Category Archives: Presidential campaign

Updating The Democratic Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 28, 2019 — The old saying, “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard” certainly applies to the formulating 2020 Democratic presidential field of candidates.

This week, former Virginia governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who soon will likely take steps to formalize his own presidential campaign, said that regardless of the total number of people contemplating joining the race it is probable we could see as many as eight or nine candidates in serious competition for the party nomination. McAuliffe’s observation will likely prove correct.

The party rules involving delegate selection and apportionment, the fact that Democrats do not allow winner-take-all primaries or caucuses, the early voting schedule, and that Super Delegates no longer participate in the first convention roll call mean advancing to more than one ballot to determine the ultimate nominee becomes a distinct possibility. All of this adds to the uncertainty engulfing the early phase of this national campaign.

Right now, however, speculation is building around just who will advance into the credibility round, that is, those who have enough support to position themselves to actually win the nomination in July of 2020.

Let’s first look at the entire Democratic field, understanding that as many as 36 different individuals who at least at one time have publicly acknowledged consideration of forming, or expressed an overt desire to form, a presidential campaign. Some have already made public statements declining to run, while another segment appears unlikely to join the fray. Even disqualifying the persons from these categories would still leave us with at least 23 individuals who could well enter the race.
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Poll: Trump Behind All, But Skewed?

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2019 — A new Public Policy Polling company national survey (Jan. 19-21; 750 US registered voters) finds President Trump, who is likely at his lowest ebb in popularity during his two-year stewardship in office, trailing seven prospective Democratic opponents, but the study appears to be nothing short of a push poll.

Initially, the survey sample finds President Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by a net four points more than the actual 2016 national campaign result when the respondents are queried about who they supported in the last presidential election. This alone points to at least a slight sample skew.

The historical presidential vote tabulation is followed by a series of questions, all designed to place President Trump in a negative light.


Verbatim from the PPP study, the questions are:

  • Do you think that Donald Trump is honest, or not? Yes 35%; No 58%
  • Do you think that Donald Trump is a liar, or not? Yes 48%; No 44%
  • Do you think that Donald Trump has made America Great Again, or not? Yes 38%; No 55%
  • Do you think Donald Trump should release his tax returns, or not? Yes 55%; No 38%
  • Do you think that members of Donald Trump’s campaign team worked in association with Russia to help Trump win the election for President, or not? Yes 45%; No 43%
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The Presidential Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is expected to make his 2020 presidential plans known at some point in February

Jan. 16, 2019 — As predicted, a great deal of action on the presidential front has already occurred in January, and we’re likely to see more very soon.

So far this month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and former Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced their presidential campaigns. Billionaire Tom Steyer, thought to be preparing a run, publicly stated that he would not do so.

There are so many potential political players, however, it is difficult to tell them without a scorecard, as the old saying goes.

Below is an updated list of the 31 Democrats who have taken action on the presidential front or are rumored to be doing so in the near future.

Most Likely to Run (listed alphabetically)

  1. Former Vice President Joe Biden – expected to make his plans known at some point in February
  2. Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – already reportedly exploring what he will must do to divest himself of his media empire before running
  3. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) – expected to soon announce an exploratory committee if not an actual campaign committee. The NJ legislature and governor changed New Jersey election law to allow individuals to run for offices simultaneously. Sen. Booker is up for re-election in the 2020 election cycle.
  4. Ex-Secretary Julian Castro – announced candidacy
  5. Ex-Congressman John Delaney (D-MD) – announced candidacy; been traveling in Iowa and New Hampshire for most of last year
  6. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) – stated in a CNN interview that she will run for president and will shortly make a formal announcement
  7. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) – expected to soon form exploratory committee
  8. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) – planning presidential campaign announcement for the Martin Luther King holiday in her birthplace of Oakland, CA
  9. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) – expected to soon announce presidential exploratory committee
  10. Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) – stated publicly that he will form an exploratory committee
  11. Ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) – making public moves to enter the presidential race
  12. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) – says he will run if he doesn’t believe any of the other candidates can defeat President Trump. Expected to again make the race.
  13. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – has formed presidential exploratory committee, and is expected to become an official candidate

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Potential Presidential Candidates:
The Moves They’re Making

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 10, 2019 — January promised to be an active month on the budding presidential campaign front, and we are already seeing movement in that regard. Below is a synopsis of the latest activity from major and not so major potential national candidates.

