Tag Archives: Democratic National Convention

The Budding Five-Way Race

By Jim Ellis

July 16, 2019 — We’ve seen an interesting trio of polls released over the past week that tested the New Hampshire Democratic electorate all within the same relative time span. The cumulative result produced three different leaders and found the top five candidates all within striking range of the top position.

As we reported last week, Change Research simultaneously conducted polls in three of the first four voting states, including New Hampshire, which, as we know, hosts the first primary election on Feb. 11. Though the state is small and has only 24 first ballot delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the primary is an important contest because front runners failing to meet early expectations often find themselves initiating a downward spiral.

Change reported that their June 29-July 4 New Hampshire survey results (420 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) projected Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to be ahead of the pack, but through a very slim margin. It’s not particularly surprising to see him leading here when we recall that he took 60 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The top candidates scored 26-24-14-13-13 percent in this first Change Research Granite State poll in the person of Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, ex-Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), respectively.

This week, Change is back with an updated New Hampshire survey, and this time uses a much larger polling sample (July 6-9; 1,084 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters). Now, the research organization projects Sen. Warren to be the leading candidate, with a commensurately small advantage, 22-20-19-15-13 percent over Sanders, Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg.

Since the margin between Sanders and Warren is equivalent when both are forecast as leaders, the order is largely irrelevant. Basically, the Change data is suggesting that the two are tied with the other three lurking closely behind.

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California Already Tightening

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2019 — A new large-sample Golden State poll released from the University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times (June 4-10; 2,131 likely California Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) yields some surprising results. The three most unexpected findings first show a tight race among the four top contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) surging into second place, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris only finishing fourth but not substantially behind.

The California primary, scheduled for March 3, possesses the largest number of first-ballot delegates of any state or territory. The state’s 416 first-ballot delegates, 272 of whom are divided among the 53 congressional districts and 144 at-large, will certainly help set the tone over how the Democratic National Convention unfolds.

Sen. Harris, who could well be the indicator candidate as to what scenario will occur at the convention, (i.e., will one candidate be able to coalesce a majority coalition on the first or second ballot or does the nomination battle fall into a multi-ballot contest) must score big in her home state, and this latest survey suggests her path is challenging but doable.

The Berkeley/LA Times study sees former Vice President Joe Biden holding a smaller lead than in past surveys, as he polls 22 percent first-choice responses. Sen. Warren makes a major jump into second place and records 18 percent, one of her best showings in any poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has been dipping in polling across the country, places third at 17 percent, and Sen. Harris trails in fourth position, but is still clearly in the game at 13 percent.

Polling from around the country within the last 10 days, and this California study is obviously no exception, has been projecting a tighter Democratic race. Though Biden still leads, his advantage is lessening.

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Polling vs. Delegates:
“The Game Within the Game”

By Jim Ellis

Texas state senate districts

June 7, 2018 — Quinnipiac University released their latest Texas poll (May 29-June 4; 1,159 registered Texas voters) and it finds former Vice President Joe Biden doing well in opponents’ Beto O’Rourke and Joaquin Castro’s home state.

According to the results, Biden heads the Lone Star State Democratic presidential field and is the only candidate to top President Trump when the president is isolated against each competitive Democrat (Biden over Trump: 48-44 percent).

Arguably, Texas, with its 38 Electoral Votes and the largest cache that a Republican candidate can generally claim, is Trump’s most important state. Losing here would likely mean forfeiting the presidency. There is no mathematical way to compensate for Trump failing to win Texas’ electoral votes and still allow him a path to reach the 270 Electoral Votes to claim a national victory.

In the Democratic primary, scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 3, Biden leads the pack of candidates with 30 percent of the vote, topping ex-Rep. O’Rourke (16 percent), Sen. Bernie Sanders (15 percent), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (11 percent), and the nine others who recorded between one and four percent statewide support.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Govs. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Steve Bullock (D-MT), Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Mayors Bill de Blasio (New York, NY), Wayne Messam (Miramar, FL), failed to reach the one percent plateau.

But, how would such a vote split translate into delegates for the participating candidates? Under Democratic Party rules, each state has both at-large and district delegates. Another group, called PLEO’s, are comprised of state and local Democratic Party leaders along with elected officials.

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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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March 3, 2020: The New Super Tuesday

By Jim Ellis

May 3, 2019 — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced this week, as expected, that his state’s new primary will move to March 3, 2020, which has clearly become the next presidential cycle’s Super Tuesday.

Previously, Colorado employed the caucus system to apportion delegates, but voters changed to a primary when passing a 2016 ballot initiative, so now the state’s 67 Democratic first-ballot delegates and 37 Republican convention votes will be apportioned through a primary election.

But the Centennial State voters and the Democratic National Committee rules appear to be at odds. According to news reports, the 2016 Colorado electoral primary ballot initiative not only transformed into a primary, but also adopted a winner-take-all apportionment format. While Republicans allow states to award all of their delegates to one candidate based upon a primary or caucus victory, the Democrats, under the McGovern reform rules adopted after the 1972 presidential election, do not.

While the state may want to make the winner-take-all option determinative, the procedure violates Democratic rules, so we could see yet another pre-convention issue develop before the Credentials Committee, the body that certifies all of the delegate votes prior to the convention officially beginning.

The 2020 Democratic nomination process is becoming seriously front-loaded, which could play to the party’s detriment. By rule, only four states, referred to as “The First Four,” may vote before March 1 in the presidential year: Iowa (caucus, 41 first-ballot delegates), New Hampshire (primary, 24), Nevada (caucus, 36), and South Carolina (primary, 54). But just three days after South Carolina concludes, the following Tuesday, March 3, could become the most significant date of the early campaign.

Now that Colorado has joined the 3/3 fold, the following states will vote (in parenthesis, are the number of first ballot votes each entity possesses under the Democratic delegate apportionment formula):

  • Alabama (52)
  • American Samoa (6) – presumed to be voting this day
  • Arkansas (31)
  • California (416)
  • Colorado (67)
  • Democrats Abroad (13)
  • Georgia (105)
  • Massachusetts (91)
  • Minnesota (75)
  • North Carolina (110)
  • Oklahoma (37)
  • Tennessee (64) – probable, but has not yet set the calendar
  • Texas (228)
  • Utah (29)
  • Vermont (16)
  • Virginia (99)

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