The Daily 202 – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both undercut the conventional wisdom that their campaigns are slipping last night.

The Daily 202 – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both undercut the conventional wisdom that their campaigns are slipping last night.

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Six explanations for Bernie Sanders’s surprise win in Michigan
Bernie Sanders acknowledges his supporters at a campaign rally in Miami last night. (Alan Diaz/AP)</p>

Bernie Sanders acknowledges his supporters at a campaign rally in Miami last night. (Alan Diaz/AP)

THE BIG IDEA:

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both undercut the conventional wisdom that their campaigns are slipping last night.

The biggest story, though, is the Vermont senator’s stunning victory in Michigan’s Democratic primary.

The polls were embarrassingly wrong. Hillary Clinton led by 21.4 points in the RealClearPolitics average of Michigan polls. She was up by double digits in each of the 15 surveys released so far this year, including an eye-popping 37 points in a clearly shoddy Mitchell Research survey conducted this past weekend.

Sanders wound up winning by 2 points, 50 percent to 48 percent. He prevailed by about 20,000 votes of more than 1.1 million cast.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, who yesterday pegged Clinton’s chances of winning Michigan at 99 percent, describes this as “one of the greatest upsets in modern political history.” He says Sanders broke Gary Hart’s 1984 record in New Hampshire for “greatest upset vs. final polling average.”

To be sure: Clinton demolished Sanders in Mississippi, which actually means that the front-runner got more delegates than her challenger from yesterday. But the Wolverine State is significant because it shows Sanders can win a big, diverse state.And several upcoming contests in the Midwest have electorates that look a lot like Michigan’s. This means Clinton will need to expend a lot more time and money on the nominating fight than she hoped.

A mea culpa: Just blaming the pollsters is a cop out. I really wish I had spent a few days on the ground talking with blue-collar Democrats, instead of relying on the surveys and interviews with “plugged in” operatives. This is another good reminder about the importance of getting outside the bubble and being in the fray.

I’ve been up all night studying the results, and here are the six likeliest explanations for what happened:

Ready for takeoff: Sanders boards his campaign plane in Detroit yesterday. (Reuters/Jim Young)</p>

Ready for takeoff: Sanders boards his campaign plane in Detroit yesterday. (Reuters/Jim Young)

1. A message of economic populism, particularly protectionism, is much more potent in the Rust Belt than we understood.

Most Michiganders feel like they are victims of trade deals, going back to NAFTA under Bill Clinton, and they’re deeply suspicious of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Outsourcing has helped hollow out the state’s once mighty manufacturing core.

Trump and Sanders both successfully tapped into this.

Six in 10 Michigan Democratic primary voters said international trade takes away U.S. jobs, and Sanders won these voters by roughly 20 points, according to preliminary exit poll data reported by CNN. Only 3 in 10 thought trade creates jobs; Clinton won that group.

One-third of voters said Clinton is too pro-business. Sanders won more than four in five of them.

On the Republican side, 55 percent of primary voters said trade takes away U.S. jobs. Trump won 45 percent of this group, 23 points more than Ted Cruz. Among the one-third of Michigan Republicans who said trade creates U.S. jobs, Trump tied Cruz and Kasich at 29 percent.

Clinton, after speaking supportively of the TPP, flip-flopped once the agreement was signed.

“While others waffle, Bernie is fighting hundreds of thousands in new job losses,” a narrator said in one of multiple Sanders ads on the issue, highlighting a raft of trade deals he has opposed over the years.

Here’s the ad:

For Jobs, For Us | Bernie Sanders

The Sanders campaign also widely circulated a video of Hillary on Indian state television in 2012 saying that there are “pluses and minuses” to outsourcing. Asked by an Indian audience about an ad President Obama was running against Mitt Romney for sending jobs overseas, Clinton quipped: “Well, you know it’s an election campaign…”

Here’s that clip:

Secretary Hillary Clinton on Outsourcing

A focus on trade helped Sanders make inroads with middle-aged voters. Our pollster, Scott Clement, notes that Sanders pulled ahead among 30-44 year olds by double digits. On average, across the previous contests, the two tied among this demographic. While Hillary won big among those over 65 (who no longer need to worry about getting jobs), she only won those who are 45-64 by 12 points (compared to 28 points on average in the previous contests).

