Category Archives: Presidential campaign

Biden Wins South Carolina
Stage Set for Super Tuesday

By Jim Ellis

March 2, 2020 — Former vice president Joe Biden accomplished his goal of reviving his downward trending presidential campaign on Saturday. He won the South Carolina primary with 48.4 percent of the vote, topping Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 19.9 percent. Billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent millions attempting to make a stand in South Carolina and access the delegate board finished third with 11.3 percent. Failing to win bound delegates, Steyer officially exited the race after the results became known.

Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, a top-tier candidate, citing no viable path to the nomination, also dropped his campaign bid. This move is a bit of a surprise in that he was in position to win some delegates tomorrow in the Super Tuesday primaries; though leading in no states, he might have been able to affect the outcome of a contested convention should such an eventuality actually occur.

On the delegate count, Biden notched 38 bound first-ballot delegate votes, and Sen. Sanders’ added 16 to his national total. Going into Super Tuesday, Sen. Sanders still has a national lead, but it has dropped to 60-54 over Biden. Buttigieg, who scored 8.3 percent in South Carolina and finished fourth, remains at 26 bound delegate votes. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) continues to hold eight votes and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has seven. Sen. Warren finished fifth in the Palmetto State primary, with 7.1 percent, and Sen. Klobuchar recorded only 3.1 percent support.

Turnout increased substantially in comparison to the 2016 Democratic primary. More than 528,000 individuals look to have voted in Saturday’s primary, up from 370,904 in 2016. It is noteworthy to remember, however, that there was no Republican primary this year, meaning some self-identified Republican voters may have participated in the open voting system. The turnout was slightly below that of 2008, when 532,151 individuals cast ballots in that year’s Democratic primary even though Republicans and new voters, which should be a substantial since the state has rapidly grown during the past twelve years, are present in the current vote.

Now the stage is set for Super Tuesday, with Sanders and Biden in a virtual tie, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on a primary ballot for the first time. With Sanders and Biden now so close, it appears unlikely that the Super Tuesday result won’t give either one a commanding advantage.

South Carolina, Tomorrow

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president, Joe Biden

Feb. 28, 2020 — Former vice president Joe Biden appears on the cusp of winning tomorrow’s South Carolina Democratic primary. His polling has greatly improved, and momentum looks to be on his side.

For more than a year, Biden has enjoyed strong leads in South Carolina but his poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, with a slight rebound in Nevada, had caused his Palmetto State margins to tighten. One poll, from Change Research on Feb. 12-14, forecast Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lapsing into a tie.

Four closing polls were released yesterday, giving Biden leads of between 4 and 28 points, but it is the former poll that seems to be the anomaly. Change Research (Feb. 23-27; 543 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) projects Biden leading Sen. Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer, 28-24-16 percent, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) lagging behind with a 12 percent preference factor. Under this poll, the top three finishers would qualify for delegate apportionment.

On the other hand, Emerson College (Feb. 26-27; 425 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) and Monmouth University (Feb. 23-25; 454 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) come much closer to Starboard Communications’ (Feb. 26; 1,102 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters; online) 28-point spread line.

Starboard projects Biden leading 40-12-11 percent over Steyer and Sanders. Emerson finds him holding a 17-point lead, while Monmouth posts the former VP to a 20-point advantage. Both Emerson and Starboard find Biden touching the 40 percent mark. Biden’s large leads fail to prevent the Change Research and Monmouth polls from projecting that three of the candidates would earn a share of South Carolina’s 54 first-ballot delegate allotment, however.

To estimate a reasonable delegate count, the Monmouth poll finds a 36-16-15 percent spread for Biden, Sanders, and Steyer. If this poll proved most accurate, the delegate split would approximately be 29-13-12, consecutively, assuming the seven congressional district totals turned in similar ratios.

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Within a Week . . .

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2020 — Now, just two days away from the South Carolina primary and a mere five from Super Tuesday, it’s time to again determine candidate progress for what is arguably the most important primary election day of this presidential nomination cycle.


Currently, now that the Nevada Democratic Party has ostensibly tabulated the remaining caucus preference sheets from last Saturday’s Nevada vote, the aggregate bound delegate count gives Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) the lead with 45, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is second at 26, former vice president Joe Biden posts 15, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) eight, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar holds seven. These numbers will change significantly by this time next week. A total of 1,398 delegate votes will be bound on Super Tuesday evening and 18 states and one territory will have completed their voting process.

We’ve had some polling movement in several of the Super Tuesday states that make a tight race even closer. North Carolina, with 110 first ballot delegates, at least according to one polling firm has lapsed into a three-way tie. Spry Strategies (Feb. 21-23; 561 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) finds former VP Biden, ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Sen. Sanders locked into a three-way tie, each with 20 percent support. None of the other candidates appear close to the 15 percent delegate allocation threshold in the Tar Heel State.

The new Public Policy Polling North Carolina survey turns in similar numbers (Feb. 23-24; 852 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters) with Biden leading Sanders and Bloomberg, 23-20-17 percent, respectively. PPP agrees with Spry in projecting that only these three men will qualify for delegates. Such a split, assuming the congressional delegation allocation yields the same ratio, would find each of the three candidates receiving approximately 35-37 first-ballot votes.

The latest YouGov poll (Feb. 6-18; 1,352 likely Texas Democratic primary voters; online) also finds a tie, but this time in the Lone Star State with again three candidates winning bound delegates. The data finds Biden and Sanders tied with 20 percent, and Sen. Warren getting into delegate contention with 17 percent. If the actual Texas votes break similarly to this ratio, it would mean Bloomberg would fail to qualify for at-large delegates, leading to a fight for delegate allocation within each of the 31 state Senate districts. While other states divide by congressional districts, Texas uses state Senate seats.

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The Open Primary Effect

Super Tuesday 2020 States and Territories


By Jim Ellis

Feb. 26, 2020 — One factor for the coming March 3 Super Tuesday primary elections that hasn’t received any discussion is whether or not the open voting system will have a major effect upon the final results. Though only 24 states around the country feature open, or semi-open, primaries, all but two of the 15 Super Tuesday states lie in this category.

For purposes of this column, South Carolina, scheduled for this Saturday and the prelude to the mega-state vote, is added to the Super Tuesday roster because of its close proximity. America Samoa, which also holds its nomination election on March 3, is a caucus.

An open primary is one where any voter may choose to participate in the nomination election of his or her choice. In these states, voters typically are not registered by political party and can select either a Democratic or Republican ballot. A semi-closed primary is one where registered party members must stay in their respective party primary, but the unaffiliated, or Independent, voter may choose the primary in which to participate. A closed primary allows only individuals who are registered in a particular political party to vote in their respective nomination election.

Pertaining to Super Tuesday, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia are the open primary states. The semi-opens are Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah.

The two closed presidential primaries for the big day are California and Maine. Despite California featuring the ultimate open primary system in their regular elections, where everyone receives the same ballot and the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation and percentage attained, only registered party members may vote in their respective presidential primary. Therefore, in the national nomination contest, where the top-two system is not recognized for delegate allocation, the Golden State reverts to the closed procedure.

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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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