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Outside groups deal themselves in for GOP delegate game

After burning through millions of dollars in a mostly failed attempt to sway Republican primary voters, big-money outside groups opposing Donald Trump have turned to a far smaller target audience: the delegates who will actually choose the presidential nominee.

Our Principles, which is devoted to keeping Trump from winning, and super PACs backing Ted Cruz and John Kasich are spending their time and money researching the complex process of delegate selection and reaching out to those party insiders. None of the groups have put up ads for Tuesday’s New York primary.

Delegates are the people – typically longtime Republicans and state party activists – who will have their say at the GOP convention this summer in Cleveland if Trump does not lock up the nomination first in the remaining voting contests.

The hot pursuit of such low-profile people by outside groups is yet another unprecedented twist in a history-defying presidential primary season.

The delegate focus comes after the groups’ earlier efforts turned out to be money not particularly well spent. GOP-aligned groups spent at least $218 million on presidential television and radio ads, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media‘s CMAG. In one example, last month Our Principles put $2.3 million into ads trying to persuade Florida voters to ditch Trump, but he won the state anyway.

“At this stage, the delegate fight is the most important part of the race,” said Tim Miller, a spokesman for Our Principles. “The work we’re doing on it is how we get the biggest bang for our buck.”

The Trump, Cruz and Kasich campaigns all pay specialists to help them with their own delegate strategy. Yet the outside groups can’t resist crafting a role for themselves. By law, candidates cannot direct their helpful super PACs on how to spend money on paid communications. However, candidates and the outside groups keep a close eye on what the others are doing.

At a donor event last weekend at the Venetian casino resort in Las Vegas, pro-Cruz super PAC officials explained to a rapt audience how they are diving into data about Republican delegates. That super PAC event took place on the same floor as a Cruz campaign finance event, which delved into similar material.

Douglas Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Convention, said the organizational nature of a potential delegate fight plays into Cruz’s strengths. The Texas senator has cultivated relationships with conservative leaders across the country. Now they’re helping him woo delegates.

“Cruz hasn’t done things in haphazard fashion,” said Heye, who opposes Trump but is otherwise unaligned. “It takes a real team and the hard work of surrogates and coalitions to succeed at mastering the process in all 50 states.”

New Day for America, a super PAC backing Kasich, is “executing a delegate outreach strategy,” said spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp. She declined to give details.

THE FREE AGENTS

There are two phases to this fight for delegates. The first involves free agents in states where voters don’t have a say. Each time an anti-Trump delegate is selected, it gets a little harder for the front-runner to reach the 1,237 he needs to avoid a contested convention.

Our Principles has keenly focused on these delegates, who hail from North Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming.

The group began reaching out via online advertising back in February, Federal Election Commission filings show. It then worked the phones and mailed literature. Finally, at the state convention site in Colorado Springs last weekend, three of its paid employees and about a half-dozen volunteers distributed “voter guides” likening Trump to President Barack Obama.

In both Colorado and North Dakota, Trump was shut out of delegates. Wyoming selects delegates this weekend.

POTENTIAL CONVERTS

If Trump can’t win outright, most of the delegates who are initially pledged to him by state rules gain the freedom to vote at the convention for whomever they choose. That’s why the three candidates are looking to make friends with them.

Incidentally, there are few rules limiting the ways candidates and outside groups can influence the delegates, Republican election lawyers say. So it’s easy to imagine a deep-pocketed super PAC paying for delegates’ accommodations in Cleveland and giving them other perks.

Our Principles’ Miller said the group is assessing what it will do in this second phase of the delegate hunt.

Another Trump opponent, the Washington group Club for Growth, has also at least temporarily stopped its TV ads. Spokesman Doug Sachtelben said that while it hasn’t done anything with delegates yet, “nothing is off the table.”

Pro-Trump forces are also keen to get into the game.

“We’re running ads and a data program to fill as many delegate slots as we can with delegates who like Trump,” said Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Great America PAC.

The group has reported to the FEC its plans to spend more than $1 million in ads across the country – some aiming to whip up anger about a potential contested convention.