The Sanders campaign believes the potency of the trade issue bodes well for them in upcoming primaries in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

“Not only is Michigan the gateway to the rest of the industrial Midwest, the results there show that we are a national campaign,” Sanders said in a statement after the race was called. “We already have won in the Midwest, New England and the Great Plains and as more people get to know more about who we are and what our views are we’re going to do very well.”

2. Sanders is more popular among African Americans in the North than the South.

White voters made up 68 percent of the electorate in Michigan, and Sanders won them by 16 points (57-41). He lost African American voters by a 2 to 1 margin to Hillary in the preliminary exits. Compare that to the other primary states we’ve received exit polling from, where he trailed 84-16 on average. His 31 percent among African Americans is his best performance to date among this core Democratic constituency. “He also fared no worse among black women, a group that has strongly favored Clinton, than among black voters overall,” Scott notes.

“Sanders fought her to a draw among under-40 African Americans, and turnout in Wayne County (home to Detroit) was maddeningly meh,” Politico’s Glenn Thrush notes. “And she didn’t even win Genesee County, home to Flint, the emotional focal point of her Michigan effort – and, in many ways, her entire campaign. This is very, very bad news for Clinton – who had been running on the promise of becoming a kind of third black president (behind her husband and President Obama).”

In Mississippi, Sanders got virtually no African American support. Clinton won overall with 83 percent to Sanders’s 16 percent. The exit polls showed African Americans accounted for two-thirds of the electorate, up from 50 percent eight years ago. Hillary won 90 percent of them. (She actually won white voters there too.)

(<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/08/the-two-big-warning-signs-for-hillary-clinton-in-michigan/">Graphic by Philip Bump</a>)</p>

(Graphic by Philip Bump)

3. Clinton supporters were complacent and/or crossed over to vote against Trump.

One of the problems with polls showing a blowout is that it becomes harder to motivate lower-propensity voters to show up. They don’t see a point.

There are also a lot of anecdotal reports of Clinton supporters taking Republican ballots to vote against Trump.

One of our reporters on the ground noted this while polls were still open yesterday:

4. The Clinton campaign took Michigan for granted.

The operatives in Brooklyn believed their own spin and didn’t pay enough attention to the fundamentals.

The large lead in the polls prompted Clinton to spend more time in upcoming primary states that appear to be closer and where her team believed wins would neutralize the Sanders threat.

BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer, citing a source familiar with Clinton’s Michigan operation, said the loss came down to a failure of organization. They assumed their structural advantages would hold and moved on too soon. Clinton had a small state staff and parachuted people in late, Ruby tweeted.

The field operation didn’t really kick in until about one week out, and it mostly focused on driving up African American turnout – not persuading white voters.

Clinton didn’t spend as much money on TV ads as she might have and didn’t deploy as many surrogates to campaign because they didn’t think it was necessary.

There was also a couple day stretch after her big wins on Super Tuesday in which Clinton tried to make overtures to Sanders supporters and didn’t want to seem like she was playing hardball. The narrative the campaign wanted coming out of last week’s primaries was that the former First Lady was turning her attention toward Trump and the general election.

5. An unexpectedly large number of independents voted in the Democratic primary, and Sanders won them overwhelmingly. “Polls appear to have underestimated the number of Republicans and independents who crossed over to back Sanders,” Politico’s Steven Shepard explains. “According to exit polls, only 69 percent of Democratic primary voters identified as Democrats; another 28 percent said they were independents, and 3 percent were Republicans. … And those independents went big for Sanders: He beat Clinton among independents, 70 percent to 28 percent – enough to offset a 16-point Clinton advantage among Democrats.”

The Detroit Free Press attributes Sanders’s win to record turnout: “More than 2.2 million votes were cast in the Democratic and Republican primaries, well above the record 1.9 million counted in 1972 … Turnout in the state [also] surged well past numbers from recent years, causing precincts across the state to run out of ballots completely.”

A voters puts her ballot in the counting machine at Central High School&nbsp;in Detroit. (EPA/Jeff Kowalsky)</p>

A voters puts her ballot in the counting machine at Central High School in Detroit. (EPA/Jeff Kowalsky)

6. Michigan’s pollsters are particularly awful.

A bunch of the Michigan surveys in that RealClearPolitics average we cited at the top were robo-polls, which means they did not reach people who do not have landlines. Since Sanders tends to do better with younger voters, that means they were underrepresented.

