Tag Archives: Iowa Caucus

Nevada Looms Large for Biden, Harris

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2019 — The Nevada Caucus is third on the presidential nomination schedule and it appears the Silver State nomination event will carry more weight than it has in past elections.

After the Iowa Caucus (Feb. 3) and New Hampshire primary (Feb. 11), the candidates will stream into Nevada for the Feb. 22 caucus event that is traditionally held on a Saturday.

Nevada could be critically important for two of the candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, should the first two states evolve as currently predicted.

Kicking the cycle off in Iowa, Biden may find himself in a similar position to that of Hillary Clinton in 2016. Coming into the state as the clear front runner, Clinton stumbled in Iowa as she technically won the caucus vote, but only after a series of coin flips were conducted to break ties … and she won them all.

The rules are different in 2020, and it will be easier for more people to participate, but Iowa voters tend to like the Midwestern candidates, something Biden is not. Additionally, with Sen. Sanders proving he has a base in the state and two Midwestern candidates in the field, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the chances of Biden faltering here are actually quite high.

Then the candidates will move to Sens. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) New England backyard in New Hampshire. In 2016, Sen. Sanders upended Clinton with a 60 percent victory, so Biden’s ability to derail both Sanders and Warren in this state will prove to be a difficult task. Therefore, it is entirely possible that Biden could move into Nevada in search of a badly needed win.

Sen. Harris has a major advantage in that her home state of California will award 416 first-ballot delegates, a figure 45 percent larger than even the second-largest state, which is Texas. But, in order to maximize this advantage, Sen. Harris will have to be competitive in the First Four states.

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Warren Ahead in Iowa & Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Aug. 19, 2019 — The Change Research organization, which has previously conducted simultaneous multi-state polling within the same sampling period, just repeated their process. This time, the firm surveyed likely Democratic voters in both Iowa and Wisconsin over the Aug. 9-11 period and found Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren topping the field in both states.

As we know, the Iowa Caucus, with only 41 first-ballot delegate votes, is an important trend-setting state because of being placed first on the national voting calendar. In 2016, after her campaign was selling Hillary Clinton as the “inevitable nominee,” she barely won the first vote in Iowa, which arguably began a downward spiral for her campaign. Though Clinton obviously won the party nomination, the long fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) politically weakened her for the general election campaign.

According to the Change Iowa data (621 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus participants through online communication), Sen. Warren would lead Sen. Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), 28-17-17-13-8 percent, respectively. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who needs to make a major play in her neighboring state, still only shows two percent support, tying her with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), billionaire Tom Steyer, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, but behind the three percent score of both Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).

Biden may have a similar problem to that of Clinton, and it could prove to be a major stumbling block. As the presumptive national front-runner, under-performing in Iowa would show clear vulnerability. Traveling the following week to Sens. Warren and Sanders’ New England backyard for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary after sustaining an Iowa loss would strengthen the two local candidates and possibly cause Biden to again fall.

This scenario would be quite damaging to the former vice president. Because his momentum would significantly slow, re-starting for the succeeding Nevada Caucus becomes very difficult and he would need a boost here before heading to the South Carolina primary and the southern states-dominated Super Tuesday. Currently, Biden is polling very strongly throughout the south, but faltering early could quickly change that dynamic.

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Polling Series: New Pattern Emerges

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 14, 2019 — The HarrisX polling firm just completed conducting three rolling national Democratic presidential primary polls, and while they confirm other data finding former Vice President Joe Biden leading the race, he does so only in the low 30s. This is a number range far below what he needs to win a first-ballot nomination. The data does, however, reveal a new contender consistently placing second.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont

HarrisX conducted the survey trio from Aug. 7-12 that covered the periods of Aug. 7-10, 8-11, and 9-12. The sample sizes were substantial and almost identical in size, ranging from 1,346-1,350.

The HarrisX findings when compared with other recent polling yield a first-place finish for Biden. The three studies post him to a pair of 30 percent finishes and one 31 percent showing.

But, perhaps the more interesting placement comes in examining who finished second. In contrast with the conclusions of other national polls that show Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) placing definitively in second place, the HarrisX series finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) returning to that position.

The three polls project a consistent Biden-Sanders-Warren finish, with the leader scoring close to a 2:1 margin over his closest rival.

