Deal-making Donald Trump is getting an awfully good price on his delegates.
Sure, Ted Cruz's campaign is looking to outmaneuver him at the post-primary delegate selection conventions this spring, and Trump's campaign says it's planning to file a complaint with the RNC over the Louisiana delegate count. Still: so far, thanks to the varying rules in each GOP contest, Donald Trump has managed to score more delegates per actual vote than any of his primary season rivals.
"Trump's delegates have cost him about 10,700 votes apiece, according to our calculations from The Post's delegate tracker and U.S. Election Atlas's vote counts," calculates Philip Bump. "...Ted Cruz's delegates, though, have taken about 12,400 votes apiece -- and Kasich's nearly 20,000."
In winner-take-all Florida, Cruz and Kasich's 560,000+ votes combined earned them exactly zero delegates. In Alabama, Marco Rubio's 160,000 votes got him exactly one (1) delegate. (On the Democratic side, the proportional system has Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders with roughly the same vote-per-delegate average.)
On that note: if the latest poll trends hold (that's actually an all-caps IF, with a thousand invisible asterisks appended), the delegate gods may continue to favor the mogul on that front -- and possibly help him qualify for the GOP nomination before the convention.
Ahead of the June 7 California primary, "Trump leads statewide and also in the regions of the state where there were enough Republicans to be significant — Southern California and the state’s big cities, in aggregate. Those cities are where most of the congressional districts are, too, so a Trump lead there is significant" — and might be enough to push him past the 1,237 delegate mark he needs to claim the nomination.
Of course, that's where the good Golden State news ends for Donald Trump: per those same polls, if he were to become the nominee, California is also likely to help doom him in November.
Yes, this is a case of "thing everyone assumed was true looks true." But it's worth taking a closer look, since Trump has displayed some (not totally unfounded) optimism about competing on traditionally Democratic terrain. Right now -- at least, in the nation's biggest electoral prize -- that idea appears to be a non-starter:
It's not just that Clinton is claiming a near-majority of white voters. Or that Latino voters back her over Trump 6 to 1. The hole goes even deeper: "Fully 27 percent of Californians would refuse to vote for Trump. And 42 percent of Latinos would refuse to vote for him — seven times the number who say the same about Clinton."
Of course, if the two-month gap between now and the California primary is a lifetime in politics, the seven months between now and Election Day is eternity +1. Trends on the Left Coast (especially political ones) don't necessarily make it to the rest of the country. All this is just another sign that Candidate Trump's spring may be a sunny one -- but GOP Nominee Trump's blue state pitch would face gale-force headwinds.
(The Democratic race in California right now, per that USC Dornsife/LA Times poll: Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 45-37. The poll -- again, for a vote that's still a lifetime away -- was conducted before the Vermont senator's strong showing this past weekend. Given the current delegate deficit, Sanders wouldn't just have to close that gap and win California; he'd have to win by way of an overwhelming, historic landslide.)
ESTABLISHMENT EMBRACE WATCH, TRUMP EDITION: Rep. Barbara Comstock has given away $3,000 Trump donated to her, reports Rachel Weiner.
"Comstock (R-Va.) donated the money, which Trump gave to her in 2014, 'weeks ago,' her campaign said. The change, first reported by the Winchester Star, will appear on her next fundraising report.
"A supporter of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) until his exit from the presidential race two weeks ago, Comstock has yet to declare support for another candidate. She has not said whether she would support Trump should he win the GOP nomination. In December, she spoke forcefully against Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country."
Donald Trump grabbed the GOP delegate lead in the first place by claiming Ted Cruz's voters -- the Southerners, evangelicals, and strong conservatives the Texas senator was counting on (at least, before the SEC primary). Now Cruz is trying to make progress in Wisconsin by going after Trump's most loyal supporters: working-class people who have thrilled to the mogul's trade-heavy message. (There isn't much by way of recent reliable polling to go on, but right now Trump and Cruz appear to be fighting for the lead, with Kasich trailing by double digits.)
