Tag Archives: Democratic National Convention

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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Could The Democrats Be Headed
Towards a Convention Free-For-All?

By Jim Ellis

April 11, 2019 — One of the most interesting facets of the Democratic presidential nomination process sounds mundane, but it may be more telling than any single campaign factor.

The primary/caucus schedule will in many ways determine if the party can coalesce behind one candidate before the Democratic delegates convene in Milwaukee during mid-July, or if they’ll be headed to a contested convention featuring several roll calls.

To win the nomination a candidate must either garner majority support on the first ballot (1,885 votes from a field of 3,768 elected delegates) or from among the full complement of 4,532 Democratic delegates on subsequent roll calls when the 764 Super Delegates are eligible to vote.

Joining the early mix, meaning the states that will vote on or before March 17, 2020, is Washington state, which has moved their nomination event. Additionally, over just this past weekend, the Washington Democrats passed a new party rule that transforms the previous delegate-apportioning caucus into a statewide primary. Previously, the state featured both apparatuses, with the caucus attenders selecting the delegates while the primary was no more than a political beauty contest.

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With Brown Bowing Out,
Does That Mean Biden Will Begin?

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) – not running for president

March 11, 2019 — Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, another of the potential Democratic presidential candidates who most observers thought would enter the race, is not.

His announcement late last week was a bit surprising considering his home state with 136 first-ballot delegates and 153 overall (the seventh largest state delegation at the Democratic National Convention) moved the primary to March 10, partially with the idea of giving him a boost.

Sen. Brown’s decision provides us a clue as to what else may happen, however. He, like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, basically said the reason for not becoming a candidate is that the victory path is not evident. The underlying conclusion is they obviously believe former Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race.

Though all three men (Biden, Bloomberg, and Brown) certainly must be considered liberals on the ideological scale, they are not part of the far-left faction that Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and others are attempting to attract. Therefore, if the Bloomberg and Brown paths are blocked, then it is Biden who is their most formidable impediment.

If the former vice president and Delaware senator enters the race, and some say he will do so early next month, is he a lock for the nomination? Polling indicates he would jump to the top of the current heap but would be nowhere close to the majority of delegate votes required to win the nomination on the first convention ballot. In four late February national polls of likely Democratic primary voters, Biden tops them all but with preference percentages of 27, 30, 29, and 31 – hardly dominating numbers.

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Hickenlooper & Inslee:
Former Governor & Governor
Join Democratic Presidential Fray

By Jim Ellis

Left: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (Photo, Moritz Hager) Right: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

March 6, 2019 — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joined the Democratic presidential field over the weekend, following Washington Gov. Jay Inslee who jumped in last Friday. The pair became the 12th and 13th official Democratic presidential candidates, and the first governor and former governor to join the campaign.

But what are the paths to actual nomination for each man? Neither has high national name identification and both are from states moderate in size: Washington has 107 total Democratic National Convention delegates, and Colorado 80. This places them as the 14th and 17th largest states among the 57 voting entities that will comprise the Democratic delegate pool.

It’s hard to see a viable way to the nomination for Gov. Inslee. Without a strong geographical base or high name ID, the two-term Pacific Northwest governor is attempting to carve a niche for himself as the climate change candidate, but that is a space already heavily populated. Sen. Bernie Sanders in particular stresses the climate change issues as part of his portfolio, as do most of the other candidates at least to a degree.

It’s possible Inslee also doesn’t see much of a path for himself, which explains why he answered so vociferously that he is not ruling out running for a third term in his present position when asked during his announcement event. With almost two-thirds of the bound delegate votes likely being decided on or before March 17, 2020, Inslee will have plenty of time to pivot back into a governor’s race because the Washington candidate filing deadline doesn’t elapse until May of that year.

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