Monthly Archives: February 2020

Projecting Delegates

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 24, 2020 — It is becoming clearer that the Democratic presidential contest could result in an open, or “brokered”, convention. This would occur if no candidate secures majority support after the electorates in all the voting entities have cast their ballots and the delegates’ first ballot tallies are locked into place under the individual state laws.

Discounting the Nevada Caucus held over the weekend, only 65 of the 3,979 first-ballot delegate votes have been assigned. By the evening of March 3, however, the aggregate assigned delegate total will soar to 1,398 and we will begin to see sustaining patterns developing.

By March 17, 61 percent of the first-ballot votes will be locked. At that time, it is highly likely we will be able to determine if a candidate can attain majority support or whether multiple ballots will be required to choose a nominee. If this latter scenario occurs, it will be the first time since 1952 that a major party convention is forced to call for more than one ballot to choose a nominee.

Looking past Nevada and onto South Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 29, and then to Super Tuesday just three days later, we can begin to make delegate projections based upon available polling data. Of the 19 total voting entities that will record votes from the time the Iowa Caucuses began to the end of voting on Super Tuesday, relevant polling exists in 14 of those states.

Using the available data and delegate quotas that are noted from each place, rudimentary projections can be calculated regarding which candidates might receive delegate votes from the specific states for purposes of comparing aggregate totals against the 50 percent threshold.

Early in the cycle, it appeared that former Vice President Joe Biden would be in the strongest position post Super Tuesday because of what looked to be his early dominance in the South. The voting schedule appeared to favor him since half the March 3 voting states lie in that region. His trouble in Iowa and New Hampshire, plus his poor debate performances, and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ strength along with the recent emergence of Michael Bloomberg, has apparently already relegated Biden to also-ran status.

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Candidate Filings Completed in Battleground State of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 21, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential debate of a couple nights ago is getting most of the political news coverage, Democrats and Republicans completed their filings to run for office in one of the country’s major political battlegrounds, the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.

While the state will be one of the most important in the presidential race, it also yields a significant political playing field for the House of Representatives. There is no Senate or gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania this year.

From their 18 House districts, we see only three incumbents drawing primary opposition, and only one of the intra-party challengers appears credible. The state primary is April 28.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) has one primary challenger, investment company executive Andrew Meehan, but he had raised only $35,000 through the end of last year. It is assumed that Meehan has personal wealth, but whether or not he invests in his own long-shot campaign is as yet unknown.

Freshman Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Swarthmore) draws Democratic opposition from businessman Lou Lanni, but he does not appear politically credible. Raising only $8,000 through the end of last year, Lanni is not running a competitive campaign. With little to fear from Republicans in this district, Rep. Scanlon appears to have an easy run for her first re-election.

The most interesting primary likely lies in Pittsburgh. Veteran Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) faces two Democratic opponents, one of whom looks credible. While pastor Janis Brooks does not appear to be a competitive primary contender, attorney Gerald Dickinson, on the other hand, had already raised $173,000 at the end of the year, all from individual contributors. It is still very doubtful that Rep. Doyle will be denied re-nomination, but this is the one primary campaign to watch for a developing challenge.

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Special Election Nominees Chosen
In WI-7: Tiffany (R), Zunker (D)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 20, 2020 — Wisconsin Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) and Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker (D) won their respective party primaries Tuesday night and now head to the special general election scheduled for May 12. The winner of the succeeding contest replaces resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) in WI-7 who departed Congress earlier in the year for family reasons.

Sen. Tiffany recorded a 57-43 percent win over Army veteran Jason Church who was previously a staff member for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). Church, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, made military service the centerpiece of his campaign. Sen. Tiffany was originally elected to the state assembly in 2010. He won his state Senate seat in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.

Zunker was an easy winner on the Democratic side, amassing a landslide 89-11 percent victory margin in a race where she became the obvious consensus candidate early in the process.

Sen. Tiffany now becomes the heavy favorite to win the seat in May. The northern Wisconsin region has transformed into a dependable Republican area after this district laid in Democratic hands from early 1969 all the way to the beginning of 2011 in the person of former House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey.

Over his five elections here, Rep. Duffy averaged 57.9 percent of the vote. President Trump carried the 7th with a 58-37 percent majority, which was a substantial upgrade over Mitt Romney’s 51-48 percent performance. The Republican trend has clearly grown as the decade progressed.

Turnout in the primary election greatly favored the Republican candidates. When the final count is tabulated, the combined GOP participation factor looks to be well over 76,000 as compared to the Democratic total of just over 40,000 votes. The turnout ratio is another factor that provides Sen. Tiffany with a major advantage heading into the special general election.

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Biden’s Good and Bad News

By Jim Ellis

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Feb. 19, 2020 — Despite former Vice President Joe Biden’s poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, the latest available data suggests his presidential campaign status is not as dire as some in the media are prognosticating.

There have only been five Nevada Caucus polls released since the first of the year and the most recent one appears potentially unreliable. Point Blank Associates actually finds Tom Steyer leading the poll conducted over the Feb. 13-15 period, in a 19-16-14-13-13 percent count over Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former mayor, Pete Buttigieg. This poll has a sample size of only 256 respondents, thus making the error factor unacceptably high.

On the other hand, WPA Intelligence went into the field over the Feb. 11-13 period with a more reasonable sample size of 413 individuals who are described as likely voters. In contrast with the Point Blank result, WPAi finds Sen. Sanders leading the field, a conclusion more consistent with previously released polls. According to WPA, the split is 25-18-13-11-10-10 percent, with Biden in second place followed consecutively by Warren, Steyer, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar.

Therefore, while Biden is not leading either of these Nevada polls, he looks to be in range for potential delegate allocation. Obtaining delegate votes in Nevada will put him in better position to rebound for Super Tuesday, and particularly so if he can hold on to win in South Carolina.

The new East Carolina University survey still finds Biden leading the field in the Palmetto State as he has in every poll conducted in January, early February, and all of last year. East Carolina (Feb. 12-13; 703 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) projects Biden to a 28-20-14 percent lead over Sanders and Steyer, respectively. All others fall below 10 percent support.

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Granger Goes Negative

(Granger Attack Ad)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 17, 2020 — Veteran Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Ft. Worth) faces a serious Republican primary challenge that will be decided on March 3. With no public polling available, outside signs suggest the race is getting close. Otherwise, a 12-term incumbent would not be launching negative ads against her low name ID opponent.

Once the political domain of former US House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D), Texas’ 12th Congressional District has seen Granger dominate this area’s politics now for almost three decades. She became the first female mayor of Ft. Worth before winning her congressional seat in 1996, and now stands for a 13th term in the 2020 election.

The congresswoman’s GOP challenger is former Colleyville City Councilman Chris Putnam, who made himself wealthy in private business before running for political office. Putnam’s rise into politics is a familiar story. The local city council was blocking one of his business moves, so he decided to run himself and won. In the following election, he and his allies converted every seat on the panel. Putnam didn’t seek a second four-year term on the council, saying he had accomplished his original set of goals.

Now he is challenging Rep. Granger, even though his locality of Colleyville is not in the 12th District. Putnam raised significant money through the end of the year and has the wherewithal to add some more of his own should the situation call for such action. Of the $535,000-plus that he raised through the end of 2019, $250,000 was self-loaned.

For her part, Granger is taking this campaign seriously. She spent more than $1.1 million even before 2019 ended, and figures to spend whatever she needs to in 2020 to saturate her messages.

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