Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

The Nevada Caucuses will wrap up this afternoon, but thousands of people have already voted. Political pundits have already crowned Bernie Sanders the winner, but that may not be a sure thing.

David Byler at The Washington Post: We lack the data to predict Nevada’s outcome. Be wary of pundits’ gut instincts.

Nobody really knows what’s going on in the upcoming Nevada Democratic caucuses. Sure, we have a little bit of polling to go on — the RealClearPolitics average includes three recent polls, and it shows Bernie Sanders leading the pack at 30 percent, with Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar all clustered between 16 percent and 10 percent of the vote. But it’s hard to nail down the electorate in a caucus state, and Nevada is flush with the sort of young, Hispanic voters that pollsters often have trouble contacting. So all we really know is that Sanders has a lead, but that he’s not invincible.

In a normal election, this lack of concrete information wouldn’t be a problem: Nobody ever died because they didn’t see enough Nevada polling. But primaries aren’t normal elections. The trajectory of the race is often influenced by media-created “expectations” and narratives about “momentum.” And in Nevada, many political pros will be setting those crucially important expectations using gut feelings and groupthink rather than real information. That’s a riskier undertaking for them than they might acknowledge — and for the voters who listen to them.

Much more at the link.

Harry Enten at CNN: Why Nevada could surprise us.

There have been just eight polls released publicly over the last three months. Two of those were internal polls. Only five of those have been taken since the primary season began a few weeks ago, and of those, a grand total of zero meet CNN standards for publication….

Put all together, Sanders is something around a seven in 10 favorite to win in Nevada. That’s based off of the prediction markets and how good the polling in Nevada has been since 2008 (the first year in which Nevada was one of the first four states to vote). Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are next with somewhere around a one in 10 chance to win. Everybody has less than a one in 10 shot in Nevada.

Sanders clearly has a better shot than anyone else to win, but a seven in 10 shot is not an overwhelming favorite. It means that there’s a decent chance Sanders won’t win.
The lack of confidence we should have in the Nevada outcome is partially because of the lack of polling data, but also because the polling data has not been particularly predictive in the past.

Since 2008, Nevada has b een a polling wasteland. Looking at all candidates who polled at 10% or better after undecideds were allocated, Nevada polls taken after the Iowa caucuses have had an average error per candidate of 8 points. The 95% confidence interval for each candidate above 10% is something closer to +/- 20 points. That is, to put it mildly, a huge range.

Read the rest at CNN.

Cat Nap – A Pink Chair by the Window, Lara Meintjes

And we can’t forget that early voting has already been going on in many Super Tuesday states. I’ll be voting early here in Massachusetts next week.

Kelly Mena at CNN: Forget Nevada. Almost 2 million votes have already been cast in Super Tuesday states.

Super Tuesday is still more than a week away, but almost 2 million ballots have already been cast — including in delegate-rich California and Texas.

More than 1.3 million vote-by-mail ballots have been returned in California since February 3, according to county data provided by Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla. That’s out of more than 16 million ballots sent out — a flood that allows the vast majority of the state’s more than 20 million registered voters to cast their ballots before March 3.

“The California presidential primary may be on Super Tuesday, but for millions of Californians, it is really Super February,” Padilla said in a news release earlier this month.
California, with 494 delegates at stake — the most of any single state — has taken on new prominence this year after moving its primary date up in the calendar. Democratic candidates need 1,991 to clinch the nomination.

The other big delegate haul up for grabs on Super Tuesday is Texas, with 261 delegates. Almost half a million ballots have already been cast since early and by-mail voting opened on February 18, according to the secretary of state’s office. Texas has more than 16 million registered voters.

Unfortunately, Bernie is also leading in California polls; and he’s so confident of winning Nevada that he has already left to campaign in CA.

