Category Archives: Super Tuesday

The Primary Analysis

By Jim Ellis

March 19, 2020 — The COVID-19 virus is causing obvious problems worldwide, and it’s changing the United States’ electoral system. Several states all with primaries on or before June 23 have already moved their date or are discussing such an option.

First, a total of six states already have held primary events and three general election cards are set. On March 3, full state nominating elections were held in Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas. Illinois followed suit on March 17. Ohio was also supposed to also vote on March 17 but halted their election at the last minute and moved to June 2. Four of the six early voting states hold runoffs, and three will host some significant secondary nominating elections.

With a 30-percent runoff law, North Carolina only has one congressional finalist election, the open 11th District Republican battle between former Haywood County Republican Party chair Lynda Bennett and investor Madison Cawthorn. Texas has a 50 percent runoff law, and the state will feature a Democratic runoff in the Senate race along with five Democratic congressional runoffs and seven on the Republican side. Though Arkansas requires 50 percent to win a party nomination outright, no federal runoff elections are necessary. Therefore, we have full sets of general election nominees for all regular 2020 races in Arkansas, California, and Illinois.

News came from Alabama yesterday when Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced that the state is transferring the March 31 runoff all the way to July 14. The significantly longer cycle will potentially change outcomes, the Senate race in particular.

As you will remember, former US Attorney General and ex-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions finished second in the March 3 primary, one point behind retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Until yesterday, the two were heading for deciding the nomination at the end of the month. All polling was suggesting a Tuberville victory. Now, with almost four full months until the runoff, this contest has the potential of changing. Sessions will now have adequate time to alter his campaign message and has the opportunity to rebound and capture the nomination. The winner faces Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the general election.

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Texas Turnout

By Jim Ellis

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

March 16, 2020 — There is some budding political chatter promoting a theory that the 2020 Texas primary turnout numbers suggest Democrats are poised for a good election later this year in the Lone Star State, but a deeper dive into the numbers and patterns doesn’t clearly support such a conclusion.

The turnout theory loses its steam when actually comparing the participation numbers not only with 2020 Republican turnout and understanding that the GOP has a virtually unopposed presidential candidate for its nomination, but also when overlaying recent political history.

When studying the numbers, one sees that the 2008 Democratic primary’s participation rate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton far exceeded the numbers posted in this year’s primary, which was held on March 3 – Super Tuesday. In 2008, we see that 33.2 percent of the registered voters participated in one of the major party primaries. This year, the combined turnout represented 25.2 percent of the registered voter pool.

And, 12 years ago, according to figures published in this March 6 Texas Tribune article, two-thirds of those voters chose a Democratic ballot to vote in the Obama-Clinton primary versus just one-third who entered the Republican primary to support John McCain over former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee.

This year, 12.8 percent of the registered Texas voters chose the Democratic primary versus 12.4 percent who picked a Republican ballot even though there was no competitive GOP contest. Furthermore, the combined 25.2 percent total participation factor is actually the second-lowest turnout in the past four elections.

Most importantly, however, as a gauge toward predicting general election turnout and result, while two-thirds of the 2008 voters chose the Democratic ballot in the primary in the largest percentage turnout of the century, Republican John McCain would later post a 55-44 percent general election victory within the Texas electorate.

While Democratic statewide turnout did exceed the number of Republicans voting early or visiting the polls this year, the difference was minuscule. A total of 2,071,745 individuals voted in the Democratic primary while 2,008,385 participated on the Republican side. Since the presidential race was likely the turnout driver, the fact that a highly charged Democratic primary among several competitive contenders barely out-polled a Republican race where the incumbent president was virtually unopposed is of no tangible significance as a predictor of general election preference.

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Biden Poised to Have Potentially Defining Day in Today’s Primaries

Former VP Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

March 10, 2020 — During the early prognostication phase regarding the Democratic presidential nomination campaign, the two most important primary dates appeared to be March 3, Super Tuesday, and March 17. The latter date is important because more than 60 percent of the first ballot would be locked into place once St. Patrick’s Day voting ends.

That actually may not now be the case, however. Rather, the clinching primaries may be today.

The March 10 elections, featuring six states, haven’t attracted much attention, but the half-dozen results tonight could be the defining moment for coalescing around a new nominee.

Looking at today’s voting in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) looks to have his back up against the wall. It would be hard to see him continuing in viable fashion if he fails to win all of the day’s northern states, and particularly Michigan, which has 125 first-ballot bound delegates.

Late polling, however, is suggesting that former vice president Joe Biden may sweep the six states, and that might be what he needs to at least unofficially clinch the party nomination.

