Tag Archives: South Carolina

The Early Delegate Projections

By Jim Ellis

June 25, 2019 — There have been several important state polls recently released that provide us data about where the Democratic presidential candidates stand in relation to popular preference. But that is only half the story.

In order to gauge where the candidates might stand in terms of delegate apportionment, we have taken the available published polls from 16 states and began extrapolating a reasonable delegate projection for each.

For purposes of this exercise, all of the polling data is considered accurate, even though in some instances such a conclusion is a stretch. Additionally, these projections were only based upon the at-large numbers but understand more than half of the delegates come from the state’s chosen districts (usually congressional district, though Texas uses their state Senate seats).

It is reasonable to believe, however, that the district apportionment will, in most cases, be similar to the statewide total. At this point, the at-large ratios are the only data set from which we can begin to draw statistical conclusions.

With that short background, the states and their most recent polling result are listed below along with our unofficial delegate projections listed in chronological order based upon voting schedule:

February 3

Iowa Caucus

(YouGov – May 31-June 12; 587 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters)
• First-Ballot Delegates: 41

Biden 30%
Sanders 22%
Warren 12%
Buttigieg 11%

Delegate Projection:

Biden 15
Sanders 11
Warren   8
Buttigieg   7

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California Already Tightening

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2019 — A new large-sample Golden State poll released from the University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times (June 4-10; 2,131 likely California Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) yields some surprising results. The three most unexpected findings first show a tight race among the four top contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) surging into second place, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris only finishing fourth but not substantially behind.

The California primary, scheduled for March 3, possesses the largest number of first-ballot delegates of any state or territory. The state’s 416 first-ballot delegates, 272 of whom are divided among the 53 congressional districts and 144 at-large, will certainly help set the tone over how the Democratic National Convention unfolds.

Sen. Harris, who could well be the indicator candidate as to what scenario will occur at the convention, (i.e., will one candidate be able to coalesce a majority coalition on the first or second ballot or does the nomination battle fall into a multi-ballot contest) must score big in her home state, and this latest survey suggests her path is challenging but doable.

The Berkeley/LA Times study sees former Vice President Joe Biden holding a smaller lead than in past surveys, as he polls 22 percent first-choice responses. Sen. Warren makes a major jump into second place and records 18 percent, one of her best showings in any poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has been dipping in polling across the country, places third at 17 percent, and Sen. Harris trails in fourth position, but is still clearly in the game at 13 percent.

Polling from around the country within the last 10 days, and this California study is obviously no exception, has been projecting a tighter Democratic race. Though Biden still leads, his advantage is lessening.

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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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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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Biden’s Drastically Changed Picture

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden

May 9, 2019 — Recent polling has seen former Vice President Joe Biden take full advantage of his announcement tour. While the pre-race appeared to be settling into a battle between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), once the ex-VP became an active candidate the picture drastically changed.

Several polls were taken during the last days of April and into early May. The HarrisX research organization and the Morning Consult firm conducted national surveys while Firehouse Strategies/Optimus commissioned Democratic primary polls in three of the first four nomination venues: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. All of these polls produced big leads for Biden in contrast to what we were seeing just two weeks ago.

But, Change Research, in a slightly later New Hampshire poll with a larger sample (May 3-5; 864 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), finds Sen. Sanders still on top, 30-26-12 percent over Biden and South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The HarrisX national poll (May 3-4; 440 registered voters in the US) gives Biden a whopping 44-14 percent lead over Sen. Sanders with all others following in single-digits. The third-place finisher, Mayor Buttigieg has only eight percent support. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have seven percent and six percent, respectively, while former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has dropped to just three percent, tied with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

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March 3, 2020: The New Super Tuesday

By Jim Ellis

May 3, 2019 — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced this week, as expected, that his state’s new primary will move to March 3, 2020, which has clearly become the next presidential cycle’s Super Tuesday.

Previously, Colorado employed the caucus system to apportion delegates, but voters changed to a primary when passing a 2016 ballot initiative, so now the state’s 67 Democratic first-ballot delegates and 37 Republican convention votes will be apportioned through a primary election.

But the Centennial State voters and the Democratic National Committee rules appear to be at odds. According to news reports, the 2016 Colorado electoral primary ballot initiative not only transformed into a primary, but also adopted a winner-take-all apportionment format. While Republicans allow states to award all of their delegates to one candidate based upon a primary or caucus victory, the Democrats, under the McGovern reform rules adopted after the 1972 presidential election, do not.

While the state may want to make the winner-take-all option determinative, the procedure violates Democratic rules, so we could see yet another pre-convention issue develop before the Credentials Committee, the body that certifies all of the delegate votes prior to the convention officially beginning.

The 2020 Democratic nomination process is becoming seriously front-loaded, which could play to the party’s detriment. By rule, only four states, referred to as “The First Four,” may vote before March 1 in the presidential year: Iowa (caucus, 41 first-ballot delegates), New Hampshire (primary, 24), Nevada (caucus, 36), and South Carolina (primary, 54). But just three days after South Carolina concludes, the following Tuesday, March 3, could become the most significant date of the early campaign.

Now that Colorado has joined the 3/3 fold, the following states will vote (in parenthesis, are the number of first ballot votes each entity possesses under the Democratic delegate apportionment formula):

  • Alabama (52)
  • American Samoa (6) – presumed to be voting this day
  • Arkansas (31)
  • California (416)
  • Colorado (67)
  • Democrats Abroad (13)
  • Georgia (105)
  • Massachusetts (91)
  • Minnesota (75)
  • North Carolina (110)
  • Oklahoma (37)
  • Tennessee (64) – probable, but has not yet set the calendar
  • Texas (228)
  • Utah (29)
  • Vermont (16)
  • Virginia (99)

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Could The Democrats Be Headed
Towards a Convention Free-For-All?

By Jim Ellis

April 11, 2019 — One of the most interesting facets of the Democratic presidential nomination process sounds mundane, but it may be more telling than any single campaign factor.

The primary/caucus schedule will in many ways determine if the party can coalesce behind one candidate before the Democratic delegates convene in Milwaukee during mid-July, or if they’ll be headed to a contested convention featuring several roll calls.

To win the nomination a candidate must either garner majority support on the first ballot (1,885 votes from a field of 3,768 elected delegates) or from among the full complement of 4,532 Democratic delegates on subsequent roll calls when the 764 Super Delegates are eligible to vote.

Joining the early mix, meaning the states that will vote on or before March 17, 2020, is Washington state, which has moved their nomination event. Additionally, over just this past weekend, the Washington Democrats passed a new party rule that transforms the previous delegate-apportioning caucus into a statewide primary. Previously, the state featured both apparatuses, with the caucus attenders selecting the delegates while the primary was no more than a political beauty contest.

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