Cat on a chair, Diane Hoepner

Two polls released this week in California show Bernie Sanders holding a comfortable lead. The latest poll from The Public Policy Institute of California, released on Tuesday, shows Sanders ahead at 32%, with Joe Biden (14%), Elizabeth Warren (13%), Pete Buttigieg (12%) and Michael Bloomberg (12%) closely knotted in a race for second. Amy Klobuchar stood at 5% in that poll, with Tom Steyer at 3% and Tulsi Gabbard at 1%.

Monmouth University also released a California poll this week. Their poll finds Sanders leading with 24%, Biden at 17%, Bloomberg at 13%, Warren at 10% and Buttigieg at 9%. Behind them, Steyer (5%) and Klobuchar (4%) were about even, with Gabbard at 2%.

Yesterday we learned that Russia is trying to help Bernie win the Democratic nomination. The Washington Post reports:

U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill also have been informed about the Russian assistance to the Vermont senator, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken. U.S. prosecutors found a Russian effort in 2016 to use social media to boost Sanders’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, part of a broader effort to hurt Clinton, sow dissension in the American electorate and ultimately help elect Donald Trump.

So Bernie has known this for a month and did and said nothing about it. And he’s not happy with the media for reporting the news. He attacked the Post for reporting the story.

He is also furious with MSNBC for some reason. As far as I can tell, he is getting full support from Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Ali Velshi, but I guess he’s angry with some of the guests on the network. Page Six: Bernie Sanders calls out MSNBC over campaign coverage.

Bernie Sanders went ballistic at NBC and MSNBC execs ahead of the Democratic debate this week — jabbing one top TV exec repeatedly in the face with his finger and accusing the networks of offensive negative coverage.

Surging Sanders stormed through the walk-through for the Las Vegas debate, singling out one top producer at the end and aggressively sticking his finger in his face. One shocked witness said, “Bernie marched right up to NBC and MSNBC’s head of creative production and began jabbing his finger right in his face, yelling, ‘Your coverage of my campaign is not fair . . . Your questions tonight are not going to be fair to me.’ ”

Sanders did not hold back as he continued to rant about MSNBC coverage. According to the witness, “The NBC exec told Sanders he would be treated fairly.”

A separate insider confirmed the confrontation, saying Sanders was so steamed he also sparred with MSNBC boss Phil Griffin outside the green room moments before the debate began. “Sen. Sanders stated, ‘Phil, your network has not been playing a fair role in this campaign. I am upset. Is anything going to change? . . . I hope you will do better.’ ”

The Democratic front-runner has been left seeing red over repeated slights against him by liberal MSNBC pundits and hosts, including Chris Matthews, who suggested the senator might cheer socialist executions in Central Park. And Chuck Todd — a moderator of Wednesday’s debate — even quoted a story that described Sanders supporters as a “digital brownshirt brigade.” Todd was also tackled by seething Sanders onstage after the debate: “I do not appreciate your comment about my supporters,” adding the Holocaust reference was “offensive.”

Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir has said that even Fox News has been “more fair than MSNBC . . . which . . . is constantly undermining the Bernie Sanders campaign.”

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bernie is just a “socialist” mirror image of Trump. But Trump is actually president right now, and he’s undermining democracy in every way he and his thugs can think of. His latest efforts include a Stalinist-style purge of anyone who crosses him and a hostile takeover of the Intelligence community.

The Washington Post: Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates.

President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election.

Maine Coon Cat Sitting On Chair, by Rosanne Olson.

Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The push comes in the aftermath of an impeachment process in which several members of Trump’s administration provided damning testimony about his behavior with regard to Ukraine. The stream of officials publicly criticizing Trump’s actions frustrated the president and caused him to fixate on cleaning house after his acquittal this month.

“We want bad people out of our government!” Trump tweeted Feb. 13, kicking off a tumultuous stretch of firings, resignations, controversial appointments and private skirmishes that have since spilled into public view.

The New York Times: Richard Grenell Begins Overhauling Intelligence Office, Prompting Fears of Partisanship.

