metaphorical hats more than once in recent memory. Sarah Palin wasn't on any lists like this in March of 2008, for example. Heck, she probably wasn't on any lists like this in August of 2008. So while the next Vice President of the United States might well be on this list, they might also be the currently-unknown governor of a sparsely-populated state in the middle of nowhere. (Z)
When the Republican-controlled state legislature in Wisconsin adopted a law requiring voters to show government-issued photo ID to vote, its sponsors said the law was about stopping voting fraud. When Democrats complained that the law would most affect low-income and minority voters, many of whom lack a driver's license, passport, or any other form of ID, the Republicans said that they would fund an education campaign so that voters would know that they had to bring ID to vote. The Government Accountability Board, the nonpartisan agency responsible for educating the voters, said it would need between $300,000 and $500,000 to carry out the education campaign.
In 2012 and in 2014 again, some funds were appropriated for the education campaign, but the courts delayed the law from going into effect and the campaigns never happened. The first election where the law is in effect will take place next Tuesday, the day of the Wisconsin primary. So far, no funds have been appropriated this year and there has not been any education campaign. In fact, many Republicans in the legislature would like to abolish the board altogether.
In a 2012 court case about the law, supporters said that between 200,000 and 300,000 voters would be disenfranchised by the law. The plaintiffs said it would be more than 350,000. Chaos is expected at the polls on Tuesday as tens of thousands of voters will be turned away due to lack of an official photo ID document. To some extent, it could be worse because the resultant publicity is likely to spur many of the voters to try to acquire the necessary ID before the general election. Laws like the Wisconsin one generally provide for a free ID card (lest the requirement constitute an unconstitutional poll tax), but the documents needed to get the free ID card, such as a birth certificate, are often a major expense for poor people. Also, anyone who has no ID may have difficulty getting a birth certificate and the hours the relevant offices are open may be a barrier for people who can't just take off from work for a few hours in the middle of the day.
The net result of all this is that it is clear the state legislature never had any real interest in stopping voting fraud, which is virtually nonexistent. To the extent that it exists at all, it is about people selling their absentee ballots, and the law does not address that issue in any way. The law is really all about keeping poor people from voting and Tuesday we will learn how good it is at accomplishing its real goal. (V)
Talk radio hosts have long attacked the Republican leadership as a bunch of cowards who are afraid of their own shadows. What they mean is that Republicans in Congress won't pass constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and abortion and send them to the states for ratification. They also won't shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood, and similar things. Now they have a problem because two of the remaining Republican candidates, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both oppose the leadership. Cruz is the more conventional conservative, and at first a number of the hosts supported him, but a large number of the listeners prefer Trump. This put the hosts in a bind: Who should they rant against? Ranting is their bread and butter, so they can't just stop ranting until the convention.
In February, for example, Rush Limbaugh praised Cruz. Two days later he had to explain to Trump supporters why what sounded an awful lot like an endorsement wasn't an endorsement. Michael Savage had supported Trump for months, but recently said that if Trump won't disavow the Pecker story, he might change his mind, referring to the article alleging that Cruz has had multiple affairs that appeared in the National Enquirer, which is owned by David Pecker. Glenn Beck has endorsed Cruz and attacks Trump all the time but Sean Hannity doesn't want to make a choice between Cruz and Trump—because he knows either choice would alienate some of his listeners. (V)
If there was one thing that every political observer in the country agreed on until now, it was that the House would remain in Republican hands after the election. After all, the gerrymandering that the state legislatures did after the 2010 Republican wave was so thorough that almost no seats were in play. Now, with the real possibility that Donald Trump might be the Republican nominee and may cause many loyal Republicans to stay home on Election Day, Democrats are cautiously beginning to think about the possibility they maybe that could potentially have a small shot at recapturing the House. A year ago, such thoughts were instantly banished as absurd. Nathan Gonzales, an independent political analyst, has said that with Trump on top of the ticket, the number of House seats the Republicans will lose will be well into the double digits.
Another factor besides the 2010 redistricting is that ticket splitting has declined precipitously. In years long gone, voters were proud of saying: "I always vote for the best candidate, whether that is a Democrat or a Republican." Those days are gone. Almost everyone votes a straight ticket now and if many Republicans stay home, their votes for House candidates are lost.
Democrats are a little late to the game, though. In some districts that lean Republican but which could be in play if Trump is on the ticket, Democrats didn't bother to look for a strong candidate. In some cases, it is too late now. The Democrats' main focus will be suburban districts and those with heavy Latino populations. (V)
During his two-plus decades in Washington, Barney Frank was one of the most liberal members of Congress. He was also known for his willingness to be frank (no pun intended), even when speaking on the record. The latter tendency was certainly on display when he sat for a far-ranging interview with Slate.
Frank held forth on a wide variety of subjects, including caucuses ("the least democratic political operation in America"), Dodd-Frank (it's working "very well"), Barack Obama's presidency ("I'm on the whole supportive"), Mitt Romney ("a pretend governor"), and Antonin Scalia ("a bigot"). The biggest bombshell, however, was his unflattering assessment of Bernie Sanders:
Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments and that's because of the role he stakes out. It is harder to get things done in the American political system than a lot of people realize, and what happens is they blame the people in office for the system. And that's the same with the Tea Party.
Though Frank is widely—and correctly—regarded as a progressive, his progressivism is tempered by a certain fundamental pragmatism, as his words make very clear. The same is true of, for example, Sherrod Brown, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and certainly helps us to understand why the Vermont Senator has struggled to get endorsements from even those members of Congress with whom he is 95% in agreement. (Z)
For a few hours on Wednesday, a story was circulating that, due to a paperwork snafu, Bernie Sanders would not be appearing on the ballot in Washington, D.C. Various news outlets pounced on the story, using it either as a case study in Democratic incompetence ("Sanders off the DC primary ballot after Dems bungle paperwork," read one headline), or else as incontrovertible proof of an anti-Sanders conspiracy ("Bernie Sanders Dropped from D.C. Ballot Due to Democratic Party 'Error,'" read another.)
Of course, these stories are not correct. Yes, there was a minor paperwork snafu (primarily the result of the Sanders campaign submitting their documentation very close to the deadline) but the issue will be resolved long before the citizens of the capital cast their ballots in June. And really, anyone who thought the Party would find it necessary to give Hillary Clinton an underhanded assist in a city where nearly all of the voters are either career politicos or are black has not been paying attention. Just a little reminder that in today's scoop-driven media environment, stories that don't pass the smell test should be taken with more than a few grains of salt. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
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Mar30 Democrats Go After Trump's Campaign Manager
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Mar29 Rubio Removes Himself from the California Ballot
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Mar28 White People Love Sanders
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Mar28 Grave Criticism for Trump
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Mar28 Trump Wins Blue States and Sanders Wins Red States
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Mar27 Jan 20, 2017 Under President Cruz
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Mar25 Can Trump Hit 1,237 Delegates?
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Mar25 Cruz Calls Trump a Sniveling Coward
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