Hillary or Donald? Meet 6 voters from around the country who still haven’t made up their minds. By ADAM WREN November 05, 2016

The Undecided

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

They are small business owners and photographers, college students and nonprofit workers. They live in swing states Ohio and Florida and New Jersey and even barn-red Indiana. And they all have at least one thing in common: They have no idea who they’re voting for on Tuesday.

Undecided, still? It might feel like everyone has an opinion as we wrap up one of the most polarizing political races in recent history, but in fact, just 3 days from Election Day, uncommitted voters are estimated to make up about 15 percent of the electorate, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver. That’s a lot more than the 5 percent who were uncommitted at this point in 2012. Polling averages estimate that number to be less—roughly one in 20 voters—but either way, it’s significant: As polls tighten nationwide, the undecided few could just be enough to swing the election.

Sessions to GOP: Adapt to Trump or die – By GLENN THRUSH 05/31/16 05:25 AM EDT

In an exclusive interview for POLITICO’s ‘Off Message’ podcast, the Alabama senator warns fellow Republicans to fall in line.

Bridget Mulcahy/POLITICO

Bridget Mulcahy/POLITICO

Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Donald Trump’s friendly but fierce Alabama ally, has a message for Republicans still queasy about their party’s nominee: Tide’s about to roll over you.

Sessions, a 69-year-old former state attorney general who famously donned the “Make America Great Again” trucker’s cap at a massive rally in Mobile last August, thinks Trump is more a movement than a man. And this sprightly son of country preachers and teachers is on a mission to evangelize maybe-Trumpers like House Speaker Paul Ryan on the Gospel According to Donald – with a sermon on self-preservation.

“I think [Ryan] needs to recognize, on some of these issues, Trump is where the Republicans are and if you’re going to be a Republican leader you should be supportive of that,” Sessions told me during a taping of POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast in his Senate office last week.

“My advice is to listen and accept the will of the American people, the Republican voters – the Republican Party is the Republican voters,” he added – a pointed reference to Ryan’s suggestion that he, and not the presumptive party nominee, represents authentic conservative values. “Give me a break! A lot of our drift within our party has gotten away from [the will of the voters] … I think the leaders in all parties tend to adjust to reality. They just have to or they won’t remain in office … Already many are sensing it.”

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Sanders poised for May win streak – By DANIEL STRAUSS 05/06/16 05:14 AM EDT

Upcoming primaries give him reasons to believe.


Upcoming primaries give him reasons to believe.

Here’s one reason Bernie Sanders is reluctant to give up the fight: May is shaping up to be a pretty good month for him.

On the heels of his Indiana victory Tuesday, Sanders is well-positioned for wins in the upcoming West Virginia and Oregon primaries. That might explain his it’s-just-a-flesh-wound approach to the nearly insurmountable delegate math confronting him, and his dogged insistence that he’s taking his long-shot presidential campaign all the way to the July Democratic convention.

“We’re going to stay in until the last vote is counted, and that will be in the [June 14] primary in Washington, D.C.,” Sanders said in an interview Wednesday with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

For Hillary Clinton, the prospect of additional Sanders wins is more headache than threat. But even if there’s little chance the Vermont senator can win the nomination, every victory raises new questions about why Clinton can’t finish him off.

“It’s a nuisance, it’s a distraction, because he can’t win the nomination and every dollar that he spends and every time she has to defend against an attack or answer some accusation of his is money and time not spent defining Donald Trump and the Republican nominee” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “That’s all it is at this point. I think people gave him a wide berth when he had a numeric chance but there is no math that ends up with his being the nominee, so at this point I think even the wins don’t do anything but continue the inevitable problem of he can’t get there from here.”

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How Ted Cruz Became Ted Cruz – By MICHAEL KRUSE January 05, 2016


In just a few years, he turned an obscure Texas legal post into a national platform for red-meat conservative causes.

In 2008, in the high-profile Supreme Court gun-rights case called District of Columbia v. Heller, a brief was filed from the eighth floor of the Daniel Price Sr. State Office Building in Austin, Texas, specifically from the corner office of the man who was then the state’s solicitor general, Ted Cruz.

The brief took a strong stance on the divisive question of whether the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to own guns, or just protects state and local militias. The brief argued forcefully for the first view, writing that “the individual right to keep and bear arms” is a “fundamental right” and that “an individual right that can be altogether abrogated is no right at all.” Thirty attorneys general from other states signed on.

Today, with the White House pushing new gun restrictions and Cruz’s candidacy riding on next month’s Iowa caucuses, it’s no surprise that the Texas Republican would embrace gun rights as a defining issue, holding an event at a firing range and even raffling off an engraved 12-gauge shotgun as a campaign promotion.

