Clinton 2159
Sanders 1370
 Needed   2383
Trump 955
Cruz 562
Rubio 171
Kasich 153
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Trump Might Have Trouble Finding a Running Mate

Donald Trump has antagonized so many Republicans that he might have trouble finding a running mate if he is the GOP nominee. Even Republicans he hasn't denounced may be very loath to run with him. On the upside, if they win, they get a job that is not worth a bucket of warm piss. If they lose, they are tarred forever as being an accomplice to the possible destruction of the Republican Party. The usual incentives, (1) the president might give you something useful to do and (2) in eight years, you are well positioned to run for the top job yourself, are really absent on a ticket with Trump. Newt Gingrich and Ben Carson have offered their services, but they have no value at all for Trump. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani are probably available, but neither of them is used to playing second fiddle. Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK) has told associates she might be game, but she isn't sure. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) might be willing to risk it, but he brings nothing to the ticket.

For any candidate, the Veep pick is the first decision he or she makes in the general election and it sets the tone. The problem for Trump is that he has such a small pool of people able and willing to run with him. In contrast, almost every Democrat in the country young enough to be viable in 2024 would be willing to join Hillary Clinton. She has a huge pool to choose from, including 44 Democratic senators and 18 Democratic governors. (V)

Gender Hurts Trump but Doesn't Help Clinton

Using modern technology, political scientists at UCLA and Vanderbilt University, are running an experiment to see how ads focusing on gender affect people. Every week they send 1,000 people ads to watch and rate in real time on their computers using tools from several tech companies. A few weeks ago they tested the now-famous "Quotes" ad, which simply consists of women quoting Donald Trump's statements on women. The ad made 83% of the people who saw it angry and decreased Trump's net favorability by a massive 22 points. Expect Hillary Clinton to be running variants of this ad until November.

The other side of the coin is positive ads by Clinton showing that she is a strong woman. It had much less impact and many people didn't like the ads. It lowered her unfavorability by 10 points but raised her favorability by only one point.

Imagine you are Hillary Clinton's media director and you have absorbed the message: Negative ads against Trump are very effective; positive ads for your candidate have much less effect. What would you do? Trump doesn't need a study by two professors to tell him to go negative. That's all he knows. Be sure you have your mud goggles on before turning on the TV this fall. (V)

How Trump Will Attack Clinton

Clinton can attack Trump in the general election by either playing clips of him saying insulting things or having actors do it. What about the other way? How will Trump attack Clinton? Jonathan Easley, writing in The Hill, offers a five-pronged attack strategy for Trump, roughly as follows:

  • Brand her "Crooked Hillary," who operates by her own rules and ignores those that apply to everyone else
  • Go after Bill's infidelities as examples of sexual assaults to put her on the defensive
  • Claim the 68-year-old Clinton is too old and too weak for the job, even though Trump is 69
  • Attack her on foreign policy, specifically Iraq, Benghazi, and her refusal to use the term "radical Islam"
  • Hammer her on trade in general and NAFTA in particular for costing U.S. jobs

Expect a brutal campaign. (V)

Trump May Mention Monica Lewinsky

Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson was on MSNBC Friday, and she warned that Donald Trump just might bring up Monica Lewinsky during the general election. Pierson suggested that the ball is in Hillary's court on this point, declaring that, "This came about because she called Donald Trump a sexist. It boggles my mind that if a woman is criticized, all of a sudden that makes you a sexist."

First of all, let's get one thing straight. Donald Trump is definitely going to bring up Monica Lewinsky, early and often, during the campaign. Clinton could take a page from Marcel Marceau and conduct her entire campaign in mime, and Donald Trump would still bring up Lewinsky. So the supposed tit-for-tat here is a phony one.

Beyond that, Pierson's position involves some truly remarkable leaps of logic. Criticizing a woman does not automatically earn someone a "sexist" label; if so, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would have been described as such many months ago. Donald Trump is being called a sexist because...he is a sexist. Second, the only connection between Monica Lewinsky and Donald Trump's sexism is that they both involve women. It is quite a feat for Pierson to suggest that one implies the other and while still keeping a straight face.

