Monthly Archives: February 2020

South Carolina, Tomorrow

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president, Joe Biden

Feb. 28, 2020 — Former vice president Joe Biden appears on the cusp of winning tomorrow’s South Carolina Democratic primary. His polling has greatly improved, and momentum looks to be on his side.

For more than a year, Biden has enjoyed strong leads in South Carolina but his poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, with a slight rebound in Nevada, had caused his Palmetto State margins to tighten. One poll, from Change Research on Feb. 12-14, forecast Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lapsing into a tie.

Four closing polls were released yesterday, giving Biden leads of between 4 and 28 points, but it is the former poll that seems to be the anomaly. Change Research (Feb. 23-27; 543 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) projects Biden leading Sen. Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer, 28-24-16 percent, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) lagging behind with a 12 percent preference factor. Under this poll, the top three finishers would qualify for delegate apportionment.

On the other hand, Emerson College (Feb. 26-27; 425 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) and Monmouth University (Feb. 23-25; 454 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) come much closer to Starboard Communications’ (Feb. 26; 1,102 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters; online) 28-point spread line.

Starboard projects Biden leading 40-12-11 percent over Steyer and Sanders. Emerson finds him holding a 17-point lead, while Monmouth posts the former VP to a 20-point advantage. Both Emerson and Starboard find Biden touching the 40 percent mark. Biden’s large leads fail to prevent the Change Research and Monmouth polls from projecting that three of the candidates would earn a share of South Carolina’s 54 first-ballot delegate allotment, however.

To estimate a reasonable delegate count, the Monmouth poll finds a 36-16-15 percent spread for Biden, Sanders, and Steyer. If this poll proved most accurate, the delegate split would approximately be 29-13-12, consecutively, assuming the seven congressional district totals turned in similar ratios.

Continue reading

Super Tuesday State Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential primaries have dominated the political media coverage for next Tuesday’s big election, five states are also holding their regular primary elections including four with Senate races.

Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will begin choosing their nominees for the Senate and their entire slate of down ballot races. Each is a run-off state, and two of the aforementioned, Alabama and Texas, appear headed for a secondary Senate primary contest later in March and May, respectively. The regular California primary is also scheduled, but there is no Senate election in the Golden State this year. We will, however, see 53 sets of US House general election participants advance to the general election from their top-two jungle primary system.

In Alabama, former US attorney general and senator Jeff Sessions is attempting a political comeback. Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) are his chief opponents. Former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge Roy Moore is also on the ballot, but polling suggests he will not even break into double digits.

Sessions ad

Sessions launched two new ads in the last couple days, one that promotes himself as a strong supporter of, and the best person to implement the Trump agenda. The second is an attack ad against Tuberville, hitting him with audio of the retired coach saying we need immigrants coming across the border for certain jobs and that Tuberville actually lives and pays taxes in Florida.

Tuberville ad

Earlier, Tuberville was running a statewide ad reminding the electorate that President Trump fired Sessions as attorney general and that choosing him for the post was the president’s top regret during his tenure in office. Rep. Byrne has been simultaneously running a negative spot jointly attacking both of his top opponents.

The most likely pair to advance into the run-off are Sessions and Tuberville. The secondary election is scheduled for March 31.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) is virtually re-elected. Democrats failed to file a candidate against him, meaning Tuesday’s primary is a non-event for the first-term senator. He will advance into the general against only minor party opposition.

Continue reading

Within a Week . . .

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2020 — Now, just two days away from the South Carolina primary and a mere five from Super Tuesday, it’s time to again determine candidate progress for what is arguably the most important primary election day of this presidential nomination cycle.


Currently, now that the Nevada Democratic Party has ostensibly tabulated the remaining caucus preference sheets from last Saturday’s Nevada vote, the aggregate bound delegate count gives Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) the lead with 45, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is second at 26, former vice president Joe Biden posts 15, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) eight, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar holds seven. These numbers will change significantly by this time next week. A total of 1,398 delegate votes will be bound on Super Tuesday evening and 18 states and one territory will have completed their voting process.

We’ve had some polling movement in several of the Super Tuesday states that make a tight race even closer. North Carolina, with 110 first ballot delegates, at least according to one polling firm has lapsed into a three-way tie. Spry Strategies (Feb. 21-23; 561 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) finds former VP Biden, ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Sen. Sanders locked into a three-way tie, each with 20 percent support. None of the other candidates appear close to the 15 percent delegate allocation threshold in the Tar Heel State.