Additionally, several analysts pointed out that Michigan polling has been off in recent cycles too. This is Larry Sabato’s deputy at the University of Virginia:

What about Sunday’s debate?

Hillary and Bernie on Sunday&nbsp;(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)</p>

Hillary and Bernie on Sunday (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

I’ve already received more than 100 messages from Bernie supporters telling me that the results prove Monday’s 202 – which said Sanders lost the debate – was inaccurate. I respectfully disagree.

Correlation does not imply causation.

The exit polls show that only 15 percent of voters made up their minds on who to vote for in the last few days. Clinton actually won that group by 4 points (52-48). So it does not appear that he got some late surge. The results are more about what the electorate looked like and the fact that Clinton didn’t get her people out.

Sanders was not quick on his feet in Flint, and he really seemed caught off guard when Clinton came after him for a vote against the auto bailout (even if the attack was unfair). His comment about “the ghetto” and the perception that he was condescending to Clinton when she was speaking dominated not just our analysis but all coverage.

The most likely explanation is that few undecided or persuadable voters actually watched the two-hour CNN showdown.

Dana Houle, a Chicago-based Democratic political consultant, argues that Hillary’s hit on Bernie over the auto bailout actually did in fact draw blood: “She did well in Macomb (County) cities w lot of UAW members. But in the areas …without much auto industry presence she got clobbered. Looks like Hillary lost every county that Obama lost in the 2012 general election.”

Big picture:

— It bears repeating that, despite her narrow loss in Michigan, “Clinton’s overwhelming victory in Mississippi increased her large lead in the overall delegate count.” John Wagner, Anne Gearan and Abby Phillip: “Clinton has now won 13 states in this Democratic primary contest, including eight from the old Confederacy, where black voters are a major force in any Democratic race. Sanders has won nine states, but — because many of his victories were in smaller states, and because Clinton has dominated among superdelegates, who make up their own minds — he is far behind in the race for delegates to the Democratic convention.”

— Hillary is still favored to win the two biggest primaries next week. New CNN/ORC polls, out this morning, show Clinton up 63-33 in Ohio and 61-34 in Florida. Quinnipiac polls, also out today, show Clinton up 30 points in the Sunshine State 9 points in the Buckeye State. (That said, Sanders supporters have reason to be dubious of polls…)

— TUNE IN: The Michigan results raise the stakes for tonight’s Democratic debate in Miami, sponsored by The Washington Post and Univision. The debate begins at 9 p.m. Eastern. CNN will broadcast the debate in English, and Univision will broadcast it in Spanish. We’ll have a livestream. Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos of Univision, along with The Post’s Karen Tumulty, are moderating.

— WHY LAST NIGHT’S RESULTS ARE HUGE FOR TRUMP:

Donald Trump walks in for&nbsp;a press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Flordia.&nbsp;(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)</p>

Donald Trump walks in for a press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Flordia. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

— Trump’s easy victories in the Michigan and Mississippi primaries – plus Hawaii’s caucuses – suggest the intensified GOP establishment assault on Trump’s character and record has not wounded his campaign quite as badly as thought. At least not yet.

Brand new CNN/ORC polls shows Trump leading both Kasich and Rubio in their respective home states, which vote next Tuesday. The GOP front-runner now holds a 6 point lead over Kasich in the Buckeye state and a 16 point lead over Rubio in Florida (40-24).

It was a good night for Cruz but not a great one: He won the Idaho caucuses by 17 points (45-28), giving him his seventh victory overall. But the exit polls showed Trump would have won a two-way contest with Cruz in Mississippi. And while Cruz won conservative western Michigan, he struggled in the vote-rich suburbs of Detroit.