Richard Grenell’s tenure as the nation’s top intelligence official may be short-lived, but he wasted no time this week starting to shape his team of advisers, ousting his office’s No. 2 official — a longtime intelligence officer — and bringing in an expert on Trump conspiracy theories to help lead the agency, according to officials.

Mr. Grenell has also requested the intelligence behind the classified briefing last week before the House Intelligence Committee where officials told lawmakers that Russia was interfering in November’s presidential election and that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia favored President Trump’s re-election. The briefing later prompted Mr. Trump’s anger as he complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Joseph Maguire, the former acting director of national intelligence, and his deputy, Andrew P. Hallman, resigned on Friday. Mr. Grenell told Mr. Hallman, popular in the office’s Liberty Crossing headquarters, that his service was no longer needed, according to two officials. Mr. Hallman, who has worked in the office or at the C.I.A. for three decades, expressed confidence in his colleagues in a statement but also referred to the “uncertainties that come with change.”

The ouster of Mr. Hallman and exit of Mr. Maguire, who also oversaw the National Counterterrorism Center, allowed Mr. Grenell to install his own leadership team.

Much more at the WaPo link.

Finally, here’s a deep dive into Trump’s attack on our National Security by Garrett Graff at Wired: How Trump Hollowed Out US National Security.

While vacancies and acting officials have become commonplace in this administration, the moves by President Donald Trump this week represent a troubling and potentially profound new danger to the country. There will soon be no Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center, director of national intelligence, principal deputy director of national intelligence, homeland security secretary, deputy homeland security secretary, nor leaders of any of the three main border security and immigration agencies. Across the government, nearly 100,000 federal law enforcement agents, officers, and personnel are working today without permanent agency leaders, from Customs and Border Protection and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

All the posts, and many more top security jobs, are unfilled or staffed with leaders who have not been confirmed by the Senate. Trump has done an end-around, installing loyalists without subjecting them to legally mandated vetting and approval by Congress.

Trump’s surprise ouster of Maguire, who took over as acting director of national intelligence last summer, came apparently in a tantrum over a congressional briefing that outlined how Russia is already trying to interfere with the 2020 election and help reelect Trump.

But understanding the true cost of Maguire’s firing requires understanding how the role first came to be. The director of national intelligence position was created after 9/11 specifically to coordinate the work of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies and help “connect the dots” on disparate data and threats, work that wasn’t done before September 11, 2001. DNI is an immensely challenging job that includes serving legally as the president’s top intelligence adviser, and traditionally involves giving the president’s daily briefing on potential threats.

Graff also address Trump’s destruction of the Department of Homeland Security–including FEMA. I hope you’ll read the whole article.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers! As always, this is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The World of Peace and Harmony, Prinsa S., Kathmandu, Nepal Age:13

The World of Peace and Harmony, Prinsa S., Kathmandu, Nepal
Age:13

Good Morning!!

Today the Republicans will caucus in Nevada, and Donald Trump will probably win. The Republican leadership is slowly moving through the stages of grief as they come to terms with the likelihood that the clowniest clown in the clown car will be at the top of their ticket in November.

Politico: GOP wakes up to Trump nightmare.

Establishment Republicans are reckoning with something they thought would never happen: That it might soon be too late to stop Donald Trump.

With the controversial businessman the clear front-runner heading into Nevada and next week’s Super Tuesday contests, there’s an emerging consensus that the odds of dislodging him are growing longer by the day. Whispered fears that Trump could become the Republican nominee have given way to a din of resigned conventional wisdom – with top party officials and strategists openly wondering what the path to defeating him will be….

”World Peace from Nagasaki Megami Bridge: Tamako and Maria” by 47 children of 175 members of Club Kids Peace in Tomachi Elementary School.

”World Peace from Nagasaki Megami Bridge: Tamako and Maria” by 47 children of 175 members of Club Kids Peace in Tomachi Elementary School.

Lately they are telling themselves that if only the weaker candidates would drop out maybe Rubio or Cruz could win.