The research trifecta produced the following results:

Aug. 9-12; 1,346 registered or self-identified US Democratic voters
Biden 30%
Sanders 16%
Warren 10%
Harris 6%
Buttigieg 5%
O’Rourke 4%

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California Tightening

By Jim Ellis

July 19, 2019 — Two new surveys of the California Democratic electorate show the presidential race tightening in the state that possesses the largest delegation to the Democratic National Convention: 416 first-ballot delegates. To highlight the state’s size within the convention universe and its importance to the nomination process, the next largest state, Texas, has 228 first-ballot delegates.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll (July 10-15; 1,125 registered California voters, 519 likely Democratic primary voters) finds home-state Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) leading the pack of candidates with 23 percent of the vote. In second place is former Vice President Joe Biden who has 21 percent with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 18 percent support. Following is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who recorded 16 percent. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg falls all the way to three percent just ahead of New York City businessman Andrew Yang who registered two percent preference.

The Capitol Weekly survey (July 1-15; 816 likely California Democratic primary voters), with a larger polling sample, arrives at similar results. According to the CW data, Sen. Warren has the lead with 25 percent, just ahead of Sen. Harris and Biden who both command 20 percent, while Sen. Sanders posts a close 16 percent. In this poll, Mayor Buttigieg does much better, eight percent, but is nowhere close to qualifying for delegates at the 15 percent minimum threshold.

While these polls are different in candidate order, they both suggest that the top four candidates are currently running close and each would qualify for a substantial share of the large first-ballot delegate contingent.

Available polling data can be used to provide a rough extrapolation model of the early delegate count, examining the latest surveys in the first five voting states to provide at least some measure about how close this race might become if the support patterns we see today continue into the early voting period.

The delegate apportionment process comes in two distinct categories: the at-large delegates who are tied to the statewide vote, and those coming from each congressional district, which range from four to seven delegate votes apiece in California, for example. The latter delegates are apportioned by the individual congressional district popular vote, with those candidates who receive at least 15 percent of the vote in the particular CD qualifying for the district delegate apportionment.

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Nevada Surprises

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) moving up in Nevada

June 14, 2019 — Monmouth University just released their Nevada survey (June 6-11; 370 likely Nevada Democratic caucus attenders from a pool of 1,333 registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters) and it contained two major surprises.

First, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is beginning to show signs of upward mobility after being stagnant since her campaign’s inception, moves into the runner-up position in the Silver State and, second, neighboring Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) fares poorly in an early voting venue where she needs to succeed.

The Monmouth data projects former Vice President Joe Biden to be leading the pack of candidates, as in almost every current poll, with 36 percent preference and Sen. Warren follows with 19 percent, ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who drops to 13 percent. Sen. Harris then places fifth with just six percent support, and one point behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Monmouth then asked the second-choice question. Within these responses, the candidates are closely bunched. Here, it is Sen. Warren who leads with 15 percent, but the group is so close that a statistical tie among the top four is the best way to categorize the answers. After Sen. Warren, Sen. Sanders posts 14 percent, while Sen. Harris performs better than on the initial ballot test, tying Biden at 13 percent.

The Nevada Caucus, even though it holds only 36 first-ballot delegates, is an important momentum builder. Placed third on the nomination calendar, Nevada follows the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, respectively. It is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, and exactly a week before the South Carolina primary.

Nevada is important for Sen. Harris because she is unlikely to do particularly well in either Iowa or New Hampshire. She is expected to be one of the top finishers, if not the winner, in South Carolina, so a strong performance in Nevada is critical to give her some needed momentum in order to maximize her chances in the Palmetto State.

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Biden Beginning to Show Cracks

By Jim Ellis

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

June 11, 2019 — Two polls were just released in critical Democratic primary states that find former Vice President Joe Biden’s standing to be weaker than his latest national polling results.

In Texas, the Change Research poll (May 20-June 3; 1,218 likely Texas Democratic primary voters) projects that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has risen to the top of his home state electorate, leading Biden, 27-24 percent with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 13 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is right behind with 12 percent, while California Sen. Kamala Harris records only eight percent backing.

Turning to Iowa, Selzer & Company released another of their Iowa Polls (June 2-5; 600 likely Iowa Caucus attenders; 433 saying they would personally attend their precinct caucus meeting while another 167 said they were interested in participating in the new virtual caucus that will be an Iowa Caucus feature for the first time) and while Biden leads the group of Democratic candidates, the combined numbers from the second, third, and fourth place finishers outpaces the leader by almost a 2:1 ratio.

In the Iowa Poll, conducted for CNN, the Des Moines Register newspaper, and Mediacom, Biden posts only 24 percent support. He is followed by Sen. Sanders at 16 percent, Sen. Warren notching 15 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing closely with 14 percent. But, Sens. Sanders and Warren together top Biden by seven percentage points and when Buttigieg is added, the trio comes close to denying Biden even the possibility of reaching majority status.

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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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