Tag Archives: Tom Steyer

Is Sen. Kamala Harris Protecting
Her California Senate Seat?

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California

Dec. 5, 2019 — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the first of what one might consider the top-tier candidates to end her presidential effort, but the announcement timing on Tuesday likely has more to do with her 2022 Senate race than the presidential contest.

The California candidate filing deadline is tomorrow, so Sen. Harris deciding to end her presidential effort means she won’t be on the Golden State presidential primary ballot, and thus avoids an embarrassing loss within her own constituency. Recent polling was forecasting her in the single-digit range even in California.

Obviously, losing any race in one’s home state reveals political weakness, and though she is virtually invulnerable against a Republican in the 2022 general election, the same might not be true if her opponent were a strong Democrat.

Under the California election system that features the jungle primary concept, variations of which are also seen in Washington state and Louisiana, members of the same party can advance into the general election. Florida voters will have the opportunity of adopting that jungle primary concept via ballot initiative next year.

Because California and Washington hold regular primaries before the general election, a pair of candidates always advance irrespective of percentages attained. Conversely, Louisiana holds one election concurrent with the general, meaning a candidate exceeding 50 percent is elected outright; otherwise the top two finishers advance into a December run-off election.

In the California 2022 Senate race, for example, two candidates will move into the general election from their March or June primary (California has continually alternated their primary election dates between the two months, depending upon the political situation at the time the legislature acted) so long as more than one candidate files. Thus, a strong Democrat — and California has many such individuals — could challenge Sen. Harris, draw a relatively meager percentage in the primary while finishing second, and then rally to make a serious general election challenge against her.

Other previous presidential candidates have often found the political going much tougher than expected when returning home to seek re-election after engaging in the national contest, and it remains to be seen if Sen. Harris will find her road to re-election any bumpier.

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Is Buttigieg a One-State Wonder?

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Oct. 23, 2019 — The new Suffolk University/USA Today poll of Iowa voters (Oct. 16-18; 500 likely Iowa Democratic caucus attenders) was conducted immediately after the most recent Democratic presidential debate and confirms that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg registered a strong performance.

According to the Suffolk results, former Vice President Joe Biden posts only 18 percent support, a drop of six points from their July Iowa poll, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is in a virtual tie with him at 17 percent. She gained four percentage points since mid-summer. Mayor Buttigieg now moves into a close third place with 13 percent, more than doubling his support from the July poll when he registered only six percent preference. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) remains constant with nine percent and holds fourth position.

The remainder of the field includes four candidates tied with three percent support: billionaire Tom Steyer who made his first debate appearance in the October forum, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) who dropped a whopping 13 percentage points from the July Suffolk U. survey, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar who, like Mayor Buttigieg, needs to take advantage of her Midwestern roots and reap a solid support percentage from the Iowa Democratic electorate. So far, however, she has failed to generate significant support.

While Mayor Buttigieg has appreciably increased his Iowa standing, it remains to be seen if this poll is reflective of a short-term bounce from a strong debate performance or whether seeds are being sown for a legitimate push into the top tier. And, even if he proves himself in Iowa, will that momentum carry over into other states? At this point, the available data suggests that Buttigieg could be a one-state wonder.

Qualifying Already Underway
For Upcoming Presidential Debates

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 1, 2019 — The Democratic National Committee had barely announced the new qualification requirements for the November and December presidential debates when three candidates immediately proved they met the polling requirement and several others reached the halfway point.

Not that there was any doubt that former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be in the late year forums, but they have already clinched their podiums.

CNN, one of the sanctioned pollsters that the DNC recognizes for determining candidate support, released two studies in states whose electorates will vote in February. The surveys that SSRS, the CNN regular polling firm partner, conducted tested the electorates in both Nevada and South Carolina.

