Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: February 8-14, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the events that matter in the 2020 presidential election.

Now, we’re bringing you the highlights from our daily briefings in a weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.        

Notable Quotes of the Week

“A basic rule of presidential primaries is that the more quickly the field winnows, the sooner the eventual winner can reach the majority of delegates necessary to win the nomination.

We’ve seen a version of this before.

In 2016, a charismatic New Yorker with a devoted following nearly won the Iowa caucuses and won New Hampshire. A divided field kept voters from uniting around a single alternative. And his rivals remained in the race well into the spring.

His name? Donald J. Trump.”

– Lisa LererThe New York Times

“What it really comes down to is the number of candidates splintering the vote. If this number of candidates sticks around and through Super Tuesday and March 10, it just becomes almost a mathematical certainty that no one can claim a majority of delegates by July. It’s just math.”

– Addisu Demissie, former Booker presidential campaign manager

Week in Review

Sanders, Trump win New Hampshire primary

Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday night with 25.7% of the vote. Pete Buttigieg received 24.4% and Amy Klobuchar 19.8%. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote.

Democratic candidates must cross a 15% threshold to be allocated pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Sanders and Buttigieg each received nine delegates; Klobuchar earned six.

Donald Trump won the Republican primary with 85.6% support. He was allocated all 22 of the state’s delegates. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld came in second with 9.1% of the vote.

Seven Democrats debate electability, healthcare in New Hampshire

Seven Democratic presidential candidates debated last Friday night in Manchester, New Hampshire: Joe BidenPete ButtigiegAmy KlobucharBernie SandersTom SteyerElizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.

The candidates discussed electability, healthcare, impeachment, foreign policy, drug policy, gun policy, the Supreme Court, race, and climate change. Sanders had the most speaking time at 20.1 minutes. Yang spoke the least at 8.1 minutes.

For highlights from the debate for each candidate, click here.

Iowa caucus update

Following the Iowa caucuses, the state Democratic Party projected Pete Buttigieg will win 14 pledged delegates, Bernie Sanders 12, Elizabeth Warren eight, Joe Biden six, and Amy Klobuchar one.

Sanders, who won the popular vote, requested a partial recanvass of the results in 25 precincts and three satellite caucuses. Buttigieg also requested a partial recanvass, saying it would result in a net increase of 14 state delegate equivalents for him.

The Iowa Democratic Party will begin a partial recanvass of the caucus results on Sunday.

Bennet, Yang, Patrick end presidential campaigns

Following the New Hampshire primaryMichael Bennet and Andrew Yang ended their presidential campaigns on Tuesday night.

Bennet said, “I love our country. I love the idea of democracy. And I want to pass it on to the next generation. I feel nothing but joy tonight as we conclude this campaign and this chapter. Tonight wasn’t our night. But New Hampshire, you may see me once again.

Yang said in a speech to supporters, “While there is great work left to be done, you know I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race. I am not someone who wants to accept donations and support in a race that we will not win.”

Deval Patrick ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday. He said in a statement that  “the vote in New Hampshire last night was not enough for us to create the practical wind at the campaign’s back to go on to the next round of voting.”

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Jamal Brown is a Democratic staffer with experience in political communications. Brown graduated from Dartmouth College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and government and women’s and gender studies in 2008. He has no previous election campaign experience.

Other experience:

  • 2018-2019: The School of the New York Times, marketing consultant
  • 2018-2019: When We All Vote, director of regional press
  • 2017-2019: Civic Advisors, strategic communications consultant
  • 2017: Civitas Public Affairs Group, senior associate
  • 2011-2016: The White House Office of Management and Budget
    • 2015-2016: Press secretary
    • 2014-2015: Deputy press secretary
    • 2012-2014: Assistant press secretary
    • 2011-2012: Confidential assistant
    • 2011: Intern
  • 2009-2011: MassEquality, member of the board of directors
  • 2008-2011: GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, senior legal assistant

What he says about Biden: “I am thrilled and honored to work for someone with a clear and established progressive record on a range of issues, including climate change, criminal justice, violence against women, marriage equality, gun control and more. To work for an individual who has not only dedicated their life to public service but [is] a leader who can admit when they’re wrong, and take the necessary steps to course correct, is rare.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: February 10-14, 2016

  • February 10, 2016: Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie suspended their presidential campaigns after finishing outside of the top five candidates in the New Hampshire Republican primary.
  • February 11, 2016: The Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton.
  • February 12, 2016: Jim Gilmore ended his presidential campaign.
  • February 13, 2016: Six Republicans participated in the ninth presidential primary debate in South Carolina.
  • February 14, 2016: The presidential candidates reacted to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the vacancy on the court.

Since 1976, how many presidential candidates have won the New Hampshire primary and their party’s nomination after losing the Iowa caucuses?

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.

While Hawkeye State voters attended meetings in 1,765 precincts and submitted their first- and second-round ballots as instructed, the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) organizers experienced a major reporting system breakdown that delayed counting and verification for a period of days. At the end of the week, the IDP was able to release vote totals even though Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez was publicly calling for them to recount every ballot because of what he claimed were potential tabulation errors.

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is being credited with the win because he scored a razor-thin 26.2 to 26.1% edge in State Delegate Equivalents even though Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recorded 6,103 more votes than Buttigieg on the first ballot and 2,568 more on the second, or vote alignment, round. The quirk in the rules—which, much like the Electoral College, weighs larger population areas with a greater delegate composition—allowed the media to crown Buttigieg the winner, but it is Sanders who actually attracted the greater number of votes.

In the Iowa system, the caucus attendees vote for president, but in doing so they elect delegates to the Iowa Democratic Convention, which will be held June 13. At that time, the elected delegates will assign the state’s 41 Democratic National Convention delegates. The initial projection suggests that Buttigieg will receive 14 national delegates, Sanders 12, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) 8, former Vice President Joe Biden 6, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) one.

What we do know is that the five candidates advancing into New Hampshire with Iowa delegates are very much alive to compete for the nomination. On the outside, former New York City Michael Bloomberg appears as the sixth candidate with the financial ability to compete to the end, but it’s unclear as to whether he can amass anything close to a majority within the state delegate counts.

Perhaps the luckiest candidate in the Iowa field is Mr. Biden. His fourth-place finish with half the votes Sanders garnered was highly disappointing and well below expectations.  With the Iowa vote now lacking credibility, however, he can escape, to a degree, from what would otherwise have been a potentially major momentum setback. A rebound in New Hampshire and then Nevada is now a must for his campaign.

The Iowa result, after more than a year of campaigning for these candidates, is anticlimactic and now endangers the state from continuing to have a prominent nomination position in future elections. Tonight’s New Hampshire primary could produce an equally tight finish. Considering the Iowa debacle, it looks like the campaign will now begin in earnest in the Granite State.

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