Feb. 19, 2016 — All of the presidential campaigns head to the Nevada Caucus next Tuesday: the Republicans immediately after their South Carolina primary Saturday, and the Democrats before their own Palmetto State vote on Feb. 27.
A new Nevada Caucus CNN/ORC survey (Feb. 10-15; 1,006 adults; 282 likely Nevada Democratic Caucus attenders, 245 likely Nevada Republican Caucus attenders) finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) pulling into a virtual tie with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, trailing 48-47 percent.
Even a Sanders victory in Nevada would do little to help him close the delegate gap, however. It is likely that Clinton will actually gain a greater advantage, win or lose, because of her dominance within the Super Delegate category. Whether increased Sanders’ momentum from another strong electoral performance will help him in the Deep South is questionable. Such won’t be known until the following Saturday in South Carolina and throughout the southern region including Texas, the third-largest delegate pool (252) within the Democratic universe, on March 1.
Nevada has 43 Democratic delegates, 13 of which are super, meaning they can vote as free agents throughout the convention and are not bound by individual state voting requirements. Those eligible to qualify as Super Delegates are Democratic elected officials and sanctioned party leaders.
The Republicans, who will be fighting over 30 delegates distributed on a purely proportional basis with no qualifying vote threshold, are seeing leader Donald Trump hold what appears to be a commanding lead. According to the GOP sector of the same CNN/ORC poll, Trump maintains a strong 45 percent advantage over senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) who attract 19 and 17 percent, respectively. Ohio Gov. John Kasich actually drops behind Dr. Ben Carson; pulling just fiive percent in comparison to the latter’s seven percent.
Nevada will be the Republicans’ last stop before the 11-state bonanza on Super Tuesday, March 1. After voting ends that day, we should have a much better indication of whether any one candidate will be in position to secure a future first-ballot victory at the Republican National Convention.
More numbers have become public for the South Carolina Republican primary. Four surveys, from the Emerson College Polling Society, the American Research Group (ARG), Monmouth University and Bloomberg/Selzer, were conducted during the Feb. 13-16 period, averaging 419 likely GOP primary voters.
All find Trump leading with between 33-36 percent support. Sen. Cruz lands in second place in three of the four, polling between 14 and 20 percent. Sen. Rubio is right behind, placing second once, and scoring in the 15-19 percent range. One poll each finds Gov. Kasich and ex-Gov. Jeb Bush popping into double-digits.
Because South Carolina has a Winner-Take-All by congressional district model, the key is delegate apportionment. The statewide winner, very likely Trump,
would earn 29 at-large delegates from the state’s pool of 50. The remaining 21 are awarded to congressional district first-place finishers in an allotment of three apiece.
While mathematically possible for a candidate to win statewide but not carry any districts, such a finish seems highly unrealistic. Therefore, it is probable that Trump will place first this Saturday and carry anywhere from 38 to 41 of the 50 delegates. That would be a major boost to his campaign, and put him in the 55-58 delegate-support range. This is still a long way from earning a majority, but he would likely be approximately 40 delegate votes ahead of his closest competitors, Cruz and Rubio, when Saturday voting ends.
Two new Democratic Palmetto State surveys, from ARG and Public Policy Polling (during the Feb. 14-16 period, averaging 462 likely Democratic primary voting respondents), again finds former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holding a large lead – 61-31 percent from ARG, while PPP records a 55-34 percent spread – something she desperately needs to springboard her campaign into Super Tuesday. Adding South Carolina’s 59 Democratic delegates to the mix, expect Clinton to be hovering in the 475-500 range of legally and verbally committed delegates once South Carolina is tabulated, while Sanders will be languishing only around the 100 mark.