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House of Representatives prediction: Aug. 23, 2016

OnTheIssues.org prediction: Republicans hold their House majority by 2 seats

The mainstream media is full of reports of how the U.S. House of Representatives might turn Democratic, because national polls show that Democrats are ahead, perhaps by enough to make up the 30-seat deficit they currently suffer. That sort of prediction is ridiculous.

Smart voters know that national polls are irrelevant to individual House races -- the only way to analyze House races is by making predictions in individual districts. Just about everyone in the mainstream media is too lazy or too ignorant to undertake that analysis, because it is hard work. We at OnTheIssues.org have done the district-by-district analysis, which we present below, followed by our scoring criteria so you can apply your own analysis later.

    Our summary prediction first. Currently the GOP holds a House majority of 30 seats.
  1. Category A: First we list 24 Republican-held districts where we predict a Democratic win.
  2. Category B: Then we list 18 Republican-held districts where we make a 50-50 chance of a Democratic takeover, meaning we predict that 9 will turn Democratic. That totals to 33 districts turning from Republican to Democrat -- which is enough to overcome the current 30-seat Republican majority.
  3. Category C: But finally, we list 5 Democrat-held districts where we predict a sure Republican win -- which means a net 28 turnovers, 2 shy of the majority.
    Category A: 24 Republican-held districts where we predict a Democratic win
  • Arizona 2 (R+3) Martha McSally loses to Victoria Steele
  • Colorado 6 (D+1) Mike Coffman loses to Morgan Carroll
  • Florida 10 (D+9) Dan Webster switched to FL-11; takeover by Val Demings
  • Florida 13 (D+3) David Jolly loses to former Gov. Charlie Crist
  • Florida 26 (Even) Carlos Curbelo loses to former Rep. Joe Garcia
  • Illinois 10 (D+8) Bob Dold loses to former Rep. Brad Schneider
  • Iowa 1 (D+5) Rod Blum loses to Monica Vernon
  • Iowa 3 (Even) David Young loses to Jim Mowrer
  • Maine 2 (D+2) Bruce Poliquin loses to State Sen. Emily Cain
  • Michigan 1 (R+5) Dan Benishek retiring; takeover by Lon Johnson
  • Michigan 6 (R+1) Fred Upton loses to Paul Clements
  • Michigan 7 (R+3) Tim Walberg loses to State Rep. Gretchen Driskell
  • Minnesota 3 (R+2) Erik Paulsen loses to State Sen. Terri Bonoff
  • Nevada 3 (Even) Joe Heck retiring; takeover by Jacky Rosen
  • Nevada 4 (D+4) Cresent Hardy loses to Ruben Kihuen
  • New Hampshire1 (R+1) Frank Guinta loses to former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
  • New York 19 (D+1) Chris Gibson retiring; takeover by former Gov. candidate Zephyr Teachout
  • New York 21 (Even) Elise Stefanik loses to Mike Derrick
  • New York 24 (D+5) John Katko loses to Colleen Deacon
  • Pennsylvania 8 (R+1) Mike Fitzpatrick loses to State Rep. Steve Santarsiero
  • Texas 23 (R+3) Will Hurd loses to former Rep. Pete Gallego
  • Virginia 4 (D+8) Randy Forbes lost primary; takeover by Donald McEachin
  • Virginia 10 (R+2) Barbara Comstock loses to LuAnn Bennett
  • Wisconsin 8 (R+2) Reid Ribble retiring; takeover by Tom Nelson
    Category B: 18 Republican-held districts where we predict a 50-50 chance of a Democratic takeover (net gain of 9 Democrats)
  • California 10 (R+1) Jeff Denham 50/50 chance of losing to Michael Eggman
  • California 25 (R+3) Steve Knight 50/50 chance of losing to Bryan Caforio
  • California 49 (R+4) Darrell Issa 50/50 chance of losing to Doug Applegate
  • Colorado 3 (R+5) Scott Tipton 50/50 chance of losing to Gail Schwartz
  • Florida 7 (R+2) John Mica 50/50 chance of losing to Stephanie Murphy
  • Florida 27 (R+1) Ileana Ros-Lehtinen 50/50 chance of losing to Scott Fuhrman
  • Illinois 12 (Even) Mike Bost 50/50 chance of losing to C.J. Baricevic
  • Michigan 8 (R+2) Mike Bishop 50/50 chance of losing to Suzanna Shkreli
  • Michigan 11 (R+4) Dave Trott 50/50 chance of losing to Anil Kumar
  • Minnesota 2 (R+2) John Kline (retiring); 50/50 chance of takeover by John Howe
  • New Jersey 5 (R+4) Scott Garrett 50/50 chance of losing to Josh Gottheimer
  • New York 1 (R+2) Lee Zeldin 50/50 chance of losing to Anna E. Throne-Holst
  • New York 22 (R+3) Richard Hanna (retiring); 50/50 chance of takeover by Kim A. Myers
  • New York 23 (R+3) Tom Reed 50/50 chance of losing to John Plumb
  • Pennsylvania 6 (R+2) Ryan Costello 50/50 chance of losing to Mike Parrish
  • Pennsylvania16 (R+4) Joe Pitts 50/50 chance of losing to Christina Hartman
  • Virginia 5 (R+5) Robert Hurt 50/50 chance of losing to Jane Dittmar
  • Washington 8 (R+1) Dave Reichert 50/50 chance of losing to Santiago Ramos
    Category C: 5 Democratic-held districts where we predict a sure Republican win
  • Arizona 1 (R+4) Ann Kirkpatrick (retiring); takeover by Former Secretary of state Ken Bennett (Republican
  • Florida 2 (R+18) Gwen Graham (retiring); takeover by Ken Sukhia
  • Florida 18 (R+3) Patrick Murphy (retiring); takeover byRandy Perkins
  • Nebraska 2 (R+4) Brad Ashford loses to Don Bacon
  • New York 3 (Even) Steve Israel loses to Jack Martins
    Prediction methodology
  1. We use a "meta-analysis" of looking at the averages of several polls simultaneously. Such analyses are available on Wikipedia and in numerous other sources.
  2. First we determine "competitive" districts, where several polling organizations indicate that the incumbent party might lose.
  3. Then we look at the actual opponents; they must meet several criteria:
  4. They must have a web presence (a professional campaign website, and presence in newspaper reports)
  5. They must have an "issues" section on their website (we refuse to predict any candidate can win without a platform -- and we found MANY such candidates!)
  6. They must be within "striking distance," i.e. within 4 percentage points, a typical margin-of-error on polls.
  7. Meeting those criteria "certifies" a challenger as winnable and hence in Category A; missing one puts them into the 50-50 category B
  8. Previous elective office moves a candidate upward; the scale shifts to 5 percentage points.
  9. Applying these same criteria in October might yield somewhat different results; we will re-run the analysis then, but you can re-run it yourself, including the judgment call of category assignment.

For more: Members of the House of Representatives On the Issues.

Mike Pence vs. Tim Kaine On the Issues: Aug. 8, 2016

Issue coverage of vice-presidential candidates

OnTheIssues has published on Amazon our issues-based coverage of the vice-presidential candidates in comparison to the presidential candidates. A sample:

On International IssuesTim KaineHillary ClintonDonald TrumpMike Pence
Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliensstrongly favorsfavorsstrongly opposesstrongly opposes
Support & expand free trade favorsmixed opinionopposesstrongly favors
Support American Exceptionalism strongly opposesopposesfavorsstrongly favors
Expand the military strongly favorsmixed opinionstrongly favorsstrongly favors
Avoid foreign entanglements favorsopposesfavors opposes

For more: Donal Trump & Mike Pence vs. Hillary Clinton & Tim Kaine On the Issues, by OnTheIssues.

Democratic National Convention: July 25-28, 2016

Hillary Clinton picks Sen. Tim Kaine (D, VA) for Vice President

For more: Trump vs. Hillary Clinton On the Issues, by OnTheIssues.

Republican National Convention: July 18-21, 2016

Donald Trump picks Gov. Mike Pence (R, OH) for Vice President

For more: Trump vs. Hillary Clinton On the Issues, by OnTheIssues.

One resignation, one special election, one death: June 9-30, 2016

5th resignation from 114th Congress

  • June 9: A special election was held on June 7 to replace John Boehner (R, OH-8); the winner was Warren Davidson (R) who was sworn in on June 9th.

  • June 23: Chaka Fattah (D, PA-2) resigned from the 114th Congress effective June 23, 2016, after losing the Democratic primary to Dwight Evans on April 27, 2016. The citizens of the 2nd district of Pennsylvania will hence have no representative until Nov. 8, 2016, when a special election will be held to fill the seat.

  • July 20: Mark Takai (D, HI-1) died in office; he was not running for re-election. Colleen Hanabusa is the frontrunner for November.

For more: Donal Trump (R) vs. Hillary Clinton (D) vs. Jill Stein (G) vs. Gary Johnson (L) On the Issues, by OnTheIssues.

Final Primaries: June 4-7, 2016

Hillary Clinton clinches Democratic nomination; Trump clinches GOP nomination

  • The 2016 primaries have ended, except for the District of Columbia next week.

  • Hillary Clinton has clinched the nomination whether counting the superdelegates, the pledged delegates, or the popular vote.

  • Donald Trump nowhasenough pledged delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican convention.
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on June 4,5, and 7:
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                        Hillary     Bernie     |  Donald     Ted      John     Withdrawn     Uncommitted
                        Clinton     Sanders    |  Trump      Cruz    Kasich    Candidates    Delegates
California Primary       270         199       |   169         0         0         0             0
Montana Primary           10          11       |    27         0         0         0             0
North Dakota Primary       5          13       |
New Jersey Primary        75          47       |    51         0         0         0             0
New Mexico Primary        18          16       |    24         0         0         0             0
South Dakota Primary      10          10       |    29         0         0         0             0
Puerto Rico Primary       36          24       |
Virgin Islands Caucus      6           1       |
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===       ===       ===          =====
Total elected delegates on Final Primary, June 4-7:
                          430        321           300         0         0                       0
Previous elected delegates:
                        2,144      1,285           966       540       148       209            54
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         27             8        18         4        47           106
                        --------------------     ---------------------------------------------------
Grand Total:            3,041      1,633         1,274       558       152       256           160
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • Monday 18 July - Thursday 21 July 2016: Republican National Convention in Philadelphia PA

  • Monday 25 July - Thursday 28 July 2016: Democratic National Conventionin Cleveland OH

  • Thursday 4 August - Sunday 7 August 2016: Green Party National Convention in Houston TX

For more: Donal Trump (R) vs. Hillary Clinton (D) vs. Jill Stein (G) vs. Gary Johnson (L) On the Issues, by OnTheIssues.

