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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 When a candidate withdraws, and that candidate endorses another candidate, the withdrawn candidate's superdelegates will likely go to the endorsed candidate.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 There are three other withdrawn candidates with pledged superdelegates -- Jeb Bush with 8; Mike Huckabee with 4; and Rand Paul with 2 -- they will assigned pending any endorsements those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. < !-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorsements_for_the_Republican_Party_presidential_primaries,_2016 -->

  • 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)
AK                            |    11        12        5          0          0
AL        44          9       |    36        13        1          0          0
AR        22         10       |    17        14        9          0          0
AS         4          2       |
CO        28         38       |
GA        74         28       |    43        17       16          0          0
MA        46         45       |    21         4        8          8          1
MN        30         47       |     8        13       17          0          0
OK        17         21       |    14        16       13          0          0
TN        44         23       |    31        14       10          0          0
TX       146         76       |    48       104        3          0          0
VA        62         33       |    17         8       16          5          3
VT         0         16       |     8         0        0          8          0
         ===        ===       |   ===       ===      ===        ===        ===
Total    517        348       |   254       215       98         21          4
Previous elected delegates:
         105         66	           82        16       16          5          5
Pledged superdelegates (estimate):
         443         13	            8        15       28          4          0
Total: 1,065        427           344       246      142         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-S.C. primary debate excerpts: S.C. Democratic debate and S.C. 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 or 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 caucuse 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), .

George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, and Bobby Jindal exit race: Dec. 21-29, 2015

13 major candidates remaining in GOP field

George Pataki demanded that he be granted "equal time" to match Donald Trump's appearance on "Saturday Night Live." Pataki was rewarded with a handful of free, 2-minute segments on NBC affiliates in the early voting states of IA, NH, and SC. Pataki used the last of those spots to announce that he was dropping out of the presidential race.
--CNN, December 29
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham bowed out of the presidential race after failing to attract any significant support, despite his passionate commitment to pushing a hawkish foreign policy agenda. "I was hoping not to have to make this call, but I think the time has come for me to suspend my campaign," he said.
--Politico.com, December 21
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced he was ending his campaign for president. "This is not my time," Jindal said. "So I've come here to announce that I am suspending my campaign for president of the United States."
--CNN, November 17

Sources: OnTheIssues archives; CNN (Nov.17 & Dec.29); Politico.com (Dec. 21).
Click for more excerpts from Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) or Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA).

Third Democratic primary debate: Dec. 19, 2015

At Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire

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

CNN/Salem Republican primary debate: Dec. 15, 2015

Fifth debate of the Republican primary season: in Las Vegas

The CNN/Salem Republican presidential primary debate took place on Dec. 15, 2015, as usual with "two tiers". Shortly after this debate, Sen. Lindsey Graham dropped out of the race, pending the deadline for withdrawal in his home state of South Carolina (in other words, he chose not to risk a bad showing on his home turf; Graham has been in the second tier of all debates so far). Some excerpts from this debate:

Sources: CNN/Salem Republican presidential primary debate
Click for more excerpts from the CNN/Salem Republican presidential primary debate.

John Bel Edwards wins governor's race: Nov. 22, 2015

Sen. David Vitter loses, and withdraws from 2016 Senate race

John Bel Edwards (D) won the runoff election for Louisiana Governor. Louisiana is generally considered a "red state" but the Democrat won handily. Senator David Vitter lost the runoff election, and as a result, announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate (he is up for re-electcion in Nov. 2016). Louisiana has a "runoff election" of the best two finishers from the "jungle primary" (non-partisan vote), which took place in October.

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts from Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards.

Second Democratic primary debate: Nov. 14, 2015

Three major candidates remain

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

Fox Business/WSJ Republican primary debate: Nov. 10, 2015

Fourth debate of the Republican primary season

The Fox Business/Wall Street Journal Republican presidential primary debate took place on Nov. 10, 2015, as usual with "two tiers". The ongoing debates have become television successes: this debate garnered 13.5 million viewers on a TV station that averages 100,000 viewers er day. Even for the second-tier segment, 4.7 million viewers tuned in. Previous debates have set even higher records on more mainstream TV stations. Some excerpts from this debate:

Sources: Fox Business Two-Tier 2015 GOP primary debate
Click for more excerpts from the Fox Business/Wall Street Journal debate.

Gubernatorial election results: Nov. 3, 2015

Republicans win governor's seat in Mississippi and Kentucky

Two states elected governors on Tuesday: Mississippi and Kentucky; results below. One state, Louisiana, still has a gubernatorial election pending in 2015.

Sources: OnTheIssues Archives
Click for excerpts from the pending gubernatorial election in Louisiana.

Two Democrats drop out: Sept. 2 & Oct. 23, 2015

Gov. Lincoln Chafee out; Prof. Larry Lessig out

Former Governor Lincoln Chafee withdrew his candidacy after a poor performance in the previous Democratic debate.

Harvard Prof. Larry Lessig withdrew his candidacy after being barred from the next Democratic debate.

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts from Linc Chafee and Larry Lessig.

John Boehner exits; Paul Ryan sworn in: Oct. 29, 2015

New Speaker of the House was former Vice Presidential nominee

Speaker John Boehner left Congress effective today. After much negotiating that Rep. Kevin McCarthy would take over, with Ryan's endorsement, McCarthy withdrew from the race and Ryan got the nod. As new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan was sworn in on Oct. 29, 2015. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Speaker of the House is 3rd in line for the presidency (after Vice President Joe Biden).

