Monthly Archives: June 2019

Debates Begin; Some Polls Tighten

By Jim Ellis

June 28, 2019 — Several polls were released just before the presidential debate series began and we see some inconsistency. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads in the most recent national surveys, but by varying margins.

The closest poll comes from YouGov (June 22-25; 522 likely US Democratic primary voters) and finds Biden’s lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren to be 24-18 percent. In a close third place is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 15 percent.

All other candidates are in single digits. Those who have been experiencing a recent downward trend, Sen. Kamala Harris, and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke, again posted poor support scores, this time seven and three percent, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been polling inconsistently in recent surveys. Here, we see downward movement, as he registers only five percent support, a polling range that has also been detected in other late June polling.

YouGov also finds two of the lower-tier candidates performing a bit better in this survey. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reaches three percent national support, and Sen. Cory Booker posts two percent support. All others are at one percent or below.

But the Morning Consult data, with a much larger survey sample, tells a much different story. Their poll (June 19-26; 7,150 likely US Democratic primary voters via automated response device) detects a much larger Biden lead. The results find the former vice president at 35 percent support with Sen. Sanders in second place – as he has been in most national polls – with 18 percent, and Sen. Warren in third at 12 percent. Like in the YouGov poll, only the top three finishers posted double-digit support numbers.

The lower tier is very similar to the YouGov results sans Gabbard. They find Sen. Harris (six percent), Mayor Buttigieg (six percent), O’Rourke (four percent), and Sen. Booker (three percent) comprising a second tier. All the rest are at one percent or less.

The HarrisX survey (June 24-26; 892 self-identified Democratic registered voters) brandished a middle-sized sample with commensurate results. HarrisX also finds Biden leading the Democratic race, but his 29 percent support factor falls virtually evenly between what was found in YouGov and Morning Consult.

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Biden’s Early Obstacle

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

June 27, 2019 — One of the reasons that Hillary Clinton’s campaign began to come unglued in 2016 was failing to meet expectations in the early places.

Unfortunately for her, Iowa was always one of her weakest states and the fact that it is first on the voting schedule caused her air of inevitability to be pierced rather quickly.

As you may remember, Clinton won the Iowa Caucus, but the result was a virtual tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders, forcing the local committee people to decide some precinct results with the flip of a coin — tosses in which Clinton prevailed every time. With her inevitability veil coming off, Clinton then headed to New Hampshire where she would lose 60-38 percent.

Because the race winnowed to a two-person affair, Clinton was successfully able to rebound, scoring early victories in Nevada and South Carolina to get her campaign back on track.

Two new polls suggest that former Vice President Joe Biden may be facing a similar pattern in the early states, and being mired in a crowded field suggests we may see a different final result than what Clinton achieved.

Two new surveys suggest that Biden may already be weakening in the first two states. Though small in terms of first ballot delegate votes (Iowa, 41; New Hampshire, 24), the pair are critically important in casting early momentum. With 25 candidates now beginning the campaign, and at least six appearing viable, developing early momentum is more important than within the much smaller 2016 nomination field.

Change Research conducted the Iowa and New Hampshire polls (along with one in South Carolina where Biden has a comfortable 39-15-13-11 percent edge over Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg) and their findings suggest that Biden could have some early trouble. Though the polling samples are small — 308 respondents for each state — the sample size may accurately reflect the diminutive voting universes found in the two places. All the surveys were conducted from June 17-20.

In Iowa, Biden leads, but with only a 27-20-18-17 percent margin over Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sanders, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg posts a close 17 percent support. Having four candidates within 10 points suggests that any one of them could break out with a win, especially with the Feb. 3 Caucus still months away.

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“Admiral Joe” Is Now 25th Candidate

By Jim Ellis

“Admiral Joe” Sestak

June 26, 2019 — The Democratic presidential field has now grown as large as a professional baseball team, as the 25th candidate came forward this week. Former Pennsylvania representative and defeated US Senate nominee Joe Sestak, who is emphasizing his long military career in rising to the rank of a Navy three-star admiral and serving on President Clinton’s National Security Council, officially entered the national campaign.