In 2008, the situation was very different: he was wading into a case that had no immediate connection to Texas at all. But to see the signature of R. Ted Cruz on the brief would not have surprised the nine Supreme Court justices in the least. By that time, Cruz had been solicitor general for five years, and inserting himself into a case of wide prominence and importance regardless of any direct tie to Texas had become part of his playbook. He clearly saw the Heller case as a watershed in gun rights, writing that it would “determine whether the Second Amendment has any modern relevance.” And he was right. The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision shot down the Washington, D.C., handgun ban and ruled for the first time in the history of this country that the amendment ensures an individual person’s right to have a gun for self-defense. The National Rifle Association recognized Cruz’s role with a resolution.


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Leader McConnell warns GOP voters: We need candidates ‘who can win’ – By Alexander Bolton – 12/18/15 02:27 PM EST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday warned Republican voters to steer clear of nominating Tea Party candidates who can’t win in next year’s general election.

“The way you have a good election year is to nominate people who can win,” he told reporters during his final Capitol Hill press conference of 2015.

He urged Republican primary voters to avoid the mistakes of the past, mentioning several Tea Party candidates who went down in flames in recent Senate elections.

“What we did in 2014 was we didn’t have more Christine O’Donnell’s, Sharron Angles, Richard Mourdocks or Todd Akins. The people that were nominated [last year] were electable,” he said of the last midterm cycle.

“That will happen again in 2016. We will not nominate anybody for the United States Senate on the Republican side who’s not appealing to a general-election audience,” he added.

O’Donnell famously imploded in the 2010 Delaware Senate race when she aired a television ad in which she earnestly assured voters that she was not a witch.

Angle lost in 2010 — the Tea Party wave year — to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), a race that many Republicans thought was winnable. She was mocked for suggesting that soaring medical expenses could be addressed through a barter system.

Mourdock defeated longtime incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in 2012 only to lose deep-red Indiana’s Senate seat to Democratic challenger, now-Sen. Joe Donnelly. He stumbled by claiming pregnancy from rape is “something God intended.”

Akin squandered a likely win against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in 2012 after introducing the nation to the term “legitimate rape.”

McConnell said the same standard applies to the presidential race, reiterating a statement he made earlier in the week.

“We’d like to have a nominee who can carry purple states because unless the nominee for president can carry purple states, he’s not going to get elected,” he said.

It was a veiled shot at the GOP presidential front-runners: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.

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Meet the ‘Obama Republicans’ – By Michael Horn Dec. 10, 2015, at 2:30 p.m.

You’ve heard of ‘Reagan Democrats,’ but here are the Obama voters open to switching to the GOP.

The Associated Press

Waving bye to some of his voters.

So-called “Reagan Democrats” played a significant role in the 1980 blow-out election, demonstrating how a charismatic candidate with uplifting language could swing moderate voters of the opposing party. In 2008, President Barack Obama assembled a winning coalition which included some moderate Republicans. Now, on the road to the 2016 election, as Republican presidential candidates jostle for the mantle of Reagan, a significant percentage of former Obama voters appears willing to swing right and pull the lever for the GOP.

In online research conducted this year, Resonate identified 5.9 percent of the U.S. population, or at least 10.9 million adults, who reported voting for Obama in 2008 or 2012, but now identify as Republicans or as prospective voters in the GOP presidential primary. For context, in the 2012 election, Obama won by a margin of 5 million votes.

Who are these voters, and how will they decide whether their loyalty is to a candidate, to a party or to one or more issues? (This data comes from a sample size of 3,540 with a margin of error of +/- 2 percent.)

[GALLERY: Barack Obama Cartoons]

Let’s start with the basics. Demographically, 58 percent are men, and they are most likely to be middle-aged (38 percent more likely to be 45-54). Socioeconomically, they’re at least as well educated, and gainfully employed, as the average American. Geographically, you’re more likely to find them in the upper Midwest. And ideologically, you’ll find they’re a moderate bunch: 72 percent are social moderates or liberals, while 51 percent are self-described fiscal conservatives. A fraction, but a not a big one, say they identify with the tea party (6.7 percent). And while some of these voters supported Romney in 2012 (42 percent), the majority supported Obama twice.

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Nightmare scenario for establishment: Trump or Cruz – By Niall Stanage – 12/10/15 06:05 AM EST

Three candidates for the Republican nomination have broken away from the rest of the pack, and two of them — businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — give the GOP establishment nightmares.

That leaves the third member of the trio, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, potentially well placed to pick up the support of center-right Republican voters who are looking for someone to stop Trump and Cruz at almost any cost.

But Rubio is behind both of his top-tier rivals in national polling averages and is even further back in Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation caucuses, where he holds fourth place, albeit behind the fast-fading Ben Carson.

