Political Analysis - March 28, 2016

Political Forecast & Review - March 28, 2016

 

President

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) scored victories in Pacific Rim caucuses this weekend, as Democratic meeting attenders in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington went solidly for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s (D) challenger. Combined, Sanders averaged 74.7% of the vote in Saturday’s voting.

Though the Vermont lawmaker has won 15 states as compared to Ms. Clinton’s 20, the delegate count remains heavily in her favor. According to the New York Times Democratic aggregate national delegate count, Clinton has a 1,712 to 1,004 lead. Largely because of her support among the important free agent Super Delegates, the ex-First Lady continues on her path to the party nomination and now finds herself just 671 votes away from clinching victory. This means Ms. Clinton will only have to attract one-third of the remaining delegates from the 22 states and territories yet to vote. Through the first 35 states, her delegate conversion rate has been 63%.

The patterns largely repeat themselves itself in the Democratic race. Clinton wins in the states with large African American populations, Sanders dominates the white rural states, and the two largely break even in the mixed demographic entities. In the seven latter states, Clinton has won five close, or relatively close, victories with an average win percentage of 51.5%.

The campaigns from both parties see a voting respite until early April. The Wisconsin primary, set for April 5, is the next test for all the remaining contenders. New York follows on April 19, and the northeast regional primary scheduled for April 26 features Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Senate

North Carolina, a predictably close state that may become even tighter this November, is inching up the Democratic targeting list. Though regarded as the Democrats’ weakest candidate recruitment result in the nation, former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D) scored better than expected in her primary win (62% against three opponents), while incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) only captured 61% in his nomination election. Now, a new Public Policy Polling survey, the first taken after the March 15 primary, finds Burr leading Ross only 40-35%.

Considering that Sen. Burr is the first incumbent to be re-elected from his particular seat since 1968 (Burr won a strong re-election victory in 2010), the North Carolinians’ penchant for unseating their Senators remains a factor this year. Sen. Burr must still be considered a decided favorite to win in November, but the most recent developments suggest more attention should be paid to this campaign.

Looking at another critically important state, the Morning Consult firm conducted a poll of the Nevada electorate for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and again finds Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) leading former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) for the seat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) is leaving. Nevada is critically important for both sides in their quest to either keep or re-gain the Senate majority. According to Morning Consult, Heck’s lead has shrunk to 33-32%. The Congressman’s smaller margin is not surprising since Ms. Masto has been advertising heavily in the past several weeks, promoting a positive introductory media campaign.

Two primary polls were released in another pair of important states. In Pennsylvania, for a primary race to be decided April 26, former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-07) remains the Democratic leader, topping former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty (D) and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (D) 21-12-8% in a Franklin & Marshall College poll. The undecided margin is obviously huge in this poll, but that is not particularly surprising from F&M. Typically, their polls produce low decided results. The winner faces first-term Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in what will be a competitive general election.

The Public Policy Institute of California released a survey about the upcoming open US Senate contest. In California’s top-two jungle primary system that can send two members of one party to the general election, Democrats hope to advance a pair to the 2016 general. The latest survey again shows Attorney General Kamala Harris (D), the race favorite, leading the pack of 34 candidates who will appear on the June ballot. She claims 26% support, followed by Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s (D-CA-46) 17 percent. Democrats will hold the seat, but it remains to be seen if both Harris and Sanchez qualify for the general election.

House

The week’s House news mainly surrounds North Carolina. With the court-mandated redistricting moving the congressional primary to June 7 from March 15, the new filing period closed on Friday.

Several incumbents have nomination trouble as a result of the forced re-draw. Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC-02) and George Holding (R-NC-13) are now competing for District 2, which contains 57% of Holding’s current territory versus just 13% of Ellmers’. As a wild card, two-time US Senate candidate Greg Brannon (R), who just held Sen. Richard Burr (R) to a 61% re-nomination victory on March 15, jumped into the congressional primary.

In the Charlotte area, Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-NC-09), now in a drastically different district, faces former Union County Commissioner Todd Johnson (R) and former US Senate candidate Mark Harris (R), the pastor of a large Baptist church.

Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), who saw her district cut in two, decided to run in the Charlotte Democratic seat instead of the new open NC-13 that is closer to her home but much more Republican. In the Charlotte seat, Rep. Adams draws challenges from three sitting Democratic state Representatives and one former state Senator.

The open NC-13 in central-west North Carolina, a lean Republican seat, features 17 Republican candidates and five Democrats. Four state legislators and two local officials are among the GOP throng of candidates.

The new congressional seats have drawn a great deal of interest from state legislators because the state primary was held March 15. Therefore, the legislators can run for Congress in this special June 7 election with no run-off and not risk their state positions.