Tag Archives: Super Tuesday

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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Biden’s Survival Path

By Jim Ellis

2020 Presidential Candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden (D)

Feb. 11, 2020 — Former Vice President Joe Biden said his campaign took a “gut punch” with his fourth-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses and, in the nationally televised debate on Friday night from New Hampshire, lowered future expectations when indicating that finishing close to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the state’s first-in-the-nation primary would be an acceptable showing.

Recent polls suggest Sen. Warren will do no better than third place, meaning Biden, who can no longer be considered the national front runner, again looks to be lagging behind in fourth place among the Democrat candidates. Does another fourth-place finish doom his national campaign? Would Biden have a path to the nomination even if failing to win yet again in Nevada on Feb. 22?

The answers to the two queries are no and yes, and South Carolina is the key. After a win in the Palmetto State, he would then need to strongly springboard into Super Tuesday just three days hence on March 3. On that day, citizens in 14 states and one territory are scheduled to cast votes, and half of those states are in the South, a region where the former vice president has been dominant in polling.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the likely national leader headed to Super Tuesday, should find some relative strength in the southern states, and billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg will likely also break the 15 percent threshold in some of these places and others to score a limited number of bound delegate votes. If Biden wins most or all of the southern states with approximately 30 percent of the aggregate vote, it would likely give him approximately 200 delegates, a number that certainly could boost his viability within a national context.

From a delegate count perspective, even if he fails to break 15 percent to qualify for convention votes in New Hampshire tonight and doesn’t win Nevada, he is still not going to be unreasonably behind. In Iowa, the projected delegate count suggests that former mayor, Pete Buttigieg, will record 14 first-ballot national convention votes, Sanders’ 12, Warren 8, Biden 6, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), 1.

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Primary Money Count – Senate

By Jim Ellis

Former Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R)

Feb. 7, 2020 — The 4th Quarter campaign disclosure reports are published and today we look at the key early primary Senate states, those that will have an initial vote on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Five states will hold their regular primaries on that day, and four of them have Senate elections. Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will take at least the first step in choosing their statewide nominees on Super Tuesday. California, which also holds its regular primary that day does not have a Senate race in this cycle. In Arkansas, Democrats failed to produce a candidate, meaning that Sen. Tom Cotton (R) will head into the general election as a virtually unopposed candidate.

ALABAMA

Alabama hosts a major Republican primary featuring former US attorney general and senator, Jeff Sessions. He is running for the seat he vacated to accept his federal appointment. Sessions is being fiercely challenged, however. Two serious candidates are also vying for the party nomination, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Ex-state Supreme Court chief judge and 2017 Senate special election nominee Roy Moore is back for another attempt, but his previous poor performance and lack of funding has relegated him to lower-tier status.

On the fundraising front, the Federal Election Commission reports find Sessions raising more than $530,000 but has spent more than $812,000. At the end of the year, he held over $2.5 million in cash, but most of those funds were raised during his time as an incumbent Senator.

Coach Tuberville has done an outstanding job of fundraising for a first-time candidate in a crowded field, raising over $1.3 million from individuals and loaning his campaign $1 million. His year-end cash-on-hand (CoH) figure was $1.52 million.

Rep. Byrne has accumulated over $3.3 million for his campaign, including transferring more than $2.2 million from his US House committee. His CoH total is just under $2.1 million.

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