Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In a staggering figure, Bernie Sanders' campaign says it raised $20 million in January alone. Most national candidates struggle to raise that much in a quarter.
* With eight days remaining before the New Hampshire primary, the latest CNN poll shows Sanders cruising past Hillary Clinton, 57% to 34%.
* The next debate for the Democratic presidential candidates was supposed to be next week, but a new event has been scheduled for this week: Sanders, Clinton, and Martin O'Malley will meet this Thursday in New Hampshire for a debate co-hosted by Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd.
* The New York Times' editorial board endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary and John Kasich in the Republican presidential primary. Given GOP attitudes, don't expect the latter to make too big a fuss about the praise.
* Speaking of Kasich, his super PAC is hitting Marco Rubio in a new ad, reminding voters about the Florida senator's opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, despite the law's bipartisan support.
* Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) announced his retirement over the weekend. He's the 21st House member to make this announcement in this Congress -- 15 Republicans, 6 Democrats -- which may sound like a lot, but it's not quite as many as the last couple of Congresses.
* The Virginia's Republican Party's on-again, off-again interest in a "loyalty pledge" in its presidential primary appears to be over. The State Central Committee voted over the weekend to scrap the idea.
The race for the Democratic nomination looks like a two-person contest, pitting Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has struggled for months to gain traction, and polling shows him in an uncompetitive position in state and national polling.
But that doesn't mean O'Malley and his supporters are irrelevant. On the contrary, tonight they may very well represent the difference between winning or coming up short. The New York Times published this report about a week ago, and though it went largely overlooked, today is the day to re-read it.
Martin O'Malley has rarely broken above 5 percent in Iowa polls, but on caucus night he could be the most popular person in the room -- or, rather, his supporters will be, as activists for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders desperately try to scoop them up.
The arcane rules of Iowa's Democratic caucuses mean that most O'Malley supporters will be ruled "nonviable" if he does not get 15 percent support at a caucus; his supporters will then be up for grabs by another candidate. With polls showing the race between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders narrowing to a near tie, O'Malley supporters, along with attendees who enter their neighborhood caucuses undecided, could swing the results.
This gets a little complicated, but bear with me. When Iowa Democrats show up for their caucuses tonight, they'll break up into groups based on which candidate they prefer. In precincts in which O'Malley's support falls short of 15%, the former governor will be considered "non-viable," at which point O'Malley's supporters will be able to move to their second choice -- either Sanders or Clinton.
As a practical matter, that may very well lead to plenty of situations in which O'Malley backers give one of the top two candidates a meaningful boost. Based on the latest data from Public Policy Polling, the Maryland Democrat's supporters generally prefer Sanders to Clinton, 57% to 27%, so this may represent an important edge for the senator during the caucuses themselves.
Of course, Clinton's team knows this, and BuzzFeed reported over the weekend that her campaign has some tactics in mind that would help O'Malley -- and itself in the process.
For much of Saturday, the political world was treated to the latest in a series of rounds of Marco Rubio Media Hype, featuring breathless stories about the senator's "surge," "momentum," and inevitable "rise." Credible new polling suggested the fawning coverage was misplaced, which curtailed the hype -- for about an hour or two before it began anew.
ThisPolitico piece, published yesterday, captured the oddity of the expectations surrounding the Florida senator's prospects in Iowa, where the article claims Rubio "can lose to [Ted] Cruz on Monday and walk away looking like the winner."
Somehow, against all the evidence, Rubio has successfully spun that he's gunning only for third place here. In sharp contrast, Cruz's campaign, touting its superior ground game, has openly pined for and predicted victory.
The result: In the closing hours before Monday's caucuses, Iowa is suddenly fraught with risk for Cruz while Rubio, who sits comfortably in third in most public and private polling, is almost guaranteed to meet or beat diminished expectations.
My point is not to pick on Politico. On the contrary, this approach has quickly become the conventional wisdom across many news organizations and much of the political world.
What's odd is why anyone would choose to see the race this way. When Politico says Team Rubio has "successfully spun ... against all evidence," it helps capture a curious dynamic: the media is effectively admitting that the media has come to believe something the media knows isn't true, but will pretend is true anyway, for reasons no one wants to talk about.
On Sept. 17, 2001, less than a week after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. It was among the most striking acts of his tenure: Bush, concerned about the public targeting Muslim Americans, urged the public to "understand" that the terrorist acts violate "the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith."
The Republican president, during brief remarks, not only quoted the Koran, Bush also declared, "Islam is peace."
