Category Archives: Presidential campaign

The Scorecard – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential campaign.

May 20, 2019 — It is often said, “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard,” and that is certainly becoming the case with the presidential campaign. A 24th candidate entered the national political fray just late last week — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Greeted with the reminder that the last Quinnipiac University poll of New York City residents found that 76 percent of those polled didn’t want the mayor to run for president, de Blasio launched his late-starting campaign with a video of him talking about “putting working people first,” interspersed with video footage of being chauffeured around the city in a limousine. Saddled with poor approval ratings within his home base and a late start, de Blasio is the longest of shots to become a viable candidate.

It is likely that the de Blasio declaration is the last significant announcement, meaning all of the major players are finally in the race. Seeing two dozen candidates – and while many media networks report different numbers, the total clearly exceeds 20 – it is a good time to review the field (alphabetically) and summarize how the plethora of candidates is doing. We’ll go through the first 12, and tomorrow finish up the field:

• Former Vice President Joe Biden: The clear early race leader. Biden received the announcement bump that he desired and is proving to be the man to beat. Still, much will happen before he can legitimately clinch the party nomination. In the first 24 hours after his announcement, the former VP raised $6.3 million.

• Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): A prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery delayed Sen. Bennet’s entry into the race, so his campaign is just getting underway. He is a second-tier candidate who is unlikely to seriously challenge for the nomination.

• Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): Has not gotten much early attention, but reports suggest his campaign is among the best organized in terms of ground operation. Sen. Booker could surprise in the national candidate forums and, despite current low polling performance, might become a factor as the campaign develops.

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Weekly Political Synopsis,
Period Ending May 17, 2019

By Jim Ellis

PRESIDENT
• Gov. Steve Bullock: As has been expected for some time, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) officially announced his presidential effort this week, becoming the 23rd Democratic candidate. Bullock made the argument that he will be an effective national candidate because he’s won two elections in a conservative state and has been able to earn legislative achievements, like Medicaid expansion, in negotiating with Republican leaders.

• Mayor Bill de Blasio: Following Gov. Bullock, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released an announcement video at the end of the week making him the 24th Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election cycle. His declaration centered around being the candidate for “working families,” and cited the $15 minimum wage, a free pre-K school program, a comprehensive healthcare program that especially covers mental health, and paid sick leave.

• Florida: Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to see strong polling numbers, with the latest data coming from Florida. The Tel Opinion Research organization is reporting its latest results (released May 8; 800 likely Florida Democratic primary voters) that show Biden pulling away from his Democratic opponents on an open-ended ballot test poll. An open-ended ballot test is one where the respondent is not given the candidates’ names. That approach tests for committed strength.
According to Tel Opinion, Biden leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 39-16 percent, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) each pulling only five percent support. South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg follows at three percent preference. All of the candidates scored well on the favorability index scale. Biden is viewed positively with an 81:13 percent ratio, where Sen. Sanders’ score is 68:23 percent.

SENATE
• Arizona: Phoenix-based pollster OH Predictive Insights released their latest data from their May 1-2 poll (600 likely Arizona voters) where they queried the respondent universe about the impending Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D). Though we are more than a year before Arizona’s 2020 late August primary, the chances are strong that the aforementioned will be their respective party standard bearers.
According to the OH poll results, the early race again earns toss-up status. The sample breaks 45-44 percent in Sen. McSally’s favor, which is virtually identical with the firm’s late February poll giving the incumbent a 46-44 percent edge.

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Dems Looking Ahead to a
Looming Nomination Battle

By Jim Ellis

May 13, 2019 — The Hill newspaper ran a pair of articles late last week that discussed several points about the upcoming Democratic presidential nomination battle. The first piece was a story covering former Vice President Joe Biden’s prediction that many of the candidates will drop out of the race soon after the Iowa Caucus, thus winnowing the 22-person (and possibly as high as 24) contest down to a more manageable number.

What kind of role will super delegates play in 2020?

The second piece delved into the new Super Delegate status, and about their re-emergence if the convention lapses into a multiple ballot situation before choosing a nominee. The story also highlighted several candidates, and in particular Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who are already reaching out to Super Delegates in an attempt to identify which candidate they might support if presented with the chance to vote.

The Biden comments reflect a traditional view that one candidate may begin to build an early consensus by doing well in the first two voting events, the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Currently, these are scheduled for Feb. 3 and Feb. 11, 2020, respectively.

The flaw in the Biden argument is that, combined, Iowa and New Hampshire only carry 65 first-ballot delegates, less than two percent of the entire first-ballot universe of 3,768. A candidate must obtain 1,885 delegate votes to win the nomination on the first ballot. Therefore, such a small early number is unlikely to be determinative, but the lowest tier of candidates, as fallout from the first votes actually being cast, collapsing due to a lack of funding is certainly a possibility.

The Super Delegates were a source of major controversy at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. At the time, the Sanders campaign contended that the nomination process was “rigged” because the non-elected Super Delegates were a block for Hillary Clinton, which would enable her to win the nomination even if Sanders forged a majority among the elected delegates. In the end, the Sanders’ supposition proved untrue – Clinton did win among the elected delegates – but, nevertheless, the Democratic National Committee changed the Super Delegates’ voting status as a result of the Sanders’ complaint.

