Category Archives: Super Delegates

Seven State Polls

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2019 — In the latter half of July, several different pollsters conducted Democratic presidential primary polls in seven important primary states. In Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California, Texas, Michigan, and Illinois — all states whose voters will cast primary ballots on or before March 17 — contain an aggregate 1,012 first-ballot delegates.

The seven polls give us an idea as to how Democratic primary participants in the corresponding states would vote if their presidential nomination elections had been in mid to late July. Additionally, we make delegate dispersion projections from the polling data to the qualified candidates and attempt to determine whether any one individual could garner the 50 percent delegate support necessary to claim a first ballot victory.

The Firehouse/Optimus organization polled in Iowa (July 23-25; 630 likely Iowa Democratic caucus voters), New Hampshire (July 23-25; 587 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), and South Carolina (July 23-25; 554 registered South Carolina voters). The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed the Golden State Democratic primary (July 14-23; 766 likely California Democratic primary voters). The University of Texas at Tyler (July 24-27; 554 registered Texas voters), Climate Nexus (July 14-17; 324 likely Michigan Democratic primary voters), and Victory Research (July 26-29; 1,200 likely Illinois Democratic primary voters) tested the Texas, Michigan, and Illinois electorates.

For the purposes of this exercise, let us assume that all of these surveys accurately depict how the Democratic electorates in each of these states would vote. Let us further assume that the congressional district delegate apportionment directly corresponds to the at-large state vote.

Doing so allows us to make delegate apportionment estimates for each of these states with the understanding that the conclusions are not precise. They do, however, give us an idea as to how the delegate dispersion might break. Understanding that several of the polled minor candidates will not be on the ballot when actual voting occurs allows us to project additional votes going to the close finishers, those at 13-14% in these polls. Doing so likely boosts them to the 15 percent threshold that party rules mandate as a qualification requirement for delegate votes.

The aggregate total of 1,012 delegates from these seven states represents just under 27 percent of the entire first ballot universe at the Democratic National Convention, so the combined tested states are significant in terms of the number of delegates they possess and their voting schedule position.

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The 2020 Democratic Nomination
Will Look Much Different From 2016

By Jim Ellis

May 24, 2019 — As the Democratic presidential field swells to 24 candidates — with the first Democratic presidential forum on tap for late June in Miami, and the first votes being cast in Iowa now just over eight full months away — it’s a good time to review how different this presidential nomination contest will be from the 2016 version.

To review, Hillary Clinton won 34 primaries and caucuses in 2016 as compared to 23 for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). There are 57 sanctioned delegate voting entities in the Democratic nomination universe. The 57 are comprised of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five territories, and a Democrats Abroad category that combines all US citizens living in foreign countries who will still have voting privileges in US elections.

Clinton won 55.2 percent of the 2016 national Democratic popular vote versus Sen. Sanders’ 43.1 percent when combining the totals from all the primaries and caucuses. Though the Sanders Campaign called foul over the Super Delegate voting inflating Clinton’s delegate total, and actually turning six states’ first-ballot roll call from Sanders to Clinton and sending one more state into a tie, Clinton still carried the pledged, or elected delegate, count 2,205 to 1,846, translating to a 54.4 percent margin. When adding the Super Delegate and uncommitted delegate votes, she captured 58.3 percent of the convention total.

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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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Poll: Sanders Up in California

By Jim Ellis

April 12, 2019 — The Change Research polling organization released a new Democratic primary poll of the California electorate (April 6-9; 2,003 likely California Democratic primary voters) and projects Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to be nipping former Vice President Joe Biden and home state Sen. Kamala Harris. In a secondary ballot test that excludes Biden, Sanders prevails over Harris even under this scenario.

Earlier in the week, Emerson College released a Massachusetts Democratic primary poll (April 4-7; 371 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) that found Sen. Sanders leading Biden and Massachusetts home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren (26-23-14 percent). Therefore, we are clearly seeing a Sanders rise in the early part of April.

In the Change California poll, Sanders has a slight 22-21-19 percent lead over Biden and Harris – obviously a statistically insignificant margin – but it does show that Sen. Harris is not dominating her own electorate. Taking fourth, fifth, and sixth in this poll are ex-US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) with 10 percent, South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg at nine percent, and Sen. Warren pulling only eight percent of the vote.

If Biden chooses not to run, since he is still not an announced presidential candidate, Change finds that Sen. Sanders would edge Sen. Harris 28-27 percent, with O’Rourke (16 percent), Buttigieg (11 percent), and Warren (nine percent) following.

This tells us, at least in the early going, that California, with its large 416 first ballot delegate contingent, is clearly up for grabs even with its home state senator in the field of candidates.

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Sanders’ Problem as an Independent

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — an Independent, not a Democrat

Feb. 22, 2019 — A day after announcing his entry into the 2020 presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped off to a strong start, raising a reported $6 million in just his first 24 hours as a repeat candidate. But, a technical problem also looms in the distance.

Last year, the Democratic National Committee adopted a new party rule that states any future presidential nominee must be an official Democratic Party member or, if an office holder, must have served as a Democrat. Sen. Sanders meets neither requirement.

Vermont has no party registration, so he is not a party member in that regard, and has continually, including during the present time, represented Vermont as an Independent. In fact, when offered the Vermont Democratic senatorial nomination for his re-election campaign in 2018, Sanders turned down the overture.

The fact that Sanders is still not a Democrat is confirmed when looking at the list of unpledged delegate slots, those commonly referred to as “Super Delegates.” An unpledged delegate is one who can vote as he or she pleases and is not subject to any binding vote law their particular state may have enacted.

Those who qualify as Super Delegates are Democratic National Committee members (430), every elected Democratic US senator (45), the two District of Columbia “Shadow” senators, all elected Dems in the House of Representatives (235 at the present time), the four Democratic delegates to the US House (District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and the US Virgin Islands), and all of the party’s elected governors (26, including the District of Columbia mayor, and the territorial governors from American Samoa and Puerto Rico).

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