Category Archives: Super Delegates

Yesterday’s Odd-Year Election Day

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (L) and Attorney General Andy Beshear

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 6, 2019 — The odd-year Election Day hit yesterday, with voters going to the polls in Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. Governors’ chairs were at stake in Kentucky and Mississippi, while state legislators were on the ballot in all of the aforementioned with the exception of Kentucky.

Bluegrass State Gov. Matt Bevin (R) ran for a second term after a tenure that has seen him dwell at the bottom of the 50-state approval polls for almost his entire time in office. Bevin was a surprise winner in 2015, defeating then-Attorney General Jack Conway (D) who was viewed as the favorite for the entire campaign. Similarly, Gov. Bevin again faced a Democratic Attorney General in this election, Andy Beshear, the son of the man who he replaced in Frankfort, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D).

Polling suggested a close race. Polling was right. As of publish time, the election still was too close to call despite Beshear claiming victory. Bevin would not concede. Fewer than 5,000 votes separate the two candidates, the advantage going to Beshear at the moment.

Bevin lagged behind early in the general election cycle, but returned to parity. The polling pattern was similar in Bevin’s last contest, so he is obviously hoping for a repeat performance. In 2015, Bevin defeated AG Conway by a surprisingly large 52-44 percent spread, a margin that surprised pollsters.

Mississippi featured an interesting gubernatorial campaign between GOP Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who attempted to succeed term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant (R), and state Attorney General Jim Hood (D), serving his fourth consecutive term. This race, as in Kentucky, has been close in the polls with Reeves maintaining a small lead. And Reeves is ahead with 53 percent of the vote.

The Mississippi race included a budding controversy that could take shape after the election. Under state law, a gubernatorial candidate must not only win a popular vote majority at the statewide level, he or she must also carry a majority of the 122 state House districts. A federal judge appears ready to strike down the result if the state legislature is forced to decide because no candidate wins both a majority in the statewide vote and in the state House districts.

The entire Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate was on the ballot, and Democrats were confident that they would assume the majority in both houses. Before yesterday, Republicans held a 20-19 edge in the state Senate with one vacancy, and a three-seat margin in the House with one vacancy. The latter majority was literally decided by pulling lots from a hat when the final 2015 Delegate race ended in a tie. The Democrats took back both the House and Senate; it looks like the Democrats will win 21 seats in the state Senate, with the Republicans holding on to 19. In the House, the Democrats are ahead with 53 seats to the Republicans 43 seats with a few races still outstanding.

It was estimated that the redistricting decision since the last election, which mandated the re-drawing of several Delegate districts, would likely give the Democrats an extra boost.

New Jersey voters selected state Assembly members, however the state Senate won’t come before the electorate until 2021. Democrats maintain a huge 54-25 majority with one vacancy, and that could increase. Republican chances of winning a majority in the state Assembly were nil.

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Biden Showing Up Strong in North Carolina – But Is It Enough?

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 11, 2019 — Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling just released their latest North Carolina survey (Oct. 4-6; 963 likely North Carolina voters, 410 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) Wednesday, which projects a two-person race developing in the Tar Heel State as former Vice President Joe Biden leads Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), 39-22 percent. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg receives nine percent support, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) earns only a disappointing six percent. All other candidates fail to break the three percent level.

North Carolina is one of the Super Tuesday states, a state whose electorates will cast ballots on March 3, the largest voting day of the nominating season. On March 3, a total of 14 states and one territory will host primaries or caucuses, seven of which come from the south. It is here where former Biden would have to make his stand, since his southern numbers are the best of any candidate by a wide margin.

The question being posed is whether a sluggish Biden start in the first three voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, where he could conceivably fail to place first in any, would derail his momentum to the point of lessening his southern advantage.

Making rudimentary delegate calculations from the 19 entities that would vote on or before Super Tuesday, we find that current polling would place the former vice president in the lead on the evening of March 3, but that his delegate edge would certainly not be dominating.

To re-cap, based upon the latest polling from Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, the delegate estimate prior to South Carolina would find the former VP and Sen. Warren tied with 37 delegates apiece, while Sen. Sanders would have 27, meaning a virtual three-way tie despite Biden not winning any of the states outright. If he can stay in the hunt — with neither of his key opponents establishing themselves as a clear leader — the tide turns Biden’s way.

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Democratic National Convention Shaping Up to be Historic

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 8, 2019 — At this point, Democratic presidential primary patterns are beginning to reveal themselves.

The February First Four states are becoming a hodgepodge of political strength with both Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and/or Bernie Sanders (I-VT) potentially stealing Iowa and New Hampshire away from national front-runner Joe Biden. That means the former vice president may have his back up against the proverbial wall when the campaign streams into Nevada, the third voting state whose caucus participants will convene on Feb. 22. He may well need a victory there, before getting to South Carolina and his southern states political oasis.

