Great America PAC releases anti-Biden ad

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 26, 2019: Great America PAC spent six figures on an ad calling for an investigation into Joe Biden. Tom Steyer is airing a new ad on congressional term limits in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. blank    blankblank   


 Presidential poll highlights - Monmouth University (September 17-21, 2019)
Presidential poll highlights - Suffolk University/USA Today (September 19-23, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“It is easy to forget that Democrats won back the majority in the House last year by pressing their case on issues that shape the everyday lives of families. With impeachment proceedings underway, there will be little oxygen left for any discussion of health care or infrastructure or college costs or anything beyond the question of Trump’s fitness for office. And if the investigation turns up anything short of a slam-dunk case to remove him, swing voters might punish a party they see as determined to overturn the result of the last presidential election.”

– Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

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Special guest analysis

Jim Ellis is a 35-year political veteran who now analyzes election data for major corporations, associations, and legislative advocacy firms. He is president of EllisInsight, LLC. We invited him to share analysis on the presidential election.

Current polls are telling us that the Democratic presidential contest is evolving, at least during the present time, into a three-way contest among former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But polling and popular votes are not the only elements involved in choosing a nominee. Delegate votes are the third leg of the presidential political stool, and just when one of the candidates will amass a convention vote majority is anyone’s guess.

To qualify for either state at-large or district delegates, a candidate must exceed a 15% popular vote threshold. 

In examining polls from a sample of 11 states (including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, the four states that will vote first in February), only the three aforementioned candidates would qualify for convention votes.

To be nominated, a candidate must earn 1,885 first ballot delegate votes.  

According to current polling and the delegate formulas from the 11 states, Biden would establish a lead with an unofficial cumulative 40.2% of delegates, for a raw total of 482. Warren is second with 395 delegates, or 32.2%, and Sanders would have 328 committed delegates, which equals 27.6%. 

It is clear that no candidate is on pace to reach 50% on the first ballot. If Biden were on track to clinch the nomination under these numbers and tested states, his delegate total at this juncture would need to be closer to 680.  

If these estimates land close to the actual numbers, the convention process would become interesting. Going to the second ballot, superdelegates—those in the party elite that a 2018 Democratic National Committee rule change barred from voting on the first ballot—would regain full voting privileges. This means the aggregate delegate total would rise to 4,535; therefore, the winner would now need 2,268 delegate votes to win.  

If the candidates were to perform in the rest of the convention as they broke in the 11 studied states, Biden would end with 1,515 votes on the first ballot, some 370 votes away from victory.  On the second ballot, because 766 superdelegate votes are added to the total, he would find himself 753 votes away from winning.  

Many people believe the superdelegates would band together to provide the winning margin for a candidate, but in this example, Biden would have to secure 98.3% of the superdelegate votes just to earn a bare majority, which would be highly unlikely.  

Therefore, should the present polling patterns translate into voting, we could see multiple roll calls and delegates becoming free for the first time since the mid-1920s. At that point, all the candidates would be fighting for votes in a free-for-all atmosphere that could end in a most unpredictable manner.

Flashback: September 26, 2015

Politico described Tim Scott as a potential kingmaker in South Carolina and interviewed him about the 2016 presidential field.




About the author

Emily Aubert

Emily Aubert is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at emily.aubert@ballotpedia.org

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