“Donald Trump will have the most delegates by a wide margin, but the GOP establishment is determined to deny him the nomination in any way possible, even if it means a contested convention,” a narrator says in one. Callers are asked to give money to the super PAC as a show of support for Trump.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — Not immediately available.

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NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders; Paul Manafort, convention manager for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Sanders; Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.

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CNN’s “State of the Union” — Sanders; Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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“Fox News Sunday” — President Barack Obama.

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Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Planned Parenthood official tells crowd it’s guilty only of helping women

Planned Parenthood has never been under fire (sometimes literally) as they have been in the past year.

The reproductive rights organization has had to contend with a series of blows that began last summer with a series of secretly recorded videos purporting to show its officials trying to profit illegally from selling fetal tissues.

“As you know, it took America by storm, and we started to fight for our lives, and actually it began this small progression of horribles that we’re experiencing today,” Barbara Zdravecky said Tuesday in Tampa. Zravecky is the longtime president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

The graphic video images depicted by the group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress stunned the nation, and catapulted the Republican-led Congress in Washington to attempt to bar the group from receiving federal funding.

Despite that intense negative publicity, public opinion polls continue to show support for the venerable organization. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released last September showed that 61 percent of Americans said that they opposed cutting funds to the organization.

Plus, in Houston earlier this year a Texas grand jury investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood for those videos instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization. Zravecky proudly proclaimed, “The only thing that Planned Parenthood was guilty of was taking care of women in this country,” eliciting a huge cheer from the packed house at Maestro’s restaurant in the Straz Performing Arts Center.

The occasion for her speech was the “Tampa Bay Choice Affair,” the Planned Parenthood luncheon fundraiser held annually in Tampa. A sellout crowd of over 250 people came to celebrate and contribute to the organization. Zravecky said the goal was to raise $10,000 from the lunch.

Republican efforts to quell the organization didn’t occur only on the federal level. Gov. Rick Scott got into the act as well, when his Agency for Health Care Administration filed charges against Planned Parenthood centers in St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Naples. He contended the clinics were performing abortions within the second trimester, which they are not licensed to do. With the case set to go to trial this month, the state recently dropped the charges. Zdravecky said the case isn’t over for Planned Parenthood, however, because they have spent more than $150,000 in legal expenses to defend themselves in that case. They’re going back to court to get those legal fees paid, she said.

Then there’s HB 1411, the omnibus anti-abortion bill signed by Governor Scott last month that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The U.S. Supreme Court is now reviewing the same requirement in a Texas case involving a law passed in 2013. Critics say that it will force abortion seekers to travel long distances, ultimately making the procedure risky. It also blocks money for preventive medical care at the same facilities where privately funded abortions occur. The new law also prohibits Planned Parenthood from working with public health departments.

There was also the incident in Colorado Springs last November, where a gunman killed a police officer, two civilians, and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood facility.

“We opened our door the next day because we were determined to take care of women, no matter what,” Zrvadecky said.

The organization honored Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman for their years of support for the group. Kriseman was unavailable to attend, but he was singled out for showing up at the Planned Parenthood center in St. Pete the day after the Colorado killings.

“That’s the kind of guy he is,” said Sally Everett, his legislative and intergovernmental affairs director. “He wants to be there when people are hurting (and) when they need reassurance.”

Buckhorn is married to Dr. Catherine Lynch, the associate vice president of the USF College of Medicine’s OB/GYN program. He jokingly referred to himself as “Mr. Dr. Lynch.”

“The last person she needs between her and her patients is somebody like me, or worse, somebody in Tallahassee who doesn’t understand that the relationship between a patient and their physician has no room for a politician,” he said. He then made a partisan pitch for a Democratic takeover in two years, though whether that means he might be running for a statewide office remains unclear.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got to elect a president that understands, that is supportive, that can stand in the way of bad legislation, and in 2018, we’re going to change that regime in Tallahassee that has caused so many problems …,” he said, as the crowd roared in support.

“Hasn’t this been an outrageous year?” Tampa Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor asked the crowd, referring to her GOP colleagues in Washington. “They went to the brink to shut down the federal government over funding of Planned Parenthood last summer.”

Castor brought up the “vitriol” expressed by former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina when it came to the Center for Medical Progress videos. “Even after she was PolitiFacted and FactChecked to death, she, in essence, lied,” Castor said.