Libertarian Party Convention: May 28-29, 2016

Libertarians nominate two former Governors

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson seized the Libertarian nomination for president at the party’s national convention this weekend and escaped a hotly contested convention with his hand-picked running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.

The pair form a political team of two former Republican governors that Johnson declared to be the most formidable third-party ticket in the modern era, one that he promised would thrust Libertarians from the fringe of American politics to “major party status” in a period of widespread mistrust of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

With Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton registering as two of the least liked and most mistrusted politicians in the country, many Libertarians see an opening — and a desire — for an alternative. And Johnson is the only other candidate likely to appear on the ballot in every state.

Raising more money is supposed to be the big advantage of selecting Weld, who served as a fundraiser for Mitt Romney. “He really likes fundraising and he’s connected,” Johnson said. “And I really hate fundraising and I’m not connected.”

Their goal, in particular, is to loosen the wallets of the many disaffected and libertarian-leaning Republicans turned off by Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and shifting policy stands by offering them an alternative of two former Republican governors.

Most potential financiers of a Libertarian ticket understand the goal isn’t so much to win the White House but to spread their limited government, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, anti-war, pro-drug legalization message into the national consciousness.

“There’s no question that both Trump and Clinton are polarizing but for people to choose Gary Johnson they need to know that he’s running,” said Roger Stone, who advised Johnson’s Libertarian bid in 2012 and is now a supporter and informal adviser to Trump. “Four years ago, 75 percent of the voters told us they wished there was another choice. Well, there was another choice it’s just that nobody knew about it.”

Sources: Politico.com, "Can Libertarian nominees Gary Johnson and Bill Weld siphon votes from Trump?", By Shane Goldmacher, 5/29/16
Click for issue stances of presidential nominee Gary Johnson (L-NM) and vice-presidential nominee William Weld (L-MA).

Cruz and Kasich withdraw: May 3-10, 2016

Donald Trump becomes the presumptive Republican nominee

  • Ted Cruz and later John Kasich suspended their campaigns after losing the Indiana primary.
  • Donald Trump hence becomes the presumptive nominee, and a contested Republcan convention is avoided.
  • Bernie Sanders won the Indiana primary and then the West Virginia priamry, and declined to withdraw depiste the mathematical inevitability of his loss.
  • Hillary Clinton hence becomes the presumptive nominee also, but will politely allow Bernie to continue the race until some later date.

                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on May 3-10
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      John    Withdrawn    Uncommitted
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz    Kasich   Candidates   Delegates
Guam Primary                9          3       |
Indiana Primary            46         44       |    57         0         0          0            0
Nebraska Primary                               |    36         0         0          0            0
West Virginia Primary      19         17       |    34         0         0          0            0
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===       ===        ===        =====
Total elected delegates on May 3-10:
                           74         64           127         0         0          0            0
Previous elected delegates:
                        2,144      1,285           966       540       148       209            54
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         27             8        18         4        47           106
                        --------------------     ---------------------------------------------------
Grand Total:            2,685      1,376         1,101       558       152       256           160
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • We turn our attention to the general election with our paperback book "Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton On the Issues".

  • How do the two presumptive nominees compare on the issues? Forget about polls; forget about politicking; -- what would Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each do as president? This book digs up Hillary's and Donald's issue stances on over 100 key issues, from voting records, debates, memoirs, biographies -- all of the sources that the mainstream media SHOULD investigate, but never do. An ideal book for actually answering serious questions about issue stances and policy plans -- keep it on your coffeetable to spark a conversation, or bring it to events to answer substantive questions.
For more: Trump vs. Hillary Clinton On the Issues, by OnTheIssues.

Acela Primary: April 19-26, 2016

Hillary Clinton clinches Democratic nomination; Trump claims to clinch GOP nomination

    Did they clinch their nominations? (The answer is YES for Hillary, but Bernie says no; the answer is NO for Trump, but Trump says yes).

  • These contests were called "the Acela Primary" because the Northeast Amtrak "Acela" train goes through each of these states.

  • The New York Primary on April 19 was a blowout for both home-state residents Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

  • The other 5 states (all smaller than New York), on April 26, solidifed the lead of both Trump and Clinton. Both are now claiming to be their party's "presumptive nominee."

  • The mainstream media reported that Bernie Sanders "won" the Rhode Island primary because he won the popular vote 55%-43%. But Hillary won the delegate count (including 9 superdelegates); that's the only count that matters so we report that.

  • Pennsylvania has LOTS of "Uncommitted Delegates" -- and we also counted up the other states, too (many states have SOME uncommitted delegates). An "uncommitted delegate" means they are elected in the primary, but they don't say who they commit to voting for, at the convention. It's effectively the same as "superdelegates" on the Democratic side, but we count them separately because they're in the news.
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on April 19 & 26
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      John     Withdrawn     Uncommitted
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz    Kasich    Candidates    Delegates
Connecticut Primary        42         26       |    28         0        0                        0
Delaware Primary           17          9       |    16         0        0                        0
Maryland Primary           77         35       |    38         0        0                        0
New York Primary          178        108       |    90         0        5                        0
Pennsylvania Primary      116         75       |    17         0        0                       54
Rhode Island Primary       20         13       |    11         3        5
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===       ===       ===          =====
Total elected delegates on Acela Primary April 19-26:
                          450        266           200         3        10                      54
Previous elected delegates:
                        1,694      1,019           766       537       138       209
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         27             8        18         4        47           106
                        --------------------     ---------------------------------------------------
Grand Total:            2,611      1,312           974       558       152       256           160
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

    On the Republican side:

  • Donald Trump claims after this big victory to be the "presumptive nominee." Certainly, he is the "prohibitive frontrunner," but NOT assured of winning on the first ballot at the convention.

  • It is now impossible for Ted Cruz to win on the first ballot (if all of the remaining delegates went to Cruz, he'd still come up shy of the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch). And it's been impossible for Kasich for a while now.

  • But it is still not a sure thing that Trump will reach the "capture point" of 1,237 delegates: he COULD do it, if he wins most of the remaining primaries, but it's not a sure thing.

  • Trump's assertion that he is the "presumptive nominee" REALLY means that he will enter the convention with a large plurality of delegates, and if he is NOT nominated, he'll scream that the system is "rigged". He's right -- it IS rigged -- but Cruz may play the rigged rules to his favor.

  • The day after the Acela primary, Cruz announced that Carly Fiorina would be his V.P. choice -- playing to women voters and California voters for the upcoming primary there (the largest in the nation).

    On the Democratic side:

  • Hillary Clinton is now, in fact, the "presumptive nominee," but she has not asserted so, because it would insult Sanders' supporters.

  • Hillary this week exceeded the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, if the superdelegates are counted. Without the superdelegates, Hillary has not yet clinched -- but will do so in a couple of weeks.

  • Bernie Sanders points out that superdelegates might change their loyalty, so they should not be counted. Sanders has enough campaign funding to continue campaigning until the convention, and promises to do so.

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for debate excerpts: Miami Democratic debate and Miami Republican debate.

Three more state contests: April 5-16, 2016

Wisconsin, Colorado, and Wyoming decided

    Yes, "stealing" delegates is allowed!
  • The Republican Colorado conventions (April 2-8) raised the same issues as the North Dakota convention: that Ted Cruz got delegates without winning the popular vote. That is true, but those are the rules! Cruz attended the conventions and wooed delegates; Trump did not; hence Cruz won.
  • Donald Trump accused Cruz of "stealing" delegates in other states, by wooing delegates at follow-up conventions where the actual delegates are assigned; that too is true, but those too are the rules! The rules are not very democratic, but they are known in advance to all campaigns. The real issue is whether Trump will woo delegates (he hired a "delegate manager" to do so); otherwise Cruz will continue whittling them away from Trump.
  • We begin this week reporting "Uncommitted Delegates" on the GOP side, since many contests (such as Colorado) elect delegates to the convention who do not have any pledged candidate. These "uncommitted delegates" are pretty much the same as the Democratic "superdelegates": they can vote for anyone at the National Convention. The pundits generally attribute these delegates to the "not Trump" column, because they don't count towards Trump's getting to the "capture" point of 1,237 delegates to win onthe first ballot.
  • Bernie Sanders won the Wisconsin primary on April 5, but not by enough to start catching up with Hillary.
  • Hillary Clinton won the Wyoming Caucus on April 9, approaching the "capture" point of half of the delegates prior to the convention.

                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on April 5-16
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      John    Withdrawn    Uncommitted
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz    Kasich   Candidates   Delegates
Colorado Convention                            |     0        34        0                      4
Wisconsin Primary          44         49       |     6        36        0
Wyoming Caucus             11          7       |
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===       ===        ===       =====
Total elected delegates on April 5-16:
                           55         56             6        70         0                     4
Previous elected delegates:
                        1,227        992           752       449       134        162
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         27             8        18         4         47        106
                        --------------------     -------------------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,694      1,019           766       537       138        209        110
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • We did some research into the question "Has this happened before?" and came up with the most interesting answer: "Yes, Abraham Lincoln's 1860 convention was very similar to 2016." Lincoln WON the nomination (and the 1860 election against a Democrat) despite losing on the FIRST ballot at the Republican convention. Here are the details from 1860, with its modern analogies, as researched from Lincoln's classic biography, Team of Rivals:

  • Abraham Lincoln (Illinois Representative) entered the 1860 convention as the underdog, and lost the first ballot 173-102. This is Ted Cruz's likely position on the first ballot. Lincoln then wooed delegates and gained delegates on each ballot; that seems to be Cruz's strategy too.

  • William Seward (New York Governor) entered the 1860 convention as the favorite, but there was a substantial "Stop Seward" movement, analogous to the "Stop Trump" movement in 2016. Seward claimed, like Trump, to be the "presumptive nominee", and hence did not attempt to woo delegates (like Trump).

  • Seward beat Lincoln on the SECOND ballot also, 184-181, but it was closer than the first ballot. Lincoln pulled ahead on the 3rd ballot, and won on the 4th ballot. Seward then became Lincoln's Secretary of State, and became most famous for "Seward's Folly" (the purchase of Alaska from Russia).

