Category Archives: Presidential campaign

The Early Delegate Projections

By Jim Ellis

June 25, 2019 — There have been several important state polls recently released that provide us data about where the Democratic presidential candidates stand in relation to popular preference. But that is only half the story.

In order to gauge where the candidates might stand in terms of delegate apportionment, we have taken the available published polls from 16 states and began extrapolating a reasonable delegate projection for each.

For purposes of this exercise, all of the polling data is considered accurate, even though in some instances such a conclusion is a stretch. Additionally, these projections were only based upon the at-large numbers but understand more than half of the delegates come from the state’s chosen districts (usually congressional district, though Texas uses their state Senate seats).

It is reasonable to believe, however, that the district apportionment will, in most cases, be similar to the statewide total. At this point, the at-large ratios are the only data set from which we can begin to draw statistical conclusions.

With that short background, the states and their most recent polling result are listed below along with our unofficial delegate projections listed in chronological order based upon voting schedule:

February 3

Iowa Caucus

(YouGov – May 31-June 12; 587 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters)
• First-Ballot Delegates: 41

Biden 30%
Sanders 22%
Warren 12%
Buttigieg 11%

Delegate Projection:

Biden 15
Sanders 11
Warren   8
Buttigieg   7

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Coming to Grips With
The Tar Heel State Electorate

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Congressional Districts

June 21, 2019 — A new North Carolina poll from Harper Polling conducted for the state’s conservative Civitas Institute (June 8-10; 500 likely North Carolina voters) charts just how difficult it may be for any candidate to strike a balance with the current inconstant Tar Heel State electorate.

As we know, North Carolina is one of the nation’s genuine swing states, and how they break in the 2020 national election will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the next presidential election. Looking at the national electorate from a partisan presidential context, the state is a must-win for President Trump, but less so for the eventual Democratic nominee. If the Democrat were to convert North Carolina, however, a national victory for his or her party would be the likely result.

The survey was fielded to look at several issues and attitudes in the state, and mostly test the 2020 governor’s race. The respondent sample correctly reflects the North Carolina party division (actual: 37.1 percent Democrat, 30.1 percent Republican; poll: 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican), and shows an ideological bent toward the conservatives (combination of strongly and somewhat conservative: 52 percent, strongly and somewhat liberal: 20 percent); but lurches heavily female: 54-46 percent (actual state: 51.3 percent female, 48.7 percent male).

Additionally, the sample claims to have supported President Trump in greater numbers than the actual vote: Trump 46-38 percent in the Harper Poll versus 50-46 percent in the actual 2016 vote count. This is surprising considering the respondent sample leans so heavily female.

But on the two issues tested: college student loans and the tariffs with China, the respondents provide some unexpected answers. Their retorts suggest that candidates from both parties may have a difficult time forging a winning path through the North Carolina electorate.

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Florida: Biden Up

Former vice president, Joe Biden (Getty Images)


By Jim Ellis

June 20, 2019 — Quinnipiac University surveyed the Florida electorate (June 12-17; 1,279 registered Florida voters, 417 self-identified Democrats) and found former Vice President Joe Biden opening a substantial lead over Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) there. He also posts a healthy advantage against President Trump in a hypothetical general election pairing in what is always a critical voting domain.

The Q-Poll numbers find Biden scoring a 41-14-12 percent advantage over Sens. Sanders and Warren, respectively, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) trailing in single-digits with eight and six percent, sequentially.

As Nate Silver, founder of the 538 statistical website, said in an interview this week that looking at general election polling this early is basically a futile exercise. It does, however, provide us a clue into candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. In the general election Q-Poll pairing, Biden records a 50-41 percent advantage over President Trump in Florida. This poll, of course, was taken before Trump’s Florida rally Tuesday night in which he kicked off his 2020 campaign.

Silver’s spoken sentiments are true because, among other reasons, so much time remains between now and the 2020 Nov. 3 election, and so many unknown events will occur that could alter the final outcome. Additionally, the campaign will drastically change when both parties have nominees and voters begin paying serious attention to the race.

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California Already Tightening

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2019 — A new large-sample Golden State poll released from the University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times (June 4-10; 2,131 likely California Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) yields some surprising results. The three most unexpected findings first show a tight race among the four top contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) surging into second place, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris only finishing fourth but not substantially behind.

The California primary, scheduled for March 3, possesses the largest number of first-ballot delegates of any state or territory. The state’s 416 first-ballot delegates, 272 of whom are divided among the 53 congressional districts and 144 at-large, will certainly help set the tone over how the Democratic National Convention unfolds.

Sen. Harris, who could well be the indicator candidate as to what scenario will occur at the convention, (i.e., will one candidate be able to coalesce a majority coalition on the first or second ballot or does the nomination battle fall into a multi-ballot contest) must score big in her home state, and this latest survey suggests her path is challenging but doable.

The Berkeley/LA Times study sees former Vice President Joe Biden holding a smaller lead than in past surveys, as he polls 22 percent first-choice responses. Sen. Warren makes a major jump into second place and records 18 percent, one of her best showings in any poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has been dipping in polling across the country, places third at 17 percent, and Sen. Harris trails in fourth position, but is still clearly in the game at 13 percent.

Polling from around the country within the last 10 days, and this California study is obviously no exception, has been projecting a tighter Democratic race. Though Biden still leads, his advantage is lessening.

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Nevada Surprises

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) moving up in Nevada

June 14, 2019 — Monmouth University just released their Nevada survey (June 6-11; 370 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders from a pool of 1,333 registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters) and it contained two major surprises.

First, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is beginning to show signs of upward mobility after being stagnant since her campaign’s inception, moves into the runner-up position in the Silver State and, second, neighboring Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) fares poorly in an early voting venue where she needs to succeed.

The Monmouth data projects former Vice President Joe Biden to be leading the pack of candidates, as in almost every current poll, with 36 percent preference and Sen. Warren follows with 19 percent, ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who drops to 13 percent. Sen. Harris then places fifth with just six percent support, and one point behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Monmouth then asked the second-choice question. Within these responses, the candidates are closely bunched. Here, it is Sen. Warren who leads with 15 percent, but the group is so close that a statistical tie among the top four is the best way to categorize the answers. After Sen. Warren, Sen. Sanders posts 14 percent, while Sen. Harris performs better than on the initial ballot test, tying Biden at 13 percent.

The Nevada Caucus, even though it holds only 36 first-ballot delegates, is an important momentum builder. Placed third on the nomination calendar, Nevada follows the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, respectively. It is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, and exactly a week before the South Carolina primary.

Nevada is important for Sen. Harris because she is unlikely to do particularly well in either Iowa or New Hampshire. She is expected to be one of the top finishers, if not the winner, in South Carolina, so a strong performance in Nevada is critical to give her some needed momentum in order to maximize her chances in the Palmetto State.

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