Monthly Archives: March 2016

Competitive House Primaries

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2016 — The anti-Washington political sentiment is more than just a factor in the presidential race. The feeling is permeating the early congressional nomination campaigns, particularly among Republicans, and House incumbents are taking serious notice.

So far six states have held their congressional primaries: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas, and though no incumbent has lost many have deflected competitive intra-party challenges, while several others loom on the horizon. In the six states that have nominated their 2016 congressional candidates, including four with run-off systems, none has even been cast into a secondary election. The closest two results came in Texas and Illinois, where veteran representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX-8) and John Shimkus (R-IL-15) won respective 53 and 60 percent re-nomination victories.

The most serious current primary campaigns are occurring in North Carolina, now scheduled for June 7 after a court-mandated major redistricting plan forced the state to move its congressional primaries from March 15.

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North Carolina: New Districts, New Candidates

By Jim Ellis

March 30, 2016 — The court-ordered North Carolina redistricting map is final and the new candidate filing period closed at the end of the preceding week.

The statewide and local legislative primaries were previously conducted, in conjunction with the presidential primary on March 15, but the congressional nominations were moved to June 7. Originally, all North Carolina primaries were scheduled for March 15, but the late court action necessitated opening a new filing period for the significantly altered congressional map.

The original 2011 congressional map elected 10 Republicans and three Democrats to the 13 total seats. When the court remanded the map back to the legislature with instructions to change the districts in relation to minority representation, the legislature did just that: a rather radical redraw that will still likely keep the state at 10R-3D, but assures a somewhat different group of people representing many of the changed districts.

The biggest difference will be the elimination of at least one Republican House member, as representatives Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) and George Holding (R-Raleigh) are squaring off against each other in the new 2nd District that contains all or parts of six counties. The district contains all of Wake County with the exception of the city of Raleigh.

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Sanders: Three Crushing Wins

By Jim Ellis

March 29, 2016 — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may well be the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee but, once again, we see Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders scoring impressive wins in states without major African-American populations.

Over the weekend, Sanders posted landslide caucus victories in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, averaging a cumulative 74.7 percent support figure among the Democratic participants in the three states. In terms of committed delegates, Sanders attracted 105 convention votes in the trio of places, while Clinton gained 54. Though Saturday was arguably Sanders’ best day in the campaign, he still managed to only dent Clinton’s national lead in the all-important delegate count.

According to the New York Times, inclusive of the voting two days ago, Clinton’s advantage between committed regular and Democratic Super Delegates is 1,712 to 1,004. The winner must commit 2,383 votes at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia beginning July 25. Therefore, the former secretary of state and First Lady needs only 671 more delegates, or 33 percent, from the remaining 22 voting entities to clinch what will almost assuredly be a first-ballot victory.

It is important to remember that the Super Delegates, unless barred from doing so by state law, are free agents and can change their votes irrespective of what they may say publicly. Right now, it appears few if any will do so, but that is possible under Democratic National Committee rules. In the Super Delegate category alone, Clinton’s advantage is a reported 469 to 29. Super Delegates are comprised of Democratic elected officials from the various states and party leaders, the latter usually a person in an elected party position such as a state or county chairman.

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The Game Within the Game

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2016 — While the Republican presidential candidates are experiencing a small voting respite – the next GOP primaries are April 5 and 19 (Wisconsin and New York, respectively) – the so-called “game within the game” is getting underway as recent developments in Louisiana illustrate.

The phrase refers to the complicated process of actually choosing individuals to fill the various delegate slots that are awarded to the respective candidates under Republican National Committee allocation procedure. It is here where Sen. Ted Cruz may have a distinct advantage.

Coming from the Louisiana state Republican convention, a similar venue where the respective 56 voting entities ratify their official national delegate slates, the fluid process could actually send a pro-Cruz delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland even though more voters supported Donald Trump.