  • Billionaire Tom Steyer (D) scheduled a political announcement from Iowa yesterday, which yielded a statement that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee in addition to calling for President Trump’s outright impeachment and removal from office.
  • On Saturday, former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro (D) is expected to announce his candidacy after beginning the exploratory phase of his effort in early December. Should his presidential effort fizzle early, pivoting into a Senate race against three-term Texas incumbent John Cornyn (R) could become a viable political option.
  • Former US representative and Texas senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) has asked staff members, according to the Wall Street Journal, to begin developing a meeting and events schedule in states other than his own.
  • California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) is beginning a book tour next Tuesday for her publication, “The Truths We Hold”, which appears to be a precursor to officially forming a presidential exploratory committee.
  • Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe has changed his personal website to look like a campaign website, including a disclaimer that indicates he is paying for the site himself. The design and content makes transitioning into a presidential campaign website simple and efficient.
  • Former vice president, Joe Biden, is holding intense meetings with former staff members and campaign advisors to assess whether he will enter the 2020 nationwide contest. At this point, Biden has a substantial lead in national Democratic nomination polls, and in the key early state of Iowa, but is still nowhere close to securing majority support in any survey. It is likely that we will begin to obtain substantial clues to his ultimate intention sometime in February or early March.

Previously declaring their candidacies are former US Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), West Virginia state senator and 2018 congressional nominee Richard Ojeda (D), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

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What to Expect

We’re back after going dark briefly over the Christmas holiday. (No, just in case you were wondering, we’re not part of the government shutdown.) We trust that you are rested, recharged and ready for the new year and the ever-evolving political developments that will come.

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 2, 2019 — We kick off a new calendar and political year looking at several anticipated events. On the presidential front, we can expect several candidate announcements coming in January, along with a changing primary/caucus schedule. Additionally, some close losing congressional candidates are already declaring they want a re-match.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began the new year by forming a presidential exploratory committee and stating that she would begin her potential national campaign with a four-city information-gathering tour in Iowa, site of the first presidential votes scheduled for early February of 2020.

Four potential Democratic candidates are reportedly close to hiring key personnel either as national managers or Iowa state leaders. Aside from Sen. Warren, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), are apparently poised to make staffing announcements possibly within the first two weeks of this new month and year.

An imminent presidential candidacy declaration is expected from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX), who formed an exploratory committee in early December. Rumors in Texas abound, however, that while Castro may begin to compete in the presidential race he could pivot out of the national campaign and into a US Senate challenge against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) if he fails to gain traction.

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Biden Up Twice

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

Dec. 18, 2018 — A pair of Democratic presidential primary polls were just released — one with a national respondent universe, and the other for the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus. In both, former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is staked to a lead. The most disappointing performer appears to be Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who settles into middle-of-the-pack status in both surveys.

CNN conducted the national poll (conducted by the SSRS firm; Dec. 6-9; 463 Democrats and independent-leaning Democrats). For two reasons, this survey is of little statistical relevance. First, the national sample of only 463 individuals is very low, thus leading to a huge error factor. Second, as we know, the presidential nomination process is decided by winning delegate support in every state and territory, thus monitoring a candidate’s national standing, while being of media interest, actually provides little in the way of tangible political value.

The Des Moines Register/CNN Mediacom Iowa poll (conducted by Selzer & Company; Dec. 10-13; 455 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) is the more relevant of the two studies since it previews the Iowa Caucus, which is responsible for apportioning the state’s nominating delegates and tentatively scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020.

