Tag Archives: Republican National Committee

Virginia Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

June 13, 2017 — The Virginia governor’s campaign is becoming a national race in relation to prognosticating political trends, and we will be able to glean some partial answers this evening.

Initially, the eventual Virginia general election winner earns the redistricting veto pen for the 2021 redraw, and becomes the first newly elected governor to have such authority. All other states where redistricting is handled through the normal legislative process will elect their commensurate governors in 2018, 2019, and/or 2020.

Second, the Commonwealth’s Democratic primary race has evolved into an early microcosm of what Democrats may be experiencing throughout the country this year and next, and quite possibly beyond.

The split between the party’s more extreme Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren faction and the traditional liberal Hillary Clinton segment is portrayed in the Tom Perriello/Ralph Northam gubernatorial primary. Though former US Rep. Perriello is wrapping himself in the Sanders/Warren mantra, going so far as having them star in his ads along with film clips of President Obama extolling his virtue when he was a member of the House, Perriello’s initiative has driven Lt. Gov. Northam to adopt more leftward ideological positions, as well.

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Conflicting Virginia Polls

By Jim Ellis

May 22, 2017 — Early in this election cycle we’ve already seen several special and odd-numbered year campaigns produce conflicting polling data, and at the end of last week, a new example came forth. Two new polls from the Virginia governor’s race, Democratic primary, produced opposite results and both can be questioned in terms of reliability.

Earlier in the week, the Virginia Education Association released a Public Policy Polling survey (May 9-10; 745 likely Virginia Democratic primary voters), which projects Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leading former US Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) by a substantial 45-35 percent margin.

Late last week, the Washington Post and the Schar School of George Mason University released their sponsored Abt Associates poll (May 9-14; 1,604 Virginia adults; 351 likely Democratic primary voters; 264 likely Republican primary voters) that produced a much different result. According to this polling sample, it is Perriello who actually holds a 40-38 percent preference lead among the most likely June 13 Democratic primary voters.

Not only do we see inconsistent conclusions from this pair of surveys, but also methodological questions arise. The Public Policy Polling survey has the stronger sampling group particulars, but may have bias problems. PPP features a robust sample of 745 Democratic primary voter respondents but the poll was conducted for an organization that is outwardly supporting Northam, and the 10-point advantage for their candidate is beyond any previously released independent figures.

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What Now?

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 11, 2016 — The weekend Donald Trump revelations have sent the Republican camp scrambling, yet again. Before Sunday night’s debate: at least a score of GOP officeholders and party leaders had withdrawn their support for Trump, the Republican National Committee chairman put the Trump Victory program on hold, and a movement was beginning to develop within the RNC membership to remove their nominated presidential candidate.

Though the ballot finalization deadline has past in all states, and Trump’s name will appear on every voting mechanism Nov. 8 and in early voting (in six states voters have already begun casting ballots), some believe that the 168-member Republican National Committee, by two-thirds vote, could still remove their presidential nominee. They reference the Committee’s Rule 9, part of which reads:

(a) The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States or the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.

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A Contested Convention After All?

By Jim Ellis

June 27, 2016 — There is clear evidence that “Never Trump” Republican national delegates are organizing an effort to force a national convention rules change and, in effect, fully open the floor proceedings when all delegations gather in Cleveland.

The movement received a shot in the arm earlier in the week when Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus appointed former US Rep. Enid Greene Mickelsen (R-UT) as chair of the national convention rules committee, and veteran RNC committeeman and former White House staff member Ron Kaufman (R-MA) as her co-chair. In doing so, Priebus by-passed the current RNC eules committee chairman, Arizona committeeman Bruce Ash, who is a strong proponent for keeping the rules consistent.

That’s not to say that Mickelsen and Kaufman would be sympathetic to opening the convention, but it was clear that Ash is hostile to the idea. In media interviews, Ash repeatedly stated that Donald Trump has abided by all party rules and fairly won the nomination through his particular strength in primaries. Trump has amassed more votes than any Republican candidate in history, meaning his presidential nomination is clearly legitimate. Ash further indicated that the GOP delegates, including himself, represent the Republican voters of their states, and they have clearly selected Trump.

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Trump’s Makeover

By Jim Ellis

May 6, 2016 — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) departing the 2016 presidential campaign on successive days unofficially awards Donald Trump with the Republican presidential nomination. Though it will still take the New York real estate mogul until the final primary day (June 7) to commit the 1,237 delegates he needs for a first-ballot nomination victory, he is, nevertheless, now beginning a general election campaign effort against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Cruz’s abrupt about-face on previous statements that he would not leave the race is a bit curious. With the ebbs and flows of this campaign, it would not have been surprising to see yet another switch in campaign momentum. In mid-April, for example, it was Trump who was floundering and on the political ropes just before the New York and eastern regional primaries launched him back on the final course toward the nomination.