An even deeper problem for the Florida senator is that other candidates who are competing for the same voters are unlikely to drop out before the New Hampshire primary. That means votes that might otherwise go to Rubio could instead be won by contenders such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Add all these factors together and it becomes clear why establishment Republicans are so concerned, especially in the wake of Trump’s inflammatory call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Cruz, meanwhile, has been enjoying a rapid rise in the polls.

“Listen, I think both Cruz and Trump would have a similar impact on the party, neither of which would be very good. I am actually more concerned about Cruz than I am about Trump,” said GOP strategist John Feehery, a former senior leadership aide who is a columnist for The Hill.

Feehery added, “I think Cruz has made a reputation of relentless mendacity … I think he’s a demagogue and I think he’ll destroy the party. I think Trump is much more of a blowhard. But there’s not really a dime’s worth of difference between Trump and Cruz.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Trump sat atop the RealClearPolitics national polling average, with the backing of 29.3 percent of GOP voters, with Cruz in second, at 15.5 percent. Rubio was just behind, with 14.8 percent. In Iowa, where the first caucuses will be held on Feb. 1, Cruz runs much closer, with 22.3 percent average support to Trump’s 25.7 percent. Rubio is farther behind in the Hawkeye State than nationally, drawing 13.7 percent backing.

Trump’s comments calling for a “shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. have been condemned by many Republicans, as well as Democrats and unaligned observers. Included among his critics are Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who both lambasted him on Tuesday. The condemnation of a party’s presidential front-runner by that same party’s most senior members of Congress is without precedent, at least in modern times.

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Bernie Sanders urges carbon tax and deeper emissions cuts in climate plan – Suzanne Goldenberg – Monday 7 December 2015 00.02 EST

Democratic presidential candidate to release bold plan as rivals vie to set out green credentials during crunch week for global talks at Paris summit

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders will unveil a sweeping new plan to fight climate change on Monday, calling for a carbon tax and an ambitious 40% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 to speed the transition to a greener economy.

The Democratic presidential candidate will use the crunch week of the climate change meeting in Paris to try to upstage rivals Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley, releasing a 16-page plan aimed at showcasing his green credentials.

The plan goes beyond Barack Obama’s climate pledges, which aim to match the European Union in ambition by calling for a 40% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 on 1990 levels, according to a copy of the plan seen by the Guardian. The 1990 starting point is a more demanding target than the current US baseline of 2005.

Sanders will also call for a carbon tax, big investments in energy-saving technologies and renewable power sources, and promise to create 10 million clean energy jobs.

The climate meeting in Paris has attracted an unusual level of attention compared with earlier meetings, as Democrats and Republicans gear up for the first votes in the presidential primaries just over a month away.


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Republican Trump drops 12 percentage points in poll: Reuters/Ipsos | Reuters

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s support among Republicans has dropped 12 points in less than a week, marking the real estate mogul’s biggest decline since he vaulted to the top of the field in July, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Source: Republican Trump drops 12 percentage points in poll: Reuters/Ipsos | Reuters

The 2016 ballot wars begin – By SHANE GOLDMACHER 11/27/15 06:27 AM EST

Each failure to appear on a ballot undermines a candidate’s credibility as a national figure.


AP Photo

Each failure to appear on a ballot undermines a candidate’s credibility as a national figure.

Voting doesn’t begin for another two months but some presidential candidates have already failed their first big ballot test – actually getting on the ballot in all 50 states.

The business of getting a candidate’s name on the ballot is a costly and complex endeavor, a major drain of money and manpower that threatens to weed out the most underfunded campaigns and strain the others in what remains a historically unwieldy Republican field. Some states require thousands of signatures to qualify; others charge tens of thousands of dollars.

Nationally, the price tag for ballot access can soar well past $1 million – more money than some campaigns have left in the bank.

“Right about now is the time when some desperation will set in,” said Ben Ginsberg, a veteran Republican political attorney who served as national counsel for Mitt Romney but is unaligned in 2016.

Barring a major organizational misfire, there’s little doubt that the top-tier Republicans with big money operations – Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – will be on the ballot nationwide. But for everyone else – including Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul, whose campaigns say they are on track to be on the ballot everywhere – ballot access is an expensive challenge.

Carly Fiorina’s campaign, which says she will appear on the ballot everywhere, has estimated ballot access will cost her $2 million. In a video sent to her supporters this week, she complained about the difficulty of the endeavor by accusing “party bosses” of trying to “rig the game…to protect the establishment candidates and then try to keep everyone else out.”

“Every conservative candidate deserves to be on the ballot,” Fiorina said. “Not just those with Jeb Bush money or Hillary Clinton money.”


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