Author Archives: Jim Ellis

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.

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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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