In any case, we're getting a very clear preview of the logic that will guide the Trump campaign. We shall see if the nation's voters, particularly the nation's female voters, can get on board with that logic (particularly the logic that a woman is somehow responsible for her husband's dalliances). The guess here is that they cannot. (Z)

Can Trump Win the White House?

There are only so many things for pundits to write about, particularly once general election season rolls around. So, we can expect to see a veritable mountain of Trump electability pieces between now and November. CBS' Will Rahn has produced an early entry into the sweepstakes in which he argues (of course) that Trump certainly can win.

The piece acknowledges that Trump's path to victory is narrow, and says it will be built on two things: tearing Hillary Clinton down (which The Donald is good at) and pivoting hard to the left (which is more tenuous). Rahn notes that it will be very difficult for Trump to walk the very thin line that he needs to walk, particularly without alienating his current supporters, but that doing so is within the realm of possibility.

It's a wishy-washy analysis, as such pieces tend to be. It is written in a way that no matter who wins, Clinton or Trump, Rahn can say, "I was right!" Once someone gets the nomination of the Democrats or the Republicans, of course it's possible that they can win. Pointing that out adds nothing to the conversation. Nor does broad reference to a candidate's strengths or possible strategic possibilities. Getting elected to the presidency requires 270 electoral votes, and that is the vantage point from which a substantive analysis should begin.

The piece brings to mind Stewart Alsop's now-infamous profile of Barry Goldwater for the Saturday Evening Post, entitled "Can Goldwater Win in '64?" The piece spends much time outlining all of Goldwater's advantages. He is described as "simple and refreshingly forthright," with a "shirt [that] is astonishingly unstuffed," and a man who "nobody can accuse ... of pussyfooting." Alsop also praises the Arizona Senator's "public charisma—star quality [which] helped to make him, after the President, the most sought-after public speaker in the United States." The conclusion is that Goldwater can indeed win, despite having "alienate[d] all the major voting blocs in the country—labor, the aged, the teachers, the Negroes, the subsidized farmers, all the beneficiaries of the welfare state, the liberal-minded independent voters." Sounds awfully familiar.

The point is this: You don't get to be a major party nominee without having at least a few selling points and a few items in your bag of tricks. But not all selling points and not all bags of tricks are created equal, and not all of them offer a meaningful chance at election. And any "Yes, Trump can win" piece that does not engage with his daunting electoral math is not worth reading. (Z)

Another Saturday, Another Slate of Cruz Delegates

Although the GOP establishment appears to be reconciling itself to the notion that Donald Trump will be their nominee, Ted Cruz has not gotten the message. He continues to work hard to position himself for a second-ballot nomination. The latest triumph came in Virginia, where 10 of the 13 statewide delegates elected on Saturday are Cruz supporters.

Those delegates are bound to support the state's chosen nominee (Trump) on the first ballot. So, they are only of value to Cruz in votes on procedural matters, and then on the second ballot, when they would become free agents. Cruz and his staff, then, clearly think that a second ballot is still a viable possibility. Increasingly, they are the only ones who see it that way.

Unless, of course, Cruz wants to play dirty pool. He could challenge Trump's 50-person-strong South Carolina delegation on the grounds that he reneged on his promise to support the Republican nominee. On rules and credentials fights, delegates can vote as they see fit (or as they are instructed by their masters). If Cruz can replace a substantial number of Trump delegates with Cruz delegates, he might be able to stop Trump on the first ballot, but it wouldn't be pretty. (Z & V)

Indiana Unlikely to Be a Repeat of Wisconsin

The one place where Ted Cruz managed to move beyond his evangelical/social conservative base, and to attract a wide range of votes, was in Wisconsin. There, the Texas Senator was the beneficiary of a well-coordinated #NeverTrump effort, in which many Badger Staters' votes for Cruz were really a vote for "Not Donald Trump." Cruz is hoping for a repeat of this in Indiana, another big Midwestern state with a lot of rural voters. It's not likely to happen.