In the national poll, Biden places first with 30 percent preference followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) who posts 14 percent. These are the only two potential candidates in double figures.

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Presidential Delegate Outlook

By Jim Ellis

What kind of role will super delegates play?

Dec. 10, 2018 — With several Democrats taking definitive steps toward becoming presidential candidates during this week or at least dropping clear hints that they may well take such action, we can begin surveying not only the political playing field, but also what potentially lies ahead in relation to the delegate count situation.

Currently, it appears that 15 Democrats have either announced or made clear moves toward forming a campaign. They are (alphabetically):

  • Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (NY)
  • Sen. Cory Booker (NJ)
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH)
  • Ex-HUD Secretary Joaquin Castro (TX)
  • Rep. John Delaney (MD)**
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (CA)
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (CA)
  • Gov. John Hickenlooper (CO)
  • Gov. Jay Inslee (WA)
  • Ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (VA)
  • St. Sen. Richard Ojeda (WV)**
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA)**
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA)
  • Andrew Yang (ED; Venture for America)**

** Officially announced

The following dozen individuals have not ruled out entering the presidential race:

  • Sen. Michael Bennet (CO)
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Gov. Steve Bullock (MT)
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
  • Ex-Attorney General Eric Holder (NY)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
  • Gov-Elect Gavin Newsom (CA)
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX)
  • Ex- Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
  • Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer

Adding at least several of those from the secondary list, and some others who could also eventually put their names into consideration, the final entry group could well exceed 20 candidates, and possibly even top 25.

We can already expect to see sustained movement in this new cycle because the nomination calendar is beginning to form, and several states with large delegate pools will be voting much earlier than in the past. This adds a different caveat to the coming presidential election when compared with ones run in the most recent past.

The tentative date for the Iowa Caucus is Feb. 3, 2020, with the New Hampshire primary coming on Feb. 11, followed by the Nevada Caucus on Feb. 22, and the South Carolina primary wrapping up the first group of state events on Feb. 29. Those dates are consistent with past campaign cycles for the “first four.”

But, it’s the next group that is intriguing and could either provide a candidate some unstoppable momentum or send the nomination contest into a deadlock until the convention. Because of Democratic Party rule changes adopted in August and prior years, and overlaying what appears to be the likely voting schedule, the latter scenario becomes quite realistic.

The points in question are the elimination of the Super Delegate votes on the first convention roll call in addition to the party no longer having winner-take-all primaries or caucuses. Therefore, all 57 states, territories, and categories that provide delegate votes to candidates are divided proportionally. With so many candidates, no Super Delegates, and no winner-take-all prizes, it appears a difficult task for any one candidate to secure majority support on the first ballot.

Additionally, with 52 percent of the delegates being apportioned prior to the end of March 2020, jumping out to an early lead becomes a virtual requirement to capturing the nomination. The voting schedule is largely responsible for this factor, too, in part because several of the early states house “favorite son” candidates. And, before the field firmly develops, the favorite son, or daughter, contenders will stand a better chance of capturing a significant number of delegates from their home states.

Tentatively scheduled for a March 3 primary or caucus are Alabama, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.

Using the 2016 delegate allocation table, while acknowledging that the 2020 official apportionment has not yet been decided, the aggregate regular delegate total from these states, and not including the Super Delegates who won’t be present on the first ballot, would be 1,021, the largest of which are California (422) and Texas (193). From those nine states, as many as seven candidates derive their political base.

On March 10, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio are potentially scheduled, yielding an aggregate regular delegate total of 330, again based upon the 2016 apportionment. One potential candidate comes from this group of states.

The final early states will vote on March 17. This group contains Arizona, Florida, and Illinois, for a grand total of 388 delegates with no potential candidates, at least at this point in time, hailing from any of these places.

Therefore, a grand total of 1,874 regular delegates according to the 2016 totals, after adding Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to the March states in order to complete the early state grouping, comprises more than half of the 3,560 regular delegate universe.