It is clear, however, that what looked to be coming Cruz winner-take-all victories in Nebraska, South Dakota, and possibly Montana, along with surely accumulating more delegates in the remaining proportional states of Oregon, Washington and New Mexico, the Cruz campaign analysts obviously came to the conclusion that they could not overcome Trump.

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Sanders & Cruz Win Again;
Tennessee Filings

By Jim Ellis

April 12, 2016 — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) won his seventh consecutive Democratic nomination event as he scored a Saturday afternoon 56-44 percent Wyoming Caucus victory over Hillary Clinton. Though he realistically cannot close the delegate gap, mostly because of Clinton’s overwhelming strength among the party’s free agent Super Delegates, Sanders has still managed to win the popular vote in 17 states and territories as compared his opponent’s 20.

Wyoming has only 18 Democratic delegates, and while Sanders decisively won more state delegates in their caucus system, Clinton is coming away with more national convention delegate votes thanks to the aforementioned Super Delegates.

Once the regular and Super Delegate votes are tabulated, Clinton looks to have scored a positive 11-7 margin, despite the state delegate tally cutting against her.

According to The New York Times, the updated unofficial national count finds Clinton with an overall 1,756 to 1,068 advantage. This means the former Secretary of State is 627 votes shy of obtaining the 2,383 delegates required to claim the nomination with 20 states and territories yet to vote. Therefore, she needs less than one-third of the remaining delegates to win.

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Understanding State
Delegate Nuances

By Jim Ellis

April 5, 2016 — This past Sunday, the Drudge Report led with a story from a St. Louis political blogger who claimed Sen. Ted Cruz will be eliminated from obtaining a first ballot victory on April 26 even if he wins the Wisconsin primary today as all public polls indicate (The Gateway Pundit). The story’s premise is incorrect.

Joe Hoft, writing for the Gateway Pundit political blog, errs because he misunderstands the Republican National Committee delegate apportionment formulas. Therefore, to set the record straight, although Cruz is on political life support for a first ballot nomination, he likely won’t be mathematically eliminated this month.

Hoft misstates several points regarding exactly how the delegates are apportioned, particularly in the remaining Winner-Take-All by congressional district states. To capture all delegates in the seven states that use this system, one would have to place first in the statewide vote, and then carry every congressional district. Donald Trump accomplished this feat in South Carolina, but it appears unlikely Cruz will do so in Wisconsin today. Plus, Hoft’s projection (see chart in the linked article) that Trump would win two delegates from the Badger State is impossible because winning a CD awards the candidate three delegates. And, since even the three RNC delegates here are bound to the statewide winner, the remaining votes are assigned in groups of three after the 15 at-large delegates go to the statewide first-place finisher.

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New York Numbahs

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2016 — The first meaningful 2016 New York presidential poll was released late last week, providing us insight as to what may happen in the state’s April 19 Democratic and Republican primaries.

Quinnipiac University conducted a survey of likely New York primary voters (March 22-29 — 1,667 registered New York voters; 693 likely Democratic primary voters, 457 likely Republican primary voters) and rather unsurprisingly finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump leading their respective party primaries.

For Clinton, who was twice elected as one of New York’s US senators (2000; 2006), the Q-Poll forecasts her holding a 54-42 percent lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT). If anything, this advantage is smaller than one might have guessed, but the margin is substantial enough to put the state out of reach for Sanders.

The segmentation cells that bring the Vermont senator even within 12 points of Clinton are those who identify themselves as being “very liberal” (Sanders leads within this group, 57-43 percent), and men (Sanders up 49-46 percent).

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The Game Within the Game

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2016 — While the Republican presidential candidates are experiencing a small voting respite – the next GOP primaries are April 5 and 19 (Wisconsin and New York, respectively) – the so-called “game within the game” is getting underway as recent developments in Louisiana illustrate.

The phrase refers to the complicated process of actually choosing individuals to fill the various delegate slots that are awarded to the respective candidates under Republican National Committee allocation procedure. It is here where Sen. Ted Cruz may have a distinct advantage.

Coming from the Louisiana state Republican convention, a similar venue where the respective 56 voting entities ratify their official national delegate slates, the fluid process could actually send a pro-Cruz delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland even though more voters supported Donald Trump.

On March 5, Trump polled 41.4 percent of the statewide vote versus Sen. Cruz’s 37.8 percent. Based upon the state’s delegate apportionment formula that allows candidates to earn a portion of the 25 at-large bound delegates if they exceed 20 percent of the statewide vote, Trump received 13 votes to Cruz’s 12.

