Category Archives: Presidential campaign

Cruz Edging Trump in California

Jan. 8, 2016 — The California Field Poll was released early this week and the results show a surge for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential race, but their conclusions are largely irrelevant. California polling can’t accurately project the state’s all-important delegate count, hence the statewide ballot test total is less important here than in other places.

Despite Republicans performing poorly in California since the turn of the century, the Golden State still sends the largest delegation to the Republican National Convention (172). The California apportionment system yields a more open contest than most states because finishing first statewide is worth only 10 at-large delegates.

As in six other states (Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina and Wisconsin), California apportions upon congressional district vote in addition to the aggregate statewide total. Since the Golden State possesses 53 CDs, California primary day actually yields 54 separate elections: one in each congressional district in addition to the statewide tally. The candidate placing first in each individual district, regardless of vote percentage or raw total, is awarded three delegates in winner-take-all fashion.

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Another Democrat Retirement;
New Nevada Senate Polling

Jan. 7, 2016 — Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-3) announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Long Island congressional district yesterday, bringing the total 2016 open seat number to 35, 15 of which are Democrat-held.

New York’s 3rd District changed significantly in the 2011 redistricting plan, as did GOP Rep. Peter King’s 2nd District that adjoins it to the south. Both seats were made surprisingly more competitive when compared to their previous districts. Israel’s district, formerly the 2nd, was made more Republican. King’s CD, previously labeled District 3, became more Democratic. Both incumbents won two re-elections under the new boundaries, but the prevailing political wisdom suggested that both seats could flip to the opposite party in an open seat scenario. Since Israel will not be on the ballot here this November, Republicans will likely make a move to covert the district.

In 2012, President Obama carried the new 3rd District, but only with a 51-48 percent spread. Rep. Israel won re-election in 2014 with a margin of 53-44 percent against a candidate, Republican Grant Lally, who spent less than $200,000 on his campaign effort. Two years earlier, versus similar opposition, Israel claimed a 51-37 percent win.

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Rep. McDermott to Retire;
Re-Setting the Democrats

Jan. 6, 2016 — Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), who would turn 80 years of age at the beginning of the next Congress, announced yesterday that he will not seek a 15th term later this year. McDermott becomes the 34th House member not to run for re-election, and the 14th Democrat to voluntarily end his or her service as a federal Representative. Fourteen of the retiring members are instead running for the Senate.

The congressman leaves the downtown Seattle 7th district — which contains most of Seattle city proper along with the Vashon Island community sitting in the Puget Sound — that will assuredly elect a Democrat in his place. President Obama scored a huge 79 percent victory here in 2012, and the 7th proves itself to be one of the nation’s most liberal districts.

We can expect a very crowded Aug. 2 Democratic primary, one featuring a large number of elected officials. With no run-off system in Washington, the winning candidate will be able to claim the party nomination, which is tantamount to victory in November, with a low number of votes.

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A New Open Seat; Presidential
And House Dropouts

Dec. 23, 2015 — New York Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld/Utica/Binghamton) announced Monday that he will not seek a fourth term next year, thus creating the 32nd open seat of the 2016 election cycle.

Hanna was already fielding a primary challenge from conservative assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, the same opponent who held him to an uncomfortable 53.5-46.5 percent victory margin in 2014. Tenney was able to outpoll the congressman in three of the district’s eight counties (four whole; four partial).

In order to keep her state Assembly seat two years ago, Tenney did not advance to the general election on the Conservative Party ballot line, even though she became their nominee. Since Rep. Hanna was otherwise unopposed, many believed Tenney could have unseated him in a head-to-head contest, but her political risk proved too great.

Though Hanna generally votes the Republican Party line, he strays on some major social issues to the point that only 11 other Republicans vote opposite the party position more often than he. Thus, the incumbent was perceived as being vulnerable in the upcoming primary election.

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South Carolina Polling Flawed

Dec. 22, 2015 — South Carolina is an important early primary state and may have an even greater role than usual in setting the tone for the 2016 Republican race. Two December polls surveyed the Palmetto State Republican electorate, but the data snapshot does not provide us with a true indication of delegate apportionment and this latter point, from a nationwide perspective, is determinative regarding who wins the GOP presidential nomination.

With current polling suggesting that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may place first in the Iowa Caucus and Donald Trump well positioned to top the field in the New Hampshire primary, scoring a big delegate haul in South Carolina will give one of the candidates a clear momentum boost heading into the eleven-state Super Tuesday contests scheduled for March 1.

It’s the South Carolina delegate apportionment system that renders the latest state polls inconclusive. Under Republican Party rules, the state uses a Winner-Take-All by congressional district option, and then awards a large chunk of the at-large delegates to the statewide winner. The polling misses a key point because it does not segment the responses into the state’s seven congressional districts. This is largely because the individual district sample sizes would be too small to produce reliable results.

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