Our chief correspondent, Dan Balz, says the anti-Trump forces now just have one week left to stop Trump. “But they needed a better result on Tuesday than they got,” he writes. “Trump remains in control of the race.” Dan thinks this could be the most critical week of the primary season, with the party elites almost out of time to deny the GOP nomination to Trump:

  • “Rubio’s prospects have faded dramatically. He needs a stunning turnaround, beginning in Florida and then elsewhere.”
  • “Kasich could win Ohio. If he were to do that, other Midwestern states could be fertile territory, but after what happened Tuesday in Michigan, he could not count on [the region].”
  • “Cruz and his advisers long have believed that a head-to-head race would favor him over Trump. But a look at the calendar after next week raises questions about his path. So far, other than his victory in Texas, he has had trouble demonstrating that he has support that is significantly broader than his evangelical base. Right now, Cruz has done less well overall than former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who had a similar base of support, did in 2012. Both won the Iowa caucuses. Santorum went on to win 10 more states. Of the seven that have voted already this year, Cruz has won two, Rubio one and Trump four. Cruz can win caucus states and some smaller contests. His real test will come in states such as Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and California.”

What we learned from the exit polls:

— Trump threaded the ideological needle in Michigan. Clement, The Post’s pollster, notes that Trump garnered 34 percent among very conservative voters, 34 among somewhat conservative voters and 39 percent among moderates and liberals. Kasich only performed well among moderates, and Cruz was only competitive with strong conservatives.

— Trump’s supporters are the most passionate and locked in. “Over 6 in 10 Republican primary voters decided who to support earlier than last week, and Trump won them by a nearly 2 to 1 margin,” he notes. “Kasich was the chief beneficiary of voters who decided in the final week – he received 43 percent of their votes compared with 25 percent for Cruz and 18 percent for Trump. Trump also dominated with the nearly half of voters who said they ‘strongly favor’ their candidate, winning 46 percent of their votes compared with roughly 2 in 10 for Kasich and Cruz.” CNN has posted the full set of preliminary GOP numbers here.

Kasich is damaged by his third-place finish in Michigan:

He went all in, trying to replicate the saturation strategy that worked in New Hampshire. At a “victory party” in Columbus last night, Kasich even declared that he had finished second place. As more precincts reported, he slipped into third. (Read a dispatch from David Weigel, who is traveling with the Ohio governor.)

At least Rubio won Minnesota and Puerto Rico. Kasich has won nothing. If he loses Ohio next Tuesday, his campaign is over.

— The Rubio fade continues:

It does not appear he will get a single delegate from Idaho, Michigan or Mississippi. He got 9 percent in Michigan, 5 percent in Mississippi, 13 percent in Hawaii and 16 percent in Idaho.

“It was hard to see Rubio winning Florida before Tuesday night,” writes The Fix’s Chris Cillizza, who lists him as the biggest loser of the night. “It’s even harder to imagine him winning it now since the next seven days will be filled with questions about a) whether he is staying in the race and b) whether he should stay in the race.Rubio, who is still in his early 40s, has to consider his future — and fast. Losing Florida — particularly if he loses badly — could damage Rubio’s political career going forward on both the state and national level.”

CBS joined CNN in reporting that there are discussions in Rubio World about whether to even stay in through next Tuesday. Tweets like these make a comeback harder.

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost’s morning newsletter.
With contributions from Breanne Deppisch (@b_deppy) and Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Kyle Andrew Odom&nbsp;(Coeur d&#39;Alene Police Department via The Spokesman-Review via AP)</p>

Kyle Andrew Odom (Coeur d’Alene Police Department via The Spokesman-Review via AP)

— Ex-Marine Kyle Odom, suspected of shooting Idaho pastor Tim Remington earlier this week, was arrested outside the White House. Odom “threw unknown, non-hazardous material over the south fence line at the White House Complex,” according to the Secret Service, and was immediately taken into custody. (Michael E. Miller and Carol D. Leonnig)

–What we know: Odom has a history of mental illness and claimed on Facebook that “the world is ruled by ancient civilizations from Mars.” “Pastor Tim was one of them, he was ruining my life,” he said. “Anyway, I don’t have time right now, they are chasing me … I have sent my story to all the major news organizations. I have no time, I have to go.” Odom reportedly sent a manifesto to media outlets making references to President Obama, 50 members of Congress, dozens of Israeli officials and a second Altar Church pastor, who was placed under police protection. Remington regained consciousness on Monday after being shot as many as six times, and is in stable condition. (This past weekend, he had opened a Cruz rally in prayer.)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin listens to Joe Biden as he speaks at the Israeli presidential compound in Jerusalem a few minutes ago.&nbsp;(AFP/Gali Tibbongali/Getty Images)</p>