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Trump Bangs Independent Drum

Feb. 17, 2016 — Donald Trump is publicly accusing the Republican National Committee leadership of being “in default of their pledge.” Earlier in the cycle, Trump and the committee hierarchy agreed via signed document that no Independent candidacy would be launched should he fail to capture the GOP presidential nomination and, in return, the party leaders would not erect any artificial impediments or enact rules designed to gut his Republican candidacy.

Trump, the early GOP delegate leader, is crying foul over the audience loudly booing him several times during the CBS Republican presidential debate from South Carolina last Saturday night. The candidate claims the RNC gave all the live viewing tickets to “special interest lobbyists”, thereby stacking the audience in an effort to make him look bad.

Yesterday, Trump held a news conference and called upon the media to remember his comments pertaining to his view that the RNC is breaking the pledge. Trump was clearly putting the option of running as an Independent back on the table under the justification that RNC personnel had violated the agreement terms.

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The Early States’ Delegate Formula

Dec. 16 2015 — When voting starts in the Iowa Caucus on the first day of February, much more will be happening than simple vote counting. Here, delegate apportionment begins and it is this latter system that will determine who becomes the party nominee.

Since the Democratic battle is virtually clinched for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we will concentrate on the Republican side for the purposes of this report. Under Republican National Committee rules, all states voting before March 15 must use a proportional system to divide their delegates. By definition, this means multiple candidates will be awarded delegate votes, thus expanding the chances that the nomination process will deadlock after all 56 primaries and caucuses are conducted.

The Republicans allow several delegate apportionment systems: Winner-Take-All, where the candidate with the most statewide votes is awarded all of the particular state’s delegates; Winner-Take-All by congressional district, where each CD hosts its own “election”, if you will, and awards three delegates to the candidate with the most votes; while the remaining entities require either 20, 15, 13, 10, 5 or 0 percent of the vote to qualify for delegate apportionment.

In chronological order:

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Winner Take All States Loom Large

May 22, 2015 — Florida’s political and legislative leaders, who acted earlier this week to slot the Sunshine State presidential primary on March 15, could have begun a scheduling trend as states move toward finalizing the 2016 election calendar.

As more Republican prospective contenders enter the race –- we could see as many as 18 candidates — the voting schedule gains in importance. With no clear front-runner, the chances of the GOP nominating in an open or “brokered” convention become greater. Therefore, the critical factor in projecting whether any candidate will be able to secure a majority of the delegates before the Republican National Convention begins in the middle of July will be the number of winner-take-all (WTA) states.

The WTA format merely means that victorious primary candidates collect all of the particular state’s delegate allotment. States still have through most of this year to make a final decision about their primary/caucus schedule and how they will apportion their delegates. But, right now, it only appears that six states are opting for the WTA format.
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Nevada Looks to Change
Presidential Nominating System

April 29, 2015 — Majority state legislative Republicans, led by Assembly Speaker John Hambrick, are moving a bill to change Nevada’s presidential nominating system from a caucus to a primary. A companion measure has been introduced in the state Senate.

The initiative, if both houses pass and Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) signs the bill(s) into law, is quite significant considering Nevada is one of just four states the Republican National Committee sanctions for voting prior to March 1, 2016. The measure(s) would schedule the new Republican primary for Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, just ahead of the Saturday (Feb. 27, 2016) South Carolina primary and behind the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary that is tentatively targeted for Tuesday, Feb. 9. The nation’s first caucus vote, held in Iowa, is scheduled to occur on or around Feb. 1, 2016.

The legislators do not appear to be attempting to aid any one particular candidate, though the candidates with more in the way of campaign financial resources should benefit to the detriment of those depending upon a strong grassroots precinct organizations. Rather, their stated goal is to increase voter participation and avoid what state Republican Party chairman Michael McDonald said hurt the state in 2012.
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Santorum Win Louisiana; Argues Delegate Count

Rick Santorum accomplished his goal Saturday night in Louisiana, easily outdistancing Mitt Romney 49-27 percent, with Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) posting 16 and 6 percent, respectively. Of Louisiana’s 46 delegates, only 20 of them were at stake in the primary and Santorum stands a good chance of capturing 14. The remainder will be chosen at the state Republican convention to be held June 1st and 2nd.

Louisiana was the type of victory Santorum needed to re-establish momentum before going to the April 3 primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Of the three, DC, where Romney is expected to easily romp, is a Winner-Take-All entity, so all 17 delegates should go his way. Wisconsin and Maryland both use the same allocation system. Delegate votes are awarded for winning statewide and for carrying each of their respective eight congressional districts. Wisconsin has 42 total delegates and Maryland 37. The Wisconsin vote will likely to be close, while Romney has a chance to sweep Maryland and convert all 37 delegates.