  • Three other candidates entered the convention with a significant number of delegates:
    • Simon Cameron (Pennsylvania Senator), who became Lincoln's Secretary of Defense (this is analogous to Marco Rubio's position in 2016; he STILL has more delegates than Kasich!)
    • Salmon Chase (Ohio Senator), who became Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury (this is analogous to John Kasich's position in 2016; he is likely to come in 4th place on the 1st ballot)
    • Edward Bates (Missouri Representative), who became Lincoln's Attorney General (this might be Chris Christie's position in 2016; several other former candidates do have some committed delegates too!)

  • The four leading candidates who lost in the 1860 convention all were appointed to Abraham Lincoln's cabinet -- which is where the term "Team of Rivals" comes from.

  • That is one way the 2016 GOP contest could end up: with Cruz winning and appointing the others to his Cabinet!
Sources: Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Wikipedia on the 1860 Republican National Convention.

North Dakota delegates decided: April 3, 2016

No primary; no caucus; just 28 delegates

    Not every state has a primary or caucus!
  • Each state determines their own rules for how delegates are selected for the national convention. Most states hold either primaries or caucuses, but there is no law requiring them.
  • The North Dakota GOP decided to not hold a primary or a caucus -- they simply held meetings of Republican Party members and decided which delegates to send to the convention.
  • North Dakota is not unique; the Nevada Democrats held a "non-binding viability caucus" on Feb. 20; we reported the results below as if delegates were selected, but in fact the actual delegates are chosen at a meeting like in North Dakota. The District of Columbia and several other Insular Territories do the same (and hence our delegate counts are ESTIMATES, not exact!).
  • Only recently did primaries and caucuses become near-universal: in 1972 the Democrats only held 21 and the Republicans held 19 (in other words, the majority of states decided their delegates by party insiders selecting them, rather than a popular vote). That process was often called "smoke-filled rooms," but we might see this year that, despite MORE democracy in the process, there's still lots of "smoke-filled rooms."
  • We report below the number of North Dakota delegates who have committed to one of the candidates; but in fact they are all "unbound" and not required to vote for any particular candidate at the convention.
  • The additional 19 delegates are just like the "superdelegates": they attend the convention and can vote without being "bound" to any candidate. That means the candidates will contact them regularly to ask for their support, which will become true for many more delegates too....

                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on April 3
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      John     Withdrawn
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz    Kasich    Candidates
North Dakota Convention                        |     1         8        0
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===       ===       ===
Total elected delegates on Sunday April 3:
                            0          0             1         8        0
Previous elected delegates:
                        1,227        992           751       441       134       162
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         27             8        18         4        47
                        --------------------     ------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,694      1,019           760       467       138       209
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • What does all of that political trivia mean for nominating a candidate for president? It means, at the Republican nominating convention, in this year's close race, every delegate matters, so all that political trivia matters when normally it does not.

  • At the primaries and caucuses, all that actually gets decided is the NUMBER of delegates committed to each person. The actual PEOPLE who serve as delegates are determined later, at a "state convention" where party members attend and vote for which people fill each delegate slot.

  • I will describe below the process from one such delegate-selection convention, which I attended in 2004 to elect the delegates who would represent the Boston area at the convention to nominate John Kerry.

  • I worked for the Howard Dean campaign in 2004, but Kerry won all the delegates in his home district of Boston. I organized a group of 20 Dean supporters to attend the delegate-selection convention, which would elect 6 delegates plus 1 alternate delegate (in case one of the 6 could not get to the convention).

  • The group of 20 Dean supporters decided in advance that we would all vote for a candidate from Cambridge named Mushtaque Mirza, who was a Kerry supporter, but had been supportive of our efforts for Dean. He was also a State Democratic Committee member and a long-standing party activist -- we thought he was a good choice.

  • We also planned to vote for Charles Glick for the alternate delegate position, another party activist and Kerry supporter. Charles had been my college roommate, so when he saw me there, he confided that he was part of the "Menino slate", organized by Mayor Tom Menino of Boston, and while he was happy to receive our support, his "slate" was sure to win and defeat our candidate Mushtaque.

  • Charles pointed out a group of three buses that was just arriving; the buses were filled with Russian immigrants, newly naturalized as U.S. citizens. The Russians all lived in the Allston-Brighton area of Boston; Mayor Menino had provided lots of services for them; and in return, they all agreed to come and vote for his preferred slate (and Menino conveniently provided buses and Russian-speaking "handlers").

  • Mushtaque happened to speak Russian; so when the group was seated, he addressed them in Russian, saying, "Welcome to democracy; I'd like to make the case for why I should be elected as a delegate..." Their Menino "handler" interjected in Russian, "Do not listen to this man! Your votes are already decided!" and ushered Mushtaque away.

  • Mushtaque, and all the candidates for delegate, had an opportunity to make a 5-minute speech; we planned to spend a minute in Russian to give it one more try. Alas, the first vote was to "dispense with speeches and move directly to the delegate vote." We lost that vote to the Menino slate, and Mushtaque went on to lose, and the entire "Menino slate" went on to win, just as predicted.

  • That is typical for the delegate selection process: party loyalists are rewarded with the honor of a delegate seat. And the party leaders (like Mayor Menino) decide, in large part, who gets that honor.

  • What does that all mean for Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz? It means that the 19 unbound delegates from North Dakota are all "party regulars," who are much more likely to vote for Cruz than Trump. That logic applies to hundreds of "unbound delegates" -- they will all be party regulars, and their votes are officially all up for grabs, but they are more likely to vote for Cruz than Trump.

  • That is why the pundits all say that Trump needs to win on the first ballot -- with bound delegates -- or he will lose the nomination on the 2nd ballot or 3rd ballot (when all delegates become unbound). Trump will attempt to get Trump loyalists elected as delegates -- but there will be the equivalent of "Menino slates" in every vote -- and hence a local decision by local party loyalists on who will vote for Trump on the first ballot -- and who will decide on their own what they will then do on the 2nd and 3rd ballots!
Sources: OnTheIssues archives and The Green Pages.

Western Saturday: March 26, 2016

3 more contests for Democrats; none for Republicans

    On the Democratic side:

  • Bernie Sanders did well in Saturday's primary states -- and this time he did well enough (see below for our analysis of what Bernie Sanders needs to catch Hillary in delegates).

  • Bernie got 74% of the elected delegates on March 26 -- 37 out of 142 -- and to catch up with Hillary by the end of the primaries, he needs to get 59% on average!

    On the Republican side:

  • No Republican contests took place this weekend, but see our mainstream-media-bashing analysis below.
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates as of March 26
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      John     Withdrawn
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz    Kasich    Candidates
Alaska Caucus               3         13       |
Hawaii Caucus               7         18       |
Washington Caucus          27         74       |
                          ===        ===       |
Total elected delegates on Tuesday March 22:
                           37        105
Previous elected delegates:
                        1,190        887           751       441       134       162
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         27             8        18         4        47
                        --------------------     ------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,694      1,019           759       459       138       209
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next? On the Democratic side:

  • If Bernie does this well for ALL of the remaining primaries and caucuses, he will win 74% of the remaining 1,779 delegates, or 1,316 delegates, which would bring his total to 2,203. With his current superdelegates, Bernie will end up with 2,230 delegates at the convention -- not quite at the Capture Point of 2,383 delegates.

  • That means Bernie would have to do this well for the rest of the primaries, and then persuade 153 of Hillary's pledged superdelegates (out of 887) to support him as well.

  • These three caucuses were all in Bernie's "sweet spot": caucuses instead of primaries; not high on black or Latino vote. But this weekend can give Bernie supporters hope!

    On the Republican side:

  • The Wall Street Journal usually serves as a superior information source, leaning towards the conservative side, but avoiding the usual stupidity of the mainstream media. This week they broke that pattern, and hence join the list of mainstream media that sensible voters should ignore.

  • The Wall Street Journal wrote about last week's primaries: "Mr. Cruz took all 40 of Utah's delegates, yet his already steep path to the nomination outside of a contested convention became even rockier. He must win 85% of the outstanding delegates—a task akin to winning a division in Major League Baseball after being 25 games out of first place on Labor Day --when there are only about 30 games left in the season."

  • That analysis would be reasonable if Cruz were trying to win a majority of the delegates -- indeed that is the same analysis we apply above to Bernie Sanders. But Cruz is NOT trying to win a majority of delegates -- he is trying to stop Donald Trump from winning a majority of delegates!

  • To stop Trump from winning a majority of delegates, Cruz (plus Kasich plus the withdrawn candidates) need to win 1,237 delegates. It's that parenthetical "plus" that the Wall Street Journal ignores. Since Kasich plus the withdrawn candidates have 347 delegates, those contribute to forcing Trump to face an open convention.

  • Hence the "magic number" for Cruz is 1,237 minus 347, or 890 delegates. Cruz is 52% of the way there.

  • The "magic number" for Trump is 1,237 delegates -- his goal is to win a majority in the primaries so there won't be an open convention. Trump is 61% of the way there.

  • This math assumes that an open convention will not nominate Donald Trump. The Cruz campaign knows that, and can play that to their advantage -- by forcing an open convention, Cruz can then lobby the superdelegates (Republican Party offiicals) and is much more likely to persuade them than is Trump.

  • Bottom line: Don't listen to the Wall Street Journal -- this race is too close to call!

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for debate excerpts: Miami Democratic debate and Miami Republican debate.

Western Tuesday: March 22, 2016

3 more contests on each side

    On the Democratic side:

  • Bernie Sanders did well in the Western primary states -- but not quite well enough! (see below for our analysis of what Bernie Sanders needs to catch Hillary in delegates).

  • Bernie got 58% of the elected delegates on March 22 -- 76 out of 131 -- but to catch up with Hillary by the end of the primaries, he needs to get 59%!

  • In other words, for ALL of the remaining primaries and caucuses, Bernie as to do AS WELL as he did on March 22, PLUS a little bit better sometimes, PLUS he needs to convince more than 200 superdelegates to change their pledges. That's a very tall order!

    On the Republican side:

  • Donald Trump did well in the Western primary states -- but not quite well enough!

  • Trump and Cruz each won a winner-take-all state; but Kasich promises to stay in the race indefinitely (hoping to win Pennsylvania and Wisconsin).

