Category Archives: Election Analysis

Candidate Filings: Eye on
Mississippi and Kentucky

By Jim Ellis

Look for a rematch between Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), left, and former congressman, Mike Espy (D)

Jan. 17, 2020 — Two more states closed their candidate filing periods as primary slates in both Mississippi and Kentucky have now been determined.

Mississippi voters will cast ballots on March 10 with a run-off election on March 31 if no candidate receives 50 percent support in a partisan primary.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) stands for election to a full term this year after winning the 2018 special election. While it looked like the senator would receive a Republican primary challenge this year, the battle did not materialize, and she is unopposed as the GOP standard bearer. Josh Randle, the former president of the Miss America Organization, had filed an exploratory committee for a senatorial run, but apparently the research done as part of that process did not yield him a reasonable victory path. Therefore, Randle chose to take a pass on the challenge.

This means we will see a re-match between Sen. Hyde-Smith and former US Agriculture secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D). The two battled in the special election, and Hyde-Smith scored a 54-46 percent victory in a race that appeared more competitive than the final result. Espy has two Democratic challengers, but it is doubtful that either can mount a serious offensive against the former federal official and Clinton Administration cabinet member.

All four Mississippi US House members are heavy favorites for re-election. Only Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Saltillo/Tupelo) is unopposed in his primary. Both Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton/Mississippi Delta) and freshman Michael Guest (R-Brandon/ Jackson) have weak primary opponents and each have a safe seat for the general election.

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Latest Early-State Polling

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 16, 2020 — The most recent early-state polling again underscores the distinct possibility that we will not see a clear Democratic presidential leader emerge before Super Tuesday.

We are now inside three weeks before the Iowa Caucuses and the survey data and candidate messaging strategies are beginning to take firm hold. Polling is close among the top four candidates, though they appear to be in a proverbial pinball machine as the four bounce from top to bottom at least in the Hawkeye State.

It is likely that either former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg places first. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is likely to finish midway within the four leaders, seeing her support drop as we get closer to actual voting.

The Caucus rules could change some precinct outcomes. It is probable that the party will adopt a rule, as they have in the past, that allows a voter to change his or her vote if their candidate finishes last in a precinct Caucus tally. In any event, projections suggest that the top four will each exceed 15 percent of the at-large vote to qualify for delegates, and potentially achieve such a preference number in each of the four congressional districts.

This means we could well see a splitting of the 41 first-ballot delegates among the four candidates with the first-place finisher getting approximately just 12 delegates and the fourth-place qualifier earning as many as eight.

The news improves for Biden in New Hampshire, but the just released Patinkin Research Strategies study (Jan. 5-7; 600 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) also shows at least three candidates qualifying for delegate apportionment. Here, Sen. Warren again appears to be falling off the pace.

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Sen. Cory Booker Ends Run for 2020

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Cory Booker (D)

Jan. 15, 2020 — With less than three weeks from the first votes being cast in the Democratic presidential nomination process, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced via Twitter that he is ending his national effort.

The move is not surprising, as Sen. Booker rarely reached or surpassed three percent support in any presidential primary poll. Like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who left the race just before the California candidate filing deadline in early December, visions of Senate re-election may have at least in part driven the timing of Booker’s move. While Sen. Harris doesn’t face voters in a strong Democratic state until 2022, Sen. Booker is on the New Jersey ballot this year.

Before the presidential race began, New Jersey legislators and Gov. Phil Murphy (D) changed the state election law to allow candidates to run simultaneously for more than one office. The move was obviously made to assist Sen. Booker’s presidential efforts. Now, however, the simultaneous filing option becomes moot.

Leaving the race now provides him an excuse for finishing poorly in the first four voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, though he filed for each primary and caucus vote and will still be on the ballot in at least New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Though Sen. Booker appears safe for re-election, the New Jersey filing deadline isn’t until March 30. Poor finishes in all primary and caucus states could have left him in a vulnerable state, and while the Garden State is highly unlikely to elect a Republican to the Senate, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a strong Democrat could have begun to mount a primary challenge. Now we can expect Sen. Booker to invest all of his political capital into cementing his re-election for a second full six-year term.

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Sanders, Steyer With Momentum

By Jim Ellis

2020 presidential candidate, Tom Steyer

Jan. 14, 2020 — For the first time in this Democratic primary cycle, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has taken the lead in an Iowa Caucus poll, while billionaire Tom Steyer is moving into contention in both Nevada and South Carolina.

Several surveys released on Friday point to these conclusions. In Iowa, Selzer & Company, polling for the Des Moines Register newspaper and Mediacom (Jan. 2-8; 701 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Sanders taking a 20-17-16-15 percent slight edge over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Vice President Joe Biden. The close results suggest that all four of these contenders are in position to qualify for the all-important delegate apportionment.

Des Moines based Selzer & Company has long been considered the polling industry standard for the Iowa electorate. According to their analysis, Sen. Sanders has the most committed support, and is in the best position to deliver his supporters to the individual caucus meetings on Feb. 3, which will translate into committed delegate votes.

The Selzer poll produces similar results to other pollsters in that the top four contenders are closely bunched, but the rest find a different leader. Instead of Sen. Sanders, most have recently found Mayor Buttigieg holding first position. All, however, suggest the top four finishers will likely qualify to split the 41 first ballot votes that the Democratic National Committee allots to Iowa.

Fox News conducted a series of research studies in Nevada, South Carolina, and Wisconsin over the Jan. 5-8 period and, in the two early states, Steyer has moved into a third place Nevada tie with Sen. Warren and is in sole possession of second place in South Carolina.

The Fox News Nevada poll (Jan. 5-8; 635 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders) gives Biden the overall edge in recording 23 percent, Sanders follows at 17 percent, and Steyer and Warren are tied with 12 percent.

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Sanders Leading in California

By Jim Ellis

2020 Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders takes the lead in California

Jan. 13, 2020 — The new Capitol Weekly research survey (Jan. 1-9; 1,053 likely California Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) taking a slight polling lead in the California Democratic primary over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Vice President Joe Biden, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in what is consistently becoming a closely bunched field.

With two months to go before the Golden State primary is conducted but less than a month before early voting begins there on Feb. 3, the possibility of multiple candidates receiving portions of the state’s 415 first ballot delegates is becoming very real.

Sanders leads Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg by a 24-21-20-11 percent spread. Under party rules, a candidate must secure 15 percent of the statewide vote to earn at-large delegates. Therefore, Buttigieg must work to gain strength during the remaining time in order to reap the all-important mandated delegate commitments.

If he were to obtain 15 percent, and the others remained constant with these present percentages, the at-large delegate division would break 43 for Sanders and 38 for Warren, while Biden would earn 36 and Buttigieg 27 votes.

Should only the top three qualify for at-large delegate apportionment, Sanders would earn 53 votes, Warren 46, and Biden 45. Therefore, Buttigieg qualifying would significantly change the state and overall race because the large California delegation will be a major presence at the Democratic National Convention.

Scoring at-large delegate commitments is not the only way to earn votes, however. A larger total of 271 delegates will be awarded through the state’s 53 congressional districts. Each district, based upon its historical support performance for Democratic candidates, is awarded between 4 and 7 delegates, inclusive.

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