Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Nevada Numbers; Carolina Chaos

Feb. 24, 2016 — As expected, Donald Trump placed first in the Nevada Caucuses scoring just under 46 percent of the attender preference; his strongest performance to date, though the turnout was only in the 75,000 range. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was second with 24 percent, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 21 percent. Dr. Ben Carson and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) trailed with five and four percent, respectively.

Though he didn’t emphasize Nevada at all, Gov. Kasich’s dead last finish behind Carson cannot be good for his pre-Ohio staying power.

Carolina Chaos

Surprise move follows surprise move in the continuing North Carolina redistricting saga that has unleashed political turmoil in the Tar Heel State.

After the three-judge federal panel sitting in Raleigh struck down Congressional Districts 1 (Rep. G.K. Butterfield; D-Wilson) and 12 (Rep. Alma Adams; D-Greensboro) in early February, the legislature, fulfilling the court-ordered directive, re-configured the map and passed it into law by the imposed Feb. 19 deadline. The March 15 primary has been moved to June 7 and, surprisingly, the run-off portion of the election process has been eliminated for the congressional contests. Primary elections for all other offices continue on March 15 and will feature the state’s traditional 40 percent threshold run-off system.

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Next Steps in the Presidential Race

Feb. 23, 2016 — South Carolina Republicans went to the polls in record numbers (737,924 voter turnout, far surpassing the previous high of 601,166; a 23 percent increase) on Saturday to give Donald Trump all 50 of the state’s delegates.

Because South Carolina uses a Winner-Take-All by congressional district system, Trump placing first in all seven seats gave him a combined 21 delegates. Matched with the 29 at-large delegates he received for winning the statewide count, a backdoor Winner-Take-All result occurred.

In Nevada, while Hillary Clinton’s 53-47 percent win in the Democratic Caucuses was close, the psychological effect and momentum swing prove greater than her percentage margin. A Bernie Sanders victory could have begun to seriously unravel the Clinton campaign just when the former Secretary of State was fighting to overcome the aftermath of a frayed early start. Safely clearing Nevada, she is now has the chance to score big in her strongest geographical region: the South.

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North Carolina’s New Map

Feb. 22, 2016 — Last week, the North Carolina state Senate passed a new congressional map, responding to a court-ordered directive to remedy what a three-judge federal panel determined to be an illegal draw in Districts 1 (Rep. G.K. Butterfield-D) and 12 (Rep. Alma Adams-D). The lines were struck down just 39 days before the state’s primary election.

The resulting map, constructed and passed within a 14-day period, is substantially different from the current map. It pairs one set of incumbents, likely causes two Republican House members to square-off in a primary election, eliminates an African-American district, makes several of the 10 Republican districts more competitive, and calls upon the Board of Elections to re-schedule the congressional primary election while nomination contests for all other offices proceed as scheduled on March 15.

Since the court in its ruling about the two original African-American majority districts declared there is no evidence of polarized voting in North Carolina, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act does not apply. Therefore, the Republican map drawers took the opportunity to break up the famous “I-85 district” that traveled from Charlotte up Interstate 85 to capture predominately black precincts in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and at one time, as far away as Durham. Greensboro’s Rep. Adams’ 12th District that the court invalidated is now eliminated. Adams will find herself in a new Republican-leaning 13th District, while the new 12th is fully contained within Mecklenburg County and will probably elect a white Democrat from Charlotte.

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Nevada and SC Numbers

Feb. 19, 2016 — All of the presidential campaigns head to the Nevada Caucus next Tuesday: the Republicans immediately after their South Carolina primary Saturday, and the Democrats before their own Palmetto State vote on Feb.  27.

A new Nevada Caucus CNN/ORC survey (Feb. 10-15; 1,006 adults; 282 likely Nevada Democratic Caucus attenders, 245 likely Nevada Republican Caucus attenders) finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) pulling into a virtual tie with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, trailing 48-47 percent.

Even a Sanders victory in Nevada would do little to help him close the delegate gap, however. It is likely that Clinton will actually gain a greater advantage, win or lose, because of her dominance within the Super Delegate category. Whether increased Sanders’ momentum from another strong electoral performance will help him in the Deep South is questionable. Such won’t be known until the following Saturday in South Carolina and throughout the southern region including Texas, the third-largest delegate pool (252) within the Democratic universe, on March 1.

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Two Signatures From Calamity

Feb. 18, 2016 — A brewing controversy is underway in the open Indiana Senate race, and it’s over whether literally two petition signatures are valid. Under Indiana election law, candidates for statewide office must file 500 registered voter petition signatures in each of the state’s nine congressional districts to qualify for the primary and general election ballots.

In the northwestern Indiana 1st District (Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Merrillville; Hammond; Gary), Republican Senate candidate Todd Young, the 9th District congressman, may be lacking two valid signatures on his submitted petitions, which may be enough to disqualify his candidacy. Young’s petitions are approved in the eight other districts, so his race status is coming down to whether two people on this one list are, or are not, legally registered voters.

Earlier, the county clerks who comprise the 1st District territory jointly and publicly reported that Young filed 501 valid signatures, or one more than the bare minimum. The Indiana Democratic Party, rejecting the Clerks’ report, instead responded by filing a complaint with the four-member Indiana Election Commission -– a body comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans -– claiming that Young only has 498 valid 1st District signatures. To give the challenge more legs, the congressman’s chief GOP statewide opponent, 3rd District US Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Howe; Ft. Wayne), joined the Democrats’ objection.

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