Election News

South Carolina Primary: Overview and Live Results

February 29, 2020

The final Democratic primary before Super Tuesday will see South Carolina voters cast their ballots.  Live results and projected delegate allocations will be available here after the 7:00 PM Eastern poll closing time.

54 delegates will be allocated based on the results; the largest number of any of the four February contests. These will go to candidates getting 15% or more of the vote statewide or in one or more congressional districts.

Joe Biden looks poised for his first win of the year. His frontrunner status here had eroded earlier in February, after Bernie Sanders registered strong performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Biden appears to have regained the upper hand, if the most recent polling proves accurate. This comes after one of his better debate performances and the subsequent high-profile endorsement by long-time Rep. James Clyburn.  

There is no Republican presidential primary in South Carolina; it was canceled by the state party.  As South Carolina Democrats have an open primary, this has created an opportunity for Republicans to attempt to create mischief by voting today.  Whether that has any impact remains to be seen.

How a Sanders Nomination Might Impact the Electoral Map

February 27, 2020

Most presidential election forecasts at this point - and thus the consensus electoral map - are based on a generic Democratic nominee against President Trump.  That means the forecasts are largely driven by history, with some consideration given to the incumbent's popularity and the state of the economy. It is also why there aren't that many forecasts yet and why those that have been released have not shifted very much.  

All of that will begin to change once we know who the Democratic nominee will be, as each has strengths and weaknesses that will impact their likelihood of prevailing in the battleground states. 

To that end, Sabato's Crystal Ball is out with a hypothetical preview of how its Electoral College ratings might shift if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders becomes the presumptive nominee. They see the southern states of Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Texas being less attainable Democratic pickups in 2020. These 98 electoral votes could shift from Leans to Likely Republican. Virginia is seen as moving from Likely to Leans Democratic. Arizona and Nebraska's 2nd District - could move from Toss-up to Leans Republican.

These last two changes would shift the total from 248-248 to Trump 260, Sanders 248 and leave just Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as toss-ups. In this scenario, Sanders would need to win both of these states.  In sum, they see Sanders with a narrower path to 270 electoral votes - at least initially - reflecting how his policies might play in battleground Sun Belt states.

Read their full analysis here.

The first map below is the current Crystal Ball forecast, adjusted for these possible adjustments. Click or tap for an interactive version.

For comparison, here are the official Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings as of February 27. Click or tap for an interactive version (which will reflect the ratings in effect when you view the map).

Rep. Ralph Abraham of Louisiana Will Not Run in 2020

February 26, 2020

GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham said Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in 2020.  In his announcement, Abraham cited a commitment he made as a candidate in 2014 to only serve three terms in Congress.  The decision also comes after an unsuccessful run for governor in 2019.

Abraham represents Louisiana's fifth congressional district, its largest one by area. It covers much of the northeastern part of the state, including the entire border with Mississippi. It is a safely Republican district; Abraham won his 2018 election by 37%, while Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by nearly 30%.

37 current members of the House have announced they are retiring or seeking another office in 2020.

Sanders Projected to Win 24 of 36 Delegates in Nevada as Vote Count Nears Completion

February 24, 2020

As the vote count in Nevada nears completion, it looks like Bernie Sanders will win 24 of the state's 36 pledged delegates. Joe Biden will add nine to his total, with Pete Buttigieg earning three. Sanders takes the lead in delegates with 45.

In the interest of transparency, several vote counts were released by the Nevada Democratic Party.  The delegate allocation above is based on the number of county convention delegates earned.  However, it is not a direct relationship.  As in other states, Nevada's delegates to the national convention are divided up by geography.  In this case, 13 delegates were based on the statewide vote, with the other 23 split across the state's four congressional districts.

The 15% threshold for delegates applies to each geographic division. That is how Pete Buttigieg earned 3 delegates, despite falling short of 15% in the statewide vote. 

Next up is South Carolina on Saturday. Its 54 pledged delegates will be the largest number thus far.  Super Tuesday, with over 1,300 delegates available, follows just three days later.

The Road to 270: Massachusetts

February 24, 2020

The Road to 270 is a weekly column leading up to the presidential election. Each installment is dedicated to understanding one state’s political landscape and how that might influence which party will win its electoral votes in 2020. We’ll do these roughly in order of expected competitiveness, moving toward the most intensely contested battlegrounds as election day nears. 