Three late Michigan surveys, from a place where Sen. Sanders held the lead over the Democratic field and slipped past Hillary Clinton in 2016, 50-48 percent, suggest the electorate is now turning toward Biden in a big way. In fact, the Target Insyght poll taken on Sunday, typically not a good polling day, through an automated voice response system (March 8; 600 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) finds Biden outpacing Sen. Sanders by 41 percentage points, a breathtaking turnaround from pre-Super Tuesday research studies. The TI result finds the Biden split over Sanders at 65-24 percent.

Others don’t show this level of separation, but they are projecting Biden to be developing a substantial advantage. YouGov (March 6-8; sample size not disclosed) finds the Biden margin to be 54-42 percent. Monmouth University (March 5-8; 411 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) sees a 15-point Biden advantage, 51-36 percent. Michigan-based pollster EPIC-MRA (March 4-6; 400 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters) finds a similar 51-27 percent. All suggest a big Wolverine State night for Biden, the exact opposite of what Sen. Sanders needs to rebound.

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With Warren Out, Projecting
the Future Trajectory of
the Democratic Candidacy

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2020 — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) yesterday announced that she was suspending her presidential campaign, which became an eventuality when she finished third in her home state primary last Tuesday. Her exit helps evolve the Democratic presidential contest into a two-way affair.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Can Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) win a two-person race when starting behind in the delegate count?

With political endorsements regularly being announced for former vice president Joe Biden during the post-Super Tuesday period, and momentum clearly behind his reinvigorated campaign, Sen. Sanders appears to have his political back against the figurative wall.

Currently, the unofficial delegate standing according to The Green Papers statistical website, a group that fully extrapolates the count in conjunction with Democratic National Committee apportionment rules, projects Biden to hold 656 bound first-delegate votes as compared to Sanders’ 584, an obvious difference of 72, which is a much better position than the media is currently portraying.

The March 10 primaries, which have not received much attention to date largely because most of the six states voting are relatively small, will become very important. Combined, the states possess a total of 352 bound first-ballot delegates led by Michigan’s 125 votes. The other states are Idaho (20 delegates), Mississippi (36), Missouri (68), North Dakota (14), and Washington (89).

From a national perspective, Sen. Sanders may well be in a position of having to score first-place finishes in four of these states. In the remaining two, Mississippi and Missouri, Biden has run strong in their region so there is little reason to believe that Sen. Sanders will be particularly competitive in either state.

The Vermont lawmaker has done well in traditionally Republican states among Democratic voters, so his chances in small Idaho and North Dakota should be strong.

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Numbers Rolling in From the
Texas and California Primaries

By Jim Ellis

March 5, 2020 — Tuesday’s elections in Texas and California were subject to slow counting, but at least in the Lone Star State, the numbers are near final.

More than 780,000 votes have currently been received in California but not yet counted. More votes are coming into county offices. To be valid, voters could have postmarked their mail ballots on Election Day and as long as they are received in the county election offices by close of business on March 6, they will be counted. Therefore, an unknown number will be added to the received but uncounted total.

The large total explains why some of the California congressional races remain uncalled even though the vote spreads among the affected candidates is sometimes quite large.

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

In Texas, US Senate candidate Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez conceded the second Democratic run-off position to state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). The two battled for the slot all evening and into yesterday, but the small margin in Sen. West’s favor was definitive enough that Ramirez officially ended her bid. The May 26 statewide run-off election will feature first-place finisher M.J. Hegar, a retired Army helicopter pilot who held veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Georgetown) to a 51-48 percent re-election victory in the 2018 CD-31 campaign that encompasses Williamson and Bell Counties, and now Sen. West. The winner opposes Sen. John Cornyn (R) in November.

The final unofficial Democratic presidential tally finds former vice president Joe Biden scoring 34.5 percent of the vote as compared to 30.0 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Though Biden and Sanders were the only candidates to break the 15 percent barrier to qualify for at-large delegates, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) both obtained the threshold percentage in certain congressional districts, so they, too, earned several delegate votes; both, however, have ended their campaigns, Sen. Warren just this morning. The final unofficial delegate board finds Biden capturing 111 bound Texas first-ballot delegates, Sen. Sanders 102, Bloomberg 10, and Sen. Warren, five.

Just over 2 million people voted in the Democratic presidential primary. President Trump garnered 94 percent of the Republican vote, translating into more than 1.863 million votes. Just under 2 million voters cast ballots in the GOP primary despite there being no real race for president.

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