Have We Seen This Race Before?

First Read: “Two unpopular candidates. A larger-than-life businessman. A well-known (and controversial) politician. A Republican Party with sky-high negative ratings. Questions about the current White House’s competence. And all in an increasingly diverse and urban place. Are we talking about the emerging Donald Trump-vs.-Hillary general election?”

“Sure, but we’re referring more to the 2013 gubernatorial election in Virginia between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, which appears to be a template for this year’s presidential election. McAuliffe won that race three years ago, 48%-45%, with a third-party Libertarian candidate getting 6.5% of the vote. And it’s worth noting how the presidential results in battleground Virginia have mirrored the national results.”

  • 2008: Virginia (Obama 52.6%, McCain 46.3%), Nationwide (52.9%, 45.6%)
  • 2012: Virginia (Obama 51.2%, Romney 47.3%), Nationwide (Obama 51.0%, Romney 47.2%)

Democrats Prefer Senators as Running Mates

Joshua Spivak: “Since 1940, every Democratic vice presidential nominee except two very notable exceptions has been a sitting U.S. Senator. From Harry Truman to Joe Biden, 13 of the last 15 choices have been taken directly from the Senate. Those two exceptions both stand out — U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 – who was taken from the House — and Sargent Shriver in 1972. The selection of Shriver deserves a huge asterisk itself. Shriver was George McGovern’s second, desperate choice after Senator Thomas Eagleton was picked and then forced to decline the nomination due to revelations about his having received electro-shock therapy treatments. The 1972 and 1984 elections were also noteworthy for a separate reason – those elections represent the two largest Democratic defeats in history.”

“Even before 1940, Democrats followed a very predictable pattern of selection, staying with House, Senate or cabinet members in Washington for their picks. The party has not chosen a sitting governor as a VP candidate since the 103rd ballot fiasco of 1924 — Nebraska’s Charles Bryan was tapped that year.”

Will the GOP Race End Early?

Rick Klein: “After all the anticipation, might the Republican race end early? Those are the stakes in Indiana, and they’re being reinforced by the optics and realities being projected by the GOP establishment. At the very moment that anti-Donald Trump forces need the party to turn against Trump, it’s turning against Ted Cruz instead. John Boehner calls Cruz ‘Lucifer in the flesh,’ and former Sen. Judd Gregg calls him a ‘demagogue’s demagogue.’ Trump, meanwhile, has picked up three new House endorsements, and – for the first time – showed grassroots organizing muscle in sweeping the delegate slates in Pennsylvania. Sen. Bob Corker offered praise for his foreign-policy speech, and Ron Kaufman – a prominent veteran of the Mitt Romney and George H.W. Bush campaigns – is equating Trump to an eastern version of Ronald Reagan.”

“A Trump win in Indiana would put an exclamation point on his recent win streak that will be near-impossible to erase. Historians will debate whether Trump is more lucky than good, and having a final matchup against Cruz will argue for the lucky camp. But this looks like a Republican Party coming to terms with Trump, rather than gearing up for a final battle to block him.”

Is Mark Zuckerberg Planning a Political Career?

Buried deep in Facebook’s latest proxy statement is a curious note about Mark Zuckerberg’s future such as possibly serving in a “government position or office,” Forbes reports.

“The 31-year-old Facebook cofounder and CEO is the sixth-richest person in the world and leader of an unstoppable social network/mobile ad empire. But does Zuckerberg aspire to more? A potential hint of that appeared yesterday, when Facebook proposed changes to its stock structure, creating a whole new class of non-voting shares that would allow Zuckerberg to donate and invest his fortune without losing control of his company.”

Pence Will Endorse Cruz

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will endorse Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Friday, ABC News reports.

Indianapolis Star: “Pence is probably most ideologically aligned with Cruz, who is facing a must-win situation in Indiana… Trump was leading Cruz in two Indiana polls last week, but Pence has publicly criticized Trump after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and after he suggested women should be punished for seeking illegal abortions.”

Cruz Seizes on Transgender Bathroom Access

“As Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas seeks every possible edge to stop Donald Trump, he has seized on a once-obscure issue with a proven power to inflame conservatives: letting transgender women use women’s bathrooms,” the New York Times reports.

“With polls showing a narrower lead for Mr. Trump in Indiana than in the five Eastern states that he swept on Tuesday, the Cruz campaign’s private polling indicates that the bathroom issue has the power to help close the gap. Moreover, it is fresh in Indiana voters’ minds because of high-profile battles in the state in recent years over gay rights.”

GOP Lawmakers Warm to Trump

“The prospect of Donald Trump at the top of their ticket in November has led some congressional Republicans to openly forecast the end of their party. Others have been quietly critical, with leaders pushing back when Mr. Trump stirred up anti-immigrant sentiment or proclaimed that the nomination process is rigged,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“But a new attitude among some Republicans on Capitol Hill is emerging. Icy glares are starting to thaw. More Republicans are slowly beginning to express support for the candidate. And Mr. Trump’s early congressional backers, who initially faced scorn for backing the businessman, are finding themselves in a more comfortable position.”

Jon Ward: The GOP has split into Trump and Ryan wings

Swing State Insiders See Clinton Crushing Trump

Politico: “Republicans are only slightly more bullish on Trump’s prospects than Democrats: More than three-quarters of GOP insiders expect Clinton to best the Republican front-runner in a general-election contest in their respective states. Among Democrats, the belief is nearly universal: 99 percent of surveyed said will Clinton will beat Trump.”

“In three of the biggest swing states—Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida—Republicans were particularly downbeat about the prospect of a Trump-Clinton contest.”

Cruz Set to Beat Trump for Virginia Delegates

“Ted Cruz got crushed in Virginia on primary day, but even Donald Trump’s forces believe he’s about to stuff the state’s national convention delegation full of supporters anyway,” Politico reports.

“Virginia GOP insiders with knowledge of the state’s delegate selection process expect Cruz backers to overrun this Saturday’s state convention and use their numbers to guarantee that the 13 statewide delegates to the national convention lean Cruz.”

Clinton Readies for a Campaign Defined by Gender

“With the nation on the verge of a presidential election between the first woman to lead a major party and an opponent accused of misogyny, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump are digging in for a fight in which he is likely to attack her precisely because she is a woman,” the New York Times reports.

“Mrs. Clinton’s advisers say they are confident that such comments will galvanize Democrats — and infuriate nearly any woman who has ever had to work harder than a man. But they also recognize that Mr. Trump has proved adept at reading the electorate and at dominating news coverage — and that Mrs. Clinton must parry his attacks without overplaying her hand or further eroding her standing with male voters, whom she has struggled to win over in the Democratic primary.”