The biggest hurdle confronting the mogul’s four rivals is that they continue to divide support among themselves. In each of the three contests that have been held so for, the anti-Trump field has fractured, making it impossible for any single contender to surpass him. A similar dynamic could play out again in Nevada, with Trump failing to win a majority of support but still earning more than his opponents.

While the field has winnowed somewhat in recent days, the compressed nature of this year’s Republican primary calendar means there is precious little time for the anti-Trump field to consolidate. Should Trump notch his third consecutive win on Tuesday, some foresee him steamrolling through Super Tuesday a week later, when a quarter of the party’s delegates are awarded. A batch of newly released polls show him with sizable leads in several of those states, including Massachusetts and Georgia.

“Either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would have a shot at the nomination, but I don’t see how they can stop Donald Trump while both of them are splitting votes,” said Al Cardenas, a former Florida Republican Party and American Conservative Union chairman who had supported Jeb Bush. “I don’t see either senator, both of whom have strong-willed backers, dropping out any time soon. Maybe after March 15, but will that be too late to stop Trump?”

It should be funny to see the GOP panicking, but I dread having to watch the repulsive spectacle that the presidential election would be if Trump were one of the candidates. The primary race has already been way beyond disgusting.

If We Could Just Join Hands

If We Could Just Join Hands

Washington Post: GOP candidates make intense 11th-hour arguments in Nevada.

Front-runner Donald Trump delivered a broadside against competitor Ted Cruz, telling thousands in Las Vegas he thinks the Texas senator “is sick.”

“There’s something wrong with this guy,” said Trump.

For his part, Cruz spent significant time Monday seeking to explain the ouster of his spokesman for tweeting a story that falsely accused White House hopeful Marco Rubio of insulting the Bible. And when the candidates weren’t directing their fire at each other, they used scattered appearances on the eve of Tuesday’s caucuses to assail Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

So raucous was this day that Trump stopped short at one point in his talk to bemoan the very delegate-selection he was in Nevada to tap.

“Forget the word caucus,” he told a crowd of some 5,000. “Just go out and vote, OK?” At another point, he said, “What the hell is caucus?”

This is the kind of idiocy that we have to look forward to this fall.

Prize-winning poster by middle school student Daniel Mendoza

Prize-winning poster by middle school student Daniel Mendoza

Ted Cruz tried to steal some of Trump’s thunder by promising to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants. The Dallas Morning News:

Ted Cruz said…that he would use federal immigration officers to round up and deport all 12 million people in the country illegally — a markedly tougher stance that he has struck in the past.

“Yes, we should deport them,” Cruz told Fox host Bill O’Reilly. “That’s what ICE exists for. We have law enforcement that looks for people who are violating the laws, that apprehends them and deports them.”

The toughening stance comes after a disappointing, if narrow, third place finish in South Carolina on Saturday, with immigration hardliner Donald Trump strengthening his grip on the race.

“There’s no change here,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said late Monday by email. “Cruz has been very clear: people who are here illegally should be deported. That is the law today. Period. They broke the law, they face the consequence. ICE exists for that purpose and they should continue to do their job. And on top of that any law enforcement that encounters those here illegally should follow the law and deport them.”

Marco Rubio is still the GOP “establishment’s” chosen candidate, but it’s difficult to see how he has much chance against Trump.

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Here’s Paul Waldman at The Week: Donald Trump is about to do terrible things to Marco Rubio.

As bullies go, Donald Trump is unusually skilled.

When Trump decides to go after you, he considers carefully both your weak points and the audience for his attack. So when he decided to pummel Jeb Bush — apparently for his own amusement, as much as out of any real political concerns — he hit upon the idea that Bush was “low energy,” something Bush had a hard time countering without sounding like a whiny grade-schooler saying, “Am not!” More than anything else it was a dominance display, a way of showing voters he could push Jeb around and there was nothing Jeb could do about it. With a primary electorate primed by years of watching their candidates fetishize manliness and aggression, the attack touched a nerve.