Again we saw a familiar pattern in Louisiana. Though Santorum swept all the parishes except one, Mr. Romney placed first in the state’s most urban area – New Orleans. Such a result has been consistent throughout the campaign. Romney does well in the most urbanized areas of a state, but poorly in the rural regions and very poorly in the south. Having a Republican nominee weak in the party’s base areas is not an enviable position for the GOP when they face President Obama later this year. Romney will not be able to count on commensurate urban support against the incumbent Democratic nominee.

But, it’s the overall delegate count that is the subject of much discussion and fraught with misconception. The CNN number is a good benchmark for the media counts. The broadcast organization shows Romney with 549 delegates through Illinois and Santorum with 249, Gingrich 137, Paul 69, and 137 delegates unallocated from the 33 states and territories already voting.

The Republican National Committee official count, however, tells a much different story. Factoring out those delegates who the individual states have not yet chosen nor bound for at least a first ballot vote, Romney would have 339 delegates, Santorum only 95, Gingrich 107, and Paul 22 with 300 unallocated. Using the official RNC accounting, Romney is 805 votes away from committing the 1,144 delegates required to clinch victory, rather than 595 as the media depicts.

The pro-Santorum Red, White and Blue Super PAC has an even different count. Where the RNC does not yet add recent Santorum victory states because their delegates still must be officially chosen at convention, the inclusion of states like Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas changes the picture greatly. According to Red, White, and Blue, the count is: Romney 344; Santorum 193; Gingrich 160; Paul 33; Unallocated 411. Therefore, the Santorum Super PAC projection, in similar fashion to the RNC, shows that Romney is still a whopping 800 committed votes from the magic number.

So, despite all of the aforementioned entities, and then some, looking at exactly the same results, highly diverse accounting results continue to emerge. It again proves that this Republican nomination campaign still has a very long way to go.

A Texas-Sized Supreme Court Ruling

The US Supreme Court stayed implementation of the San Antonio federal panel’s congressional and state legislative maps on Friday, thus making it a virtual certainty that the Texas primary, currently scheduled for Super Tuesday on March 6, will be moved. The Lone Star State vote was, until Friday, the first scheduled congressional primary in the nation.

The court ordered oral arguments for map changes to be presented on Jan. 9, far beyond the Dec. 15 candidate filing deadline. With a final ruling coming in late January at the earliest, the proscribed filing period would dictate that the March 6th nominating election for the House of Representatives and the state legislature, at a minimum, will not proceed as scheduled. Therefore, the Supreme Court’s action raises as many tangential political questions as it answered.

Our PRIsm Redistricting Report tomorrow will cover the intricacies of the decision and what it means for the 2012 election, but the ramifications of what happens to the Texas primary goes far beyond changing the judicial panel’s political boundaries.

Many states have early stand-alone primaries for President and return later in the year to nominate candidates for Congress and state and local office. Texas, however, scheduled all of their races for Super Tuesday, with a run-off on May 22. The latter date now becomes the leading scheduling option for the new primary. State Attorney General Greg Abbott argued for such in his brief to the high court. Should the May date be chosen, it is likely that any required run-off would occur sometime in June.

So, what happens next and who decides? Now that the Supreme Court has, at least temporarily, removed redistricting jurisdiction from the San Antonio three-judge panel, we know that they will have no role in setting the primary. The Supreme Court or the legislature and governor will have the ultimate scheduling authority.

The next question is: will the primary be bifurcated? Theoretically, delegate selection for president could still move forward on March 6; ditto for the US Senate and local campaigns. A second primary could be then scheduled at a later time for the US House of Representatives and the state legislature. Since no money has been budgeted for an additional primary, this option would require action from the state legislature and governor or, at least, from the Legislative Budget Board (consisting of the governor, lieutenant governor, and Speaker of the House), the body that makes financial decisions while the legislature is not in session.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry finds himself in an interesting position. He has the power to call the legislature into special session to either move the primary or appropriate the necessary funds to conduct another election.

Perry himself could benefit greatly from moving the entire Texas primary to May, assuming he is still alive in the presidential contest after the early states vote. According to Republican National Committee rules, states may invoke a winner-take-all option if the nominating event is held post-Super Tuesday, so altering the date of the primary, which would allow the nominating system to change, obviously helps the governor since Texas has the second-largest contingent of delegates (155) to the Republican National Convention.

The primary scheduling decision greatly affects another person, too: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is the leading candidate for the Republican US Senate nomination. The earlier primary date favors him because polls show he has a chance to win the nomination outright on March 6. Delaying the vote for more than two months would give his top opponents, Dallas ex-Mayor Tom Leppert and Texas former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, more time to mount stronger challenges to Dewhurst and potentially force him into a run-off election.

As you can see, the Supreme Court is affecting much more than Texas redistricting with its decision to stay map implementation. In the end, when will the Texas congressional primary be held? Right now, we can be assured it will be on a date other than March 6. Beyond that, stay tuned.