Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: February 15-21, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.

Notable Quotes of the Week

“The truth of Obama’s silence on the 2020 primary is that it’s not just about his obvious wish to stay out of the spotlight, but it also reflects a choreographed strategy. With the race looking more and more likely to grow bitter and messy, and maybe even wind up in a contested convention, the former president and those around him are increasingly sure he will need to play a prominent role in bringing the party back together and calming its tensions later this summer, including perhaps in Milwaukee, where the party’s meeting is scheduled to be held in July. So he is committed to not allowing his personal thoughts to dribble out in the meantime, directly or via leaks, conscious of how any sense that he’s taking sides in intraparty disputes could rock the primary in the short run and potentially undermine his ability to play this larger role in the months ahead.”

– Gabriel DebendettiNew York Magazine

“The [Knight study] confirms that nonvoters as a whole are fairly reflective of the broader electorate in terms of political preferences. If they were to all vote in November, 33 percent say they would support Democrats, 30 percent Republicans and 18 percent a third-party candidate. More surprisingly perhaps, and potentially more consequential for November, these numbers gently tilt in the opposite direction in many battleground states, with nonvoters choosing Trump over the as-yet-undetermined Democratic nominee 36%-28% in Pennsylvania, 34%-25% in Arizona and 30%-29% in New Hampshire. Wisconsin and Michigan mirror the national average, favoring the Democrat 33%-31% and 32%-31%, respectively, while in Georgia the margin is 34%-29%. This data challenges many long-standing assumptions of political experts.

– Colin WoodardPolitico Magazine contributing editor

Week in Review

36 pledged delegates at stake in Nevada

The Nevada Democratic Party is holding its presidential nominating caucus on Saturday. Thirty-six pledged delegates are at stake.

The RCP average of recent polling in Nevada shows Sanders leading with 30% support, followed by Biden with 16% and Buttigieg with 14%.

The Democratic Party said it would not commit to releasing unofficial Nevada caucus results on election night. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said, “We’re going to do our best to release results as soon as possible, but our North Star, again, is accuracy.”

Democrats spar over sexism, criminal justice in Las Vegas debate

Six Democratic presidential candidates debated Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada: Joe BidenMichael BloombergPete ButtigiegAmy KlobucharBernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

The candidates discussed electability, healthcare, criminal justice, foreign policy, sexism, climate change, economic issues, and immigration. Warren had the most speaking time at 16.8 minutes. Bloomberg spoke the least at 13.1 minutes.

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

Seven-figure satellite spending in Nevada this week

Several super PACs have waded into the presidential race this week. Committee to Protect the President spent $255,000 on a television and digital Spanish-language ad in Nevada criticizing Joe Biden on immigration.

new super PAC, Kitchen Table Conversations, was formed last week to support Amy Klobuchar’s presidential bid. It made a seven-figure broadcast, cable, and digital ad buy in Nevada and South Carolina.

The pro-Elizabeth Warren Persist PAC spent $800,000 to air a biographical ad supporting Warren in Nevada this week. After the announcement, Warren said she no longer opposed super PAC support since other candidates refused to disavow them.

Iowa heads to recount following recanvass

A partial recanvass of the Iowa Democratic results showed Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were separated in the state delegate equivalent count by a margin of .004 percentage points.

On Wednesday, Buttigieg requested recounts in 54 precincts in Iowa. Sanders also requested recounts in 10 precincts, with one overlapping with Buttigieg’s request.

In a recount, party officials hand count and audit the individual preference cards submitted by each voter.

Trump rallies in Southwest, Weld gets first major endorsement

Donald Trump held rallies in Arizona and Colorado and a fundraiser in California this week. He is holding his final rally of the week in Las Vegas on Friday.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott endorsed Bill Weld on Feb. 15, making him the first Republican governor to endorse a challenger to Trump.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Jenna Narayanan is a Democratic staffer with experience in political organization development. Narayanan graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in print journalism in 2002. She previously worked for NextGen America, a group Steyer founded in 2013.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2008 John Edwards presidential campaign, regional fundraiser

Other experience:

  • 2015-2019: NextGen America, vice president of development
  • 2012-2015: The Democracy Alliance, vice president of partner services
  • 2011-2012: New Democrat Network, vice president of development and strategic relationships
  • 2009-2011: Democracia USA, director of development

What We’re Reading

Flashback: Feb. 18-21, 2016

  • February 18, 2016: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders participated in town halls hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo.
  • February 19, 2016: The State Department released 1,100 additional pages of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state.
  • February 20, 2016: Jeb Bush suspended his presidential campaign after placing fourth in the South Carolina Republican primary.
  • February 21, 2016: The California Republican Assembly endorsed Ted Cruz.

What is the largest number of candidates who carried at least one state in a single presidential primary?

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