Friday, January 22, 2016

Primaries: Texas Starts Third After Iowa, New Hampshire

Texas primary early voting starts third on Feb 16th, after the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1st and New Hampshire Primary on Feb. 9th. Heavy media coverage of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire Primary leading into the start of Texas early voting will drive election interest among Texas voters of both parties. That media attention will prime the turnout pump for the first week of Texas early voting.

Media coverage of Nevada's caucuses on Saturday Feb 20th, half way through the Texas early voting period, will keep Texas early voting interest high. During the last week of Texas early voting, media coverage leading into South Carolina's Saturday, Feb 27th primary will also keep interest high.

And heavy media coverage of South Carolina's Saturday primary results during the Sunday and Monday before Super Tuesday will drive election day turnout interest among Texas voters and voters in the other Super Tuesday state.


Iowa precinct caucuses will allocate 46 pledged delegates on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016.  The byzantine rules of Iowa Democratic Party caucuses give outsider presidential candidates a chance at legitimacy — or sudden irrelevance. Unlike Republican caucus rules, where all votes are counted equally, Democratic Party caucus-goers gather in groups for each candidate during a 30-minute alignment period. If a candidate's group count does not reach 15 percent of the total attendance count, its members must realign with a different candidate to be counted for delegate apportioning.

The complicated Democratic caucus rules are tilted toward normalizing the strength of candidates, especially in two and three person races. Only the number of delegates awarded in each of Iowa's 1,681 precincts will be published on caucus night. (video right documents a 2008 caucus.

No official record of the each candidate’s share of total caucus vote counts, which usually mirrors polling data, will be published. Candidates can easily tie in the precinct delegate count allocation, even if one candidate has far more support inside the caucus room. Whether the Sanders campaign or Clinton campaign is more successful at getting out caucus voters, they're relative delegate count reported by the precincts — individually and collectively — may in fact look more like a draw than a win.

Martin O’Malley, who has consistently been under 5 percent in Iowa polls, may be the suddenly irrelevant candidate on caucus night — but O’Malley supporters who show up will be the the most popular people in the room, along with any undecideds who show up. That's because candidates are required to meet a "viability threshold" of 25 of precinct caucus-goers in two-delegate precincts and 15 percent in precincts with four or more delegates to be eligible to earn any delegates from each precinct. (The majority of Iowa precincts have 15 percent viability threshold with four or more delegates.)

If O’Malley's campaign can't get enough supporters to precinct caucuses to pass the viability threshold test, his supporters, along with undecideds, will then be wooed by supporters of the other candidates with impassioned arguments for the candidate they support.

The Clinton and Sanders campaigns have undoubtedly spoken to every potential caucus-goer in the state by now and have noted and counted O’Malley supporters, precinct by precinct — and more importantly, their second choice after O’Malley. After an initial candidate viability count at each of the 1,681 caucus sites, Clinton and Sanders organizers will make their respective arguments to O’Malley supporters, if they make up less than a viability share of the people in the room.

Still, even with O’Malley's supporters, in the large number of precincts with an even number of delegates up for grabs, Clinton or Sanders would have to have an overwhelming majority of supporters attend precinct caucuses — individually and collectively — in order to significantly better the other in delegate count. Even in odd-delegate-count precincts, either would need a blowout turnout to significantly better their opponent in delegate counts.

According to a new CNN/ORC poll released Thursday, Sanders has an eight-point lead over Clinton, leading her in Iowa 51% to 43% among likely Democratic presidential caucus-goers. O’Malley polled at 4 percent. The poll shows neither Clinton or Sanders has an advantage as the second choice candidate. Sanders also leads former Secretary of State Clinton 47-44 percent in Iowa, in a poll conducted by the American Research Group released Monday. An Emerson College Poll of Iowa taken over the same period shows Hillary Clinton with a nine-point lead over Bernie Sanders.

The reason the Iowa polling is all over the map is because the data will vary depending on whether a poll is made up of Democratic caucusgoers or likely caucusgoers. The Clinton camp has been investing heavily in courting Democratic voters who have caucused in the past. The Sanders camp is looking to boost turnout in Iowa with a wave of Independents and new voters. Victory will hinge on who turns out to caucus. Anyone who will be age 18 by Election Day, November 8, 2016 may register as a Democrat at their precinct caucus.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire primary will allocate 24 pledged delegates on Tuesday, Feb. 9th. Bernie Sanders' lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire is on the rise, with the Vermont senator leading the former secretary of state by 27 points, 60% to 33%, a CNN/WMUR poll released this week has found. The new poll, mostly conducted before Sunday night's debate, found Sanders' support has grown by 10 points since a late-November/early December CNN/WMUR poll, which found Sanders holding 50% to Clinton's 40%.

New Hampshire Democrats' views on the race are solidifying as well, with 52% saying they have definitely decided who they will support, up from 36% who felt that way in early December. Among those voters, Sanders holds an even broader 64% to 35% lead. Sanders holds a 47-44 lead over Clinton in a ARG poll of New Hampshire also released Monday.

Texas - Early Voting

Texas primary early voting starts on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 and runs through Friday, February 26, 2016.

Nevada holds non-binding precinct caucuses on Feb 20th, half way through the Texas early voting period, and the South Carolina Democratic Primary date is Saturday, Feb 27th, the day after Texas early voting concludes.

