On the Ballot kicks off RCV deep dive

Welcome to the Wednesday, December 6, 2023, Brew. 

By: Joseph Greaney

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ranked-choice voting deep dive begins
  2. Looking ahead at Texas’ March 5 primary 
  3. Four candidates to appear at tonight’s Republican presidential debate

December deep dive: On the Ballot series on RCV 

On the Ballot, Ballotpedia’s weekly podcast covering all things elections and American politics, begins a four-part deep dive into ranked-choice voting (RCV) this week. The series will take a comprehensive look at the emergent electoral system with four guests all taking on different parts of the ranked-choice voting story. 

Episodes of the On the Ballot ranked-choice series will be released throughout the month of December

Check out part one here. This episode kicks off the series with an overview of 2023 ranked-choice voting activity in the states, including ballot measures, legislation, new adoptions, and a brief look ahead to next year. 

Ballotpedia also recently unveiled a new RCV Info Hub, a resource to address the lack of neutral resources to help voters understand what RCV is, how it’s used, its history, and why people support or oppose its use.  

Keep an eye out for future episodes featuring:

  • Deb Otis from FairVote looking at the arguments in favor of RCV dropping on Dec. 7
  • Trent England from Save Our States diving into the arguments against ranked-choice on Dec. 12
  • Jack Santucci from Queens College CUNY with a comprehensive view of what’s to come for RCV on Dec. 14. 

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Looking ahead at Texas’ March 5 primary 

Texas’ filing deadline for state and congressional primary candidates is fast approaching on Dec.11, as 2024 primary season begins in earnest this week. Deadlines have already passed in Alabama, Arkansas, and Illinois, while California’s deadline is Friday. Texas’ primary will take place on March 5. 

Texas has a Republican trifecta. Gov. Greg Abbot is a Republican, and the party has a 19-12 majority in the Senate and a 85-64 majority in the State Assembly. 

Let’s take a look at what is on the ballot in Texas next year:

  • U.S. Senate: One seat is up for election. Incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R) is seeking a third six-year term. U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D) has declared his candidacy on the Democratic side. Texas voters last elected a Democratic U.S. Senator in 1988. 
  • U.S. House: All 38 districts are up for election. Republicans represent 25 and Democrats 13. Democrats gained control of one seat from Republicans at the 2022 election. 
  • State legislature: All 150 seats in the Assembly and 15 out of 31 seats in the Senate are up for election.  
  • State supreme court: Texas has two courts of last resort, the Texas Supreme Court for civil matters, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for criminal matters. Three seats on each court are up for election. Republicans currently hold 9-0 majorities on both courts. 

Texas’ next gubernatorial election is in 2026. 

Texas recognizes four official state political parties:

  • Democratic Party
  • Green Party
  • Libertarian Party
  • Republican Party

Texas does not allow write-in primary candidates. 

Click below to read more about Texas’ 2024 dates and deadlines.

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Four candidates to appear at tonight’s Republican presidential debate

The fourth Republican presidential debate will take place at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It will air at 7 p.m. CST on NewsNation with Elizabeth Vargas and Megyn Kelly moderating.

Each of the four candidates met a polling and fundraising threshold to qualify for the debate and signed several Republican National Committee pledges, including one to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

All four candidates also qualified for and participated in the first primary debate on Aug. 23, the second primary debate on Sept. 27, and the third primary debate on Nov. 8. Four candidates that appeared in at least one of the first three debates failed to qualify for the fourth.  

Former President Donald Trump qualified for all four debates but declined to participate in all of them.

Tonight’s fourth debate has the smallest number of participants in a presidential primary debate since three candidates participated in the second Democratic debate in 2016.

One reason for this smaller crowd: the bar for qualifying is higher now than in previous election cycles, with candidates required to meet polling and fundraising thresholds.

In the fourth Republican and Democratic primary debates in 2016, candidates only had to meet a polling threshold. 

Tonight’s polling threshold is 6% or more in either two national polls or one national poll and two early-primary state polls. All polls must have been conducted since Sept. 15.

In 2016, Republicans required a 2.5% average across three polls. In 2020, Democrats required at least 2% average in at least four polls, whether national or from an early primary state.

Tonight’s participants also need to have at least 80,000 unique donors, including 200 unique donors from at least 20 different states.

The Republican Party didn’t have a fundraising threshold in its fourth debate in 2016.

In 2020, the Democratic Party required candidates to have at least 130,000 unique donors, with at least 400 donors from 20 different states. 

And keep your eyes peeled for our recap of tonight’s debate. You can find our recap of the last Republican primary debate here.

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