Monthly Archives: February 2020

Primary Money Count – Senate

By Jim Ellis

Former Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R)

Feb. 7, 2020 — The 4th Quarter campaign disclosure reports are published and today we look at the key early primary Senate states, those that will have an initial vote on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Five states will hold their regular primaries on that day, and four of them have Senate elections. Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will take at least the first step in choosing their statewide nominees on Super Tuesday. California, which also holds its regular primary that day does not have a Senate race in this cycle. In Arkansas, Democrats failed to produce a candidate, meaning that Sen. Tom Cotton (R) will head into the general election as a virtually unopposed candidate.

ALABAMA

Alabama hosts a major Republican primary featuring former US attorney general and senator, Jeff Sessions. He is running for the seat he vacated to accept his federal appointment. Sessions is being fiercely challenged, however. Two serious candidates are also vying for the party nomination, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Ex-state Supreme Court chief judge and 2017 Senate special election nominee Roy Moore is back for another attempt, but his previous poor performance and lack of funding has relegated him to lower-tier status.

On the fundraising front, the Federal Election Commission reports find Sessions raising more than $530,000 but has spent more than $812,000. At the end of the year, he held over $2.5 million in cash, but most of those funds were raised during his time as an incumbent Senator.

Coach Tuberville has done an outstanding job of fundraising for a first-time candidate in a crowded field, raising over $1.3 million from individuals and loaning his campaign $1 million. His year-end cash-on-hand (CoH) figure was $1.52 million.

Rep. Byrne has accumulated over $3.3 million for his campaign, including transferring more than $2.2 million from his US House committee. His CoH total is just under $2.1 million.

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Mfume’s Maryland Comeback

By Jim Ellis

Former congressman Kwesi Mfume looks to be headed back to represent Maryland on Capitol Hill.

Feb. 6 2020 — In the midst of the Iowa counting fiasco and President Trump’s State of the Union Address, a special primary election was also held in the state of Maryland. For all intents and purposes, the Democratic primary is the determining factor regarding who will succeed the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore). Twenty-four candidates qualified for the Democratic ballot, but the contest narrowed to three serious contenders.

Former US representative, Kweisi Mfume, who originally served in the House for nine years beginning in 1987, was victorious in his comeback attempt. He resigned the seat in 1996 to become president of the NAACP, a position he would hold until 2006 when he ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate, losing to current Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin in the Democratic primary. Cummings would then win the special election to replace then-Rep. Mfume, and now the tables turn.

Mfume captured 43 percent of the vote, far ahead of Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who posted 17 percent support. Maryland state Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore) was third with 16 percent. None of the other candidates broke into double digits.

With Hillary Clinton scoring a 76-20 percent victory over President Trump in 2016, it is a foregone conclusion that Mfume will easily win the special general election on April 28. He will also seek re-nomination for the full term beginning in 2021 on that same day. Upon winning the special election, Mfume will be sworn into office and serve the balance of the current term.

The next special election will occur in Wisconsin on Feb. 18, in a race that should favor the Republicans. State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) will square off against disabled Afghanistan War veteran Jason Church in the GOP primary. The winner advances to the May 12 special general election. Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker is favored to win the Democratic primary.

The California and New York special congressional elections will follow in March and April, respectively. Resigned California representative, Duncan Hunter’s 50th District in San Diego County will remain vacant for the rest of this year.

Iowa Drags On

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Feb. 5, 2020 — Almost a full day after voting ended, the Iowa Democratic Party released what now accounts for almost three-quarters of the state’s precinct totals, and we may be headed for a split decision.

While South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is being credited as the leader and potential victor, the complicated Iowa system suggests that two candidates can claim a victory of sorts.

Buttigieg leads among the state delegate count, as caucus attenders choose individuals to serve as delegates to the state party convention in order to determine how Iowa’s 41 first-ballot delegates will vote at the Democratic National Convention in mid-July. At this writing, Buttigieg has 26.8 percent of the state delegate contingent, ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 25.2 percent.

In actuality, however, it is Sanders who has more raw votes. At this point, the Vermont senator maintains an approximate 1,300-vote lead over Buttigieg, and 7,000 more than Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Former Vice President Joe Biden performed poorly, attracting only half the total number of votes that Sanders has so far recorded.

