Sen. Cory Booker Ends Run for 2020

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Cory Booker (D)

Jan. 15, 2020 — With less than three weeks from the first votes being cast in the Democratic presidential nomination process, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced via Twitter that he is ending his national effort.

The move is not surprising, as Sen. Booker rarely reached or surpassed three percent support in any presidential primary poll. Like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who left the race just before the California candidate filing deadline in early December, visions of Senate re-election may have at least in part driven the timing of Booker’s move. While Sen. Harris doesn’t face voters in a strong Democratic state until 2022, Sen. Booker is on the New Jersey ballot this year.

Before the presidential race began, New Jersey legislators and Gov. Phil Murphy (D) changed the state election law to allow candidates to run simultaneously for more than one office. The move was obviously made to assist Sen. Booker’s presidential efforts. Now, however, the simultaneous filing option becomes moot.

Leaving the race now provides him an excuse for finishing poorly in the first four voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, though he filed for each primary and caucus vote and will still be on the ballot in at least New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Though Sen. Booker appears safe for re-election, the New Jersey filing deadline isn’t until March 30. Poor finishes in all primary and caucus states could have left him in a vulnerable state, and while the Garden State is highly unlikely to elect a Republican to the Senate, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a strong Democrat could have begun to mount a primary challenge. Now we can expect Sen. Booker to invest all of his political capital into cementing his re-election for a second full six-year term.

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Sanders, Steyer With Momentum

By Jim Ellis

2020 presidential candidate, Tom Steyer

Jan. 14, 2020 — For the first time in this Democratic primary cycle, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has taken the lead in an Iowa Caucus poll, while billionaire Tom Steyer is moving into contention in both Nevada and South Carolina.

Several surveys released on Friday point to these conclusions. In Iowa, Selzer & Company, polling for the Des Moines Register newspaper and Mediacom (Jan. 2-8; 701 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Sanders taking a 20-17-16-15 percent slight edge over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Vice President Joe Biden. The close results suggest that all four of these contenders are in position to qualify for the all-important delegate apportionment.

Des Moines based Selzer & Company has long been considered the polling industry standard for the Iowa electorate. According to their analysis, Sen. Sanders has the most committed support, and is in the best position to deliver his supporters to the individual caucus meetings on Feb. 3, which will translate into committed delegate votes.

The Selzer poll produces similar results to other pollsters in that the top four contenders are closely bunched, but the rest find a different leader. Instead of Sen. Sanders, most have recently found Mayor Buttigieg holding first position. All, however, suggest the top four finishers will likely qualify to split the 41 first ballot votes that the Democratic National Committee allots to Iowa.

Fox News conducted a series of research studies in Nevada, South Carolina, and Wisconsin over the Jan. 5-8 period and, in the two early states, Steyer has moved into a third place Nevada tie with Sen. Warren and is in sole possession of second place in South Carolina.

The Fox News Nevada poll (Jan. 5-8; 635 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders) gives Biden the overall edge in recording 23 percent, Sanders follows at 17 percent, and Steyer and Warren are tied with 12 percent.

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Sanders Leading in California

By Jim Ellis

2020 Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders takes the lead in California

Jan. 13, 2020 — The new Capitol Weekly research survey (Jan. 1-9; 1,053 likely California Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) taking a slight polling lead in the California Democratic primary over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Vice President Joe Biden, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in what is consistently becoming a closely bunched field.

With two months to go before the Golden State primary is conducted but less than a month before early voting begins there on Feb. 3, the possibility of multiple candidates receiving portions of the state’s 415 first ballot delegates is becoming very real.

Sanders leads Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg by a 24-21-20-11 percent spread. Under party rules, a candidate must secure 15 percent of the statewide vote to earn at-large delegates. Therefore, Buttigieg must work to gain strength during the remaining time in order to reap the all-important mandated delegate commitments.

If he were to obtain 15 percent, and the others remained constant with these present percentages, the at-large delegate division would break 43 for Sanders and 38 for Warren, while Biden would earn 36 and Buttigieg 27 votes.

Should only the top three qualify for at-large delegate apportionment, Sanders would earn 53 votes, Warren 46, and Biden 45. Therefore, Buttigieg qualifying would significantly change the state and overall race because the large California delegation will be a major presence at the Democratic National Convention.

Scoring at-large delegate commitments is not the only way to earn votes, however. A larger total of 271 delegates will be awarded through the state’s 53 congressional districts. Each district, based upon its historical support performance for Democratic candidates, is awarded between 4 and 7 delegates, inclusive.

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New Arizona Data

By Jim Ellis

Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), and Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Jan. 10, 2020 — Public Policy Polling conducted a study of the Arizona electorate (Jan. 2-6; 760 registered Arizona voters) to test the highly important impending US Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly, the presumed Democratic nominee.

PPP also ran ballot tests involving President Trump paired individually against the major Democratic presidential contenders. Even though Arizona is a critical state in the 2020 presidential general election, the early projection numbers are not particularly salient because the contest has yet to begin in earnest, but the Trump results do provide a credibility foundation to analyze the PPP Senate numbers.

The Senate ballot test shows, as does every other previous survey of this race, that the McSally-Kelly battle is within the polling margin of error. The PPP numbers, at 46-42 percent in Kelly’s favor, project a four-point spread between the candidates, which is a bit more separation than revealed in past Arizona surveys.

Both Kelly and McSally have been near the top of national Senate fundraising charts, so it is clear that each will have plenty of resources to communicate their specific campaign messages in addition to expected independent expenditures that will come into the state to aid and attack both candidates. It is already clear that the Arizona Senate race will become a national campaign.

At this point, the Grand Canyon State campaign looks to be the Democrats’ best conversion opportunity, and a victory for them becomes even more important to offset what is likely a predicted loss for Sen. Doug Jones (D) in Alabama. With the Democrats needing a net gain of at least three seats, or four depending upon the presidential race outcome, every swing seat becomes critical for both parties.

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Impeachment Data: Many Polls
Show Georgia Numbers Improving

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 9, 2020 — The Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy company surveyed the Georgia electorate to test President Donald Trump’s approval rating after being impeached in the House and, as in several other places, his Peach State standing appears slightly better today than it was in the previous year.

Georgia is a critical part of the Trump coalition and one of five base states that must support him if he is to have the necessary vote footing to again win an Electoral College majority. Arizona, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina are the other four entities that voted for the president in close margins back in 2016, are clearly politically competitive today, and must go his way again in 2020.

The Mason-Dixon poll (Dec. 19-23; 625 registered Georgia voters; live interviews) finds the president’s approval ratio within the Georgia respondent group to be 50:46 percent favorable to unfavorable despite being his impeachment. The last time M-D conducted a similar poll, in February of 2018, Trump’s approval index stood at 50:50 percent.

To put his Georgia numbers in perspective, the president’s job approval rating nationally is habitually upside-down. Such is the case today, as the latest daily job approval scores post the president at 40:55 percent (Morning Consult; Jan. 6-7; 2,038 US adults), 48:50 percent (Rasmussen Reports; Jan. 2-6; 1,500 likely US voters), and 44:54 percent (YouGov; Jan. 4-6; 731 registered US voters) positive to negative.

The encouraging Georgia statistical news for Trump is even more significant when considering that the state’s African-American population has outpaced the national black growth rate. It is well known that the African-American segment is the Democratic bedrock vote with near unanimous levels of support for the party’s candidates. The fact that Trump has improved in the face of impeachment and a growing black population means that his standing in Georgia is about as strong as could reasonably be expected considering the tall obstacles before him.

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