She then called the investigative panel investigating Planned Parenthood being led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn as a “Benghazi-style” committee. She also blasted the three remaining Republican presidential candidates for their stance on abortion, including Ohio’s John Kasich, who Castor called “one of the most radical governors in Ohio when it comes to freedom of choice,” though she did credit him for expanding Medicaid.

“I never believed I would see a week in which a major candidate for president, would talk about punishing women for exercising their constitutional rights,” added Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen. 

It’s always a busy year for Zravecky and her staff as well on the administrative level. That’s because the Planned Parenthood Southwest and Central Florida office merged recently with the Planned Parenthood chapters from Naples and Orlando.

“We are truly stronger together,” she said of the merger, though she could have been referring to the community support the group has received in the wake of such extreme opposition.

Peaceful pro-life demonstrators stood outside the Straz Center on Tuesday, distributing literature protesting abortions.

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Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders angle for wins in Wisconsin primaries

Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Bernie Sanders are angling for victories in Tuesday’s Wisconsin presidential primaries that could give their campaigns a needed boost, but still leave them with mathematically challenging paths to their parties’ nominations.

While Sanders remains a force in the Democratic primary, a win over Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin would do little to significantly cut into her lead in delegates that will decide the party’s nomination. The stakes are higher for Cruz, who trails Donald Trump in the GOP race and sees Wisconsin as a crucial state in his effort to push the party toward a convention fight.

“We are seeing victory after victory after victory in the grassroots,” Cruz said during a campaign stop Monday. “What we are seeing in Wisconsin is the unity of the Republican Party manifesting.”

With the White House and control of Congress at stake in November, leaders of both parties are eager to turn their attention toward the general election. Clinton would enter the fall campaign saddled with persistent questions about her honesty and trustworthiness, but also with a significant demographic advantage. It’s an edge Democrats believe would be magnified in a race against Trump, who has made controversial comments about immigrants and women.

For Trump, the long lead-up to Wisconsin’s contest has included one of the worst stretches of his candidacy. He was embroiled in a spat involving Cruz’s wife, which he now says he regrets, was sidetracked by his campaign manager’s legal problems after an altercation with a female reporter, and stumbled awkwardly in comments about abortion.

While Trump is the only Republican with a realistic path to clinching the nomination ahead of the Republican convention, a big loss in Wisconsin would greatly reduce his chances of reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to do so before the GOP gathers in Cleveland.

Cruz headed into Tuesday’s contest with the backing of much of the state’s Republican leaders, including Gov. Scott Walker, but Trump made a spirited final push in the state and predicted a “really, really big victory.”

“If we do well here, it’s over,” he said. “If we don’t win here, it’s not over.”

Complicating the primary landscape for both Cruz and Trump is the continuing candidacy of John Kasich. The Ohio governor’s only victory has come in his home state, but he’s still picking up delegates that would otherwise help Trump inch closer to the nomination or help Cruz catch up.

Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with the governor and has joined Cruz in calling for Kasich to end his campaign. Kasich cast Trump’s focus on him as a sign that he’s best positioned to win over the businessman’s supporters.

“They’re not really his people,” Kasich said. “They’re Americans who are worried about, they’re really most worried about their kids, are their kids going to have a good life?”

If Cruz wins all of Wisconsin’s 42 delegates, Trump would need to win 57 percent of those remaining to clinch the GOP nomination before the convention. So far, Trump has won 48 percent of the delegates awarded.

To win a prolonged convention fight, a candidate would need support from the individuals selected as delegates. The process of selecting those delegates is tedious, and will test the mettle of Trump’s slim campaign operation.

Cruz prevailed in an early organizational test in North Dakota, scooping up endorsements from delegates who were selected at the party’s state convention over the weekend. While all 28 of the state’s delegates go to the national convention as free agents, 10 said in interviews that they were committed to Cruz. None has so far endorsed Trump.

Paul Lorentz, was in line at 6:30 a.m. in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Tuesday to cast a vote for Kasich saying he typically votes Democratic in the general election and Republican in Wisconsin’s open primary, in order to sway that side to a better candidate.

“My hope is always to have two acceptable candidates running for president,” Lorentz said.