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin listens to Joe Biden as he speaks at the Israeli presidential compound in Jerusalem a few minutes ago. (AFP/Gali Tibbongali/Getty Images)

— A rash of bloody attacks greets Joe Biden in Israel: The vice president is there to advance talks surrounding a multibillion-dollar military aid package, William Booth and Carol Morello report. “Less than a mile from where Vice President Biden spoke at a center for peace, a Palestinian attacker went on a stabbing rampage Tuesday that left an American tourist dead and 10 wounded before the assailant was fatally shot by police. The knife attack on the Mediterranean coast in the ancient port of Jaffa followed three other attacks around Israel on Tuesday … It is unknown whether the assaults were timed to generate attention during Biden’s visit.” (William Booth and Ruth Eglash)

Vanderbilt identified the slain American as Taylor Force, a graduate student in the School of Management. The university chancellor said in a statement that Force was on a school trip to Tel Aviv.

— A setback for Mitch McConnell’s dream of a GOP takeover of the legislature in his home state: “On a huge night for Kentucky Democrats, the party ran to victories in three out of four special elections, strengthening its hold on the state House of Representatives and setting back Republican efforts for a historic takeover,” the Kentucky Courier-Journalreports. “Republicans avoided a sweep by holding onto only one seat … [Some] Democrats called the resounding win a repudiation of Gov. Matt Bevin’s policies, which they say are too extreme. ‘Bevin agenda takes a huge hit,’ said political consultant Kim Geveden, who said the Democrats won because of ‘high quality candidates … that ran on issues that matter to people.’ The three Democratic victories mean the party will hold a 53-47 margin in the House and look to be assured of continuing its 95-year hold on the chamber through at least the end of the year.”

— Beatles producer George Martin dies at 90: “The dapper, classically trained English record producer whose exacting ear and willing spirit of experimentation helped make the Beatles the world’s most successful recording artists, died March 8 at age 90. No cause of death or location has been disclosed …

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The World Health Organization cautioned pregnant woman against traveling to Zika-affected areas, saying new information “strongly suggests” sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed. (Lena H. Sun)
  2. Oregon officials said state troopers were justified in fatally shooting wildlife refuge occupier LaVoy Finicum, but they are still investigating several shots that were reportedly fired by FBI agents.  (Mark Berman)
  3. Newly-released video footage shows Finicum heckling authorities in the moments before his death. “You can do as you please, we’re not going anywhere,” he yelled. “You can go ahead and shoot me, O.K., boys.” (New York Times)
  4. Pentagon officials confirmed that top ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Shishani was likely killed in a series of coalition airstrikes in Syria last week. The attacks were carried out by manned and unmanned aircrafts, and hit 12 other Islamic State fighters. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
  5. The FDA settled with the drug maker Amarin, allowing the company to promote a fish oil pill for off-label use, so long as the information is “truthful and non-misleading.”  (Brady Dennis)
  6. Illinois authorities charged Dwright Boone-Doty for the first-degree murder of a 9-year-old. Doty planned to torture the boy, whose father was connected to a warring gang, by “cutting off his fingers and ears” as a measure of retaliation,prosecutors allege. (Lindsey Bever and Sarah Larimer)
  7. Missouri authorities arrested Pablo Serrano-Vitorino for allegedly killing four men in Kansas and another man in Missouri. (Fox News)
  8. Utah lawmakers are moving forward with a bill to repeal the death penalty: the bill was passed by the Senate this week and has been sent to the House for a vote. (Buzzfeed)
  9. Senate Republicans plan to begin writing their own spending bills based on the bipartisan budget agreement reached in December, rather than wait on House Republicans. (Kelsey Snell)
  10. If life in the White House aged President Obama prematurely, his vital stats don’t show it. Obama’s most recent medical report shows the president’s health has actually improved during his time in Washington – he’s 5 pounds lighter with lower’ blood pressure and reduced cholesterol. Among the other highlights: the president has kicked his smoking habit – though he occasionally uses nicotine gum – he maintains a regular fitness regimen, and has managed to lower his resting heart rate from 2014. (New York Times)
  11. Neil Bush, George W. and Jeb’s brother, joined Cruz’s finance team, making him the first Bush to join a presidential campaign after Jeb’s departure from the race. (Katie Zezima)