The Road to 270 will be published every Monday. The column is written by Seth Moskowitz, a 270toWin elections and politics contributor. Contact Seth at s.k.moskowitz@gmail.com or on Twitter @skmoskowitz.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has raised some of our most famous and powerful political figures. John Adams, Daniel Webster, Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush - to name just a few - all have roots in this small, New England commonwealth. In recent presidential elections Massachusetts has been one of the most Democratic states in the nation. It was the only one to vote for Democrat George McGovern in the Republican landslide of 1972.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, Massachusetts wouldn’t vote for the Democratic Party until 1912, nearly a century after the party’s creation. Looking back at the state’s history helps to explain its flip from reliably Republican to staunchly Democratic.

Pilgrims to Revolution

The Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower arrived in present-day Massachusetts in 1620 and established the Plymouth Colony. The colony was followed by the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony that, unlike Plymouth Colony, had an official royal charter from England permitting the venture. Many of the newcomers relied on the ocean for a living and worked as fisherman, traders, and shipbuilders. This sea-based economy would eventually lead to the growth and success of the Boston harbor and the city itself.

Over a half-century later after their arrival, Great Britain unified the colonies in Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard into the new Massachusetts Colony. As before, the crown continued to overlook and ignore the colony and new towns, people, cultures, economies, and political institutions took root. Antipathy to imperial taxes and restrictions fermented unrest that led to clashes including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and eventually the Revolutionary War.

In 1788, fourteen years after the Battles of Lexington and Concord kicked off the war, Massachusetts would become the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

From the time the Constitution officially took effect in 1789 through the election of 1820, Massachusetts was a Federalist state. The war had pushed farmers and fishermen into manufacturing and the textile, coal, steel, and railroad industries became the new dominant sectors. The ensuing wars between Britain and France also gave American traders access to more markets than their European competitors. This led to a new merchant class in Massachusetts, further boosted the country's manufacturing industry, and helped spark the American Industrial Revolution.

Given that the Federalist Party advocated for a strong federal government to champion manufacturing and commercial interests, it’s unsurprising that the party dominated here during these early decades. The party’s nominee won five of the first six partisan presidential elections1 1This does not include the non-partisan elections of George Washington in 1789 and 1792. through 1816.  

Even after the Federalist Party’s collapse, Massachusetts continued to vote for the candidates popular in New England who aligned with their positions on Federal power, trade, and slavery. As the country polarized around slavery, Massachusetts voted consistently against the pro-slavery Democratic Party. From the party’s inception in 1828 through the Civil War, Massachusetts did not once vote for the party’s nominee.

Republican Dominance, A Hometown (Catholic) Hero

This anti-Democratic Party sentiment continued through the early 20th Century. Massachusetts voted for the Republican Party in each of the 18 presidential elections from 1856 to 1924 with the exception of 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt split the Republican vote, allowing Woodrow Wilson to win a plurality.

The population was not, however, completely unified behind the Republican Party. The state had a sizable Irish Catholic constituency which had arrived during the Irish Potato Famine and the American Industrial Revolution. Other immigrant groups including Italians and Jews also arrived and settled in Boston throughout the 19th Century. The new immigrants often faced discrimination from Protestants. A political divide formed with immigrant and Catholics voting Democratic and New England Protestants voting Republican. During the early to mid 1900s, Catholics in Boston and Massachusetts stayed put as other demographic groups moved west and south for new opportunities and jobs. The state’s Irish Catholic population continued to grow and hold political sway.

The Republican dominance ended abruptly and permanently in 1928. That year, Democrats nominated Al Smith, an Irish Catholic, who boosted Democratic turnout in heavily immigrant urban communities including Boston. Republican Herbert Hoover won in a landslide, winning all but eight states and losing only two — Massachusetts and Rhode Island — outside of the South.

Since then, Democrats have regularly won Massachusetts in presidential elections. The state voted for Franklin Roosevelt by relatively slim margins in each of his four elections, indicating that the state was still competitive. In 1952 and 1956, the moderate Republican Dwight Eisenhower ran on his strength in international affairs and brought Massachusetts back into the Republican fold.

The 1960 election marked a turning point for Massachusetts Democrats. Their party's nominee, John F. Kennedy, was homegrown and beloved in the state. A man born into the political aristocracy, a Massachusetts Senator, and a man of Irish Catholic descent, Kennedy routed Republican Richard Nixon here. While Kennedy edged Nixon out by just 0.17% in the national popular vote, he won Massachusetts by over 20%. Kennedy’s presidency and popularity, along with the liberal advocacy of the state’s prestigious universities, helped push Massachusetts towards Democrats.