  • We switch our counting below, as of today, to those three candidates plus "all other Withdrawn Candidates." The withdrawn candidates still matter because their elected delegates are still pledged to vote for them on the first ballot (their superdelegates are not pledged to do so -- they usually change allegiance, and we count that too).

  • As of today, a total of 1,565 Republican delegates have been elected or pledged. Trump has captured 48% of those delegates -- which is less than the 50% required to win on the first ballot.

  • There are dozens more contests coming up -- but if Kasich and Cruz stay in, it will be a very close call whether Trump gets over 50% of the delegates or not!
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on March 22
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      John     Withdrawn
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz    Kasich    Candidates
American Samoa Caucus                          |     1         1         0
Arizona Primary            44         31       |    58         0         0
Idaho Caucuses              5         18       |
Utah Caucuses               6         27       |     0        40         0
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===       ===
Total elected delegates on Tuesday March 22:
                           55         76            59        41         0         0
Previous elected delegates:
                        1,135        811           692       400       134       162
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         27             8        18         4        47
                        --------------------     ------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,657        914           759       459       138       209
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • Donald Trump is on track to win a plurality (48%) of delegates, but not a majority (50%), which means no candidate will win on the first ballot at the convention.

  • The first ballot means the initial vote of all the delegates at the Republican convention. Elected delegates are obligated to vote for their pledged candidate on the first ballot. That vote is public, so this rule is easily enforced (if delegates break their pledge, everyone knows about it).

  • At a normal convention, where one candidate has a clear majority of elected delegates from the primaries, the first ballot is just a formality. Each delegate casts their vote, and the results are tallied state-by-state, and at the end, the formal nomination is announced.

  • At a brokered convention, where no candidate has a majority of elected delegates from the primaries, the first ballot counts the number of elected delegates plus superdelegates (the Republicans have fewer superdelegates than Democrats, and different titles, but the same function) in support of each candidate.

  • Marco Rubio and other withdrawn candidates will still get some votes on the first ballot, because they have delegates pledged to vote for them.

  • The second ballot occurs if the first ballot does not produce a majority vote winner. It does not occur immediately -- there is time in between for negotiating -- that is why it is called a Brokered Convention.

  • In between the balloting, additional candidates might get nominated. There is a rule requiring that any nominee have won at least 8 states, but there could be a vote to waive that rule, and then anyone could get nominated. More likely, candidates with fewer delegates (like Kasich or Rubio) will make a deal with candidates with more delegates (like Cruz or Trump). That deal-making is the "brokering" of the "brokered convention."

  • The second ballot vote has no rules for whom the elected delegates vote for (this actually depends on each state, but MOST states release the delegates from their pledges after the first ballot).

  • The third ballot occurs if the second ballot does not produce a majority vote winner. The timing of the second, third, and subsequent ballots is up to the chair of the convention (in other words, up to the Republican Party establishment).

  • There ARE published rules, but the delegates can vote to "waive" any rules at any time. Since the Republican Party officials run the convention, they have a lot of control over votes about waiving rules. But that's basically the process!

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for debate excerpts: Miami Democratic debate and Miami Republican debate.

"SEC Primary" Super Tuesday: March 15, 2016

Rubio drops out

    On the Democratic side:

  • March 15 was a very good day for Hillary Clinton: she won every one of the 5 states, for a net gain of almost 100 delegates.

  • Bernie Sanders no longer has any clear path to gain enough delegates to overcome Hillary's lead, even ignoring her overwhelming superdelegate lead. Further analysis below.

    On the Republican side:

  • March 15 was a very bad day for Marco Rubio: he lost his own home state to Donald Trump, and Florida was winner-take-all so Rubio got zero delegates as a consolation prize. Rubio also fared poorly in several other proportional contests and only gained 6 delegates for the day, out of a possible 300+. Those results showed Rubio that his campaign was hopeless, so he "suspended" the campaign (details below).

  • March 15 was an okay day for John Kasich; he won the winner-take-all state of Ohio (his home state) and hence maintained enough credibility to continue the campaign. Kasich gained more delegates in the SEC primary than Ted Cruz, but is still far behind.

  • March 15 was a very good day for Donald Trump: he gained more than 200 delegates for the day.
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on Tuesday March 15
                        --------------------   | ----------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      Marco      John
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz     Rubio      Kasich
Florida Primary           116         58       |    99         0        0          0
Illinois Primary           58         45       |    54         9        0          6
Missouri Primary           36         35       |    47        15        0          0
North Carolina Primary     60         47       |    30        27        6          9
Ohio Primary               80         63       |     0         0        0         66
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===      ===        ===
Total elected delegates on Tuesday March 15:
                          350        248           230        42        6         81
Previous elected delegates:
                          785        563           462       358      151         53
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          467         26             8        15       28          4
                        --------------------     -------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,602        837           700       415      185        138
Capture point:          2,383 delegates needed;  1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • Trump's supports and Sanders' supporters are both now demanding democracy -- but the nominating process is not actually based on democracy -- it is based on "oligarchy."

  • "Oligarchy" means a small group of people decide the outcome of an election, instead of a majority of voters in a pure democracy. The party nominating processes and the party conventions have never been decided by pure democracy.

  • On the Republican side, Trump fears a brokered convention where the Republican Party decides a nominee after Trump fails to win a majority of the primary delegates.

  • On the Democratic side, Sanders fears that the superdelegates of the Democratic Party will tilt the nomination to Hillary.

  • Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are oligarchies -- When asked about the legitimacy of a brokered convention defeating Trump, one RNC member said today that the Republican Party decides the nominee, not the primary voters.

  • The same applies in the Democratic Party -- in both parties, the oligarchy defines the rules of the convention, and runs the convention itself.

  • This concept was succinctly phrased, after I complained about the Massachusetts Democratic Party running the convention with a lack of deomcracy, when a Massachusetts Democratic State Committee member said to me, "This isn't democracy; this is an oligarchy! And these people", he said, gesturing to the members of the Democratic State Committee, "are the oligarchs!"

    On the Democratic side:

  • Bernie Sanders has lost the nomination -- he is not yet mathematically eliminated, but he is now politically eliminated.

  • Let's look at the numbers. On the left-hand column are the actual delegate counts, including superdelegates. On the right-hand column, we will accept the Sanders' supporters concept of eliminating superdelegates.
                                                        With              Without
                                                        superdelegates    superdelegates
                 Delegates elected so far                 2,427             1,934
                 Total delegates at convention            4,479             3,767
                 Delegates needed to win convention       2,240 (50%)       1,884 (50%)
                 Number of delegates left to elect        2,052             1,833
                 Bernie Sanders' delegate count             828 (40%)         802 (41%)
                 Sanders needs how many more delegates?   1,555 (76%)       1,082 (59%)

  • The numbers say, including superdelegates, that Bernie needs to win 76%-24% in all of the remaining primaries.

  • Even excluding superdelegates, Bernie needs to win 59%-41% in all of the remaining primaries (the same ratio that Hillary has beaten him, so far).

  • 59%-41% in an election is called "a landslide." The most lopsided presidential result ever -- Warren G. Harding in 1920 -- was 60%-34% -- Bernie would have to match that landslide, which would be a historic event -- and IN ADDITION would have to persuade the party to discount the superdelegates.

  • It looks like Sanders will stay in despite no longer having a path to victory -- he has plenty of money and plenty of voters in future primaries who would be disappointed by NOT being able to vote for him! But Sanders' purpose now is to push Hillary to the left, by raising his key issues -- his purpose is no longer to win.

    On the Republican side:

  • Most of Rubio's 185 delegates are still obligated to vote for Rubio on the first ballot at the convention. We say "most" because each state makes their own rules; some automaticlly convert Rubio's delegates to unbound "superdelegate" status on the first ballot; most do so on the second ballot.

  • This race has come down to Trump vs. non-Trump; in that context, all of Rubio's delegates should be considered to support Cruz, and if there is a brokered convention, that is what will occur (on the 2nd or 3rd ballot, especially). That bodes well for Cruz, since the same applies to Kasich's growing delegate count, as well as the other candidates with smaller delegate counts.

  • The bottom line is that Trump must win a majority of delegates outright, or face a brokered convention where Cruz will win on the 2nd or 3rd ballot.

  • Trump's supporters can legitimately complain that the RNC's attitude opposes democracy. But the RNC is an oligarchy! We see Cruz benefiting strongly from Rubio's withdrawal, so Cruz will gain on Trump -- that leads to a brokered convention, run by oligarchs who do not like Donald Trump. next week's contests will determine if Cruz can pull it off.

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for debate excerpts: Miami Democratic debate and Miami Republican debate.

Five more contests: March 12, 2016

2 contest for the Democrats, including Marianas; 3 for the Republicans, including Guam

    Territorial delegates?

  • We have received several readers' emails questioning why Puerto Rico gets delegates in last week's primary, and that applies as well to why the Northern Marianas and the District of Columbia get delegates in this week's primary. The answer is "Because they are United States citizens."

  • The United States owns several "insular territories" which are not states: Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. All of the residents of those territories are U.S. citizens, although they don't have full voting rights.

  • None of the territories participate in the electoral college, which means residents can cast votes for president in November, but their votes do not actually count. In 2000, Puerto Rico attempted to gain electoral votes, but they lost the case, with the court asserting that they must apply for statehood to gain electoral votes (Puerto Rico would have cast 8 electoral votes for Al Gore, which would have given Gore a presidential victory over George W. Bush).

  • The District of Columbia does get one Representative in the U.S. House, Eleanor Holmes Norton, but her vote does not count in voting totals (she may introduce bills and cast a vote, however). D.C. has no Senate representation, and since they do pay federal taxes, their automobile license plates are adorned with the slogan, "Taxation Without Representation." There is a "statehood movement" to change D.C.'s status by creating a 51st state called "New Columbia." D.C. already DOES have three electoral votes in the general election for president, because of its special constitutional status.

