Category Archives: Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday State Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential primaries have dominated the political media coverage for next Tuesday’s big election, five states are also holding their regular primary elections including four with Senate races.

Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will begin choosing their nominees for the Senate and their entire slate of down ballot races. Each is a run-off state, and two of the aforementioned, Alabama and Texas, appear headed for a secondary Senate primary contest later in March and May, respectively. The regular California primary is also scheduled, but there is no Senate election in the Golden State this year. We will, however, see 53 sets of US House general election participants advance to the general election from their top-two jungle primary system.

In Alabama, former US attorney general and senator Jeff Sessions is attempting a political comeback. Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) are his chief opponents. Former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge Roy Moore is also on the ballot, but polling suggests he will not even break into double digits.

Sessions ad

Sessions launched two new ads in the last couple days, one that promotes himself as a strong supporter of, and the best person to implement the Trump agenda. The second is an attack ad against Tuberville, hitting him with audio of the retired coach saying we need immigrants coming across the border for certain jobs and that Tuberville actually lives and pays taxes in Florida.

Tuberville ad

Earlier, Tuberville was running a statewide ad reminding the electorate that President Trump fired Sessions as attorney general and that choosing him for the post was the president’s top regret during his tenure in office. Rep. Byrne has been simultaneously running a negative spot jointly attacking both of his top opponents.

The most likely pair to advance into the run-off are Sessions and Tuberville. The secondary election is scheduled for March 31.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) is virtually re-elected. Democrats failed to file a candidate against him, meaning Tuesday’s primary is a non-event for the first-term senator. He will advance into the general against only minor party opposition.

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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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Sanders, Buttigieg, Klobuchar

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 12, 2020 — At the beginning of this presidential campaign, the odds would have been very long to bet that neither former VP Joe Biden nor Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren would earn bound delegate votes from the nation’s first primary in New Hampshire, but that is exactly what happened last night.

All night long, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former mayor, Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) placed first, second, and third, and with all three of these contenders easily exceeding the 15 percent delegate apportionment threshold in both the at-large vote and in the two congressional districts, it is they who split the state’s 24 first ballot delegates.

Sen. Sanders ran just under 26 percent in first position, while Buttigieg was close behind with just over 24 percent, and Sen. Klobuchar hovered consistently around the 20 percent mark throughout the evening. Sen. Warren fell just short of 10 percent while Biden, who for most of the early campaign cycle was polling near the top of the candidate heap, dropped all the way to fifth place recording just about 8.5 percent of the vote.

While this is a crushing performance for both Warren and Biden, it is actually worse for the Massachusetts senator. Biden still has a base in the southern states and with so few delegates being chosen in Iowa and New Hampshire – 65 total from a 3,979 first ballot universe – he can easily soar to the top with a string of southern state victories on Super Tuesday.

Sen. Warren, on the other hand, has what now appears to be few opportunities for wins. Her home state of Massachusetts is on the Super Tuesday calendar and has 91 first-ballot delegates, but her performance in the interim will have to improve to make her competitive even there. The next state, Nevada, must become a point of emphasis for her to show viability because she has never demonstrated significant polling strength in the south.

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