And now with the Republican race effectively narrowed to three candidates, the one Trump hasn’t bothered to go after too often — Marco Rubio — must prepare for the mockery and rumor-mongering that will surely be coming his way from the frontrunner. Whether he can withstand it could go a long way toward determining how this race turns out.

Until now, Trump has been relatively soft on Rubio. But with the increasing possibility that Rubio could be the greatest threat to Trump winning the nomination, he’s almost certain to go after him. If the past is any guide, Trump will throw a bunch of different attacks Rubio’s way until he happens upon one that seems to resonate; then he’ll stick with it as long as it works. Trump is already dabbling in Rubio birtherism (though he doesn’t seem quite committed to it), but eventually he’ll find a line of personal criticism with just the right note of cruelty and derision….

Rubio may have avoided Trump’s wrath up until now, but that won’t last. The only question is what brand of contempt Trump will heap on him. It might be some kind of attack based on Rubio’s ethnicity, or it might be the same kind of you’re-a-girly-man insults he used on Bush. That could be effective, since Rubio does look like he didn’t graduate high school all that long ago. He could go after Rubio’s occasionally shaky finances, which Trump surely looks on with utter contempt, since as far as he’s concerned, not being rich makes you a loser.

To be honest, the insanity is really getting to me today. I can barely stand to read about these clowns anymore, much less actually watch them spew their hateful nonsense on TV. That’s why I’ve illustrated this post with art by children and adults about world peace.

Our world our future, Tongbram Mahesh Singh

Our world our future, Tongbram Mahesh Singh

A couple more links on Nevada:

Time: What to Watch at the Nevada Caucuses.

LA Times: Four big questions await answers Tuesday in Nevada’s Republican caucuses.

On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders is starting to look really desperate. Yesterday, instead of campaigning in South Carolina, where the primary is this Saturday, he came to Boston and then held a rally at another university–U. Mass Amherst. The appearance in Boston was billed as a “press conference,” but Sanders didn’t take questions. He just gave a variation of his stump speech with some more mean-spirited than usual attacks on Hillary Clinton thrown in. NBC News reports:

BOSTON—Just two days after losing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Nevada caucuses, Senator Bernie Sanders launched a broadside against his rival, aggressively emphasizing differences between himself and Clinton on issues of campaign finance and trade policy.

“What I intend to do over the next number of weeks is kind of contrast my record to Secretary Clinton’s” Sanders began as he addressed the press at Boston’s International Association of Ironworkers, Local 7.

Keeping true to his word, the Vermont senator — who boasts of having never run a negative campaign — dove into a litany of contrast points he sees between himself and Clinton, launching some of the most direct swipes Sanders has taken at his competitor during this campaign season.

“I am delighted that Secretary Clinton month after month seems to be adopting more and more of the positions that we have advocated, that’s good,” he said.

“And in fact, she is beginning to use a lot of the language and phraseology that we have used,” Sanders added, joking that he saw a TV ad and thought it was him speaking despite Clinton’s photo being pictured in the spot.

Sanders hit Clinton hardest on her use of a Super PAC— the pro-Clinton Priorities USA – and used the group to tie her to Wall Street and big donor influences.

Nothing new there–just the same tired old smears and innuendo.

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The headline in The Boston Globe this morning is kind of pathetic if you know anything about where most of the delegates are going to be won.

Bernie Sanders’ path to the nomination runs squarely through Massachusetts.

The Democratic primary could be effectively decided within the next two weeks, if Hillary Clinton’s campaign gets the outcome they’re looking for. With more than 1,000 delegates up for grabs, early March will be do-or-die for Bernie Sanders’ campaign….

“On Tuesday, March 1, we’re going to make history here in Massachusetts,” Sanders told a crowd Monday at UMass Amherst. “This great state is going to lead us forward to a political revolution.”