  • The Northern Marianas, Guam, and Samoa are Pacific islands which have long been U.S. territories. Before World War II, that category included Hawaii and the Phillipines. Hawaii became a state after WWII, and the Phillipines became an independent country. The Northern Marianas, Guam and Samoa are smaller, so their status is just "territories." But they still get delegates to the party conventions!
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on Tuesday March 8
                        --------------------   | --------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      Marco     John
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz     Rubio     Kasich
Democrats Abroad primary    4          9       |
District of Columbia Primary                   |     0         0       10         9
Guam Caucus                                    |     0         1        0         0
Northern Marianas caucus    4          2       |     9         0        0         0
Wyoming Caucus                                 |     1         9        1         0
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===      ===       ===
Total elected delegates on Saturday March 12:
                            8         11            10        10       11         9
Previous elected delegates:
                          782        554           462       358      151        53
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          455         22             8        15       28         4
                        --------------------     ------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,245        587           480       383      190        66
Capture point:          2,240 delegates needed;  1,442 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • So how did the voting go in the territories?

  • On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton gained a couple of delegates; she accomplished the same in Samoa on March 1.

  • The Democrats also hold a primary for "Democrats abroad" (i.e. U.S. citizens residing overseas). That vote finished up this week but the counting will take some time (because it's worldwide); so far only 1 out of 17 delegates have been assigned.

  • On the Republican side, Donald Trump and each of his three remaining opponents gained a couple handfuls of delegates each.

  • The small delegate counts this weeekend would be meaningless in a normal election, but with the prospect of a brokered convention looming, every delegate counts (much like, in 2000, no one expected that Puerto Rico could have been a decisive electoral vote, had they been granted electoral votes!)

  • Ted Cruz won the Guam Caucus, which will send 9 delegates to the Republican convention, but 8 remain "uncommitted" until the convention.

  • Marco Rubio won D.C. -- only a few delegates but perhaps relevant because of another Republican convention rule known as the "8-state rule": At a brokered convention, a candidate can get nominated even after losing the primaries, if the first ballot does not result in a nominee, but only if that candidate has won eight primaries or caucuses.

  • That 8-state cutoff was already achieved by Trump (NH, NV, SC, AS, AR, GA, MA, TN, VT, VA, KY, LA, HI, MI, MS), and was achieved this weekend by Cruz (IA, AK, OK, TX, KS, ME, ID, GU, WY).

  • Rubio has only won three state contests so far (MN, PR, DC) and has some work ahead of him to make the 8-state cutoff (as does John Kasich, still with zero state wins, but leading in his home state of Ohio this coming Tuesday).

  • You might wonder, "Is the 8-state rule only about states? Do Guam and Puerto Rico count as part of the eight?" We read the Republican convention rules, and they seem to hint that territorial victories DO count -- but these are RULES, not LAWS -- that means the delegates can vote to interpret and/or override the rules at the convention. In this strangest of elections, those sorts of trivial rules may well matter -- the rules were NOT written with any expectation that they would matter! -- if a brokered convention occurs, those trivialities will be subject to many delegate votes, and hence lots of pundit interpretation!

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for debate excerpts: Miami Democratic debate and Miami Republican debate.

Six more contests: March 8, 2016

2 contests for the Democrats; 4 for the Republicans

    On the Democratic side:

  • Hillary Clinton widened her lead over Bernie Sanders on March 8.

  • Sanders won Michigan, a big state with 130 delegates, but with proportional delegate allocation, Sanders gained only 8 delegates over Hillary.

  • Hillary won Mississippi, a smaller state with only 36 delegates, and gained more delegates than she lost in Michigan (i.e. a net gain of 20 delegates for the day).

  • This further weakens Sanders' strategy to petition the superdelegates to vote based on their state results, instead of holding to their pledged support of Hillary.

    On the Republican side:

  • Marco Rubio had such a bad result today that rumors are swirling that he will drop out before next week's Florida winner-take-all primary to avoid an embarrassing defeat in his home state.

  • Donald Trump widened his lead on Ted Cruz, but Cruz did well, making the delegate race look more like a two-person contest.

  • John Kasich did well in Michigan, setting him up for a big victory in the winner-take-all Ohio contest next week.
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on Tuesday March 8
                        --------------------   | --------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      Marco      John
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz     Rubio      Kasich
Hawaii Caucus                                  |    11         7        1          0
Idaho Primary                                  |    12        20        0          0
Michigan Primary           61         69       |    25        17        0         17
Mississippi Primary        32          4       |    25        15        0          0
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===      ===        ===
Total elected delegates on Tuesday March 8:
                           93         73            73        59        1         17
Previous elected delegates:
                          689        481           389       299      150         36
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          455         22             8        15       28          4
                        --------------------     -------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,237        576           470       373      179         57
Capture point:          2,240 delegates needed;  1,442 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
    What's Next?

  • The "SEC Tuesday" follows in one week, on March 15.

  • That set of primaries will likely determine if Mitt Romney's strategy for a brokered convention will work, or if Donald Trump can get over 50% of the delegates and hence avoid a brokered convention.

  • On the Democratic side, "SEC Tuesday" is Sanders' last chance to make his strategy work: if Sanders gains delegates relative to Hillary next week, with hundreds of delegates available, he has a legitimate claim to the superdelegates. If Hillary widens her lead next week, Sanders' campaign will become politically incapable of catching up (not quite mathematically impossible, but POLITICALLY impossible, since all future Democratic contests are proportional).

  • To understand next week's SEC Tuesday, voters must understand the difference between proportional contests and winner-take-all contests.

  • The Democrats have all proportional contests: the winner gets MORE delegates, but proportional to the popular vote. Proportional contests mean candidates can't score massive victories -- just small, incremental victories.

  • Next week's Republican contests include some winner-take-all contests: the winner of the popular vote gets all of the delegates, and even if the candidate in second place gets just one vote fewer than the winner, the second-place candidate gets zero delegates.

  • There have been some contests already where one candidate won all the delegates (Rubio in PR; Trump in VT; Trump in SC) but those were "winner-take-most" contests. "Winner-takes-most" means the majority vote-getter in each district gets all that district's delegates. In those three contests, the winner got the most votes in every district.

  • In contrast "winner-takes-all" means the majority vote-getter in the whole state gets all of that state's delegates.

  • The Republican party arranged March 15 as the cutoff for when winner-take-all contests may begin; there are several next Tuesday and then more after that. The intention was to finish off the primaries instead of a long-drawn-out series of contests (which is what the Democrats might experience, with all proportional contests).

  • Big upcoming winner-take-all Republican contests:
    • Florida (99 delegates on March 15)
    • Ohio (66 delegates on March 15)
    • Missouri (52 delegates on March 15)
    • Arizona (58 delegates on March 22)
    • Wisconsin (42 delegates on April 5)
    • Indiana (57 delegates on May 3)
    • California (172 delegates on May 24).

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for debate excerpts: Democratic debate in Flint MI and Detroit Republican debate.

Super Saturday primaries: March 5-6, 2016

6 states over the weekend, then more on Tuesday

    On the Republican side:

  • The mainstream media reported that "Cruz and Trump tied with 2 states apiece" -- but nobody counts states! Ted Cruz won the delegate count (which is the only count that COUNTS) on Super Saturday.

  • Cruz won bigger states, and hence more delegates, than Trump, and cut Trump's lead from about 100 to about 80 delegates.

  • Marco Rubio won his second contest -- Puerto Rico -- but fell behind further in the delegate count. John Kasich gained some more delegates too, but has fallen further behind.

  • Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) (the 2012 nominee for president and hence the leader of the Republican party), denounced Donald Trump in advance of Super Saturday. By "denounced" we mean "anti-endorsed": Romney suggested voting for each of the three remaining candidates in any state where they could beat Trump (especially the winner-take-all states).

  • Romney's strategy pushes for a "brokered convention" (which Romney more gently called an "open convention"). See details below the delegate counts.

    On the Democratic side:

  • Hillary Clinton widened her lead over Bernie Sanders on Super Saturday.

  • Sanders' current strategy is that his supporters petition the superdelegates to vote based on their state results, rather than based on previous pledges (overwhelmingly to Hillary). However, for this strategy to work, Sanders must win more elected delegates in the primaries and caucuses -- and so far that has not happened -- he TIED Hillary on Super Saturday but lost ground on delegates last week.

  • Sanders' supporters demand too that the media outlets report the elected delegate count, rather than the total including the superdelegate count--we report both below--the problem for Sanders is that he is losing by both counts.
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegates on Super Saturday
                        --------------------   | --------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      Marco      John
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz     Rubio      Kasich
Kansas Caucus              10         23       |     9        24        6          1
Kentucky Caucus                                |    17        15        7          7
Louisiana Primary          38         13       |    18        17        0          0
Maine Caucus                9         16       |     9        12        0          2
Nebraska Caucus            10         15       |
Puerto Rico Primary                            |     0         0       23          0
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===      ===        ===
Total elected delegates on Super Saturday:
                           67         67       |    53        68       36         10
Previous elected delegates:
                          622        414           336       231      114         26
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          443         13             8        15       28          4
                        --------------------     -------------------------------------
Grand Total:            1,132        494           397       314      178         40
    What's Next?

  • A "brokered convention" means the nominee is not decided in the primaries, i.e., no candidate secures more than 50% of the delegates. Hence the nominee is decided at the convention -- the alternative names are "open convention" (they are "open" to any nominee) or "contested convention" (there is a "contest" for the nomination at the convention).

  • In contrast, a "normal convention" is more like a coronation of the nominee, because the nominee has already been decided well before the convention begins. The main excitement at a normal convention is the vice-presidential selection, and perhaps the speeches by some up-and-coming candidates for the next election cycle.

  • At the start of a brokered convention, no one knows who the nominee will be -- it is called "brokered" because the delegates "broker" deals -- who will vote for whom, on which ballot.

  • When delegates are elected at primaries and caucuses, they are "pledged delegates": that means they are required to vote for their candidate -- but only on the FIRST ballot. If that first ballot does not produce a majority for one candidate, then the convention holds a second ballot, or as many ballots as are needed. The delegates have no rules about whom they vote for, after the first ballot -- that's where the "brokered deals" come in.

  • The most recent brokered conventions were in 1952 for the Democrats and 1948 for the Republicans. More recently, the nominee was not known in advance of the 1968 Democratic convention; the 1976 Republican convention; the 1980 Democratic convention; and the the 1984 Republican convention. Those recent conventions had nominees negotiated after the primaries and before the convention; a true "brokered convention" has the nominee negotiated during the convention itself.

  • Brokered conventions do occur regularly today for gubernatorial nominations; but they have become rare recently for presidential nominations because primaries and caucuses now take place in every state, with media attention, and the eventual nominee takes a decisive lead sometime during that long process.