Among Democrats, Clinton has 1,243 delegates to Sanders’ 980 based on primaries and caucuses. When including superdelegates, or party officials who can back any candidate, Clinton holds an even wider lead — 1,712 to Sanders’ 1,011. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

Sanders would need to win 67 percent of the remaining delegates and uncommitted superdelegates to catch up to Clinton. So far, he’s only winning 37 percent.

Even if Sanders wins in Wisconsin, he’s unlikely to gain much ground. Because Democrats award delegates proportionally, a narrow victory by either candidate on Tuesday would mean that both Sanders and Clinton would get a similar number of delegates.

Carrie-Ann Todd, a 39-year-old mother saddled with student debt, said she voted for Sanders on Tuesday given his efforts to address the cost of college.

“I’m paying more on my student loans than I am on my cars,” Todd says. “I don’t know if he’ll get any support if he gets into the White House, but it’s worth a shot.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders; Republican presidential candidate John Kasich; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

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NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Priebus.

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CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump; Priebus.

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CNN’s “State of the Union” — Sanders, Priebus.

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“Fox News Sunday” — Trump, Priebus.

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Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Donald Trump’s abortion flub shows risks of “winging it” on policy

It was a question sure to come up at some point in the Republican primary campaign.

“What should the law be on abortion?” asked MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to Donald Trump at a town hall event in Wisconsin.

“Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?” Matthews pressed. “This is not something you can dodge.”

Trump’s bungled response — an awkward, extended attempt to evade the question, followed by an answer that, yes, “there has to be some form of punishment” — prompted a backlash that managed to unite abortion rights activists and opponents. And it also brought an unprecedented reversal from the notoriously unapologetic candidate less than a week before Wisconsin’s important primary.

The episode demonstrated the extent to which Trump has glossed over the rigorous policy preparation that is fundamental to most presidential campaigns, underscoring the risks of the billionaire businessman’s winging-it approach as he inches closer to the Republican nomination.

“Well, bear in mind I don’t believe that he was warned that that question was coming” and didn’t have a chance to really think about it, said Ben Carson, a former Trump rival who has since endorsed him, in an interview with CNN.

He should have, said political professionals.

“When you’re just winging it, that’s what happens,” said Kevin Madden, a veteran of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney‘s campaign. “Running for president, it’s not a take-home exam.”

And this wasn’t the first time Trump’s approach has gotten him in trouble.

He raised eyebrows during a debate when he appeared unfamiliar with the concept of the nuclear triad, an oversight his opponents happily pointed out.

At a town hall on CNN earlier this week, Trump appeared to falter when asked to name what he believed were the top three priorities of the federal government. Among his answers: health care and education. Trump has vowed to repeal President Barack Obama‘s landmark health care law and gut the budget of the Department of Education.

The lack of preparation extends beyond policy. This week, Trump called into a series of radio stations in Wisconsin, apparently unaware the interviews were likely to be combative.

At the end of a remarkable interview in which he compared Trump’s behavior to that of “a 12-year-old bully on the playground,” WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes asked Trump if he was aware he’d called into someone unabashedly opposed to his candidacy.

“That I didn’t know,” Trump said.

During a recent rally in Vienna, Ohio, Trump delivered his usual indictment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and blasted American companies that have shipped jobs overseas.

But he seemed unaware that Chevrolet, which builds the Chevy Cruze sedan in nearby Lordstown, had recently announced that it was planning to build its 2017 hatchback model in Mexico. It was the kind of local knowledge that requires research and legwork, and could have helped Trump connect with his audience and others in the state.

For most presidential candidates, especially those new to it all, getting up to speed on the intricacies of domestic and foreign policy is a process that begins early. While Trump’s campaign did not respond Thursday to questions about the kind of briefings he receives, it’s clear he has done things differently.

Who does he consult on foreign policy?

“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things,” Trump said on MSNBC this month. He’s also said he gets information about international affairs from “the shows” and newspapers.

He announced members of his foreign policy team only this month and met with them Thursday as part of a series of appointments in Washington.

Out on the trail, Trump largely skipped town hall events in the early-voting states that were the hallmarks of several rival campaigns. Chris Christie and John Kasich, for example, held dozens of the events, fielding hundreds of questions on every topic imaginable.

