Tag Archives: South Carolina

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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New Hampshire Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 11, 2020 — At long last, the New Hampshire nomination election has arrived, and voters have already begun casting their ballots in what is often referred to as the “first in the nation primary.” The initial state in a line of 48 primaries (the other nine states and territories have caucuses), just how important is today’s vote in determining who wins the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination?

Considering the split Iowa vote where it appears that five different candidates will be awarded a certain number of first-ballot national convention delegate votes ranging from 14 to one, New Hampshire’s 24 aggregate delegates will not likely alter the current race trajectory; therefore, multiple candidates will still be battling through Nevada and South Carolina before Super Tuesday with no one having a clear early path to majority support.

First-ballot victory at the Democratic National Convention in July can only come when one candidate top 50 percent of delegate support. Therefore, regardless of the importance media analysts attempt to assign this New Hampshire race in terms of a momentum boost, it is the delegate numbers that will still tell the story.

Coming from Iowa, former South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, looks to earn 14 delegates with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) close behind with 12. Now, Sen. Sanders’ team is requesting a partial recount in Iowa that might earn him an extra delegate or two, but it is doubtful the Iowa Democratic Party, with a party leadership still reeling over the vote counting debacle, will grant their request.

Continuing the projected delegate apportionment, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would earn eight bound delegate votes, former vice president, Joe Biden six, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one.

Polling suggests that Sen. Sanders will place first tonight, but several candidates look to break the 15 percent threshold to also qualify for bound delegate votes. Polling finds scenarios where Buttigieg, Warren, Biden, and even Klobuchar will surpass the minimum threshold, though it is unlikely that all will do so. In fact, with Biden’s early support evaporating before our eyes, it is possible that he will fall short of 15 percent tonight meaning that he would be shut out of delegate votes. Though Sen. Klobuchar appears to be closing fast, it is also likely that she finishes under 15 percent.

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