He's got his work cut out for him, reports Dave Weigel. "According to the exit polls in Illinois and Michigan, states that border Wisconsin and held effectively three-way contests between Cruz, Trump, and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), Trump has won around 45 percent of voters who make less than $50,000 per year, and 46 percent of voters who lack college degrees. Cruz has run anywhere from 12 to 21 points behind with those groups."
But Cruz is looking to make inroads with a new emphasis on trade issues on the trail, and on the airwaves. Over the weekend, his campaign launched three new jobs ads, including this spot in which he says that families are “worried they’re falling behind”; as he promises to “raise wages and bring jobs back to America” the phrase “fair trade” floats onscreen.
Of course, it's a populist pitch that the conservative establishment seems okay with. Sure, in a year when Donald Trump has called for 45 percent tariffs, they may be grading on a curve -- but that is a sign the message might not resonate with blue-collar voters quite like Trump's has.
Then again, Cruz doesn't have to win blue-collar voters outright; he just needs to lose them by less than he has been.
(cc Ben Carson, Chris Christie)
The Wisconsin primary's worst-kept secret may have been that its most influential conservative radio hosts don't like Donald Trump. At all. Trump was apparently the last person to learn that secret, reports Weigel. Naturally, hijinks ensued.
"Fourteen minutes into his talk with Milwaukee-area host Charlie Sykes, after excruciating exchanges about the candidate’s donations to Democrats and insults of women, Sykes asked a rudimentary question.
“'Mr. Trump, before you called into my show, did you know that I’m a #NeverTrump guy?' asked Sykes.
"'That I didn’t know,' said Trump."
That wasn't Trump's only rough chat with a conservative talker today. Wisconsin radio host Jerry Bader -- who supports Ted Cruz -- pushed Trump on everything from his "vague policy positions" to his trail behavior and his past support for Democrats. "I'm a little surprised that talk show hosts would be supporting somebody. You'd think there be a certain impartiality," Trump said, after learning Bader's views.
(Yes: That is the Republican front-runner, expressing surprise that conservative talk show hosts would express strong opinions for or against presidential candidates.)
If awkward conversations are your thing, can hear the rest of the Sykes interview here.
GOP CONVENTION UPDATE: Leave the gun (it's still ok to take the cannoli.)
The knives may be out at the Republican National Convention this summer, but the guns won't be. The Secret Service on Monday ixnayed open carry at the event: "Only authorized law enforcement personnel working in conjunction with the Secret Service for a particular event may carry a firearm inside of the protected site," Secret Service spokesman Robert K. Hoback said in a statement.
The Secret Service prohibition will result in the same gun policy as the one at the 2012 convention. Then again, this time comes after a primary season when Donald Trump and Ted Cruz's calls for allowing individuals to carry weapons with them at all times have stump staples -- and after a petition to allow attendees to bring firearms into the convention venue attracted 40,000 signatures in just a week.
On Sunday, Trump was asked about it by ABC's Jon Karl but said he would not weigh in until he had read "the fine print" in the petition. "That non-answer highlighted the difficulties the petition posed for the GOP," reports Niraj Chokshi, since Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena -- in candidate John Kasich's home state -- currently bans firearms and other weapons. The petition "put GOP officials and presidential candidates in the awkward position of tolerating the types of policies they often criticize. How can Republicans support open carry but not push for it to be allowed at their own convention?" Cruz, Kasich and the RNC all said Monday they'd leave security decisions up to the Secret Service.
And with that news emerged a new convention theory: #Patakimentum!
How GOP convention ends: 95% of delegates show up open-carrying.Secret Service (per law) bars them from entering. Remainder nominate Pataki.— Jeff Greenfield (@greenfield64) March 28, 2016
"The phrase has become a widespread protest slogan among Bernie Sanders supporters who believe the media is glossing over his support from people who aren’t white. The hashtag has been picking up steam for the past 24 hours in the wake of Sanders’s big wins in the Washington, Hawaii and Alaska caucuses, and analyses such as this one from The Post — 'Why did Bernie Sanders dominate Saturday? Caucuses in states with smaller black populations' — are fueling the fire," reports Elise Viebeck.