To start with, Indiana and Wisconsin are actually not all that similar, demographically. The Hoosier State is much rustier than Wisconsin, and many voters there find Trump's anti-trade agreement stance very appealing. In Wisconsin, Cruz had the warm support of Gov. Scott Walker (R). Indiana's governor, Mike Pence (R), finally got around to endorsing Cruz on Friday, but it was hardly an enthusiastic declaration. In fact, Pence spent much of the speech covering his bases by praising Trump, while also saying, "I'm not against anybody." And finally, the "wranglers" who pulled Wisconsin's #NeverTrump voters together were the talk radio hosts, but their colleagues in Indiana just aren't interested in doing the same. So, if Ted Cruz is going to win Indiana, he's going to have do it on his own merits, something that he has not generally had a lot of success doing. (Z)

Will Fiorina Help Cruz in California?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) ostensibly picked Carly Fiorina to be his running mate because he thinks she would make a good president if something happened to him in the White House. In reality, he picked her for no such reason. What he really wants from her is help in winning the remaining primaries, especially Indiana and California. Could she? The short answer is: No. Historically, presidential candidates picked running mates because they were thought to help in their home states. John F. Kennedy picked Lyndon B. Johnson, whom JFK thoroughly despised, for his supposed help in winning Texas, which was then a swing state. A new study indicates that the Veep might add 2-3% to the ticket in the Veep's home state. In the general election, an additional 2-3% in California won't do the trick because the state is so blue. In the primary, Fiorina might be able to help a little bit in a few congressional districts in the Bay Area.

However, there is a problem with this plan: Fiorina doesn't live in California any more. After her 2010 crushing defeat at the hands of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Fiorina moved to Virginia and Virginia's primary is long finished. Could she help in Virginia if Cruz is the nominee? Probably not, since Virginians don't see her as one of them. So there is no geographic gain at all from Fiorina. The only angle here is gender. Cruz has to hope that women who don't like him will suddenly like him after picking a woman for the #2 slot. (V)

Clinton Is Already Moving Staff to General Election Swing States

People are starting to say that the general election campaign has already started. What does that actually mean? In the case of Hillary Clinton, she is redeploying her campaign staff to states that have already voted in the primaries but which will be key swing states in the general election, especially Ohio and Florida. She already has a state director in place in Colorado, another key swing state.

The second wave of redeployments is likely to be to states that Obama won once or twice but which are very close, including Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina. Against Trump, she is likely to make a serious play for states that have been deep red for years, including Arizona and Georgia. Some polls have shown that in a Clinton-Trump matchup, Utah and even Mississippi might conceivably be in play. (V)

Why Are the Highly Educated Getting More Liberal?

A new Pew Research Center report affirms what everyone inside academia (and many outsiders) already suspected: People with graduate degrees are much more liberal than the general populace, and the gap is continuing to grow. So why is this? There are three theories currently in vogue:

  • The nation is becoming more polarized as a whole. Nearly everyone is moving further from the center than they once were, including those who were already furthest from the center.

  • Women are getting more graduate degrees. Women are more likely to lean leftward than men, and so the presence of more of them in the ranks of the highly-educated may be pulling the whole group leftward.

  • Insularity. When a person interacts with primarily like-minded people, it tends to reinforce their views and cause them to become more committed to their way of thinking. In other words, the overwhelming lefty-ness of academia creates a bubble that just keeps drifting further and further left.

The success of Donald Trump, even if he does not win, makes it likely that we will see some sort of Trump clone in 2020. Studies like this one suggest that Bernie 2.0 is also very probable. (Z)

Will 2016 Campaign Set Spending Records?

Since 2000 or so, the price tag of a major party presidential campaign has approached $1 billion. Every cycle, that number seems to increase a bit more, seemingly ad infinitum. So, are we going to break the record yet again in 2016? Maybe not, says HuffPo's money in politics specialist, Paul Blumenthal.