The new party rules require candidates to now earn three percent support, up from two percent, in four sanctioned surveys either nationally or within the first four voting states, those that party rules allow to hold their nominating event in February (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina). Another option allows a candidate to meet the polling requirement if he or she receives five percent in two of the first four voting states.

The CNN/SSRS Nevada poll (Sept. 22-26; 324 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders) is sanctioned even though the sample size is small. That being the case, the results find that the three top contenders lie in a statistical tie. Biden and Sen. Sanders each post 22 percent support, while Sen. Warren trails only by four points at 18 percent.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is next with five percent, a rather poor showing considering that Nevada is adjacent to her home state of California, but one that would alone give her one-half of the polling qualification requirement. She would need to reach five percent in just one other poll in a First Four state to meet the polling requirement in order to earn a debate podium spot in November and December.

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Multiple Choice, Multiple Candidates

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 16, 2019 — The international polling firm YouGov for The Economist magazine just completed a major 86-question survey of 1,500 US adults (Sept. 8-10; online through an opt-in panel), 1,182 of whom are registered voters and found many interesting results. The most unique, however, might be their question asking the self-identified primary or caucus attending Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents (632) just how many of their party’s presidential candidates they would consider supporting.

The purpose of the question was to test for multiple responses; therefore, most respondents named several candidates. Possibly the most interesting phase of the response process was that only one candidate exceeded 50 percent under this format, and the person receiving the 55 percent consideration factor might not be who you would name with your first guess.

Of the 20 candidates identified in the questionnaire, 10 broke into double digits. This is not particularly surprising when remembering that respondents were encouraged to give more than one candidate they are considering and, in fact, could name as many individuals as they liked.

But the candidate receiving the 55 percent mention factor was not former Vice President Joe Biden. Rather, it was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and this type of outcome could be quite significant in determining who people might ultimately support. Biden was second but failed to reach a majority even from a respondent pool who could render multiple choices. He posted a 48 percent score.

In third position was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (40 percent), so here again we see these three candidates, Warren, Biden, and Sanders, capturing the top positions by a wide margin.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was fourth with 32 percent followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who was named by 27 percent of the sample. Others in double digits were New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 18 percent, ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke recording 14 percent, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro posting 13 percent, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York City businessman Andrew Yang both registering 11 percent under this format.

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Inslee Bows Out of Presidential Race

By Jim Ellis

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D)

Aug. 23, 2019 — The Democratic National Committee leaders’ strategy to substantially increase the presidential debate qualification requirements in order to decrease the unwieldy and bloated candidate field is working.

The prerequisites to prove that a campaign has more than 130,000 donors and that each candidate reaches a minimum of two percent support from four of eight designated pollsters paid another dividend Wednesday as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee became the third Democratic candidate to officially exit the race.

Not making the debate stage signifies that a candidate has no chance to become a top-tier candidate. Without national exposure, also-ran candidates have little opportunity to increase name identification and familiarity in order to raise enough money to deliver a message, motivate people to work on their campaign, and attract serious media attention both nationally and in the important local markets within key states.

Inslee follows Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in making the decision to bow out of the race, and there are likely to be several more following suit once it becomes even more evident that the lower-tier candidates will no longer have the opportunity to climb onto the national debate stage.

Gov. Inslee, in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday, stated ” … it’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball. I’m not going to be the president, so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race.” He is expected to announce that he will seek a third term as Washington’s governor.

The Inslee withdrawal is not a surprise to anyone, apparently even to the candidate himself. He remained non-committal about ruling out running for a third gubernatorial term, which froze most of the Washington Democratic potential aspirants in place. The rhetoric blocked them from overtly assembling a statewide campaign since most correctly interpreted the political tea leaves as meaning that Inslee would, in fact, be back to seek re-election.

With 10 candidates now qualified for the next debate since former HUD Secretary Julian Castro just joined the top-tier candidates of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg who are also joined by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and businessman Andrew Yang, it remains to be seen just how many of those who won’t meet the qualifications will continue.

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