THE DAILY DONALD:

Trump is seen reflected through a mirror as he speaks last night. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)</p>

Trump is seen reflected through a mirror as he speaks last night. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

— Breitbart CEO Larry Solov is demanding an apology from Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly got physical with a reporter after Tuesday night’s press conference: Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was attempting to ask Trump a question as he exited Tuesday’s press conference when Lewandowski “forcibly yanked her” out of his path, nearly bringing her to the ground, he said. “It’s obviously unacceptable someone crossed a line and made physical contact with our reporter,” said Solov. “Corey owes Michelle an immediate apology.”

Daily Caller editor Jaime Weinstein, Fields’ boyfriend, tweeted: “Trump always surrounds himself w thugs. Tonight thug Corey Lewandowski tried to pull my girlfriend @MichelleFields to ground when she asked tough question.”

The event is the latest in a series of physical run-ins with the media: Just a little over a week ago, Trump photographer Chris Morris was slammed to the ground after attempting to exit a press pen during a rally.

— “One consolation for Trump opponents disheartened by his wins Tuesday: there was little effort mustered against him by independent groups in Michigan, where they spent just $42.86, or Mississippi, where they only put in $9,822,” Matea Gold notes. “The ultimate test of the #StopTrump effort will come in Florida, which has seen nearly $12 million worth of attacks against the billionaire developer.”

Five-year-old Axel Kiska waits for election results at the Riverside Hotel in Boise, Idaho, last night. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)</p>

Five-year-old Axel Kiska waits for election results at the Riverside Hotel in Boise, Idaho, last night. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

— The Idaho Statesman, writing up scenes from the caucuses, describes the contest there as “a referendum on Trump.” The paper says he was both the most loved and the most vilified.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he is “completely disgusted” with national politicians of both parties and said he will not join his friend Chris Christie in endorsing Trump. (Ovetta Wiggins)

— Katie Packer, who is leading one of the anti-Trump super PACs, says she now “wakes up to death threats” every morning. (USA Today)

— Keith Olbermann is moving out of his Trump-owned residence in New York City, saying, “I can’t hear, or see [the name Trump] any longer without spitting … Frankly, I’m running out of Trump spit.” You can read his essay here.

The Better Business Bureau contested statements made by Trump in last week’s debate claiming that they issued an “A” rating for his Trump University real estate program – and that they faxed him the results during the debate.

THE BLAME GAME –

— “Republicans should blame themselves — not the media — for Trump,” by Dana Milbank: “For nine months, Republican leaders refused to take on Trump. And now they’re blaming their failures on the media. ‘The media’s pumping him up,’ said Rubio, saying news outlets root for Trump ‘because he’s the easiest Republican to beat.’ Complaining about the media is an easy applause line for conservatives, and the news business no doubt deserves some blame. But if GOP leaders are looking for culprits, they should start with themselves. It’s worth noting that all the issues Cruz and Rubio now bring up — bankruptcies, Trump University, his bigoted remarks— were covered by the press long ago. But Trump’s rivals declined to attack him. Any media ‘bias’ … is a small flaw compared with chronic unwillingness of Republican leaders–particularly Trump’s rivals–to take him on.Had they done so earlier, journalists would have followed their cues, and coverage would have been different. To blame the news media now for the GOP’s own failings compounds their cowardice.”

CNN, Fox, and MSNBC choose to air Trump’s hour-long rambling sales pitch over Clinton and Kasich speeches. Politico’s Hadas Gold: “Millions of viewers tuned into networks during the prime time hour likely expecting to hear some candidate speeches. What they got was one candidate talking for 45 minutes: Trump. All three networks stuck with Trump’s press conference even as it veered into sales pitches for his product lines, despite the fact that Clinton spoke at the same time. They also mostly ignored Sanders’ and Kasich’s speeches … sparking complaints that revived an uncomfortable issue: Did the networks, knowing that the unpredictable, blustery Trump draws a bigger audience, go with the better draw rather than cover the full political landscape? The networks’ decision was all the more noteworthy because it validated a strategic decision by the Trump campaign to forgo the usual primary-night thank yous in favor of a lengthy, presidential-style press conference — a tactic he’s used on the two previous election nights.”