Texas is the big post Iowa and New Hampshire prize on Super Tuesday with Texas Democrats selecting 252 delegates, including super delegates, for largest single delegate count of any state up to and including the other super Tuesday states.

Texas early voting voters will likely have cast about half of their total primary ballots by the time SC Democrats vote in their primary on Saturday, February 27th.


Nevada holds precinct caucuses on Feb 20th, half way through the Texas early voting period. No matter who gets the winning headline after the Feb 20th caucuses, the state’s delegate allocation process moves ahead to county-level meetings in April and a state convention in May where votes are taken before finally awarding its national convention delegates.
Update January 6, 2016 — Politico Hillary Clinton has been on the ground in Nevada since last April. Bernie Sanders only began building up his organization here late in the fall. But the state that’s been touted as Clinton’s firewall against the Vermont senator in the event he generates any momentum out of Iowa and New Hampshire is suddenly looking like it’s in play, potentially opening another unexpected early state front. That story may add momentum to SC and TX news coverage.
In mid-December, a Nevada poll found Clinton held a 51-39 11 point lead over Sanders. Overtime Politics is reporting new January 17-20 polling results found Clinton at 47 percent, Sanders at 43 percent, O'Malley at 3 percent, undecideds at 7 percent. Caucus delegates are awarded proportionally.

South Carolina

South Carolina Democrats holds their primary on Saturday, Feb 27th, the day after Texas early voting concludes. Though Sanders is doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire, and improving in Nevada, polls show him running far behind Clinton in South Carolina. Pundits and Party leaders said Clinton will dominate Sanders in SC primarily because of her overwhelming support among African Americans. His assumed deficit in SC is so great Clinton refers to the state in her speeches as “one of our first lines of defense.”

A new poll of self-identified Democratic South Carolina voters puts presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton with a 19 percentage point lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. The poll was conducted by the South Carolina New Democrats Jan. 12 to 15.
Super Tuesday

2016 Texas primary voting turnout may rival the record primary turnout number of 2008.  For example: In Collin County, Texas, for the 2008 primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, there were 384,000 registered voters. Over 72,000 people voted in the 2008 Democratic Primary and nearly 52,000 people voted in the Republican primary. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all but evenly split the vote at more or less 36,000 votes each. The early voting verses election day Democratic Primary turnout also evenly split with about 36,000 Democrats voting on election day.

In Collin County, for the 2016 primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, there will be about 500,000 registered voters, an increase of 116,000 registered voters over 2008. It seems reasonable to assume 2016 Democratic Primary turnout will be at least equal to the 2008 turnout number of 72,000, with that higher registered voter base. Hillary Clinton will likely again evenly split the vote with her 2016 opponent Bernie Sanders at more or less 36,000 votes each. The 2016 early voting verses election day Democratic Primary turnout will likely also split evenly with at least about 36,000 Democrats voting on election day.  In 2008, 21,000 Collin County Democrats who voted in the primary caucused in their precincts after polls closed on primary election day to allocate delegates to the candidates.

Texas Democrats will NOT caucus after the polls close on primary election day 2016: No More Texas Two-Step For 2016 Super Tuesday Primary

Election Day voters across all the Super Tuesday states will apportion 849 pledged delegates on March 1st. More than 30 percent of the delegates it takes to win the nomination will be selected by the Super Tuesday states. There are an additional 156 super delegates available across Super Tuesday states, include 30 Texas super delegates.

Super Tuesday states and delegate counts include: Alabama (60); American Samoa (10); Arkansas (37); Colorado (79); Democrats Abroad (17); Georgia (116); Massachusetts (116); Minnesota (93); Oklahoma (42); Tennessee (76); Texas (252); Vermont (26); and Virginia (110).

By the close of Super Tuesday voting on March 1st, 1,034 pledged delegates from Iowa through all the Super Tuesday states will be allocated to presidential candidates by the voters. There are an additional 186 super delegates available in those first states, many already pledging themselves to Hillary Clinton.

Date State (Elected Del + Super Del = Total) Delegates Cumulative
Monday 1 Feb 2016 Iowa (44+8=52) 52 52
Tuesday 9 Feb 2016 New Hampshire (24+8=32) 32 84
Tuesday 16 Feb 2016 Texas Early Voting starts (222+30=252) 252 -
Saturday 20 Feb 2016 Nevada (35+8=43) 43 127
Saturday 27 Feb 2016 South Carolina (53+6=59) 59 186
Super Tuesday
1 March 2016
Texas (222+30=252)
Plus 12 other states or territories (656+126=782)
Total (252+782=1,034)
1,034 1,220

Those 186 Super Delegates may be swayed by the preference voters show to one or more of the candidates - or not. The 1,220 delegates at stake in those first states is more the half of 2,242 delegates needed to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

The line up of post Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses come fast and furious in March with 17 more states and 2 territories committing 1,304 more delegates by the last Saturday of March. Including 212 additional super delegates from those states and territories, the post Super Tuesday contests in March add 1,516 delegates to the 1,181 committed and super delegate count already racked up through Super Tuesday.

By the end of March, about half the number delegates needed to win nomination will have been committed. Uncommitted Super Delegates who "vote their conscience" could lock up the nomination for any candidate who dominates Super Tuesday results, and then goes on to dominate the other fast and furious contests in March. Locking up the nomination by the end March is clearly Clinton's campaign strategy.

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