On March 5, Trump polled 41.4 percent of the statewide vote versus Sen. Cruz’s 37.8 percent. Based upon the state’s delegate apportionment formula that allows candidates to earn a portion of the 25 at-large bound delegates if they exceed 20 percent of the statewide vote, Trump received 13 votes to Cruz’s 12.

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A Tar Heel Sleeper?

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2016 — With the presidential campaign dominating the political media, it is easy to lose sight of the highly important 34 Senate races running simultaneously. At least one campaign appears to be in transition, and is rapidly shifting from relatively safe to potentially competitive.

Throughout 2015, it was commonly believed that North Carolina represented the Democrats’ most glaring candidate recruitment failure. Try as they might to attract a top name office holder or former statewide official like ex-US Sen. Kay Hagen, the party leaders could not convince a person of significant political stature to run. They settled for ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross and small town mayor Chris Rey. But the recent primary results and a new poll suggest that this race may be ascending the targeting charts.

In the March 15 statewide Democratic primary, Ross easily captured the Senate nomination and posted a much stronger-than-anticipated 62 percent against Rey (16 percent) and two other opponents. North Carolina carries a 40 percent run-off requirement; meaning, if no candidate exceeds this particular vote threshold the top two finishers move to a secondary election. Questions about Ross cracking the 40 percent mark consumed the pre-race predictions.

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What the Primary Numbers Mean

By Jim Ellis

Arizona

March 24, 2016 — To no one’s surprise, especially with the Brussels attack sparking even more emotionalism within Donald Trump’s core political base, the Republican leader easily swept the Arizona primary Tuesday. As we know, Trump notched a 47-25-10 percent popular vote victory margin over Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich, respectively. With this performance, the New York real estate mogul claimed the last major Winner-Take-All primary and all 58 Arizona delegates.

For the Democrats, also as expected, Hillary Clinton easily defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders. The result means the former Secretary of State could conceivably secure approximately 60 Democratic delegates from the Arizona pool of 85 once the final count is apportioned and more Super Delegates announce their intentions. The Grand Canyon State will add to her gaudy national delegate total, putting her within sight of 1,700 committed and announced votes. She needs 2,383 delegate votes to clinch the party’s presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this summer.

For Trump, the Arizona victory puts him in the 750 bounded delegate vote range. The eventual Republican nominee needs 1,237 votes to claim the national party mantle.

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Last Night’s Results: Landslides

By Jim Ellis

March 23, 2016 — There were no close results last night in the western states’ primaries and caucuses. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton easily won their respective Arizona primary events. Trump captured the Grand Canyon State’s 58 Winner-Take-All delegates.

Sen. Ted Cruz notched his biggest triumph of the campaign in Utah, with what appears to be a 70 percent total once all of the latest caucus votes are finally tabulated. Scoring a majority entitled him to all 40 Utah delegates, thus creating a backdoor Winner-Take-All victory.

Utah’s significance in shutting out Trump means the campaign leader’s road to a first ballot victory (1,237 delegate votes) became that much tougher.

Below are the latest unofficial delegate results:

REPUBLICANS

CANDIDATE ESTIMATED DELEGATE COUNT
Donald Trump 755
Ted Cruz 466
Marco Rubio 174 (out)
John Kasich 144
Others 15
Uncommitted 31
Needed to win: 1,237 Remaining: 885

Delegate Count Source: Unofficial — The Green Papers website


DEMOCRATS

Though Sen. Bernie Sanders scored his two most impressive victories of the entire campaign last night in the Utah and Idaho Democratic caucuses – almost reaching 80 percent in both places — his performance barely dented former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s huge lead in delegate votes.

For her part, Ms. Clinton recorded 58-40 percent win in Tuesday’s Arizona primary.

