Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Warren Overtakes Biden in Iowa Poll

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 24, 2019 — Des Moines-based Selzer & Company, largely regarded as the most accurate pollster of the Iowa electorate, just released their latest data for the Des Moines Register newspaper (Sept. 14-18; 602 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) and it contains significant positive news for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren

On the ballot test, Selzer finds that Warren has eclipsed former Vice President Joe Biden, leading him 22-20 percent with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) following with support factors of 11, nine, and six percent, respectively. But the data goes deeper than projecting who simply leads the ballot test.

The Selzer pollsters also asked the individuals’ second choice if for some reason their original chosen candidate was no longer in the race. Combining the results provides us a further gauge into Warren’s underlying strength as defined in this particular poll.

Selzer projects Warren scoring 42 percent support on the combined first and second choice ballot test response. This is 12 points better than Biden’s 30 percent, and doubles Sen. Sanders’ combined figure of 21 percent. Mayor Buttigieg and Sen. Harris follow with 18 and 12 percent, respectively.

The large percentage going to Warren and, perhaps more significantly, the margin between she and Biden, and Warren and Sanders, suggests a greater underlying electoral strength than any of the other candidates within this Iowa respondent group. In a limited participation caucus meeting nominating event, depth of support is highly likely to be the winning difference.

It is clear that Biden is attempting to establish himself as the national front runner for the party nomination and Iowa is very important toward such an end. As the leading national candidate, losing the first event could send a campaign into a downward spiral because the first set of high campaign expectations was not met.

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Delegate Projections

Super Delegates at the Democratic National Convention: Just how big an impact could they have?

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 23, 2019 — Recent polling data has been released in 11 Democratic presidential primary states that allows us to make rudimentary delegate vote calculation projections as to where the top candidates stand in the nomination process.

The data-producing 11 states include all of the early voting entities: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, along with big states such as California, Texas, and Florida. Also included is Massachusetts, another Super Tuesday state that is of course Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s home, along with Arizona and the later voting states of Wisconsin and New Jersey.

The polling data allows us to look at the particular state and then assign the candidates specific delegate votes based upon their standing. Obviously, the projections are mere estimates because they are based upon polls and not actual votes, and we extrapolate the statewide totals for each congressional district, which is also not reality. Actual delegate votes are awarded on an at-large and district basis.

But, as basic as they are, these calculations still yield an idea as to where the candidates would land if the actual voting is truly within range of the available polling results.

To qualify for delegates either through state at-large or district delegates, a candidate must exceed a 15 percent popular vote threshold. In the 11 polls, only three candidates would qualify for delegate votes in any of the tested states: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Based upon their polling standing in each state and calculating the delegate formula thereupon reveals that each of the three obtains a substantial share. The 11 states’ aggregate delegate total of 1,360 represents 36.1 percent of the entire first ballot total. To be nominated, a candidate is required to earn 1,885 first ballot delegate votes.

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Iowa: Midwesterners Gain

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (left) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 20, 2019 — While South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are lagging in the polls nationally, new data from Iowa may be providing them each with a ray of hope.

Hawkeye State caucus attenders from both parties tend to like candidates from the Midwest. This was true for Republicans when former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole twice won the Iowa Caucuses in his presidential campaigns. President Gerald Ford (MI) also beat Ronald Reagan here in 1976.

Since the beginning of the Iowa Caucus system, a Midwestern Democratic candidate has won this nominating event exactly half of the time. Those winners were former Vice President Walter Mondale (MN), ex-House Leader Richard Gephardt (MO), home state Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, and President Barack Obama (IL) twice.

The current Democratic field features two Midwestern candidates, Mayor Buttigieg from South Bend, Indiana, and Minnesota’s Sen. Klobuchar. Neither has been doing particularly well in polling lately, and both need a strong showing in Iowa, the first voting state, next February to remain viable.

Two polls were just released for the impeding 2020 Iowa Caucus and both show Mayor Buttigieg rebounding. The Civiqs polling organization, surveying for Iowa State University (Sept. 13-17; 572 likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants) finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) placing first with 24 percent, and former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tied for second, each posting 16 percent.

Mayor Buttigieg then scores 13 percent, returning to double digit support and claiming a solid fourth position. Sen. Klobuchar does not do particularly well on this poll, recording only three percent preference and tying her with New York City businessman Andrew Yang.

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Harris Down in California Poll

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California; dropping back in polls

Sept. 19, 2019 — Emerson College just released their new poll of the California Democratic electorate (Sept. 13-16; 424 likely California Democratic primary voters) and the research finds Sen. Kamala Harris (D) dropping well behind the front runners even in her home state.

In fact, just like in the rest of the country, Sen. Harris has fallen into single digits within her own California Democratic Party electorate, the very voting base that should be propelling her into the top tier. The Emerson result is Harris’ worst showing by far in California. Recording just six percent support, she drops even behind New York City businessman Andrew Yang who posted seven percent preference.

The Emerson survey was conducted directly after the televised Democratic presidential forum from Houston last week, and the California data confirms that Sen. Harris, in need of a homerun in that national forum to reverse her campaign’s downward trends, clearly did not succeed. In actuality, her poor debate performance has annotated that she should no longer be considered a first-tier candidate.

Of equivalent interest is an impending virtual three-way tie at the top for this state’s 416 first-ballot votes, a number making California the largest delegation at the upcoming Democratic National Convention scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee.

According to the Emerson results, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would tie at 26 percent while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would post 20 percent preference. With these three individuals splitting the delegate base, Biden and Sanders would each come away with approximately 150 delegate votes (if the 53 congressional districts broke in line with the statewide total; Democrats award delegates based upon statewide performance and within each individual congressional district), and Sen. Warren would record 116 bound convention delegate votes.

But the Capitol Weekly organization, running their monthly tracking poll of a Democratic segment (616) from an aggregate pool of 5,510 California voters, sees the former vice president having a bad month. In their September track, which covered the period of Sept. 1-13, Biden scored only 18 percent support as compared to Sen. Warren’s 33 percent and Sen. Sanders’ 17 percent. In this poll, Sen. Harris reaches a respectable double digit support figure at 18 percent.

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Probing the Second Choice

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

Sept. 18, 2019 — The Morning Consult organization released their post-debate survey and it shows former Vice President Joe Biden stabilizing his lead over the Democratic presidential field. Arguably the contender who needed to register the best performance in the September debate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), because she had lost considerable support since her August performance before a national televised audience, fell well short of her intended goal.

According to the MC data (Sept. 13-15; 7,487 Democratic likely primary voters with an over-sample from the first four voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina), Biden remains well ahead of his two closest competitors. The results find the former vice president securing 32 percent support, holding constant from the August post-debate poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also remains in a stagnant position posting 20 percent both in the new September survey and from August. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), however, increased from 15 to 18 percent after the two Democratic presidential forums.

Sen. Harris has been on a downward spiral since July, a period that could prove to be her candidacy’s apex. After the first debate, Sen. Harris reached 14 percent support in the Morning Consult survey, and appeared to be on an upward trend. After the August forum, however, she slipped to nine percent, and post the September forum she slid even further to six percent preference.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also fallen over the course of time. It appears he hit is high mark in April when he scored nine percent nationally but fell back to the five percent range in July and, except for a short-lived blip in August, has remained stagnant in the mid-single digit range.

Though the numbers are consistent for the leaders in the Morning Consult survey series, other polling firms see a much tighter contest among the top three. The second choice question that MC routinely asks, on the other hand, may provide better perspective as to where the race is headed, or where it might should one of the top three fade in the early voting states, leave the campaign, or remain tightly bunched to force additional roll call votes at the convention.

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