(Reuters/David Becker/Nancy Wiechec/Files)</p>

(Reuters/David Becker/Nancy Wiechec/Files)

LOOKING TO THE GENERAL: New Washington Post-ABC News polling shows Clinton with a clear lead over Trump in a hypothetical November matchup. From Dan Balz and Scott Clement: Powered by the same coalition that twice elected Barack Obama, Clinton leads Trump on a host of issues and candidate attributes.

  • A winning coalition: “Clinton leads Trump 50 percent to 41 percent among registered voters – tripling her margin over the real estate mogul since September.  She leads with a coalition of minorities, women, young voters and voters with college degrees. Trump is chosen by barely one-fifth of nonwhite voters—about the same percentage as Republican Mitt Romney received when he ran against Obama four years ago.”
  • Clinton has a 21-point lead over Trump among women, while Trump has a five-point edge among men. Along educational lines, white voters are sharply divided in their choices along educational lines: Trump carries voters without college degrees by 57 to 33 percent; Clinton wins those with college degrees by 52 to 37 percent.
  • When Americans are asked who they believe would win if Clinton and Trump were the nominees, Clinton is the overwhelming choice, with 59 percent naming her compared with 36 percent choosing Trump – a five-point gain for Clinton since January.
  • On four issues — the economy, terrorism, immigration and dealing with international crises — Clinton was rated better by Americans on every one. Trump’s closest edge is the economy, where Clinton has only a four-point lead of 49 to 45 percent.
  • Voters trust Clinton – not Trump – to handle immigration and keep America safe from domestic threats: Despite Trump’s bullish campaign rhetoric, Clinton leads the GOP frontrunner by 14 points on terrorism; 19 points on Trump’s signature issue of immigration; and 29 points on dealing with an overseas crisis. Almost a quarter of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they trust Clinton more than Trump on immigration.

— Think the “Trump effect” has perpetuated harmful rhetoric among adults?Columnist Petula Dvorak looks at how it’s affecting our kids: “’Build the wall!’ That was the chant at a high school basketball game in Indiana last week, directed by kids from a majority-white school who held up Trump signs and yelled at the opposing players and fans from a predominantly Latino school. And the mother of a third grader said she got a call from her son’s teacher that two of his classmates decided to point out the ‘immigrants’ in the class who would be sent ‘home’ when Trump becomes president.”

At Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland,&nbsp;a Clinton supporter&nbsp;waits for&nbsp;Hillary&#39;s&nbsp;election night rally.&nbsp;(Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)</p>

At Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, a Clinton supporter waits for Hillary’s election night rally. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

MORE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RACE

— Sanders’ campaign sued Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State over a directive barring 17-year-olds from participating in Ohio’s primary, saying the motion “arbitrarily discriminates” against minority voters.

— Hillary will attend Nancy Reagan’s funeral in Simi Valley on Friday.

— Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler weighs in on Hillary Clinton’s email controversy. Below are a few highlights:

  • Clinton’s claim that ‘everyone’ knew ‘I was using a personal email’ is false. (Obviously, the hundreds of people she was emailing with knew. But any privacy implications they were aware of is another question.)
  • Clinton’s claim that ‘everything I did [on emails] was permitted’ is a very narrow and technical argument –different from complying with existing rules the way everyone else understood them.
  • Republicans earned a few “Pinnochios” of their own for making a broad-brushed comparison of Clinton’s case to Gov. David Petraeus, the former CIA director who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information. “Fundamental differences make this an illogical comparison,” says Kessler, namely, the ongoing dispute as to whether Clinton’s emails were actually “classified” in nature.

–In fact, few still believe Clinton will be indicted for the matter. Columnist Ruth Marcus says that, based on available facts and relevant precedent, criminal prosecution of Clinton for mishandling classified information in her emails is “extraordinarily unlikely.”

