Monthly Archives: March 2020

New House Vacancies:
Meadows, Ratcliffe

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) announced as the new White House chief of staff

March 9, 2020 — With Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) being announced as the new White House chief of staff and following the late February declaration that Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) would again be put forth for confirmation as the Director of National Intelligence, it means as many as two more US House seats could be added to the vacancy list.

Currently, five districts are without representation: CA-25 (Katie Hill-D), CA-50 (Duncan Hunter-R), MD-7 (Elijah Cummings-D), NY-27 (Chris Collins-R), and WI-7 (Sean Duffy-R). All but CA-50 are currently in special election cycles with nominees or finalists either being chosen or awaiting the general election in CA-25, MD-7, and WI-7. The NY-27 seat will be filled in an April 28 election, which is concurrent with the New York presidential primary. There will be no special election for CA-50, as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has decided to let this seat remain vacant until the next Congress.

The regular California primary election occurred on Super Tuesday. In the 25th District, it is apparent that state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) and defense contractor and Iraq War veteran Mike Garcia (R) will advance to the May 12 special election. They will also face each other in the regular general election. Though all the votes are not yet tabulated and won’t be for some time because of the California verification and counting system, leads are strong enough that the final result is unlikely to change the order of finish. Therefore, assuming the current trend continues, former Rep. Steve Knight (R), a relatively close third place finisher, will be eliminated from further competition.

In the 50th District, 2018 Democratic finalist Ammar Campa-Najjar has secured the first general election position. It appears that former Rep. Darrell Issa (R) will also advance, since his vote margin over former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) is expected to hold.

When Rep. Meadows indicated that he would not seek re-election speculation quickly built that he was headed to the administration, especially when he made his surprise announcement just two days before the candidate filing period expired. The retirement declaration began a chain of events that just culminated with the Super Tuesday regular primary.

In last week’s North Carolina vote Democrat Moe Davis advanced to the general election from the 11th District. Republicans Lynda Bennett and Madison Cawthorn were forced to a run-off election scheduled for May 12.

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With Warren Out, Projecting
the Future Trajectory of
the Democratic Candidacy

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2020 — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) yesterday announced that she was suspending her presidential campaign, which became an eventuality when she finished third in her home state primary last Tuesday. Her exit helps evolve the Democratic presidential contest into a two-way affair.

Can Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) win a two-person race when starting behind in the delegate count?

With political endorsements regularly being announced for former vice president Joe Biden during the post-Super Tuesday period, and momentum clearly behind his reinvigorated campaign, Sen. Sanders appears to have his political back against the figurative wall.

Currently, the unofficial delegate standing according to The Green Papers statistical website, a group that fully extrapolates the count in conjunction with Democratic National Committee apportionment rules, projects Biden to hold 656 bound first-delegate votes as compared to Sanders’ 584, an obvious difference of 72, which is a much better position than the media is currently portraying.

The March 10 primaries, which have not received much attention to date largely because most of the six states voting are relatively small, will become very important. Combined, the states possess a total of 352 bound first-ballot delegates led by Michigan’s 125 votes. The other states are Idaho (20 delegates), Mississippi (36), Missouri (68), North Dakota (14), and Washington (89).

From a national perspective, Sen. Sanders may well be in a position of having to score first-place finishes in four of these states. In the remaining two, Mississippi and Missouri, Biden has run strong in their region so there is little reason to believe that Sen. Sanders will be particularly competitive in either state.

The Vermont lawmaker has done well in traditionally Republican states among Democratic voters, so his chances in small Idaho and North Dakota should be strong.

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Numbers Rolling in From the
Texas and California Primaries

By Jim Ellis

March 5, 2020 — Tuesday’s elections in Texas and California were subject to slow counting, but at least in the Lone Star State, the numbers are near final.

More than 780,000 votes have currently been received in California but not yet counted. More votes are coming into county offices. To be valid, voters could have postmarked their mail ballots on Election Day and as long as they are received in the county election offices by close of business on March 6, they will be counted. Therefore, an unknown number will be added to the received but uncounted total.

The large total explains why some of the California congressional races remain uncalled even though the vote spreads among the affected candidates is sometimes quite large.

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

In Texas, US Senate candidate Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez conceded the second Democratic run-off position to state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). The two battled for the slot all evening and into yesterday, but the small margin in Sen. West’s favor was definitive enough that Ramirez officially ended her bid. The May 26 statewide run-off election will feature first-place finisher M.J. Hegar, a retired Army helicopter pilot who held veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Georgetown) to a 51-48 percent re-election victory in the 2018 CD-31 campaign that encompasses Williamson and Bell Counties, and now Sen. West. The winner opposes Sen. John Cornyn (R) in November.

