Early voting reports are emanating from Nevada for the caucus vote coming this Saturday. The state election authorities scheduled two days of early voting, an unusual procedure for this nomination format since the caucus system features actual precinct meetings. So far, more than 70,000 preference sheets – their ranked choice procedure does not feature a ballot – have been recorded. This number represents 83% of those attending the 2016 Nevada caucus meetings. Next door in California, where early voting began on February 3rd for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, over 1 million votes have already been cast in the Democratic presidential primary.
YouGov, for the University of Massachusetts at Lowell (2/12-18; 400 SC Democratic likely primary voters), tested the February 29th South Carolina Democratic primary and finds former Vice President Joe Biden still leading the contest, but with a much thinner margin.
Mr. Biden holds a 23-21-13-11-11-9-4% edge over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), billionaire Tom Steyer, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). South Carolina remains a must-win primary for Mr. Biden, but now his prospects are apparently much more tenuous.
National Public Radio, PBS, and Marist College teamed to conduct a national Democratic presidential primary survey (2/13-16; 1,416 adults; 1,164 registered voters; 527 likely Democratic primary voters), as did NBC News and the Wall Street Journal (2/14-17; 900 registered voters; 426 likely Democratic primary voters).
The two organizations delivered similar results in that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leads both national surveys with 31 and 27%, respectively, while former Vice President Joe Biden is losing support; down 11 points in the NBC survey and nine in the Marist College poll. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is obviously on an upward path, gaining 15 points in the Marist College survey and rising to second position with 19% support. The NBC poll found him moving up five points to third place with a 14% preference factor. The candidate with the most divergent result between the two surveys is former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who scores 13% nationally in the NBC poll but only 8% in the NPR/Marist study.
There has been little polling of the small Vermont Democratic electorate, but the state is voting on Super Tuesday, and home state Sen. Bernie Sanders may find himself in position to sweep the state’s 16 first ballot delegates. A new Vermont Public Radio/PBS survey was fielded (2/4-10; 603 adults; 332 VT likely Democratic primary voters) and the results project Sen. Sanders with a majority 51% from his home constituency.
The only candidate with what appears to be a potential to reach the 15% threshold for delegate allocation is former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who posts 13% support in this survey. Though the state has only a minimum number of delegates, a Sanders sweep could prove to be a bonanza for him.
With the Nevada Caucus fast approaching on February 22nd, the next presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow night from the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. At one point, it appeared that both presidential candidates Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer would qualify for this forum, and now the former has earned a podium according to an announcement this morning.
Apparently, Mr. Steyer still has an opportunity to qualify today, but it’s most likely that we will next see him at the February 25th debate in Charleston, SC. Since the Democratic National Committee changed the debate requirements, polling marks and committed delegate votes are now the key requirements for debate qualification.
With Andrew Yang now no longer in the race, tomorrow’s candidate panel will include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, along with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg.
Former US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in an interview as he was casting his early vote for the February 22nd Nevada Democratic Caucus, indicated that he was using all of his ranked choices to support an uncommitted delegate slate rather than any particular candidate. With the race tight and no clear leader emerging, it is possible that voting for uncommitted delegates could be an option that emerges as we move deeper into the nomination contest.
Like in Iowa, the Nevada Caucus participants have the opportunity of having a second or third choice count if their original candidate fails to qualify for delegate apportionment. Candidates must reach 15% to earn bound delegate votes.
As a possible precursor to Reid’s statement and strategy, the state’s politically powerful Culinary Workers labor union announced it would endorse no Democratic candidate.
The Morning Consult organization ran a flash poll on February 12th that included 2,639 online responses from likely Democratic primary voters from around the nation. Their results find Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in first place with 29%, and former Vice President Joe Biden falling into second with 19% support. Moving up quickly is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has 18% according to the MC data. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulls 11%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) drops to 10%, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar registers only 5% national support.
One pattern continues, however, regardless of the finishing order. In all instances no one is close to majority support, and again we see a leader scoring only in the 20s.
Learning from the Iowa Caucus fiasco, the Nevada Democratic Party leaders, who had adopted the same IT system as Iowa but dropped it as soon as it failed in the Hawkeye State, yesterday announced their new counting and reporting procedure. Using iPads and other common technical devices and communication options, the Nevada Democrats look to be better prepared for all contingencies.
Their system, however, is just as potentially confusing as Iowa’s because they, too, are going to allow re-voting for people who support a candidate not making the 15% delegate apportionment cut. With early voting occurring from tomorrow through Monday in anticipation of the February 22nd caucus voting day, individuals will register their first choice and then have the option of ranking as many as four other candidates should their original choices fail to reach 15% of the popular vote. The system appears to have some of the same potential flaws that made the Iowa result extremely close and convoluted. That being the case, the eventual Nevada tally may also end in clouded fashion.
The Iowa Caucus counting and reporting debacle has claimed its first casualty. Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price announced via letter that his is resigning his position, saying that he “bears full responsibility” for the glitches and mistakes that caused the reporting errors and massive delays. After the Caucus, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez voiced his support for moving the first voting domain out of Iowa in the next election. At that point, it became clear that local penalties would be paid, and Mr. Price becomes the first to do so.
In a surprise, Hendrix College, a frequent Arkansas political pollster (2/6-7; 496 AR likely Democratic primary voters), finds former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg taking a slight one-point lead over former Vice President Joe Biden in the Arkansas Democratic primary. This is the first reported poll finding both Bloomberg leading in a state, and Mr. Biden dropping from his former first place position in a southern domain.
The Hendrix results project Mr. Bloomberg to hold a 20-19-16-15-9% edge over Mr. Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), respectively. Obviously, these numbers suggest that the Arkansas primary, with 31 first ballot delegates at stake, is another state where multiple candidates will earn bound delegate votes on Super Tuesday.
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