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The Telling Second Choices

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2019 — Often in political polling, asking respondents about their second choice on a ballot test is quite telling. The Morning Consult firm polls regularly and they are the only prominent pollsters so far in this presidential campaign to consistently ask the second-choice question.

Their latest national survey conducted over the April 29 through May 5 period and involving 15,770 respondents who are registered self-identified Democratic voters, or those who lean to the Democrats, found former Vice President Joe Biden pulling away from the pack of candidates, claiming 40 percent support. In a distant second place is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who had 19 percent.

None of the other candidates even reached double-digits. In third position is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with a preference figure of just eight percent. Following closely is California Sen. Kamala Harris at seven percent, and South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg who posted six percent support. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is next with five percent. All others have three percent or less.

After the initial question, those choosing one of the top five finishers were then asked who they would support if the candidate they originally named was not in the race. This provides a further way of gauging the depth of a candidate’s strength.

The Biden supporters predominantly break toward three candidates with Sen. Sanders being the chief beneficiary, getting 31 percent of the Biden first choice voters. Sen. Harris receives 13 percent, with Sen. Warren getting 10 percent.

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Biden’s Drastically Changed Picture

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

May 9, 2019 — Recent polling has seen former Vice President Joe Biden take full advantage of his announcement tour. While the pre-race appeared to be settling into a battle between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), once the ex-VP became an active candidate the picture drastically changed.

Several polls were taken during the last days of April and into early May. The HarrisX research organization and the Morning Consult firm conducted national surveys while Firehouse Strategies/Optimus commissioned Democratic primary polls in three of the first four nomination venues: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. All of these polls produced big leads for Biden in contrast to what we were seeing just two weeks ago.

But, Change Research, in a slightly later New Hampshire poll with a larger sample (May 3-5; 864 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), finds Sen. Sanders still on top, 30-26-12 percent over Biden and South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The HarrisX national poll (May 3-4; 440 registered voters in the US) gives Biden a whopping 44-14 percent lead over Sen. Sanders with all others following in single-digits. The third-place finisher, Mayor Buttigieg has only eight percent support. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have seven percent and six percent, respectively, while former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has dropped to just three percent, tied with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

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We Now Have Candidate #22 In
The Race, And Sanders is Falling

By Jim Ellis

May 6, 2019 — A new Democratic presidential candidate entered the race late last week, one whom we didn’t expect to see this soon.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet

Despite undergoing prostate cancer surgery last month, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet says he has already received a “clean bill of health” and is embarking upon his national political effort. Now at 22 candidates in the field of Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election, eyes turn to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock who could be the last widely discussed potential candidate yet to make a decision about forming a campaign.

It’s difficult to see how Sen. Bennet breaks through to the top tier, however. He is not well known outside of Colorado and starts well behind most of the field, putting him in a difficult position from which to even qualify for the first two debate forums scheduled for late June and the end of July.

To earn a debate podium, all candidates must either tally at least one percent support in three Democratic National Committee designated polls, or attract financial support from 65,000 donors, from which they must have a minimum of 200 in at least 20 states. For the lesser known candidates, debate participation is a necessity in order to propel themselves into serious contention for the nomination.

Furthermore, Sen. Bennet doesn’t even have his home state electorate to himself. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is also in the race, a man who Bennet once served as chief of staff. Just two days ago, Colorado moved its new primary – they used to apportion delegates through the caucus system – to March 3, the 2020 campaign’s Super Tuesday, which could serve to boost one of the two Centennial State candidates. Yet, with both men in the race, the state’s 67 first-ballot delegate contingent will prove less of a base for either one.

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Texas by the Numbers

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas


By Jim Ellis

May 2, 2019 — The Lone Star State continues to move toward competitiveness, meaning the Texas political apparatus will see new approaches from both parties in the 2020 election campaigns.

A new Emerson College poll (April 25-28; 779 likely Texas voters, 342 likely Democratic primary voters, 344 likely Republican primary voters via Interactive Voice Response system) finds President Trump tied with two of the Democratic presidential candidates and only slightly ahead of the rest of the field. And, in Democratic Party trial heats, the results project an equally close potential finish for the state’s 228 first ballot delegates.

According to the Emerson numbers, President Trump would slightly trail former Vice President Joe Biden with each man finishing in the 50 percent realm. Trump is then slightly ahead of Texas former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) but, here too, both men are in the 50 percent realm.

The president fares better against the others, but even they are within striking distance of him in what is arguably his most important state. With 38 Electoral Votes, Texas was the only big state that Republicans could count upon winning without having to campaign, but apparently those days are over.

The next closest Democrat is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. He trails by two points, 51-49 percent. The president has healthier margins against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg, ahead of both, 54-46 percent, and tops Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 53-47 percent. The fact that all scenarios present no undecideds tells us the pollsters prodded respondents for a definitive answer or are extrapolating some of the results.

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