As the new Fox News South Carolina Democratic primary poll shows (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 803 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters), Biden’s lead is very strong in the Palmetto State at 41-12-10 percent over Sens. Warren and Sanders, respectively. These numbers are commensurate with his standing in other recently polled southern domains.

But new data coming from delegate-rich states that are not frequently polled give us a further perspective about just how the nomination drama might unfold.

Four new state surveys were released at the end of last week with clear separation only detected in Arizona. Data coming from California and Ohio show dead heats among the three major candidates. Additionally, the latest Wisconsin poll gives Biden only a small lead.

The first three states in this group will vote in March, on Super Tuesday (March 3, California), March 10 (Ohio), and March 17 (Arizona). The fourth state’s electorate, Wisconsin, will cast their ballots on April 7.

Change Research (Oct. 27-28; 396 likely Arizona Democratic primary voters) finds that Arizona is polling as one of the ex-vice president’s weakest states and the only one that shows a relatively competitive four-way race. The Change results finds Sen. Warren claiming a significant lead with 35 percent support, ahead of Sen. Sanders’ 19 percent, Biden’s 15 percent, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg making a viable appearance with 13 percent preference.

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The “First Four” And The Scramble
For Delegate Apportionment

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 11, 2019 — The YouGov international polling organization conducted four simultaneous surveys in the states whose electorates will cast presidential nominating ballots in February of next year, referred to in the college basketball tournament vernacular as “the First Four”. The quartet of states are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Looking at the polls’ aggregate totals, it appears the contest is already gelling into a three-way race that could meld into a free-for-all should this particular YouGov polling trend translate into actual results.

All of the polling was conducted during the Aug. 28 – Sept. 4 period, and sampled between 492 (New Hampshire) and 785 (South Carolina) likely Democratic primary voters or caucus participants. All four polls found former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) occupying the first three positions, but in different orders.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg placed in the fourth and fifth positions in each entity, again not in the same order in all four states, yet neither reached double-digit percentages in any of the polls. Under this set of data, neither Harris nor Buttigieg would qualify for at-large delegates in any of the First Four states.

To reach the at-large delegate apportionment plateau, a candidate must receive 15 percent of the statewide vote. Candidates can also qualify for individual congressional district delegates, but those projections are not readily available from these polling results.

In Iowa, scheduled for caucus meetings on Feb. 3, Biden begins with a small lead according to the YouGov research. From the 682 individuals surveyed, the former vice president would score 29 percent, with Sanders closely following with 26 percent, and Warren posting 17 percent. Iowa has 41 delegates, and if the congressional district result followed the statewide percentage, Biden would receive 16 delegate votes, Sanders 15, and Warren 10.

Moving to New Hampshire, which will host the first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 11, 2020, it is Sen. Warren who places first, but the result among the trio is a virtual three-way tie. Warren recorded 27 percent in the YouGov poll, with Biden getting 26 percent, and Sanders 25 percent. Again, assuming New Hampshire’s two congressional districts would vote in the same proportion as the state, each candidate would receive eight delegate votes, equally splitting the state’s 24-person delegation.

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Seven State Polls

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2019 — In the latter half of July, several different pollsters conducted Democratic presidential primary polls in seven important primary states. In Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California, Texas, Michigan, and Illinois — all states whose voters will cast primary ballots on or before March 17 — contain an aggregate 1,012 first-ballot delegates.

The seven polls give us an idea as to how Democratic primary participants in the corresponding states would vote if their presidential nomination elections had been in mid to late July. Additionally, we make delegate dispersion projections from the polling data to the qualified candidates and attempt to determine whether any one individual could garner the 50 percent delegate support necessary to claim a first ballot victory.

The Firehouse/Optimus organization polled in Iowa (July 23-25; 630 likely Iowa Democratic caucus voters), New Hampshire (July 23-25; 587 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), and South Carolina (July 23-25; 554 registered South Carolina voters). The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed the Golden State Democratic primary (July 14-23; 766 likely California Democratic primary voters). The University of Texas at Tyler (July 24-27; 554 registered Texas voters), Climate Nexus (July 14-17; 324 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters), and Victory Research (July 26-29; 1,200 likely Illinois Democratic primary voters) tested the Texas, Michigan, and Illinois electorates.

For the purposes of this exercise, let us assume that all of these surveys accurately depict how the Democratic electorates in each of these states would vote. Let us further assume that the congressional district delegate apportionment directly corresponds to the at-large state vote.

Doing so allows us to make delegate apportionment estimates for each of these states with the understanding that the conclusions are not precise. They do, however, give us an idea as to how the delegate dispersion might break. Understanding that several of the polled minor candidates will not be on the ballot when actual voting occurs allows us to project additional votes going to the close finishers, those at 13-14% in these polls. Doing so likely boosts them to the 15 percent threshold that party rules mandate as a qualification requirement for delegate votes.

The aggregate total of 1,012 delegates from these seven states represents just under 27 percent of the entire first ballot universe at the Democratic National Convention, so the combined tested states are significant in terms of the number of delegates they possess and their voting schedule position.

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