Sestak was first elected to the House in 2006 and served two terms from southeastern Pennsylvania’s 7th District. The new presidential candidate unseated 20-year congressional veteran Curt Weldon (R) in his first election and was easily re-elected in 2008. He chose to run for the Senate in 2010, defeating party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter 54-46 percent in the Democratic primary, but then lost to Republican Pat Toomey 51-49 percent in the succeeding general.

Sestak would return in the 2016 Democratic senatorial primary but fell to former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty after running a rather bizarre campaign that featured the ex-congressman walking the entire state of Pennsylvania but doing very few candidate appearances or media events along the way.

He joins the presidential field long after his new opponents have been campaigning for weeks and months but says he delayed his entry for family reasons. Sestak points out that his daughter has again been fighting brain cancer, which he claims she has beaten for the second time during her life.

Regardless of the reason, Sestak, who is calling himself “Admiral Joe” in this campaign and doesn’t use his congressional title in his new slogan, which reads, “ADM JOE, Accountability to America,” is likely entering too late to become an effective candidate with the ability to challenge for the party nomination.

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The Early Delegate Projections

By Jim Ellis

June 25, 2019 — There have been several important state polls recently released that provide us data about where the Democratic presidential candidates stand in relation to popular preference. But that is only half the story.

In order to gauge where the candidates might stand in terms of delegate apportionment, we have taken the available published polls from 16 states and began extrapolating a reasonable delegate projection for each.

For purposes of this exercise, all of the polling data is considered accurate, even though in some instances such a conclusion is a stretch. Additionally, these projections were only based upon the at-large numbers but understand more than half of the delegates come from the state’s chosen districts (usually congressional district, though Texas uses their state Senate seats).

It is reasonable to believe, however, that the district apportionment will, in most cases, be similar to the statewide total. At this point, the at-large ratios are the only data set from which we can begin to draw statistical conclusions.

With that short background, the states and their most recent polling result are listed below along with our unofficial delegate projections listed in chronological order based upon voting schedule:

February 3

Iowa Caucus

(YouGov – May 31-June 12; 587 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters)
• First-Ballot Delegates: 41

Biden 30%
Sanders 22%
Warren 12%
Buttigieg 11%

Delegate Projection:

Biden 15
Sanders 11
Warren   8
Buttigieg   7

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He’s Baaaaaack!

By Jim Ellis

                      Judge Roy Moore

June 24, 2019 — As expected and despite urgings from President Trump not to do so, former Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his Senate 2020 candidacy late last week.

We will remember Judge Moore’s ill-fated 2017 special Senate election effort that resulted in Democrat Doug Jones becoming the first member of his party to win an Alabama Senate seat since Howell Heflin was last re-elected in 1990.

Even before the announcement, Moore and Sen. Richard Shelby (R) were again trading barbs. Judge Moore argued that Shelby’s involvement, which culminated in the senior senator saying he was placing “country before party,” led to Jones’ victory, while Shelby retorted that he still thinks “Alabama can do better,” in a reference about electing Judge Moore.

Arguably, Alabama is the most important Senate race on the 2020 election board. If the Republicans take back the seat, which is a must if they want to cement their hold on the majority, the Senate party division would increase to 54 Republicans. Looking at the remaining seats in play for the current election cycle it becomes increasingly difficult for the Democrats to reach majority status if they lose this race.

In 2017, Judge Moore, after defeating appointed incumbent Luther Strange 55-45 percent in a run-off election after placing first with 39 percent in the original special primary, was found to have attempted to date, or did date, between two and nine underage girls when he was a deputy district attorney in Etowah County some 40 years ago. The controversy likely cost Moore the election, a battle that he lost to Jones 50.0 to 48.3 percent.

The 2020 regular primary appears to feature a more difficult field of opponents for Moore than did the special election. Appointed Sen. Strange waded into his own batch of quicksand when allegations surfaced that he allegedly cut a deal with Gov. Robert Bentley (R) when the former man was Alabama’s attorney general and the state chief executive was being scrutinized for spending and utilizing state resources for his personal use.

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