Democratic Dominance Through the Century

Since Kennedy, Massachusetts has voted to the left of the country in every presidential election. It was the only state in the country to vote for the liberal Democrat George McGovern over Republican Richard Nixon in 1972 and it did so by a 9% margin. The only Republican to win the state after Eisenhower in 1956 would be Ronald Regan (himself of Irish Catholic descent) in 1980 and 1984, albeit by much smaller margins than he won nationally. Following Reagan’s reelection victory, Democrats have safely carried the state year after year.

In the mid-19th Century, Boston began its transition from a manufacturing and transportation-based economy, a process that started with unemployment and deindustrialization. Then, in the 1980’s, the state entered the period known as the “Massachusetts Miracle”. During this time the city’s technology, financial, and health care industries grew, largely due to the top-notch college and universities in the Boston area. The Miracle came to a halt in 1989 and the state entered a recession. The financial troubles would push voters to elect a string of fiscally conservative, socially liberal, Republican governors starting with William (Bill) Weld in 1990. The most famous of these governors is Mitt Romney who served from 2003 to 2007. Romney would go on to be the GOP presidential nominee in 2012 and is now a U.S. Senator from Utah.

Recent Elections

This Republican success did not extend to the top of the ticket. Starting in 1992, every Democratic presidential nominee won Massachusetts by double digits and no Republican nominee has won a single county in the state. In 2004, Massachusetts Senator, John Kerry, won the Democratic nomination and easily won his home state with a 25% margin even as he lost the national popular vote by 3%.

While the top-line presidential margins have floated in the mid-twenties since 2000, the dynamics within the state have seen some change. Suffolk County — which encompasses the core of Boston — shifted from a Democratic margin of 51% in 2000 to a 62% margin in 2016. Surprisingly, the state’s western, rural, sparsely populated counties also drifted towards Democrats between 2000 and 2016. Meanwhile, Plymouth and Bristol Counties on the state’s southeastern border shifted decisively, 26% and 9%, towards the Republican Party.

Comparing 2012 to 2016, however, Massachusetts counties follow the trends of the rest of the nation. The state’s easternmost rural counties shifted heavily towards Donald Trump while the urban and suburban counties in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton Metropolitan Area moved decisively towards Hillary Clinton. Additionally, 4% of Massachusetts voters cast their ballot for the Libertarian ticket which featured former-Massachusetts governor Bill Weld as the Vice President.

While Massachusetts has proven willing to vote for vote for Republican gubernatorial candidates, on the presidential level it is safely Democratic. The state’s real presidential contest will take place next week in the Democratic Primary. Massachusetts will vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, along with 13 other states on a day that may go a long way toward choosing the Democratic presidential nominee. Polling has been sparse here, but Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appears to be in a tight battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for top spot. Warren led earlier polling, but Sanders seems to have eliminated that gap with his strong showing in the early voting states.

Next Week: Tennessee

Reports in this series:

Updated Nevada Results and Delegate Counts

February 23, 2020

Bernie Sanders was the clear winner in Saturday's Nevada Democratic caucuses. However, not all the results have been counted, and the Buttigieg campaign is questioning irregularities in the vote.  

The estimated delegate allocation for Nevada is below, as well as the total to date. You can also see the results for County Convention Delegates, which is the count that translates into national delegates. As of this writing, a majority of delegates remain to be allocated; the tables below will update as more information becomes available.

For more on the process, see our overview of the Nevada caucuses.

 

Nevada Democratic Caucus: Overview and Live Results

February 22, 2020

The Nevada Democratic Party holds its caucuses Saturday.  This was preceded, for the first time, by an early voting period that saw nearly as much voter participation as the entire caucus count in 2016. 

Saturday's caucuses begin at noon local time (3:00 PM ET).  Results will follow - at some point.  The Party plans to have results out today, and hopes to avoid the issues that caused extensive delays in Iowa.  However, this is structurally a similar event, so we'll have to see how it plays out. For its part, the State wants to make clear that it's not on them if there are problems.

As in Iowa, there will be three sets of numbers released. Live results will appear below. 

Round One - First Alignment:  This will be the initial preference of caucusgoers across the state. The percentage results here should be somewhat consistent with the statewide polling that has preceded the caucus (if that proves accurate - there hasn't been a lot of polling here). In the final average, Bernie Sanders had a sizable lead at 30% support, with Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren in the mid-teens. 