Sources: OnTheIssues archives.
Click for more excerpts from Speaker Paul Ryan or Speaker John Boehner.

CNBC Republican primary debate: Oct. 28, 2015

Third debate of the primary season

The CNBC Republican "Your Money/Your Vote" presidential primary debate on Oct. 28, 2015 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The issue that emerged in this debate was the bias of the moderators in asking poorly-considered "gotcha" questions and overriding candidate answers. The candidate campaigns met after this debate to re-define the rules for the future debates, and the Republican National Committee broke its contract with CNBC for another debate in early 2016.

Sources: CNBC Two-Tier 2015 GOP primary debate
Click for more excerpts from the CNBC University of Colorado debate.

Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi: Oct. 23, 2015

House Select Committee on Benghazi questions Clinton for 11 hours

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before Congress about the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, which took place on Sept. 11, 2012. We summarize two historical fact lists below:

    History of attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities during George W. Bush's presidency:
    Governor Jeb_Bush claimed that Benghazi was "the first deadly assault on a U.S. diplomat since 1979." Most Republicans would accept that as fact, so we fact-checked and found...
  • 1/22/2002. U.S. Consulate in Calcutta, India: 5 killed.
  • 6/14/2002. U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan: 12 killed.
  • 2/28/2003. U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan: 2 killed.
  • 5/12/2003. U.S. Compound in Riyadh, Arabia: 36 killed (9 Americans).
  • 7/30/2004. U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan: 2 killed.
  • 12/6/2004. U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: 9 killed.
  • 3/2/2006. U.S. Consulate Karachi, Pakistan (again): 4 killed (one Diplomat).
  • 9/12/2006. U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria: 4 killed.
  • 3/18/2008. U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen: 2 killed.
  • 7/9/2008. U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey: 6 killed.
  • 9/17/2008. U.S. Embassy Sana’a, Yemen (again): 16 killed.
  • We exclude attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Iraq because they would overwhelm this list.
    History of Benghazi investigations:
    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed "Many questions remain unanswered" about Benghazi. During the Benghazi hearings, Democratic members responded that questions had been answered at 21 previous hearings on Benghazi, which cost an estimated $20 million so far. A partial list of Benghazi investigations:
  • State Department Accountability Review Board report on December 20, 2012
  • Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs report on December 31, 2012
  • Five House Committees joint interim report on April 23, 2013 (interim report by Republicans only)
  • FBI report on May 2, 2013 (investigation still ongoing)
  • U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on January 15, 2014
  • U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi: three hearings and 29 witnesses since its creation on May 8, 2014 (interim progress report released on May 8, 2015)

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts from Hillary Clinton.

Webb drops out; Biden opts out: Oct. 20 & Oct. 21, 2015

Hillary Clinton left with large lead against Bernie Sanders

Former Sen. Jim Webb withdrew from the presidential race, leaving open the option of running as an independent. We summarize his book and debate pages below.

Vice President Joe Biden announced he would not enter the presidential race, ending months of speculation. We summarize his book and debate pages below, too.

Sources: OnTheIssues archives
Click for more excerpts from Jim Webb and Joe Biden.

First Democratic presidential primary debate: Oct. 13, 2015

Five candidates meet in Las Vegas

An empty podium was made available for Vice President Joe Biden, if he chose to enter the race and attend the debate. As a result of this debate, Jim Webb is considering switching to an Independent instead of a Democrat.

Sources: CNN 2015 Democratic primary debate
Click for more excerpts and analysis from the CNN Las Vegas debate.

John Boehner (R-OH) resigns: Sept. 25, 2015

Speaker of the House will leave Congress

Fond of saying “I’m a regular guy with a big job,” Speaker Boehner struggled almost from the moment he became speaker in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government while holding together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members.

The tension has spilled over into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, in which several candidates have openly derided Republican leaders in Congress like Mr. Boehner. Most recently, Mr. Boehner was trying to devise a solution to keep the government open through the rest of the year, but was under pressure from conservatives who told him that they would not vote for a bill that provided funding for Planned Parenthood.

The leading candidate to replace Mr. Boehner is Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, who is viewed more favorably by the House’s more conservative members both for his willingness to bend to their will and for his cheerful manner.

Sources: OnTheissues archives and New York Times.
Click for John Boehner stances on the issues.

Scott Walker (R-WI) withdraws presidential candidacy: Sept. 21, 2015

Withdrawals leaves 15 major entrants on GOP side

Scott Walker has withdrawn his candidacy after falling in the polls after the second GOP debate. Walker's super-PAC, Unintimidated PAC, had more than $20 million, placing him in the top echelon of GOP candidates in terms of financial backing. The bulk of the money, $13.4 million, came from just four people.

Sources: OnTheissues archives and Mother Jones magazine (Sept. 21).
Click for Scott Walker (R,WI) stances on the issues.

CNN Republican primary debate: Sept. 16, 2015

Second debate of the primary season

Sixteen candidates took part in the CNN Republican primary debate -- as with the first debate, the field was split into two tiers. OnTheIssues covers the two tiers of the debate equally -- excerpting candidates' remarks from both segments below.

Click on each candidate's name to see that candidate's full set of debate excerpts; or click on an issue topic to see all of the candidates' views on that one topic.

Sources: CNN Two-Tier 2015 GOP primary debate
Click for more excerpts from the CNN Reagan Library debate.

Rick Perry (R-TX) withdraws presidential candidacy: Sept. 11, 2015

Withdrawals leaves 16 major entrants on GOP side