#BernieMadeMeWhite and now I am looking to move out of this neighborhood, you know, cause of the property values, of course.— Carolyn (@CKHyppolite) March 27, 2016
"To some Sanders supporters, coverage of the Hawaii caucus was the straw that broke the camel’s back," writes Viebeck. "They believe Hawaii — a majority-minority state where Sanders beat Hillary Clinton roughly 70 to 30 percent — challenges the logic that voters who aren’t white pose a problem for Sanders. And they think the media is wrong not to seize on it and give Sanders credit for his support among people of color."
Of course, there's been a reason for those primary season reports that most of Sanders's wins have been powered by white voters, and that he's tended to struggle in contests with significant numbers of minority voters. That reason is: most of Sanders's wins have been powered by white voters, and he's tended to struggle in contests with significant numbers of minority voters (particularly among African American voters.)
Clinton supporters pushed back.
But did the outcome this weekend signal some sort of shift on that front?
It's hard to draw a conclusion from results in a single state -- particularly when that state is Hawaii, whose demographics are unlike those of virtually any other. The calendar is sparse the first half of next month, with just two Democratic contests (one of those in overwhelmingly white Wyoming); we may have to wait three weeks for the big tell on this front, when New York votes on April 19.
About that New York vote...
Sanders will campaign like a Brookynite in NY while Clinton will campaign like a senator, senior Clinton strategist tells reporters— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) March 28, 2016
("Hold up -- campaigning like a Brooklynite is a bad thing because...?" --Three million Brooklynites, probably)
Clinton herself was in Wisconsin today, looking to make it a little harder for Republicans to distance down-ballot candidates from their top-of-the-ticket presidential nominee, reports Abby Phillip. "In a speech on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Monday, Clinton tied the entire Republican Party — and the fight over the replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia— to the candidacies of businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz."
TRAIL MIX: There are 147 (yes -- one hundred and forty-seven) FBI agents involved in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
—Also on the Hill, Senate Democrats are proposing April hearings and May votes on the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination. (No, they won't get these things, but that's what they'll be asking for.)
—Ted Cruz slammed Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of Georgia's controversial religious freedom bill: “I thought that was very disappointing to see Governor Deal in Georgia side with leftist activists,” he told reporters in Wisconsin today.
—Ben Terris checked in with Rick Tyler, as the former Cruz aide finds himself safe in the arms of cable TV bookers: "There’s always a pulpit for out-of-work campaign staffers on television, where those who can’t do, preach."
—The team that helped beat Hillary Clinton the last time she ran for president seems to have sharply different takes on her campaign this time around. David Axelrod has been underwhelmed. David Plouffe is more bullish: Clinton may have lost five of the six last votes, but "has strengthened her hold on the nomination in the most recent contests," he argued on Medium.
—The Sanders team still seems to like the superdelegate strategy -- the idea that party leaders will switch their support to the Vermont senator in numbers large enough to overcome his very likely deficit among delegates earned via actual primary season votes.
—Donald Trump followed up last week's amazing meeting with The Washington Post's editorial board with a 100-minute foreign policy-focused conversation with The New York Times. Chris Cillizza has read both of those conversations in full, and he's still not sure where Trump stands on security issues. (For instance, here's Trump on Iraqi insurgents: "As much as they don’t mind dying, they do mind dying.")
Wife-gate, Week 2: There's been a new rumor swirling around the Interwebs about the original Facebook ad featuring Melania Trump's picture that set off the latest round of Trump-Cruz brawls: in short, it involves Ted Cruz's campaign manager and GQ's photo department, and there seems to be absolutely no there there. (Bump: "We are now full-time residents of Wonderland, and we have all been invited to play croquet with the Queen.")
Dateline: SOMEWHERE DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE...
Here's how the super PAC responsible for the ad in the first place responded to today's claims/counterclaims:
Here are "Mean Teenage Girls Reading Donald Trump Tweets"
Here's the President of the United State, fist bumping a stormtrooper at the White House Easter Egg Roll, as one does.
YOUR DAILY TRAIL PIT STOP: And here's a happy panda.