Blumenthal starts by observing that the candidates' spending is actually way down from 2008, when adjusting for inflation. Of course, much (but not all) of the shortfall has been made up by SuperPACs, In fact, the line between SuperPAC spending and candidate spending has been blurry in 2016, particularly on the GOP side, where candidates like Bobby Jindal and Jeb Bush delayed formally declaring their candidacies so that they could continue to work with their SuperPACs to raise money.

And once we hit general election season, spending might well decline from previous years. In part, this is because of Donald Trump, who is running a relatively shoestring campaign, and who looks likely to have trouble raising money from GOP donors. And in part it is because SuperPAC spending seems very likely to go down, since many of the wealthy folks who fund them (particularly on the Republican side) apparently plan to sit this one out. Adding it all up, it suggests that for the first time in a few cycles, we may have a nine-figure election instead of a ten-figure election. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Apr30 GOP Has Split into Ryan and Trump Wings
Apr30 Republicans Have a Big Latino Problem
Apr30 The GOP Is Losing Millennials, Too
Apr30 Model Shows That Trump Will Win the Nomination
Apr30 Republican Women Want Trump To Pick a Woman as Running Mate
Apr30 Democratic Veeps Are Nearly Always Senators
Apr30 Politico's Panel of Insiders Think Clinton Will Crush Trump
Apr30 Closed Primaries Are Not Going to Cost Sanders the Nomination
Apr30 Sanders Drops DNC Lawsuit
Apr30 Trump + Garland = Trouble for Endangered GOP Senators
Apr29 The General Election Has Already Started
Apr29 Trump Has Defined Gender as a Major General Election Issue
Apr29 Get Your Official Hillary Clinton Woman Card
Apr29 Indianapolis Star Slams Trump
Apr29 Bobby Knight Campaigns for Trump
Apr29 Large Majority of Americans Have an Unfavorable View of the Republican Party
Apr29 Trump Has Insulted 210 People, Places, and Things
Apr29 Journalist Who Profiled Melania Trump is Subjected to Abuse
Apr29 Energy Could Determine Control of the Senate
Apr28 Trump Is Very Close To a Majority
Apr28 In Hail Mary Play, Cruz Picks Fiorina for Veep Slot
Apr28 Trump Likely To Get More Primary Votes Than Any Republican in History
Apr28 Trump's Speech Does Not Impress Experts
Apr28 Latinos Registering in Record Numbers
Apr28 It's California or Bust for Sanders
Apr28 Democrats Want to Win While Republicans Want to Send 'em A Message
Apr28 Putin Has Chosen His Horse
Apr28 Clinton May Get Some Help With Doobie-ous Sanders Supporters
Apr27 Trump Goes Five-for-Five on Super Tuesday Four
Apr27 Clinton Effectively Puts Sanders Away
Apr27 Democratic Senate Primaries Go the Establishment's Way
Apr27 Trump Rejects the Idea of Being Presidential
Apr27 The Issues Favor the Democrats
Apr27 Is Clinton Thinking about Her Running Mate the Right Way?
Apr27 Trump University Case Will Go to Trial
Apr27 Sanders Is Sending Supporters a Photo of Clinton at Trump's Wedding
Apr27 Clinton Wants a Cabinet that Looks Like America
Apr26 Five States Vote Today
Apr26 Tuesday Also Has Senate Drama
Apr26 Kasich-Cruz Truce Lasted One Day
Apr26 Cruz Is Already Working on the Unbound Delegates
Apr26 Trump Hires Another Heavyweight
Apr26 Meet the New Trump, Same as the Old Trump
Apr26 Bad News for Candidate Trump
Apr26 Federal Judge Upholds NC Voter ID Law
Apr26 Oppo Research Is Now Open Source
Apr25 Kasich and Cruz Are Teaming Up
Apr25 Republican Contest Gets Uglier and Uglier
Apr25 Trump and Clinton Have Big Leads in Pennsylvania
Apr25 Trump and Clinton Have Big Leads in Rhode Island