CANDIDATE REGULAR DELEGATES SUPER DELEGATES
Hillary Clinton 1,214 467
Bernie Sanders 901 26

Total Clinton: 1,681
Total Sanders: 927
Needed to win: 2,383


Delegate Count Source: Unofficial — The Green Papers website


For more Floor Fight, please visit our page: Floor Fight

Voting Resumes Today

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2016 — Republicans and Democrats in Arizona and Utah visit polling places and caucus meeting sites today, as do Idaho Democrats and Republicans in American Samoa. The big question is whether Sen. Ted Cruz can capture Utah with a majority vote, thereby making it a backdoor Winner-Take-All state. Arizona is the final large Winner-Take-All on the GOP side.

March 22 Lineup:

Arizona (Primary)

Republicans: 58 delegates; Winner-Take-All

Last Public Poll: Opinion Savvy – Fox 10 Phoenix (March 20; 588 likely Arizona Republican primary voters through interactive voice response system): Donald Trump, 46%; Sen. Ted Cruz, 33%; Gov. John Kasich, 17%

Democrats: 85 delegates; proportional – Super Delegates announced: Hillary Clinton, 5; Sen. Bernie Sanders, 1

Last Public Poll: Merrill/West Group (March 7-11; 300 likely Arizona Democratic primary voters): Clinton, 50%; Sanders, 24%
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Golden State Filings

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2016 — The California candidate filing deadline occurred at the end of last week, and several races in both the June primary and general election look interesting.

To review, California uses the top-two, jungle primary system, where all candidates appear together on the June 7 ballot, and then the first two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. It is likely that this system contributes to the large number of congressional candidates coming forth this year.

In the Senate race, while Democrats hope to qualify two of their own for the general election, namely Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46), voters will have to find the pair through a mass of 32 other candidates in order for them to secure advancement. Six Democrats, 17 Republicans, and 11 Independents will be in the June Senate race. Attorney General Harris is favored to win the seat in November.

In the congressional races, only two of the 49 incumbents seeking re-election failed to draw an opponent. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40) are the only unopposed members for both the primary and general elections.

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Smashing Turnout Records

By Jim Ellis

March 21, 2016 — Republican leaders who don’t think Donald Trump will fare well in the general election might examine the updated primary turnout statistics as a prediction clue. Largely due to Trump’s candidacy, in 15 of the 19 states that have so far held primaries in conjunction with Democratic contests, more people have chosen to vote on the Republican side, and in record numbers.

Turning the clock back to 2008, it was possible to see the burgeoning support base for then-candidate Barack Obama based upon his success in Democratic primaries. His advantage was largely tied to him exciting new people and motivating them to vote.

Eight years ago, confining our analysis only to the 19 states that have held 2016 primaries in which both parties have held electoral events, 60.5 percent of the people from those elections chose to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary. Using this strong backing as a launching pad into the general election, then-Sen. Obama went forward to win a convincing general election victory, capturing 53 percent of the national popular vote compared to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s (R) 46 percent.

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Clarifying the Process

By Jim Ellis

March 18, 2016 — A great deal of confusion exists over whether Donald Trump can reach the necessary 1,237 committed delegate threshold to clinch the Republican presidential nomination before the Republican National Convention begins in mid-July. Yesterday, the New York Times released an analysis entitled “The Upshot” in which they claim that should Trump continue upon his present course he will secure a first ballot victory. This is not correct.

In actuality, Trump would have to commit 55.3 percent of the available delegates, or 65.5 percent of those delegates in the “bound” category, now that the delegate count has been adjusted upward to 693 Trump votes. The changes come because more unbound delegates are announcing support for Trump and the Missouri results are largely settled.

At this point, Trump has secured the votes from 46.5 percent of the 1,489 delegates who are committed by law, party rule, or announcement, though the unbound supporters have the right to change their vote. Continuing at this pace would give him 1,150 delegate votes, or 87 short of the necessary plateau.