The final unofficial Democratic presidential tally finds former vice president Joe Biden scoring 34.5 percent of the vote as compared to 30.0 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Though Biden and Sanders were the only candidates to break the 15 percent barrier to qualify for at-large delegates, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) both obtained the threshold percentage in certain congressional districts, so they, too, earned several delegate votes; both, however, have ended their campaigns, Sen. Warren just this morning. The final unofficial delegate board finds Biden capturing 111 bound Texas first-ballot delegates, Sen. Sanders 102, Bloomberg 10, and Sen. Warren, five.

Just over 2 million people voted in the Democratic presidential primary. President Trump garnered 94 percent of the Republican vote, translating into more than 1.863 million votes. Just under 2 million voters cast ballots in the GOP primary despite there being no real race for president.

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Biden Scores, Bloomberg Out;
State Primary Results

Joe Biden captured the lion’s share of the delegates on Super Tuesday.


By Jim Ellis

March 4, 2020
— Former vice president Joe Biden, with a strong close from his South Carolina victory on Saturday, captured the lion’s share of the delegates on Super Tuesday and has re-established himself as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden placed first last night in 10 states, and surprisingly topped the field in Massachusetts and Maine, right in the backyard of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). He also placed first in Minnesota where home-state Sen. Amy Klobuchar had been leading. Her endorsement of Biden clearly helped propel him to the top position. In 2016 against Hillary Clinton in Minnesota, Sanders notched a 61 percent win. Last night his popular vote percentage was only 29.9 percent.

Though the former vice president carried the day in 10 states, one still must receive a majority of the delegate votes to win the presidential nomination. He exceeded the 50 percent mark in only two of the states, Alabama and Virginia.

Sen. Sanders, disappointingly for him, placed first in only four states, his home base of Vermont, and California, Colorado, and Utah. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg did very poorly after spending reportedly as much as $700 million from his own fortune. He placed first in America Samoa and qualified for delegates in just eight of the 15 Super Tuesday voting entities. This morning, Bloomberg announced his withdrawal from the race and endorsed Biden.

The Green Papers organization ran full delegate extrapolation tables based upon the preliminary results in both the at-large and congressional district votes. Delegates are earned by exceeding 15 percent in both categories from each state. Totaling all 19 entities that have now voted, Biden would lead the national delegate count with an unofficial 667 bound delegate votes as compared to Sen. Sanders’ 581.

Bloomberg earned only an unofficial 141 delegate total and Sen. Warren just 76. The remaining 34 delegates were split among three others including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who won a vote yesterday in American Samoa. These numbers will adjust as official vote totals are reported. California, where potentially more than 2 million votes remain to be counted, will substantially alter the totals once the state’s laborious counting process ends in the next several weeks.

Clearly, Biden is the big winner on Super Tuesday, and the night proved very disappointing for Sen. Sanders. Where the race goes now remains to be seen, but Biden winning on the first ballot in Milwaukee at the Democratic National Convention now seems to be the most likely unfolding scenario.

Five states held their full primaries last night and nominees were chosen in many places while run-offs will occur in a number of other situations. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown:
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Super Tuesday Has Arrived

Super Tuesday 2020 States & Territories

By Jim Ellis

March 3, 2020 — The election landscape has changed since Saturday with former mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and billionaire Tom Steyer all exiting the race. Sen. Klobuchar endorsed former vice president Joe Biden as did Buttigieg in an announcement last night.

How do these developments and an obvious Joe Biden resurgence affect today’s vote? Maybe not as much as meets the eye. With the early voting processes well underway, and even completed in some states, the late-breaking political news and happenings will influence far fewer voters.

In fact, the three largest states with primaries today, California (415 first-ballot delegates), Texas (228), and North Carolina (110), all have extensive early voting options and large percentages of their voters have already cast their ballots meaning Biden’s sudden upswing in momentum after his South Carolina victory on Saturday night won’t sway them.

In California, more than 2 million people have already voted, which may translate into as much as one-third of the total Democratic presidential primary turnout. In 2016, more than 5.1 million people voted in the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders race in June of that year. Returning to today, more than one million have already voted in Texas, and 800,000-plus have cast their ballots in North Carolina.

Thirty-eight states have some form of early voting, even if it is merely an in-person absentee system like those found in Minnesota and Virginia. For Super Tuesday, of the 14 states with primary elections today, only Alabama and Colorado have no early voting. The latter state fully conducts all-mail balloting but has no pre-election process in which to submit votes.

Looking at the current political map, though the establishment is making moves to coalesce behind Biden, the latest polling suggests that Sen. Sanders leads in nine primaries today and it’s possible, even with the candidate departures, that as many as three contenders in almost all of the states could still qualify for delegate apportionment.

Today will also mark the first time that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s name will be on the ballot and how he fares will be telling. Depending upon how many votes he takes could prevent one of the leading candidates from securing majority support, meaning the race evolving into a contested national convention is still a possibility.

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