Category Archives: Super Delegates

Dems Looking Ahead to a
Looming Nomination Battle

By Jim Ellis

May 13, 2019 — The Hill newspaper ran a pair of articles late last week that discussed several points about the upcoming Democratic presidential nomination battle. The first piece was a story covering former Vice President Joe Biden’s prediction that many of the candidates will drop out of the race soon after the Iowa Caucus, thus winnowing the 22-person (and possibly as high as 24) contest down to a more manageable number.

What kind of role will super delegates play in 2020?

The second piece delved into the new Super Delegate status, and about their re-emergence if the convention lapses into a multiple ballot situation before choosing a nominee. The story also highlighted several candidates, and in particular Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who are already reaching out to Super Delegates in an attempt to identify which candidate they might support if presented with the chance to vote.

The Biden comments reflect a traditional view that one candidate may begin to build an early consensus by doing well in the first two voting events, the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Currently, these are scheduled for Feb. 3 and Feb. 11, 2020, respectively.

The flaw in the Biden argument is that, combined, Iowa and New Hampshire only carry 65 first-ballot delegates, less than two percent of the entire first-ballot universe of 3,768. A candidate must obtain 1,885 delegate votes to win the nomination on the first ballot. Therefore, such a small early number is unlikely to be determinative, but the lowest tier of candidates, as fallout from the first votes actually being cast, collapsing due to a lack of funding is certainly a possibility.

The Super Delegates were a source of major controversy at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. At the time, the Sanders campaign contended that the nomination process was “rigged” because the non-elected Super Delegates were a block for Hillary Clinton, which would enable her to win the nomination even if Sanders forged a majority among the elected delegates. In the end, the Sanders’ supposition proved untrue – Clinton did win among the elected delegates – but, nevertheless, the Democratic National Committee changed the Super Delegates’ voting status as a result of the Sanders’ complaint.

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Poll: Sanders Up in California

By Jim Ellis

April 12, 2019 — The Change Research polling organization released a new Democratic primary poll of the California electorate (April 6-9; 2,003 likely California Democratic primary voters) and projects Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to be nipping former Vice President Joe Biden and home state Sen. Kamala Harris. In a secondary ballot test that excludes Biden, Sanders prevails over Harris even under this scenario.

Earlier in the week, Emerson College released a Massachusetts Democratic primary poll (April 4-7; 371 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) that found Sen. Sanders leading Biden and Massachusetts home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren (26-23-14 percent). Therefore, we are clearly seeing a Sanders rise in the early part of April.

In the Change California poll, Sanders has a slight 22-21-19 percent lead over Biden and Harris – obviously a statistically insignificant margin – but it does show that Sen. Harris is not dominating her own electorate. Taking fourth, fifth, and sixth in this poll are ex-US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) with 10 percent, South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg at nine percent, and Sen. Warren pulling only eight percent of the vote.

If Biden chooses not to run, since he is still not an announced presidential candidate, Change finds that Sen. Sanders would edge Sen. Harris 28-27 percent, with O’Rourke (16 percent), Buttigieg (11 percent), and Warren (nine percent) following.

This tells us, at least in the early going, that California, with its large 416 first ballot delegate contingent, is clearly up for grabs even with its home state senator in the field of candidates.

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Sanders’ Problem as an Independent

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — an Independent, not a Democrat

Feb. 22, 2019 — A day after announcing his entry into the 2020 presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped off to a strong start, raising a reported $6 million in just his first 24 hours as a repeat candidate. But, a technical problem also looms in the distance.

Last year, the Democratic National Committee adopted a new party rule that states any future presidential nominee must be an official Democratic Party member or, if an office holder, must have served as a Democrat. Sen. Sanders meets neither requirement.

Vermont has no party registration, so he is not a party member in that regard, and has continually, including during the present time, represented Vermont as an Independent. In fact, when offered the Vermont Democratic senatorial nomination for his re-election campaign in 2018, Sanders turned down the overture.

The fact that Sanders is still not a Democrat is confirmed when looking at the list of unpledged delegate slots, those commonly referred to as “Super Delegates.” An unpledged delegate is one who can vote as he or she pleases and is not subject to any binding vote law their particular state may have enacted.

Those who qualify as Super Delegates are Democratic National Committee members (430), every elected Democratic US senator (45), the two District of Columbia “Shadow” senators, all elected Dems in the House of Representatives (235 at the present time), the four Democratic delegates to the US House (District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and the US Virgin Islands), and all of the party’s elected governors (26, including the District of Columbia mayor, and the territorial governors from American Samoa and Puerto Rico).

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Numbers Continue to Grow in 2020
Democratic Presidential Field

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden: Will he jump into, or stay out of, the 2020 presidential race?

Feb. 13, 2019 — Major action is beginning to occur within the Democratic presidential field. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) announcement entering the race on Sunday means that now 11 individuals are official candidates or have working exploratory committees. Expect more to be on the way.

Three more Democrats, men who we have yet to hear much from, confirmed that they in fact are taking serious steps to potentially enter the presidential field just a couple days ago. US Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) told media sources that they both may become candidates. Ryan is going so far as to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire later this week. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also making a trip to the Granite State, site of the first-in-the-nation primary, but he has, at least until now, been categorized in the “less than likely to enter” group.

Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to hover above the active candidates with a great deal of speculation surrounding his potential candidacy. Many believe he will soon enter the race, but just as many are also predicting that he will ultimately decline to run.

The McClatchy news organization, owner of 31 local newspapers that stretches from California to North and South Carolina, published an analysis article early this week from DC Bureau reporter Kevin Roarty summarizing his interviews of 31 Democratic strategists who largely believe that Biden might actually prove to be a weaker candidate than Hillary Clinton.

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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.