Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Texas Lineup

Dec. 17, 2015 — Candidate filing closed in Texas last week and at least a partial list of those running for the US House has been published. Since the state parties administer the candidate filing process, it will be a few days before the entire docket is made official for both Republicans and Democrats.

There is no US Senate race in this election cycle, but all 36 House seats will be on the ballot. Few districts are seriously contested, but the two open seats and one serious general election challenge will attract some political attention.

In the sprawling 23rd District that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, freshman Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) will face a re-match with the man he unseated 50-48 percent in 2014, former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine). Two years earlier, Gallego defeated then-Rep. Quico Canseco (R) 50-45 percent. With the presidential turnout likely favoring Gallego here, expect another very close campaign in this swing CD.

All but retiring representatives Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX-15) and Randy Neugebauer (R-TX-19) are seeking re-election. Thirteen Republicans and five Democrats have drawn primary opposition, but most of the challenges are not serious, nor have the potential of becoming so.

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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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“Cruz-ing”

Dec. 15, 2015 — Two new surveys, both conducted during the Dec. 7-10 period from two different pollsters, find Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) eclipsing Donald Trump in Iowa for the first time in a month. A third poll, that from Monmouth University (Dec. 3-6; 425 likely Iowa caucus attenders) and reported upon last week, also found the Texas senator surging into first place among likely Hawkeye State GOP caucus attenders.

The Selzer & Company poll conducted for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News (804 likely caucus attenders; 400 Republican; 404 Democratic) posts Sen. Cruz to his largest lead to date, 31-21 percent over Trump. Dr. Ben Carson, consistently losing support in Iowa since topping Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Trump 27-17-15 percent, respectively, in the Iowa State University poll (Nov. 2-15; 518 likely Iowa Republican caucus attenders), places third with 13 percent. Sen. Rubio follows with 10 percent, the last candidate placing in double-digits. Former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) trail with five percent apiece.

The Fox News poll (807 likely caucus attenders; 450 Republican; 357 Democratic) finds similar results, but with closer margins. Here, we see Cruz leading Trump 28-26 percent, with Rubio and Carson trading places and percentages. This poll finds Rubio at 13 percent and Carson with 10 percent, meaning the two are virtually tied when comparing results. Bush registers six percent, with Sen. Paul, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), and ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) each drawing three percent support.

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Ellmers’ Vulnerability

Dec. 14, 2015 — Time sometimes changes perspective in politics. Three-term North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) came to Congress with a 2010 victory margin of just under 1,500 votes against then-Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington/Durham) in what became one of that cycle’s biggest Tea Party upsets. Now running for a fourth term, some of the congresswoman’s past allies are backing one of her Republican primary opponents. Her performance in office has disappointed various conservative segments.

This week, the Club for Growth, one of the most prolific conservative outside support groups endorsed Rep. Ellmers’ top primary opponent, former Chatham County Republican chairman Jim Duncan. The Ellmers’ conservative detractors have a major problem, however, in that the anti-incumbent vote is split among three candidates. In addition to Duncan, local radio talk show host Frank Roche and public relations executive Kay Daly are both in the race.

With the Club helping Duncan, his resource base will expand exponentially. He becomes Ellmers’ key challenger and, if the other two could be talked out of running before the upcoming Dec. 21 candidate filing deadline (for the March 15 primary), would be in strong position to deny her re-nomination. But, considering that North Carolina employs a 40 percent run-off rule, defeating any incumbent in a crowded field is a difficult proposition. To avoid a secondary election, Ellmers would only have to reach the 40 percent plateau to clinch the nomination, which, in the 2nd District is the tantamount to winning in November.

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Calculation Politics

Dec. 11, 2015 — A just-released New Hampshire poll gives us meaningful insight into delegate projections and the small size of each candidate’s support basis by the time February concludes. Though the first four voting entities — Iowa caucus (Feb. 1), New Hampshire primary (Feb. 9), South Carolina primary (Feb. 20), and Nevada caucus (Feb. 23) — will be portrayed as trendsetters, in terms of delegate calculation these states will likely have reduced influence upon the 2016 election cycle’s direction.

Early this month, CNN and WMUR television sponsored a University of New Hampshire poll of Granite State voters (Nov. 30-Dec. 7; 954 registered New Hampshire voters; 402 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, 370 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), the results of which were released yesterday. On a cautionary note, UNH has not proven itself as a particularly strong pollster, often producing wild results inconsistent with other similar surveys. The liberal Daily Kos Elections organization, for example, rates them as one of the least reliable pollsters on the political scene irrespective of partisanship.

For purposes of our delegate calculation exercise, however, the survey’s accuracy is not particularly relevant. The Republican delegate calculation formula is of prime importance, the actual determining factor about who will win the party’s presidential nomination. Therefore, in order to process New Hampshire’s delegate apportionment we will consider this poll the benchmark.

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