Round 2 - Final Alignment: Candidates that don't receive 15% in Round 1 are considered nonviable. However, this threshold is determined at each individual precinct.1 1For example, a candidate receiving 18% statewide in Round 1 may not be viable in all precincts. On the other hand, a candidate at 10% may be viable in some. In Round 2, caucusgoers who have supported a nonviable candidate at their location will have the option to move to a viable candidate2 2Caucusgoers associated with a viable candidate in Round 1 are locked in. This is a change from prior cycles. or join forces with supporters of another nonviable candidate in an attempt to get one of them across the threshold.

Once this is complete, there will be a redistribution of votes cast early associated with nonviable candidates.  The early vote ballot allowed for up to five candidates to be selected, in order of preference. Should an early voter's first choice not be viable, their vote will be cast for the highest-ranking viable candidate.  Note that the number of early voting locations was much smaller than on caucus day. Those voting early could do so at any location in their county. These early ballots will be associated with the voter's home precinct on caucus day.

County Convention Delegates:  The final results are translated into county convention delegates. The person with the most of these is considered the winner.

Pledged Delegates: There are 36 pledged delegates to the national convention that are awarded proportionately based on the county convention delegates - for the most part.  As is the case in other states, a predetermined number of Nevada's delegates convention are awarded based on the statewide vote, with some awarded based on the vote in each congressional district.  Depending on how the results break across the individual districts, there could be a situation where these two results don't perfectly align.3 3This outcome happened in the 2008 Nevada caucuses, where Hillary Clinton won the statewide vote by over 5 points, but Barack Obama ended up with a 13-12 margin in delegates.

Republican Caucus:  There will be no caucuses on the GOP side; they were cancelled by the state party. The 25 delegates will presumably be awarded to President Trump.

Swing State Poll finds Trump Ahead in Wisconsin, Trailing in Pennsylvania; Michigan Close

February 20, 2020

A new poll by Quinnipiac University of key rust belt swing states show President Trump ahead of each prospective Democratic nominee in Wisconsin while trailing in Pennsylvania.  The race is closer in Michigan, with some Democrats slightly ahead, others in a virtual tie.  All three states voted for Trump by less than 1% in 2016; their 46 combined electoral votes propelling the president to victory. It was the first time in a generation any of these states had voted for the Republican nominee in a presidential election.

Senate Rating Changes from Sabato's Crystal Ball

February 20, 2020

A new update from Sabato's Crystal Ball indicates the prospects have dimmed a bit for the two most endangered Senate incumbents in 2020. The rating in Alabama has moved from Leans to Likely Republican, while in Colorado, the race has moved from Tossup to Leans Democratic.

In Alabama, Democratic Sen. Doug Jones is likely to face a more formidable GOP opponent than Roy Moore, who he defeated in a 2017 special election.  In addition, the vote will take place alongside the presidential election, which is likely to increase turnout heavily in support of Donald Trump.  The state's primary is March 3.

In Colorado, the analysis notes that Republican "Gardner has long appeared endangered by the Centennial State’s shift toward the Democrats. He has emphasized some local issues but has generally stuck with the president on the bigger-picture ones that are increasingly more salient in our nationalized elections. Gardner is in a tough spot: After distancing himself from Trump in 2016, Gardner risks losing his own base voters if he criticizes Trump, but if Trump again loses the state, voters may not have much reason to split their tickets in Gardner’s favor."

Should these two seats flip, it leaves the Senate unchanged at 53-47 GOP. That means Democrats would need to find 3 or 4 more seats to take control in 2021. According to Sabato, Arizona, North Carolina and Maine, in that order, seem to be the most fertile ground for the party at this point.

Click or tap the map for an interactive version.

 

Wisconsin 7th Congressional District Special Primary Election: Overview and Results

February 18, 2020

The presidential calendar is quiet Tuesday, but we will have results for the special primary election in Wisconsin's 7th congressional district.  The seat has been vacant since former Rep. Sean Duffy (R) resigned this past September to deal with family health issues. 

The nominees will meet in the general election on May 12, with the winner serving out the remainder of Duffy's term.  The seat, along with all others in the U.S. House, will be contested again in November.

The 7th district is the largest by land area in Wisconsin, covering the mostly rural northern third of the state.  Voters narrowly supported Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012, but swung sharply for Donald Trump in 2016; the president won here by 20 points over Hillary Clinton.  Duffy won reelection in 2016 and 2018 by similar margins. The general election is seen as Likely to Safe Republican.

Results will appear below after the polls close at 8:00 PM local time (9:00 ET).