  • A common practice for negotiating the nominee at a brokered convention is that one candidate agrees to accept the vice-presidential nomination, and tells his delegates to support another candidate for president. The mainstream media this week speculated on a Rubio-Kasich ticket; for that ticket to succeed, the sum of Rubio's and Kasich's delegates would have to exceed 50%.

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for pre-Super Saturday debate excerpts: Wisconsin Democratic debate and Detroit Republican debate.

Super Tuesday primaries: March 1, 2016

11 states for both Republicans and Democrats

    On the Democratic side:

  • Democrats voted in 9 state primaries, plus 2 caucuses (Colorado and Minnesota), plus one territory (Samoa).

  • Bernie Sanders won both caucuses, plus the primaries in Oklahoma and Vermont (his home state). Hillary won the other 8 contests.

  • Hillary gained 170 delegates more than Bernie on Super Tuesday. She was already ahead in elected delegates and in superdelegates.

  • Bernie's current strategy of persuading superdelegates to change loyalty depends on Bernie being ahead in elected delegates -- that has not been happening.

    On the Republican side:

  • Republicans have some superdelegates too. When a candidate withdraws, and that candidate endorses another candidate, the withdrawn candidate's superdelegates will likely go to the endorsed candidate. That's not necessarily so, but in the absence of better estimations, we now count that assumption.

  • That means Chris Christie's 5 superdelegates count for Donald Trump. There are three other withdrawn candidates with pledged superdelegates -- Jeb Bush with 8; Mike Huckabee with 4; and Rand Paul with 2 -- they will assigned pending any endorsements those former candidates announce.

  • Pundits pronounced that Trump won Massachusetts by a wider margin than did Hillary. That's technically true, but misleading: The two primaries are two entirely separate elections, so Trump and Hillary did not compete against each other. Clinton won the Democratic primary with 571,888 out of 1,138,586 votes; Trump won the Republican primary with 298,827 out of 609,832 votes. In other words, Hillary got nearly twice as many votes as Trump in Massachusetts, because so many more people voted in the Democratic primary.

  • Pundits were also confused by Jesse Ventura's statement that he would choose between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. TV pundits are easily confused because they think only in terms of two parties; Ventura considers both Sanders and Trump to be anti-establishment iconoclasts (like Ventura himself) and hence he chose between two strong choices. Ventura says he may enter the race if Sanders loses, but would also accept Trump's vice presidential nomination.
                        Democratic delegates   | Republican delegate counts per Super Tuesday state
                        --------------------   | --------------------------------------------------
                         Hillary     Bernie    |  Donald     Ted      Marco      John       Ben
                         Clinton     Sanders   |  Trump      Cruz     Rubio      Kasich     Carson (withdrew)
Alabama primary            44          9       |    36        13        1          0          0
Alaska primary                                 |    11        12        5          0          0
Arkansas primary           22         10       |    17        14        9          0          0
American Samoa caucus       4          2       |
Colorado caucus            28         38       |
Georgia primary            74         28       |    43        17       16          0          0
Massachusetts primary      46         45       |    21         4        8          8          1
Minnesota caucus           30         47       |     8        13       17          0          0
Oklahoma primary           17         21       |    14        16       13          0          0
Tennessee primary          44         23       |    31        14       10          0          0
Texas primary             146         76       |    48       104        3          0          0
Vermont primary             0         16       |     8         0        0          8          0
Virginia primary           62         33       |    17         8       16          5          3
                          ===        ===       |   ===       ===      ===        ===        ===
Total on March 1:         517        348       |   254       215       98         21          4
Previous elected delegates:
                          105         66            82        16       20          5          5
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
                          443         13             8        15       28          4          0
                        --------------------     --------------------------------------------------
Grand Total March 1:    1,065        427           344       246      146         30          9
    What's Next?

  • Dr. Ben Carson withdrew after Super Tuesday.

  • Hillary is winning in exactly the way we predicted on Jan. 1st; we'll stick with our prediction that Sanders will withdraw just after the March 15 "SEC primary".

  • To avoid seeming cocky, our Jan. 1 prediction on the Republican side has already been proven all wrong. Trump has proven himself capable of the "ground game" necessary for winning caucuses, and has even captured some superdelegates. The only way Cruz or Rubio can win now is by one dropping out and supporting the other. The only way Kasich can win now is as the compromise choice at a brokered convention.

  • Trump has a big lead now (100 delegates ahead of Cruz, who is 100 ahead of Rubio, who is 100 ahead of Kasich), but there are several big contests coming up.

  • The March 15 "SEC primary" may give Trump a decisive lead, or the opposite, because several of the contests are "winner-take-all" (whoever gets the highest popular vote gets all the delegates). So far, there have been no winner-take-all contests: Sanders won all the delegates in Vermont, and Trump won all the delegates in Sourth Carolina, because they won in every district. In contrast....

  • Florida on March 15 is a winner-take-all primary with 99 delegates; Rubio is the popular Senator of Florida and will likely win, doubling his current delegate count. If Rubio loses Florida, he will likely drop out.

  • Ohio on March 15 is a winner-take-all primary with 66 delegates; Kasich is the popular governor of Ohio and will likely win, tripling his current delegate count. If Kasich loses Ohio, he will likely drop out.

  • Other big upcoming winner-take-all Republican contests:
    • Missouri (52 delegates on March 15);
    • Arizona (58 delegates on March 22);
    • Wisconsin (42 delegates on April 5);
    • Indiana (57 delegates on May 3);
    • California (172 delegates on May 24).
    Those contests are designed to finish off the contested primaries and decide a winner -- and they will likely do so!

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for pre-Super Tuesday debate excerpts: MSNBC Democratic debate and Texas Republican debate.

Nevada and South Carolina primaries: Feb. 20-27, 2016

One more Republican drops out, leaving just five

The South Carolina primaries and Nevada caucuse were held on different days for the two parties (they don't HAVE to be on the same day!). Our observations and the delegate counts resulting from the two new state totals"

  • We are thrilled to report that the mainstream media has actually figured out delegate rules (perhaps by reading this website!); they now report the superdelegate counts alongside the delegate counts. Hence we adjust the superdelegate today to use the Associated Press counts (reducing from Hillary's December claim of 500)

  • We are also thrilled to report that Bernie Sanders' supporters have actually figured out delegate rules (perhaps by reading this website!); they have a new strategy based on Hillary's huge superdelegate lead: For example, Robert Reich has called for all superdelegates to vote according to their state votes, rather than by pledges (to Hillary). That strategy COULD change our Jan. 1 prediction, but only if voters start seeing superdelegates saying that they are changing their pledges (which has not yet happened at all) by the hundreds.

  • On the Republican side, Marco Rubio has taken the lead in superdelegates now that Jeb Bush has withdrawn. We include superdelegates who have publicly transferred their pledge from Jeb or from other withdrawn candidates.

  • We checked our historical records and found that the New Hampshire primary is the first time a Jewish candidate has ever won a presidential primary (Joe Lieberman never actually won any primaries in 2000 or 2004).
Democratic delegate count
(2,240 needed to win nomination)
  Republican delegate count
(1,442 needed to win nomination)
Hillary Clinton44329 + 924 + 43548   Donald Trump17 + 1114 + 5083
Bernie Sanders1321 + 1516 + 1479   Marco Rubio277 + 27 + 043
    Ted Cruz158 + 26 + 031
    Jeb Bush81 + 20 + 011 (withdrew)
    John Kasich41 + 31 + 09
    Ben Carson03 + 02 + 05

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for pre-S.C. primary debate excerpts: S.C. Democratic debate and S.C. Republican debate.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia dies: Feb. 13, 2016

President Obama to nominate replacement

  • When a Supreme Court justice dies or resigns, the Constitution says:
  • Article II section 2: "The President... shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint... Judges of the supreme Court."
  • The Constitution does not specify timing; President Obama will want to get his nominee worn in during 2016; the Republican Senate would prefer to wait until after the November election.
  • The pundits speculate that the nominee (we will list them below as they become public) should be someone whom the Republicans in the Senate cannot turn down.

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts Supreme Court justices.

New Hampshire primaries: Feb. 9 2016

Three candidates drop out

After watching several TV stations' "news" coverage of the New Hampshire primary results, we would like to point out to our readers how to watch these shows intelligently.

  1. Do not watch the live returns at all -- they are dependent entirely on which county happens to report first. At the national level, we all know that Florida and Ohio are important "purple states" -- but which are the "purple counties" in New Hampshire? The trickle of returns is meaningless unless you interpret them with a red-blue-purple analysis, and no one can do that except pundits with computers, and even they disagree. Set your alarm clock for 2 or 3 hours after the polls close and take a nap in between -- you won't miss anything!

  2. Ignore the polls leading up to each caucus and primary. They try to figure out which voters will go to the polls based on (a) asking; and (b) previous attendance. That ignores (a) voter dissembling to intentionally confound the mainstream media (especially Trump supporters, in NH); and (b) new voters (especially Sanders supports, in NH). Accounting for those shortcomings means all polls are guesswork, so why bother? The polls did not predict a Kasich surge!

  3. Fox News rambled on about how Sanders' "huge victory" will open the spigot to lots of campaign cash. In reality, Sanders enjoyed a net gain of 6 delegates -- he's now behind Hillary by 489 delegates instead of 495 delegates behind. That might "open the spigots" to some reegular people who look at polls, but the big-money donors look at the delegate counts.

  4. New Hampshire only matters at all because it is the first primary and hence a test of candidates' ability to get out the vote. New Hampshire is too small to matter much in the delegate count (which is why they insist on being first! Otherwise no one would pay any attention to them!) The N.H. Republican primary allocated 20 delegates out of 1,442 needed to win the Republican nomination -- a little over 1%. The N.H. Democratic primary allocated 24 delegates out of 2,240 needed to win the Democratic nomination -- a little under 1%. New Hampshire is a small state. And so is Iowa. CNN rambled on about the "importance" of this evening's events -- but that really means "self-importance" of CNN. N.H. and Iowa are news events -- they make the mainstream media breathless but hardly matter for the purpose of delegate selection.