Each caucus awards a certain number of delegates regardless of how many people attend the precinct meeting. Like the electoral college in the general election, the bigger entities receive more delegate votes. Therefore, even though Buttigieg received fewer popular votes he did better in the largest areas, thus awarding him a few more state delegates.

In terms of the published projections for the national convention delegate slate it appears that Buttigieg would have 12 votes, Sanders 10, Warren 6, and Biden 3 with ten more to be decided once all of the votes are finally tabulated. It’s possible that while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) failed to reach the 15 percent threshold she might earn a delegate or two based upon the individual congressional district vote.

Biden, who is currently at just 15.4 percent of the state delegate vote is just barely qualifying for apportionment. If the final outstanding votes cut against him, it’s possible that he could fail to reach the final 15 percent, which would prevent him from earning any at-large national convention delegate votes.

The Iowa Debacle

Iowa Caucus results as of 10:21 am Eastern, 7:21 am Pacific time, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 4, 2020 — The reporting problem that arose in the Iowa Democratic Caucuses last night have left us with no results for what could be as long as a full day or more after votes were cast, but it still appears as if a clear winner and loser have emerged. The winner and loser terms have a different meaning in the Iowa Caucus context, however.

Voters attended meetings in 1,679 precincts and the party organizers were supposed to submit their first ballot and final alignment numbers through a specially designed application. The app failed, and so did the party’s back-up plan. Therefore, while voting occurred in all of the precincts, less than one-third of the totals have been received at the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters at the end of the night. The party spokespeople say they will not release any numbers until the entire state reports, and the 1st and 2nd round totals have been verified.

Meeting attenders cast their first ballot and the candidates failing to attain 15 percent support in the precinct were eliminated. In the final alignment round, those voting for a non-qualifying candidate were then lobbied to vote for a candidate who did surpass the 15 percent threshold and would thus qualify for delegates to advance to the state convention on June 13. The state delegates will then vote to assign Iowa’s 41 first-ballot delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but the eventual official apportionment will closely follow the Caucus votes.

What we began seeing from the fastest reporting precincts that were released, and that was less than two percent of the statewide vote, was a bunching at the top among Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were in need of further support from around the state to reach the 15 percent mark, but both are close. Therefore, it does appear possible that all five of these contenders could qualify for a share of the state’s delegates.

The unfolding situation seems to favor one person in particular, while disfavoring another. On the short end is Sen. Sanders, even though he looks to clinch first place. The glitch cost him the opportunity to declare outright victory in a timely fashion before a national television audience. The most fortunate candidate looks to be Biden, whose early performance suggests he might not even qualify for delegates in a substantial number of precincts. The reporting problem prevented headline stories claiming that he was Iowa’s under-performer.

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Iowa Caucus Voting Tonight

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 3, 2020 — The final Iowa Caucus research surveys are providing very different results, while what is traditionally the state’s most reliable poll, from the Des Moines Register through Selzer & Company, is being held back.

The DMR and Selzer have decided not to release their latest data because of potential methodology errors in that a particular candidate’s name was omitted from an unknown number of survey questionnaires. This means the results could be compromised. Therefore, this particular poll will not be made publicly available.

The American Research Group (Jan. 27-30; 400 likely Iowa Democratic caucus meeting attenders) and Park Street Strategies’ (Jan. 24-28; 600 likely Iowa Democratic caucus meeting attenders) studies find different leaders but have a key new point in common.

The ARG findings post Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) atop the field, as most recent polls have shown, with former Vice President Joe Biden in second place with 17 percent. Park Street, however, sees Biden pulling first place support with 20 percent as compared to Sen. Sanders’ 18 percent.

But the biggest change, as both of these pollsters detect, is a late surge coming from Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. ARG places her third with 16 percent, just ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who posts 15 percent. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg drops to just nine percent backing.

Park Street also sees Klobuchar jumping into double digits, but not as high as ARG forecasts. PSS projects the Minnesotan to a 12 percent level behind Buttigieg and Warren who both have 17 percent support.

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