Inside Mike Bloomberg’s decision not to run: Katie Couric sat down with senior Bloomberg advisor Howard Wolfson for an exclusive interview about why the former New York City mayor is sitting out a campaign. “In a Sanders, Trump, Bloomberg contest, we thought we could do very well,” he said. A Clinton, Trump, Bloomberg contest, however, could really only net Bloomberg 50-100 electoral votes, they determined. “He’s a big believer in data,” said Wolfson. “He wanted to see whether or not he would have a chance, whether his message would resonate.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

GAFFE OF THE DAY: The NRSC criticized Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth for not “standing up” for veterans. Problem is, Duckworth is a veteran and she lost both of her legs in Iraq:

The NRSC deleted the tweet. But, instead of apologizing, they doubled down on their attack. It was an invaluable gift to Duckworth on International Women’s Day. (Read Elise’s story on the back-and-forth.)

Trump gave a victory speech/press conference that sounded more like an infomercial, with steaks, wine and water laid out for the press and the TV cameras to consume.

Tensions rose between Rubio and Cruz over a Cruz campaign email that cited the CNN report saying Rubio may not stay in through Florida:

The Cruz camp, burned by the Ben Carson brouhaha after Iowa, distanced itself:

Killer Mike and Sarah Silverman connected over their support for Bernie Sanders:

Ellen DeGeneres added to the Trump hands meme:

Katy Perry is holding a contest to promote Hillary Clinton:

Matt Kibbe, who used to run FreedomWorks and backed Rand, said he will not vote for Trump if he becomes the nominee:

How can Kasich win the GOP nomination? Maybe something like this:

HOT ON THE LEFT

Florida pastor who endorsed Trump is vocal Sandy Hook truther. From TPM: “A site founded by [Carl] Gallups has shared multiple articles dismissing the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut as a ‘scam.’ The posts on PPSimmons News & Ministry Network argue that the shooting was an elaborately staged ‘gun-grab HOAX’ carried out by the federal government to facilitate the confiscation of Americans’ firearms.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Who are the bronze medalists in the poverty olympics? FromNational Review Online: “Why does the socialist class warrior deny the poverty of the single largest group of poor people in these United States? The answer is: cowardice. Senator Sanders likes to pose as a man of great conviction, but he is basically a grifter who has used public office as a way to evade honest employment for most of his long life.”

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Clinton and Sanders debate in Miami. Here’s where the Republicans will be:

  • Trump: Fayetteville, N.C.
  • Cruz: Miami, Fla.
  • Rubio: Hialeah, Fla.
  • Kasich: Lisle, Palatine, Ill.

At the White House: President Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Vice President Biden is in Israel.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at noon to work on the opioid bill. The House is not in session.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“He became hostile a couple of weeks ago, and it didn’t work,” Trump said of Rubio last night. “Hostility works for some people but not for everybody. He would’ve been better off had he kept the original pitter-patter going.” (Philip Rucker)

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— “Our spring fling should continue to deliver as advertised today, with morning temperatures quickly rising through the 50s and into the 60s, and afternoon highs surging to near 80 to the low 80s. All under mostly sunny skies, with a warm breeze from the southwest near 10 mph,” per the Capital Weather Gang.

— Peak bloom for Washington’s cherry blossoms has moved up, thanks to current and predicted spring-like temperatures. The National Park Service now forecasts peak bloom will occur from March 18-23.

— A Virginia Senate panel nominated former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R) to the Virginia Supreme Court, a move that could keep the tea party hero from seeking a gubernatorial bid in 2017. (Laura Vozzella)

The D.C. Republican party extended hours for its Saturday primary to allow Sabbath-observant Jews to participate. (Julie Zauzmer)

A new poll finds voters split before Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary, showing Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) locked in a statistical tie. (Rachel Weiner)

— The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Wizards 116-109.— In a terrifying use of GPS technology, two robbers traced a man back to his Montgomery County home by attaching a tracking device to his car. (Dan Morse)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Mitt Romney read mean Donald Trump tweets on Jimmy Kimmel:

Mitt Romney Reads Mean Donald Trump Tweets

A reporter in the Bay Area was almost hit by a car on live TV:

KTVU reporter almost hit by car on live TV

The reporter was emotional as he spoke about what happened:

KTVU reporter emotional live shot after nearly hit by car

Trump predicted more momentum:

Trump predicts easy wins, as Kasich, Rubio fight on

And extended an olive branch to the Republican establishment:

Trump extends olive branch to GOP establishment

Have you seen the latest trailer for Game of Thrones? Here it is:

Game of Thrones Season 6: Trailer (RED BAND) (HBO)

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