The new Public Policy Polling North Carolina survey turns in similar numbers (Feb. 23-24; 852 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) with Biden leading Sanders and Bloomberg, 23-20-17 percent, respectively. PPP agrees with Spry in projecting that only these three men will qualify for delegates. Such a split, assuming the congressional delegation allocation yields the same ratio, would find each of the three candidates receiving approximately 35-37 first-ballot votes.

The latest YouGov poll (Feb. 6-18; 1,352 likely Texas Democratic primary voters; online) also finds a tie, but this time in the Lone Star State with again three candidates winning bound delegates. The data finds Biden and Sanders tied with 20 percent, and Sen. Warren getting into delegate contention with 17 percent. If the actual Texas votes break similarly to this ratio, it would mean Bloomberg would fail to qualify for at-large delegates, leading to a fight for delegate allocation within each of the 31 state Senate districts. While other states divide by congressional districts, Texas uses state Senate seats.

Continue reading

The Open Primary Effect

Super Tuesday 2020 States and Territories


By Jim Ellis

Feb. 26, 2020 — One factor for the coming March 3 Super Tuesday primary elections that hasn’t received any discussion is whether or not the open voting system will have a major effect upon the final results. Though only 24 states around the country feature open, or semi-open, primaries, all but two of the 15 Super Tuesday states lie in this category.

For purposes of this column, South Carolina, scheduled for this Saturday and the prelude to the mega-state vote, is added to the Super Tuesday roster because of its close proximity. America Samoa, which also holds its nomination election on March 3, is a caucus.

An open primary is one where any voter may choose to participate in the nomination election of his or her choice. In these states, voters typically are not registered by political party and can select either a Democratic or Republican ballot. A semi-closed primary is one where registered party members must stay in their respective party primary, but the unaffiliated, or Independent, voter may choose the primary in which to participate. A closed primary allows only individuals who are registered in a particular political party to vote in their respective nomination election.

Pertaining to Super Tuesday, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia are the open primary states. The semi-opens are Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah.

The two closed presidential primaries for the big day are California and Maine. Despite California featuring the ultimate open primary system in their regular elections, where everyone receives the same ballot and the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation and percentage attained, only registered party members may vote in their respective presidential primary. Therefore, in the national nomination contest, where the top-two system is not recognized for delegate allocation, the Golden State reverts to the closed procedure.

Continue reading

Markey-Kennedy Deadlocked …
Or are They?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 25, 2020 — While the Nevada Caucus counting drags on and tabulations will at some point determine just how many delegates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, and ex-Mayor Pete Buttigieg receive from the state – currently, it appears that Sanders will win somewhere between 19 and 23 bound delegate votes, while Biden and Buttigieg should both earn bound votes in the high single digits – a new US Senate poll is proving more curious today.

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell has recently become a prolific pollster, releasing several research studies from various Democratic presidential primary states, and now they have tested their own home state electorate.

The survey (Feb. 12-19; 450 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters and self-identified Independents who say they will vote in the Democratic primary) sees potentially as many as five presidential candidates receiving delegates – Massachusetts has 91 first-ballot delegate votes – from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) drawing 21 and 20 percent support, respectively, with ex-Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and New York’s Michael Bloomberg recording preference factors of 15, 14, and 12 percent. This means all could potentially exceed the 15 percent threshold to qualify for delegates on Super Tuesday.

The more interesting part of their poll, however, covers the US Senate Democratic primary, which features a fierce intra-party battle between Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton). The poll is noteworthy because the ballot test and the underlying questions tell a different story.

The ballot test yields a straight-up tie. According to UMass Lowell, Kennedy would lead the incumbent, 35-34 percent. This split is under the “leaned party ID” category, which means the respondents were pushed to make a decision. On the “unleaned party ID” question, both men scored the same percentage.

The segmentation crosstabs provide some telling information. The gender gap gives Rep. Kennedy a 40-30 percent split among men, while women break 37-32 percent for Sen. Markey. Younger voters (aged 18-44) actually move to the older candidate, Sen. Markey, 37-25 percent. Older voters, perhaps because of the Kennedy family name in Massachusetts, support the young congressman in a 40-33 percent division.

Continue reading