Trump might well note that most of his GOP rivals are gone, and he’s still the front-runner.

But what about his abortion comments?

“None of the other candidates would have made that mistake,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports anti-abortion legislation and candidates.

Michael Steel, an adviser to former Trump rival Jeb Bush, said that candidates and presidents have to be able to respond to issues as they arise, which requires a “tremendous amount” of work behind the scenes. It’s one reason major candidates from both parties typically have government experience.

“I think we’ve seen in a variety of venues including the debates that he doesn’t seem to have the knowledge and background on important policy issues that you would expect from a presidential candidate,” Steel said.

Bush spent the months after he announced his candidacy last summer developing a comprehensive domestic and foreign policy platform. Campaign employees assisted by more than 100 outside advisers briefed him in frequent sessions, said Justin Muzinich, the campaign’s policy director.

“He took policy extraordinarily seriously,” Muzinich said.

Dannenfelser, the abortion opponent, said there is still time for Trump.

“The question is, will he be able to get to the point of confidently communicating his position to contrast with Hillary Clinton in a way that helps?” she said. “I think it’s possible.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

 

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Poll shows 62 percent of Floridians support pathway to citizenship for undocumented

A poll published earlier this week shows that 62 percent of Floridians support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while 18 percent say they should be deported. The poll also shows that 16 percent of Floridians support allowing illegal immigrants to become permanent legal residents, but not full citizens.

The numbers come from an exhaustive national survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). It was conducted from April 2015 through January 2016 and comprised of a massive sample size of 42,000 interviews.

The survey shows that with the single exception of South Dakota, majorities in all states support a pathway to citizenship. The states with the highest support for providing immigrants living in the U.S. illegally with a path to citizenship tend to be clustered in the Northeast and along the West Coast. Approximately two-thirds of residents in Washington (68 percent), Connecticut (67 percent), New York (67 percent), Rhode Island (67 percent), Massachusetts (66 percent), and Oregon (66 percent) back a path to citizenship.

The lowest support for the road to citizenship policy can be found predominantly in Southern states, such as South Carolina (56 percent), Arkansas (55 percent), Alabama (54 percent), and West Virginia (54 percent). It’s lowest in South Dakota, where fewer than half (46 percent) of residents back that policy.

The survey also found that by a 50 percent-36 percent margin, Florida respondents in the PRRI poll believe that the growing number of newcomers strengthens American society. A total of 2,572 Florida citizens were surveyed.

Both Democrats running for president this year, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, support a legal pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11.3 million undocumented people in the U.S. Among the Republicans who are or were running for president, only John Kasich and Jeb Bush supported allowing illegal immigrants to become permanent legal residents, but not full citizens. None back a full pathway to citizenship.

“These findings show that despite the hate we’ve seen from Republican presidential candidates, not only do Americans largely favor pro-immigrant policies, but two-thirds of Republican voters agree,” said Juan Escalante, director of Florida’s Voice, a pro-immigration advocacy group. “In the short term, it may benefit Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to pander to hard-liners in their party and peddle hateful rhetoric, but these numbers show that the general election is a different story entirely. In light of these figures, Republican presidential prospects, and prospects for Florida candidates who are falling in step with these anti-immigrant policies, are looking grim.”

According to InsideGov, Florida has an estimated 605,000 undocumented immigrants, the fourth most of any state in the U.S.

Pew Research estimates that there are 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.as of 2014, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2012.

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Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball portends a potential Democratic blowout presidential election

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato latest “Crystal Ball” prediction of the 2016 presidential election spells gloom for the Republican Party this November.

The longtime political analyst is predicting that if it’s a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup, it will be an electoral college blowout, 347-191.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball is a weekly online political newsletter and website that analyzes American politics. In the new column, written by Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley, the authors acknowledge that while it’s an “extra-early, ridiculously premature projection” that could change after the conventions and a possible third-party candidacy. However at the moment, the electoral map doesn’t look very competitive for the GOP going into November.

Nearly a year ago, Sabato put Florida into the “toss-up” column, but no longer.