  5. Fox News prattled on and on about Hillary's "strategic mistake" in going to Michigan over the weekend instead of focusing on New Hampshire. Fox News' commentators evidently don't understand arithmetic: Michigan has 147 delegates at stake while New Hampshire offers only 32. Hillary made a decision that she could gain only a delegate or two with extra effort in New Hampshire, but perhaps gain a dozen delegates by making a critical appearance in Michigan at a critical time. That means that Hillary focused on the overall delegate count instead of the "news of the day" in New Hampshire. That's called "strategy" -- not a "strategic mistake".

  6. The mainstream media report endlessly on the popular vote percentages -- but they do not matter! All the news networks spent hours studying whether Jeb Bush would pass Ted Cruz in the popular vote -- but the delegate count would not change at all, if he had done so! Both Bush and Cruz earned two delegates each -- and they would have earned two delegates each if Bush had somehow pulled "ahead" of Cruz by 400 votes instead of losing by 400 votes. (This is an ACTUAL "virtual tie", unlike the media reports of popular vote "virtual ties!"

  7. Remember that the purpose of primaries and caucuses is to elect delegates to the national nominating conventions, and select a nominee for the general election. The popular vote doesn't matter; "momentum" doesn't matter; and large states matter a LOT more than small states; because the only thing that REALLY matters is the delegate count. We report on the delegate counts resulting from the New Hampshire primary below, because no other results matter.

Democratic delegate count
(2,240 needed to win nomination)
  Republican delegate count
(1,442 needed to win nomination)
superdelegates + Iowa
New Hampshire
superdelegates + Iowa
New Hampshire
Hillary Clinton5299538   Donald Trump71118
Bernie Sanders341549   Marco Rubio14216
    Jeb Bush9211
    Ted Cruz9211
    John Kasich437
    Chris Christie505 (withdrew)
    Ben Carson303
    Carly Fiorina101 (withdrew)
    Jim Gilmore000 (withdrew)

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives
Click for pre-N.H. primary debate excerpts: N.H. Republican debate and N.H. Democratic Town Hall.

Iowa caucuses: Feb. 1 2016

Four candidates drop out

The mainstream media reported on the popular vote percentages at the Iowa caucuses, but that isn't the purpose of the caucuses -- their purpose is to elect delegates to the national nominating conventions. We report on the delegate counts resulting from the Iowa caucuses below, because no other results matter.

When you hear TV pundits say the Democratic caucuses in Iowa were a "virtual tie," (because the popular vote was 49.8% to 49.6%), you should shout at your TV that they are wrong -- the delegate count was 29 for Hillary Clinton and 21 for Bernie Sanders, because Democratic county delegate allocations tend to amplify small leads when tallying up into actual people who will serve as delegates to the convention.

The mainstream media usually doesn't bother with actual figures: they simply spout half-truths and expect us to believe them. Knowledgable voters don't believe the mainstream media. The Washington Post wins this week's prize for laziest mainstream media analysis; in their article "analyzing" the Iowa caucus results, they spouted: "For Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the virtual tie likely means an even split of the 44 delegates." That statement is false; the split was 29-21, not even at all. That would be obvious to anyone looking at the allocation system (which evidently does not include the Washington Post).

When you hear those same TV pundits pontificate about how Ted Cruz beat Donald Trump handily, you can again shout at your TV about how wrong they are -- Cruz gained exactly one delegate on Trump (8 to 7), and Rubio also got 7 -- now THAT'S a "virtual tie". (Republicans use a proportional delegate allocation system so there's no "amplification").

We summarize below the delegate counts including superdelegates. All counts are estimates and you may spot differences depending on what news source you observe -- that's because the actual Iowa representatives won't be selected until their county conventions and statewide convention are held later in 2016. We rank according to the total delegate count: due to the Iowa caucuses, Marco Rubio (not Ted Cruz) took the lead from Jeb Bush (not Donald Trump).

Democratic delegate count
(2,240 needed to win nomination)
  Republican delegate count
(1,442 needed to win nomination)
Hillary Clinton50029529   Marco Rubio7714
Bernie Sanders132134   Jeb Bush819
Martin O'Malley303 (withdrew)   Ted Cruz189
    Donald Trump077
    Mike Huckabee415 (withdrew)
    Chris Christie505
    John Kasich314
    Ben Carson033
    Rand Paul213 (withdrew)
    Carly Fiorina011
    Rick Santorum000 (withdrew)

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives, Wikipedia and consensus-averaging predicted delegate counts from several news sources. (The Republican superdelegate count is sum of RNC, Gubernatorial and Senatorial endorsements).
Click for pre-Iowa caucus debate excerpts: Iowa Republican debate and Iowa Democratic Town Hall.

Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump: Jan. 19, 2016

Maverick Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) backs anti-establishment Donald Trump (R-NY)

The endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump by Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, has set off an epic battle in Iowa over evangelical voters.

The outcome could have a great impact on how Trump’s chief rival U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas fares in the South. The billionaire already has a hefty lead in New Hampshire. Should Trump hang on in Iowa, he would have the momentum of two victories as the primary barrels into South Carolina and, after that, Georgia. Mr. Cruz has assiduously courted Iowa’s evangelical voters. [One evangelical pundit said, “Endorsements alone don’t guarantee victory, but Palin’s embrace of Trump may turn the fight over the evangelical vote into a war for the soul of the party.”

Palin’s entry into the contest also guarantees the contest for Iowa will have the flavor of an internal uprising within the GOP. Palin noted, "Trump’s candidacy, it has exposed not just the ramifications of the transformation of our country, but he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it.”

    Sarah Palin's issue stances
  • Abortion: Choose life even in case of rape or teenage pregnancy
  • Affirmative action: Women's movement was "seat at table"; now "control table"
  • Corporations: I fought against crony capitalism as governor
  • Crime: If legislature passed death penalty law, I would sign it.
  • Drugs: Smoked marijuana when it was legal under Alaska law
  • Energy & Oil: Cap-and-Trade is a Cap-and-Tax program
  • Foreign Policy: The only thing rising under Obama is the Russian empire
  • Free Trade: Bothered by China's bid to control Alaska gasline
  • Gay rights: 2006: No choice but to comply with same-sex partner benefits
  • Gun rights: Gun laws just take away the good guys' freedom
  • Immigration: Supports a path to citizenship, but no amnesty for illegals
  • War & Peace: Our troops in Iraq keep us safe at home
    Donald Trump's issue stances
  • Abortion: Ban late abortions; exceptions for rape, incest or health
  • Affirmative action: I'm "fine" with affirmative action, for now
  • Corporations: Fight crony capitalism with a level playing field
  • Crime: Death penalty deters like violent TV leads kids astray
  • Drugs: Yes to medical marijuana; otherwise, decide state by state
  • Energy & Oil: No Cap-and-Tax: oil is this country's lifeblood
  • Foreign Policy: Putin has no respect for America; I will get along with him
  • Free Trade: We don't beat China or Japan or Mexico in trade
  • Gay rights: After Supreme Court vote, gay marriage is a reality
  • Gun rights: Gun-free zones are target practice for sickos
  • Immigration: We must stop illegal immigration; it hurts us economically
  • War & Peace: I'm pro-military but I opposed invading Iraq in 2003

Sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Jan. 20) and OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts from Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.

Fourth Democratic primary debate: Jan. 17, 2016

Hosted by Congressional Black Caucus Institute on eve of MLK Day

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts from Fourth Democratic primary debate.

Fox Business Republican primary debate: Jan. 14, 2016

Sixth debate of the Republican primary season

  • This debate, in two tiers, was boycotted by Sen. Rand Paul (R, KY) because he was assigned to the "undercard debate".
  • Gov. Jim Gilmore (R, VA) was not invited due to low poll ratings (as occurred in several past debates).

Sources: Fox Business Republican primary debate and FactChecking by OnTheIssues
Click for more excerpts from the Fox Business Republican primary debate.

State of the Union speech: Jan. 12, 2016

Obama's speech plus responses from Republica, Libertarian, and Green Party

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts from State of the Union speech.

Gary Johnson (L-NM) announces presidential candidacy: Jan. 6, 2016

2012 Libertarian Party nominee announces for 2016

Gary Johnson was elected as a Republican as governor of New Mexico. After leaving that post, he ran as the Libertarian nominee for president in 2012. We outline his issue stances in comparison to the Democratic, Republican, and Green Party nominees in our 2012 OnTheIssues book.

Johnson represents the Libertarian Party norm of "socially liberal and economically conservative," as illustrated below.

    Gov. Johnson's "socially liberal" issue stances
  • Abortion: Women's right to choose until fetal viability
  • Civil Rights: Support principles embodied in the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Same-sex rights: I support gay unions; government out of marriage business
  • Crime: DNA evidence shows many people are mistakenly convicted
  • Drugs: Marijuana is safer than alcohol
  • Foreign Policy: Iran is not currently a military threat
    Gov. Johnson's "economically conservative" issue stances
  • Healthcare: Government-managed healthcare is insanity
  • Social Security: A portion of Social Security ought to be privatized
  • Tax reform: 23% national sales tax while eliminating the IRS
  • Energy policy: No cap-and-trade; no taxing carbon emissions
  • Budgetary policy: Our debt is greatest threat to our national security
  • Trade policy: No tariffs, no restrictions; but no corporatism

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives.
Click for issue stances of Gov. Gary Johnson (L-NM) and his book Seven Principles.

Predictions for 2016 early primaries: Jan. 1, 2016

Our prediction: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both drop out in March

OnTheIssues loves Donald Trump, but we think he will drop out of the Republican primary after the first Super Tuesday on March 1. OnTheIssues also loves Bernie Sanders, but we think he will drop out of the Democratic primary after the second Super Tuesday on March 15. Trump's exit will leave the Republican field coalescing around one of the mainstream party candidates (Bush, Cruz, or Rubio). Sanders' exit will end the Democratic primary with Hillary Clinton as the nominee-apparent.

OnTheIssues loves Sanders because he has created a meaningful Democratic primary. Party insiders prefer coronations without opposition -- we think that's bad for both the candidates and the voters. Sanders' presence means Hillary gets to hone her debate skills for the general election, and voters get to see how Hillary responds to challenges from the left. Sanders has accomplished those two things single-handedly: none of the other Democratic contenders were far enough left nor had enough followers. But we predict Sanders will drop out when his delegate numbers become untenable -- shortly after March 15 (details on the left below). In his exit speech, we predict Sanders will claim to have accomplished the challenging task of exposing and altering Hillary's point of view on corporations, on free trade, and on a couple of other issues. But he won’t mention his most important political role: he made Hillary fight for the nomination, which prepares her better for the general election.