While the stage could be set for an early culmination to the Democratic nomination process, it is more likely that the process will go into convention without a presumptive nominee clinching majority support on the first ballot. Adding Super Delegate votes on subsequent ballots would then drastically change the entire nomination picture. Therefore, it is already evident that the 2020 Democratic nomination process will feature many different dynamic parts, which we can already see yields a high unpredictability factor.

Super Delegates’ Status Changes

By Jim Ellis

super-delegates-375Aug. 30, 2018 — Just last weekend in Chicago, the Democratic National Committee, on a voice vote, changed the status of the so-called “Super Delegates” for the 2020 presidential nomination process. DNC chairman Tom Perez successfully convinced the executive committee to accept the changes earlier in the year. The full committee then ratified the chairman’s proposal on Saturday.

Simply put, those in the Super Delegate category, which is comprised of elected officials and party leaders, will no longer be able to vote on the first ballot at the presidential nominating convention. Should the voting proceed to multiple ballots, the Super Delegates would again be able to participate.

Controversy came to the national forefront in 2016 when the Super Delegates were perceived as being largely responsible for delivering Hillary Clinton the nomination even though Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) had major support among the grassroots.

Ironically, the Democrats could still find themselves in a situation where the Super Delegates make the difference. With as many as 20 or more candidates likely competing for the 2020 nomination, and no winner-take-all states, the total proportional system could well produce a first place finisher who falls short of majority support. If so, at least one more floor vote would be required, and the Super Delegates would return as a major force.

Michigan Poll; Delaney for President

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 1, 2017 — A poll released last week that placed entertainer Robert Ritchie (Kid Rock) ahead of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) generated a great deal of news coverage, but the Delphi Analytica survey didn’t appear reliable. A new credible Michigan Senate survey followed, however, and actually seems to confirm that Ritchie could become a viable candidate.

The Delphi Analytica poll was never available on the reported web links and showing Sen. Stabenow, who is completing her third term with respectable approval ratings, with only 26 percent support failed to make sense.

The Trafalgar Group, on the other hand, is a reliable pollster. The only survey research firm to correctly forecast Donald Trump victories in Pennsylvania and Michigan, the Atlanta-based firm also projected Republican Karen Handel to defeat Democrat Jon Ossoff in the Georgia special congressional election last month when most pollsters were predicting the opposite. Now, the company’s new Michigan Senate study (July 25-27; 1,078 likely Michigan voter respondents from more than 50,000 attempted calls) finds Ritchie in a virtual dead heat with Sen. Stabenow.

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Why Trump Is Right on the Polls

By Jim Ellis

May 2, 2017 — President Trump’s retaliatory attacks against the latest major media polls may actually be more correct than even he alludes. The nation’s chief executive predictably came out swinging against ABC and NBC News regarding their newly released polls that found just over 40 percent of their sampling groups approve of his job performance, the worst of any president after 100 days in office.

Trump reminded his audience that those two particular polls were wrong in their election predictions, but the survey representatives quickly shot back to point out that their pre-election projection of Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote was in fact accurate. These pollsters are correct in this particular assertion, but we all know that the individual state polling, particularly in the key Great Lakes states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, was badly flawed and completely missed the mark.

Digging deeper into the current and past election polls does produce a little known factoid, however, and one that the president should find comforting. While the ABC and NBC representatives say their data find Trump to be the most unpopular short-term president, they fail to draw upon a critical comparison factor from their own previous polls.

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PA: Understanding What Happened

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 17, 2017 — Now that the 2016 presidential election result has been dissected into congressional districts, we have the ability to understand just how Donald Trump scored his upset presidential win. Pennsylvania was one of the key battleground states, and arguably the one that put President Trump over the top.

As in most states, Hillary Clinton performed very well in the cities and inner suburbs – usually even better than President Obama’s commensurate and victorious 2012 totals – but Trump’s performance in the outer suburbs and rural areas, where turnout notably increased, outdid her stout showing.