If Sanders’ political revolution is going anywhere on Super Tuesday, it will have to be in states like Massachusetts, where he has a demographic advantage [meaning lots of white liberals]….

As of Monday night, Clinton leads Sanders in pledged delegates 52 to 51, after votes were cast in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Clinton is expected to trounce in South Carolina, where she has the strong support of black voters. Polls also show strong leads for the former secretary of state in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia—all of which vote March 1.

But even if Sanders wins in states with lots of white people–like Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Colorado–there no way he will win enough delegates to compete with Clinton. I just don’t see a path to the nomination for him when he’s polling so badly with people of color.’

Poster by Lianwei H. Chengdu, Sichuan, China age 17

Poster by Lianwei H. Chengdu, Sichuan, China age 17

I actually think it’s time for Clinton supporters to begin showing empathy and compassion for Sanders supporters–especially the young ones who really don’t understand how politics works. They are going to have broken hearts soon, and we need to help bind their wounds and make them feel welcome in the party. I don’t think we should start telling Bernie to quit–let him go on as long as he wants and let his followers vote for him.

More stories to check out:

Pew Research Center: Majority of Public Wants Senate to Act on Obama’s Court Nominee.

New York Times: Seas are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries.

Washington Post: ‘Slaps on the wrist’ for white men who watched friend throw black man onto train tracks.

Politico: Spike Lee backs Sanders in radio ad.

Politico: Ben Carson: Obama was ‘raised white.’

Gawker: Hot Mic Captures Trump Chatting With Morning Joe Hosts: “You Had Me Almost As a Legendary Figure.”

Media Matters: 8 Things Trump And Morning Joe Hosts Discussed When Cameras Were Off.

Digby: When is MSNBC going to do something about this?

Mass Politics Profs: Warren Won’t Endorse Sanders.

AP: Gun maker seeks dismissal of lawsuit over Newtown shooting. (Thanks to the bill Sanders voted for.)

Politico: Bernie’s Spring Break Blues. “When Bernie Sanders will need college students the most, they’ll be watching Netflix and partying.”

So . . . what stories are you following today?


Nevada Caucuses Open Thread

Mr. 1% addresses a campaign rally in Colorado Springs

I thought I’d put up a thread about the Nevada Caucuses. Official results will be coming in soon, but as of now it looks like another big win for Romney. Reuters:

Early vote results reported by CNN showed Romney grabbing a big lead. With 3 percent of precincts counted, Romney had 52 percent, well ahead of U.S. Representative Ron Paul’s 20 percent. Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich was in third with 19 percent and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum was last with 9 percent.

As for Mitt, he’s already in Colorado.

Flanked by four young grandchildren, a buoyant-looking Mitt Romney strode across the tarmac here [Colorado Springs] early Saturday afternoon, creating a perfectly posed American family tableau on the day that Nevadans voted for their choices to be the Republican presidential nominee.

He had reason to look upbeat; early returns from Nevada caucuses indicate a decisive win — which would make it the second state he has won in a row, and the third total — boosting the narrative of his inevitability, which briefly seemed in doubt after he was routed in South Carolina by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Colorado’s caucuses take place Tuesday.

Rick Santorum is also in Colorado and Ron Paul has moved on to Minnesota.

According to TPM, Newt Gingrich, who spent very little money or effort on Nevada, announced his upcoming campaign schedule just a short time ago, seemingly indicating that he plans to fight on.

Earlier, TPM reported that Gingrich had sent out an e-mail to supporters saying “we still have 45 states to go.” Gingrich held a meeting with about 60 donors earlier this afternoon. Sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson was at the meeting, so I assume he plans to keep supporting Gingrich for now. The NYT reported today that Adelson is open to supporting Romney in the general.

Ron Paul is saying he believes he’ll come in second in Nevada. According to Chris Matthews on MSNBC Paul says he’ll get 25%. That wouldn’t be good for Newt, who really needs to come in second.

I’ll post updates in the comments, but please do treat this as an open thread.