OnTheIssues loves Trump because he has single-handedly gotten the American electorate to watch political debates, which has done more good for the American political system than any candidate since Ross Perot. Pundits remember the endless debates of the 2012 election cycle: in 2011-12, a well-watched debate got 5 million viewers. Now that number would be the worst-watched debate of the season. Trump's debate-magnet has spilled over to the Democratic debates as well -- they are setting record viewership too. Obviously, OnTheIssues thinks debates are the best television on television -- but we never expected 20 million Americans to agree with that -- and we credit Trump with that accomplishment. You should too -- regardless of party, regardless of your political beliefs, Trump has been GOOD for politics, because he gets millions of Americans INVOLVED with politics.

But we predict that Trump will withdraw after the first Super Tuesday on March 1, because he'll lose too many delegates to the Republican party establishment. Details on the right below; we make no prediction about whether Trump will run as an independent (we hope so!) because that depends on how the GOP handles his losses and withdrawal. For the general election: we'll make another prediction later in the season, including predictions for the House, Senate, and gubernatorial races. But here are the numbers for the primaries:

Prediction for Bernie Sanders: Drop out after March 15 Prediction for Donald Trump: Drop out after March 1
Estimated Democratic delegate counts as of Jan. 1, 2016:
  • 4,479 total delegates at the Dems convention
  • 2,240 delegates needed for Sanders to win Democratic nomination
  • 3,767 elected delegates + 712 unelected delegates
  • 73%, or 3,269 delegates, elected in 36 Dem primaries
  • 11%, or 498 delegates, elected in 14 Dem caucuses
  • 16% are the 712 superdelegates (DNC members & PLEOs*)
  • 500 superdelegates currently committed to Hillary Clinton (in the lead)
  • 8 superdelegates currently committed to Bernie Sanders
  • 2 superdelegates currently committed to other Dems
Obama beat Hillary in the caucuses in 2008 by "community organizing". Can Bernie do the same? No, not this time! Hillary learned her lesson about the caucus process (which are typically one-hour meetings at odd times in odd places like church basements). In the caucus context, "community organizing" means getting the party regulars--the people who host and attend caucuses--on your side. We predict Bernie will split the caucuses with Hillary, because of Obama's progressive leftovers. But Hillary will win the primaries as overwhelmingly as she did in 2008--plus she has all those superdelegates already. So let's look at the math using that formula:
  • Extend the superdelegate ratio to the remaining "supers": Hillary gets 699 while Bernie gets 13.
  • Split the caucuses evenly: Hillary gets 249 delegates while Bernie also gets 249.
  • Split the primaries in the same ratio (20-12) that Hillary won in 2008: Hillary gets 2,043 delegates while Bernie gets 1,226.
  • Add that up and Hillary wins with 2,991 delegates to Bernie's 1,488.
  • With an even split in the caucuses, and Hillary's superdelegate lead, Bernie would have to win 2,004 delegates in the primaries -- which means beating Hillary by a landslide of 2,004 to 1,265: that's a VERY steep hill to climb for victory!
Realistically, the caucuses and primaries are not held all in one day. There are two "Super Tuesday" events in March: By March 1, the first Super Tuesday, 1,012 delegates will be elected. By March 15, the second Super Tuesday, 2,016 delegates will be elected. Applying our ratios above to the first Super Tuesday, the results will be:
  • Predicted Dem Superdelegates as of 3/1:
    699 Clinton; 10 Sanders; 3 O'Malley
  • Predicted Dem Caucuses: 223 delegates in 5 caucuses thru 3/1:
    111 Clinton; 111 Sanders; 1 O'Malley
  • Predicted Dem Primaries: 789 delegates in 12 primaries thru 3/1:
    493 Clinton; 295 Sanders; 1 O'Malley
  • Total Democratic delegate prediction thru 3/1:
    1,303 Clinton; 416 Sanders; 5 O'Malley
We predict that after March 1, O'Malley will withdraw; let's assign all of his delegates to Sanders (since they are "anti-Hillary" delegates). Then let's apply the same rules to the second Super Tuesday on March 15:
  • Predicted Dem Superdelegates as of 3/15:
    699 Clinton; 13 Sanders
  • Predicted Dem Caucuses:307 delegates in 8 caucuses thru 3/15:
    153 Clinton; 154 Sanders
  • Predicted Dem Primaries: 1,709 delegates in 20 primaries thru 3/15:
    1,068 Clinton; 641 Sanders
  • Total Democratic delegate prediction thru 3/15:
    1,920 Clinton; 808 Sanders
At that point, the math becomes untenable for Bernie: to make up an 1,100-delegate deficit, he would have win over 80% of the votes in all the remaining contests. We predict that Bernie will withdraw shortly after the March 15 Super Tuesday. The last primary debate is March 9 -- Bernie will participate in that debate, and the primary the week after, and then will declare that his task is completed.
Estimated GOP delegate counts as of Jan. 1, 2016:
  • 2,884 total delegates at the GOP convention
  • 1,442 delegates needed for Trump to win Republican nomination
  • 2,279 elected delegates + 605 unelected delegates
  • 67%, or 1,916 delegates, elected in 38 GOP primaries
  • 12%, or 363 delegates, elected in 12 GOP caucuses
  • 21% are the 605 superdelegates (RNC members & PLEOs)
  • 34 superdelegates currently committed to Jeb Bush (in the lead)
  • 0 superdelegates currently committed to Donald Trump
  • 85 superdelegates currently committed to other Republicans
Trump leads in all the popularity polls with about 33% support, but has made zero inroads among party regulars. That means Trump can win primaries, but will have very limited results from caucuses (which rely mostly on party regulars), and will get zero superdelegates (who are all party regulars). Let's look at the math using those general rules:
  • Extend the superdelegate ratio to the remaining "supers": Trump gets 0 while others get 605.
  • Split the caucus delegates 10-1 in favor of party regulars: Trump gets 33 delegates while others get 330.
  • Split the primaries according to Trump's poll numbers: Trump gets 632 delegates while others get 1,284.
  • Add that up and Trump has 665 delegates to others' 2,219.
  • To overcome the 900-delegate deficit from party regulars, Trump would have to win nearly 75% of the delegates in the primaries (1,409 delegates out of 1,916 available in primaries).
Realistically, the poll numbers will change over time as GOP contenders drop out, and Trump's poll numbers may increase accordingly. But 75% is a very high target to reach! Applying our ratios above to the first Super Tuesday, the results will be:
  • Predicted GOP Superdelegates as of 3/1:
    0 Trump; 605 others (mostly Bush, Cruz, and Rubio)
  • Predicted GOP Caucuses: 199 delegates in 7 caucuses thru 3/1:
    18 Trump; 181 others
  • Predicted GOP Primaries: 569 delegates in 11 primaries thru 3/1:
    190 Trump; 379 others
  • Total GOP delegate prediction thru 3/1:
    208 Trump; 1,165 others
We predict that after March 1, many GOP candidates will withdraw, and the GOP party regulars will coalesce around one candidate (likely Bush, Cruz, or Rubio). We label that candidate "others" above, but all the superdelegates and the caucus delegates will switch to the one remaining candidate as the others withdraw (each withdrawing candidate usually endorses a remaining candidate and asks his pledged delegates to switch their pledge to that endorsee). In other words, unless Trump can win enough delegates in the primaries to overcome the huge deficit in superdelegates and actually get a majority of delegates--which the numbers say is simply impossible--the process favors party regulars so overwhelmingly that Trump will lose.

"Others" means "whichever candidate survives Trump"--whoever does NOT drop out, wins the nomination, because all of the withdrawing candidates' delegates go to him. Maybe some minor candidates will hold onto their delegates--but the major candidates are so scared of Trump that they would prefer that their mainstream opponent win, rather than let Trump split the convention.

Trump will first see that reality after the Iowa caucus, where we predict he will not come in the top three (which is traditionally called "a ticket to New Hampshire"). He will say he doesn't care, because the primaries are his natural constituency, and we predict Trump will win several primaries. But after March 1, Trump will see that the party regulars cannot be overcome; the superdelegate and caucus counts are just too overwhelming. Even if Trump "leads"--because the other remaining candidates still split the vote--it will become obvious that the real choice is Trump-vs-Others, and that "others" summed up make a majority over Trump.

Trump's choice at that point will be whether to attempt to split the convention, or run as an independent, or just withdraw. We predict that he will NOT attempt to split the convention--because all of the non-Trump delegates will coalesce, and therefore Trump would not even pose a serious challenge at the convention. So the choice becomes whether Trump runs an independent campaign or not.

Trump has consistently said that an independent campaign depends on how the GOP treats him--we predict that after March 1, the RNC will propose some nice deal for Trump--and if t's nice enough, Trump might accept. Otherwise he leaves the Republican party--and then the Democratic party is assured victory in November. But we'll save those details for our next prediction!

Bottom line: Trump cannot win with just primaries. You might recall this WAS the scenario in January 2008, when Hillary was the "prohibitive frontrunner", and Obama was in a distant second place. Then Obama won the Iowa caucuses and went on to win every subsequent caucus except one. Hillary won MOST primaries, but it wasn't enough to catch up. Trump faces that same problem in 2016, with even less support from the superdelegates. Look at the list by state:
  • Caucuses where Obama won in 2008: IA NV AK CO ID MN ND NE WA ME HI WY
  • Caucuses where Hillary won in 2008: NM (Hillary got 14 delegates Obama got 12)
  • Hillary won 20 state primaries + 1 state caucus
  • Obama won 12 state caucuses and 17 state primaries.
  • Let's summarize:
  • Primary states: Hillary 20 Obama 12 (yes, Hillary "won" in the state count if you ignore caucuses!)
  • Caucus states: Hillary 1 Obama 17
The lesson for Trump is: the nomination requires winning the primaries AS WELL AS winning some caucuses and superdelegates. Since Trump has no hope of getting the superdegelates, he must "community organize" to win some caucuses. There are few signs he has done so, but Iowa is the first real test: if Trump bombs in the Iowa caucuses, as we predict he will, that means he will lose ALL the caucus states AND all the superdelegates, and therefore he has no path to the GOP nomination.

Sources: OnTheIssues.org archives.
Click for issue stances of Donald Trump (R-NY), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), or Bernie Sanders (I-VT), .

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