Examining Pennsylvania, and looking at the state through metro congressional districts and comparing them to those in outer suburb and rural regions, we see starkly different trends.

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Senator   Mitt Romney?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 8, 2017 — Sen. Mitt Romney?

According to the Salt Lake City Deseret News, former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is not yet ruling out a potential 2018 Utah Senate race.

Jump-starting the speculation is Romney’s comment saying that “all doors are open” in response to a question from a Deseret political news reporter about the upcoming federal election. Romney was attending an event yesterday commemorating the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games that he directed when being interviewed.

“I don’t have any predictions on what I might do. I’m not going to open a door and I’m not going to close a door. All doors are open,” Romney stated when answering the question. Such a quote is a long way from actually expressing interest in the Utah Senate race, but it is clear he is giving himself some latitude with respect to mounting a statewide political effort.

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Election 2016:
How the Electoral College Won

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2016 — Over the past few decades we have witnessed a great debate in American politics involving the Founding Fathers’ implementation of the Electoral College to govern the presidential election. The just-completed 2016 contest provided many definitive answers to questions surrounding whether the system has outlived its usefulness, or is even needed.

Understanding that the Electoral College was created largely to protect the lesser populated states, rural issues and concerns, and prevent the large population areas from dominating the outcome at all others’ expense, 2016 proved all of those tenets are still salient in the modern political era.

Looking at the presidential election results divided into congressional districts and counties, we can begin to pinpoint the ebbs and flows of the Trump and Clinton vote characterizations and begin to understand how this election truly unfolded. We knew from Election Night that the 2016 electorate was badly polarized in terms of the metropolitan areas versus outer suburb and rural regions, but now we have the tools to see just how deep a divide actually exists. Such appears to be cavernous.

Breaking down the top 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) relating to population, we generally see an overwhelming support trend in Hillary Clinton’s favor, which makes the increased turnout and overpowering Trump advantage in the outer suburban and rural areas all the more stunning.

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A Perplexed America

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 23, 2017 — On the day that Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States this past Friday, new surveys just out suggest the American people are polarized about how they view the present and future.

While Trump was sworn in as the fifth minority president (in terms of popular vote) since 1960, his 46.1 percent share of the popular vote is not the lowest among the last 10 to attain the office. Actually, looking at the initial election of Presidents #35 (Kennedy) to 45 (Trump), his popular vote total is actually close to the average election percentage of this relatively contemporary group. When first winning office, and not counting President Lyndon B. Johnson who assumed the position after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the average incoming presidential victory percentage is 48.5 percent. Of the group, the two lowest are Presidents Bill Clinton (43.0 percent) and Richard Nixon (43.4 percent).

Trump is the oldest person ever to be sworn in as the nation’s chief executive, at 70 years and 220 days. The previous two oldest were Presidents Ronald Reagan at 69 years, 349 days, and William Henry Harrison who was 68 years and 23 days of age. The youngest to be sworn in was Theodore Roosevelt at 42 years, 322 days, while John Kennedy aged 43 years, 236 days, was the youngest to be elected. Roosevelt assumed office after President William McKinley was assassinated.

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Closing the Book

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 23, 2016 — Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. This will be the final update of the 2016 election cycle. We will return at the beginning of 2017. Thank you for being a loyal Ellis Insight follower.

With the final election numbers having been reported in every state, we can now begin to delve below the numerical surface in order to highlight certain key electoral facts.

Despite the news media reporting on Election Night that the 2016 presidential turnout was low, the post-election data reveals a completely different story. With over 14 million votes received, counted, and recorded after Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history. This shatters the previous record set in 2008 of 131,426,292 participating individuals.

Election Day, turnout swelled to 136,645,381 voters, the highest raw number count in American history.

The 2016 total doesn’t include participating individuals who failed to vote for president. Adding those voters mean that 138,884,863 people came to the polls or mailed a 2016 general election ballot.

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