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Wrapping up Tuesday’s Presidential Primaries; a Look at Other Races

By Jim Ellis

March 17, 2016 — The late Republican polling proved accurate. Donald Trump easily won the Florida Winner-Take-All primary, and in such a landslide that Sen. Marco Rubio was forced to suspend his campaign after not winning his home state. As you now know, winning Florida entitles Trump to the state’s 99 delegate votes.

In Ohio, the survey research also foretold the growing John Kasich momentum in his home state, culminating with the governor notching an 11-point victory over the New York real estate mogul. And, of course, Kasich captures Ohio’s 66 Winner-Take-All delegates.

On the Democratic front, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have delivered the political knockout punch that she has needed to put the nomination battle to bed. Winning the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois primaries has increased her already substantial delegate lead, thus beginning to put her in sight of the 2,383 convention votes to win the nomination. For his part, Sen. Bernie Sanders only out-polled Clinton in Missouri.

Trump also placed first in North Carolina and Illinois, which will add to his delegate totals. Since those two states have no vote threshold requirement, all candidates, including Rubio, added to their delegate totals. Trump fought Sen. Ted Cruz to a virtual draw in Missouri, leading by less than 2,000 votes statewide, but due to the congressional district winner-take-all system the state employs his actual delegate take may be as high as 34-15. The three Republican National Committee delegates are unbound. Continue reading

Inching Closer To
A Contested Convention

By Jim Ellis

March 16, 2016
— Last night, the major step toward the Republicans ending in a contested, or brokered, convention occurred. Ohio Gov. John Kasich won his home state, claiming its 66 Winner-Take-All delegates.

Though Donald Trump had a strong night, placing first in the other four states and carrying the Northern Marianas’ Winner-Take-All territorial caucus the day before (nine delegates), he still has a difficult task to commit the majority of Republican delegates before the Republican National Convention begins on July 18.

At this point, the votes of 1,489 Republican delegates are either committed to a candidate or will go to the convention as unbound. This means 983 delegates remain. Of the 983 delegate votes, 152 would be unbound according to individual state party rule; hence, they become the Republican version of “Super Delegates”. The remaining 831 will be committed, or bound, votes.

To win the nomination, Trump must secure 57.3 percent of the remaining delegates. But, to officially clinch the nomination before the convention, he would need 67.7 percent of the bound delegates. Both percentages may be out of reach, considering he has committed just 45.3 percent of the available votes to this point. Now with only two opponents remaining, his take of the available delegate pool will naturally grow – but to what extent?

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Tuesday Tells the Tale

March 15, 2016 — It’s very likely that today’s results from the all-important Ohio and Florida Winner-Take-All Republican contests will determine whether Donald Trump wins the GOP presidential nomination, or whether the campaign descends into a contested convention.

While Trump appears to be well ahead in Florida, and is the odds-on favorite to capture that state’s 99 delegates, the Ohio race is very much in doubt.

FOR MORE INSIGHT, READ MY LATEST FLOOR FIGHT COLUMN: FLOOR FIGHT

Though Trump is approaching a mid 40s support range in the last three Sunshine State polls, and appears 20-plus points ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), it is important to remember that only registered Republicans can vote in tomorrow’s closed primary. Therefore, Trump’s polling numbers may be a bit inflated if the pollsters were not properly screening solely for registered Republican voters.

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Post-March 15; Rep. Miller to Retire

March 14, 2016 — With Donald Trump having a seemingly secure lead in the Florida Winner-Take-All primary but possibly in danger of losing the Ohio WTA, the next most important contest is the Arizona Winner-Take-All (58 delegates) primary scheduled for March 22nd.

A new Arizona Republic/MBQF Consulting Poll (March 8; 751 likely Arizona Republican primary voters through automated response device) finds Trump leading the three remaining candidates, 37-23-15-12 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is second in the tally, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The results are not surprising in that Arizona is at the forefront of the immigration issue, and a state whose populous, according to previous survey research and vote history, generally favors construction of the border wall that Trump has been championing throughout the campaign.

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