Now the Sunshine State is being put into the same bucket of other swing states like Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa and Colorado. The Sabado Crystal Ball has now moved all seven states from “toss-up” last May, to now “leaning Democratic.”

“While some will fall to the Democrats less readily than others, it is difficult to see any that Trump is likely to grab,” the authors write, adding that four normally Republican states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) “would be somewhat less secure for the GOP than usual.”

But what about the possibility of Trump expanding the electoral map, as some pundits have speculated could happen with his stances on trade and other issues that could bring along disaffected white workers?

“The problem is, there is little evidence that the non-college voters supporting Trump in the primaries are defectors from the Democrats; most have been backing GOP candidates fairly consistently, so the net addition for Trump could be small,” the authors write. “Nor do we buy the theory that increased Republican primary turnout this year means Trump is going to bring out millions more white and primarily male voters that weren’t excited by John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Maybe there will be higher white male voter participation, but there will probably be augmented, heavily Democratic minority turnout to balance it.”

Although a Clinton-Trump matchup could be an electoral embarrassment for the GOP, Sabato says that because of the political polarization in the country, this would not be an overwhelming victory for the Democrats with the popular vote, as were the blowouts in 1964 and 1972. He sees Clinton taking less than 55% of the two-party vote.

The Crystal Ball believes that Ted Cruz would definitely be an electoral improvement for the Republicans, but he would not have enough to secure victory over Clinton. He writes that the “irony” is that Clinton was always an eminently beatable candidate, but more mainstream candidates like John Kasich and Marco Rubio simply haven’t inspired Republican voters.

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Hillary Clinton targets Donald Trump in new advertisement

Hillary Clinton is going after Republican front-runner Donald Trump in a new advertisement, without ever mentioning his name.

The Clinton campaign is launching the ad in New York ahead of its April 19 primary, according to POLITICO Playbook. The 30-second spot, called New York, features Clinton speaking over images of New York.

“New York, 20 million people strong. No, we don’t all look the same, we don’t all sound the same either. But when we pull together we do the biggest things in the world,” the former Secretary of State is heard saying in the advertisement.

“So when some say we can solve America’s problems by building walls, banning people based on their religion and turning against each other; well this is New York, and we know better,” she continues as an image of a Trump sign and violence at a rally flash onto the screen.

Trump holds a commanding lead over his Republican opponents in New York. Recent polling averages show Trump has an average lead of 38 percent over John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

Polling averages show Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by an average of nearly 35 percent.

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Federation of Republican Women: We support the nominee

As big time Republican leaders prop up their egos and influence by supporting this presidential candidate or that presidential candidate and threatening not to support another, a significant grassroots GOP organization, which does the heavy campaign lifting right down to the grassroots, says it will support whoever the nominee is.

The board of the National Federation of Republican Women unanimously approved a resolution that chapters, officers and rank-and-file members will support the party’s nominee. That means Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or whoever is chosen.

“The thing is we have women in the federation who privately support Trump, Cruz or Kasich, but when the decision is made the Federation will support the party’s nomination,” said Dena DeCamp, president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women and a member of the national board of directors.

The federation and its chapters have many of the heavy lifters who work largely unseen and unselfishly for the party while the candidates and contributors primarily make showy speeches or big contributions.

The National Federation of Republican Women was founded in 1938 and currently has 1,400 chapters in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, said Lisa Ziriax, Federation communications director in Washington.

“We let the process play out in the presidential primaries and once the process is finished, the Federation supports the party’s nominee with its work,” she said.

That has been a Federation rule since its founding, Ziriax said, adding that this “unusual campaign season” necessitated another vote from the board.

“More than anything, our board of directors voted on a resolution that it would support whoever is the party’s nominee to re-emphasize that rule to our chapters and members,” she said.

The federation contains many female leaders in the party and many volunteers.

“We are a bottom-up Republican organization, which involves a lot of grassroots work,” Ziriax said.

Much of that grassroots work can be seen in Florida, especially when the federation’s campaign bus begins its travels around the state, DeCamp said.

“The board has approved the outfitting of a large bus with the slogan, ‘You have a reservation at our table,’ that will travel to the 11 battle states in the fall, “she said. “And, of course, Florida is one of the battle states.”

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