More than 14 years later, another president is concerned about the public lashing out violently at innocent members of a religious minority -- and he's doing something similar about it. The Baltimore Sunreported over the weekend:
President Barack Obama will visit a mosque in Baltimore County next week amid growing concern about hostility directed toward Muslim Americans -- marking the first time Obama has visited a U.S. mosque as president.
Obama will deliver remarks on Wednesday at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, located in Catonsville, and will meet with community members there to discuss religious freedom, White House officials said Saturday. Administration officials hope the visit will send a message at a time when Muslim leaders are increasingly anxious about reactions following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
White House spokesman Keith Maley told the Sun, "The president believes that one of our nation's greatest strengths is our rich diversity. As the president has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes -- and our men and women in uniform defending our country."
For those who believe Washington needs a Cheney in a policymaking role again, I have good news. The New York Timesreported over the weekend:
Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for Wyoming's only House seat, a return to politics after her short-lived but much discussed bid for the Senate two years ago. [...]
Ms. Cheney now plans to run to replace Representative Cynthia M. Lummis, a four-term Republican who was a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Ms. Lummis will retire at the end of the year. Ms. Cheney's filing on Friday with the Federal Election Commission was first reported by The Associated Press.
It's unclear what kind of resistance Cheney will face in a likely GOP primary -- given Wyoming's political leanings, the Republican nominee will be the heavy favorite to succeed Lummis in the House -- but she'll first have to repair some of the damage done during her cringe-worthy Senate campaign two years ago.
Cheney moved to Wyoming in 2013, and soon after launched a primary campaign against a popular Republican incumbent, Sen. Mike Enzi. She failed spectacularly. Over the course of a six-month campaign, Cheney's notable accomplishments as a candidate were an unfortunate controversy over a fishing license and a family dispute over her opposition to her own sister's right to get married.
She ultimately quit months before the primary, citing unspecified "health issues" with an unidentified member of her family. Perhaps Cheney's 2016 bid will be a greater success?
We talked earlier about where things stand among Iowa Republicans as Caucus Day arrives; now let's take a look at Iowa Democrats.
The Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, conducted by J. Ann Selzer, was released over the weekend, and it has the race shaping up this way:
1. Hillary Clinton: 45% (up from 42% a month ago)
2. Bernie Sanders: 42% (up from 40%)
3. Martin O'Malley: 3% (down from 4%)
At least in this poll, it's been interesting to watch Sanders' deficit steadily shrink over the course of several months. Last January, the same pollster showed Clinton leading Sanders by a whopping 51 points. By May, the margin was 41 points. In June, it was down to 26. Clinton's advantage was just seven points in August and October, and then two points last month.
Many speculated that Sanders would inch ahead by the time this final poll came out, but that obviously hasn't happened.
As we discussed earlier, it might seem odd that this one poll, often referred to as the "gold standard" in Iowa polling, gets so much attention, but there's a good reason for all the fuss.
The countdown is over and the Iowa caucuses have arrived. After dozens of polls over several months, the speculation can end as the process begins in earnest.
While there's plenty of worthwhile data to go through in anticipation of this evening's big event, the Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, conducted by J. Ann Selzer, was released over the weekend, and it has the race shaping up like this:
1. Donald Trump: 28% (up from 22% a month ago)
2. Ted Cruz: 23% (down from 25%)
3. Marco Rubio: 15% (up from 12%)
4. Ben Carson: 10% (down from 11%)
5. Rand Paul: 5% (unchanged)
Each of the remaining candidates were at 3% or lower in this poll. Trump's 28% is his best showing in any Selzer poll this cycle, and his five-point lead is his biggest margin since August.
In other words, there's reason to believe the Republican frontrunner is headed into the caucuses with the wind at his back.
For casual observers, it might seem odd that this one poll, often referred to as the "gold standard" in Iowa polling, gets so much attention. In this case, however, there's a reason.
Hillary Clinton, Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination in 2016, talks with Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams about tomorrow's Iowa caucuses and how the race against Senator Bernie Sanders is shaping up for the upcoming primary elections. watch
Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for president, talks with Chris Hayes about the upcoming Iowa caucuses, the shape of his campaign in early primary states, and his chances against Donald Trump in a general election match-up. watch
Steve Kornacki looks at which candidates in each party would benefit most from the momentum that comes from a good performance in Iowa as well as which candidates will suffer the greatest setback with a loss in Iowa. watch
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.