Political Analysis - March 11, 2016

Political Forecast & Review - Week Ending March 11, 2016

President

We’re “all in” for Ohio on Tuesday, as the Buckeye State Republican Winner-Take-All primary looks to cast the direction for the remainder of the race.  With Donald Trump (R) looking secure in Florida, and the favorite to capture the state’s 99 Winner-Take-All delegate contingent, the Ohio result will set the course for the remaining 22 state contests. 

If Trump wins Ohio and its 66 delegates, then he can capture the 1,237 nationwide delegates to clinch a first ballot victory at the Republican National Convention in July.  Should Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) win on Tuesday, the likely national GOP result will be a contested, or “brokered,” convention.

Ohio and Florida are only part of the picture on March 15.  In addition to the Sunshine and Buckeye States’ Winner-Take-All formats, North Carolina (72 delegates) and Illinois (69) voters will also take their turns in their respective voting booths.

Currently, polls suggest that Trump will place first in Illinois and North Carolina.  Both of those states use the 0% threshold delegate apportionment option, meaning all candidates on the ballot will receive delegate votes consistent with their primary performance.  Missouri (52 delegates), which also votes that day, uses a Winner-Take-All by congressional district format, meaning the candidate placing first in each of the state’s eight CDs will take all five of the delegates allotted to the particular district. 

Assuming Trump wins Florida and Ohio, and achieves his delegate goals in Illinois, North Carolina, and Missouri, he will then need 53.4% of the remaining 983 delegates yet to be decided after March 15.  If Trump fails to win Ohio, then he will need 60.1% of the remaining delegates, which is an unattainable number.  The latter result will mean the Republicans falling into a contested convention for the first time since 1940.

The Democrats will also vote in the same states.  Hillary Clinton (D) enjoys big polling leads in Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina, less so in Ohio but she’s still strong there.  No available polling exists for Missouri.  It is likely that the former Secretary of State will reverse the downtrend she experienced when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) upset her earlier this week in the Michigan primary.

The Democratic campaign is still Clinton’s to lose.  Her overwhelming strength in the Super Delegate category – the Democratic elected officials and party leaders who comprise this particular delegate segment – and with African Americans still make her a lock for the party nomination.  The fact that she has had trouble dispensing with Sen. Sanders, however, made bode poorly for her in the November general election.

Senate

The Illinois Senate race is on tap for Tuesday, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R) and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) are both primed to win their respective party nominations.  Both have big polling leads against lesser challengers.

North Carolina Democrats are poised to pick a candidate to run against Sen. Richard Burr (R), but there is a good chance this lackluster race will advance to a run-off election. 

Several key Senate polls were released this week.  In Pennsylvania, Harper Polling finds former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-07), despite his well-publicized problems with the Democratic leadership, running well ahead of establishment-backed candidate Katie McGinty (D).  McGinty, the former gubernatorial chief of staff, ran for Governor herself in 2014 finishing fourth among four candidates, and only attracting 8% of the vote.  According to the new Harper data from March 1-2, Sestak has a 33-17-15% over McGinty and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (D). 

In general election pairings, Sen. Pat Toomey (R) leads both Sestak and McGinty.  The Senator touts a 47-41% lead over Sestak, expanding to 47-39% when isolated against McGinty.

Two Florida polls were released that project Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) with a new lead over fellow Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando).  Survey USA and the Washington Post/Noticias Univision both find Murphy now holding a discernible lead over Grayson.  Previously, the data had been favoring Grayson, the more liberal of the two candidates.

Finally, another Maryland Senate poll, this time from Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, finds Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-08) and Donna Edwards (D-MD-04) to be locked in a dead heat.  According to Gonzales, Van Hollen’s negligible lead is only 42-41%.  This race is expected to go down to the wire.  It will be decided in the Maryland primary on April 26.

House

The big House news is the Republican primary challenge to northeast Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA-09).  Former Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10), who relinquished his 10th District seat to run unsuccessfully for Senate in 2014, announced that he will make a comeback attempt against Collins this year.  His former district contained about 30% of the current GA-09.

Three others are also in the GOP primary against Collins.  The Georgia primary is May 24.  If a run-off is necessary because all candidates fall below 50%, that election will take place on July 26 between the top two finishers. This is a primary race worth watching.