Political Analysis - April 8, 2016

Political Forecast & Review - April 8, 2016



The political week began with surprising Wisconsin presidential primary victories for both Sens. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Each exceeded expectations even though both were projected to win. Sanders’ 56-43% victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) beat all predictions. Yet, he received only ten more delegates than she because of her strength among Democratic Super Delegates. Clinton needs only 31% of the remaining Democratic delegates in 21 states and territories to clinch the party presidential nomination. 

Sen. Cruz, using the Wisconsin Winner-Take-All by congressional district Republican system to his advantage, took 36 Badger State delegates. Donald Trump (R) received the remaining six, a poor performance in his quest to achieve a first ballot victory when the Republican national convention begins in Cleveland on July 18.

If Trump fails to rebound strongly in New York April 19 primary, and then in the five-state eastern regional primary April 26, his chances of obtaining the 1,237 delegates needed to win virtually dissipate. Sen. Cruz then conceivably gains the upper hand because his campaign has done the necessary groundwork in so many states relating to the delegate selection process.

Trump, on the other hand, has been a day late and a dollar short in understanding and utilizing the delegate process. Therefore, when the bound delegates are released, which in most states is after the first ballot, we will almost assuredly see a lessening of Trump support in favor of Cruz. This could result in a multi-ballot roll call convention for the first time since the 1940s.

Looking at the rules of the convention, it appears very difficult for any outside candidate to emerge despite many media reports to the contrary. Therefore, it is most likely that either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will emerge as the Republican nominee.  Gov. John Kasich, still in the race but doing poorly, remains in decent position because of his delegate base, particularly the 66 strong in Ohio by virtue of his Winner-Take-All victory in his home state. Could he parlay is delegate base into the Vice Presidential slot on the Republican ticket? Very possibly.


Despite the Democratic Party leadership pulling out all of the stops to elect their chosen Pennsylvania Senate candidate, former environmental department head and gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty (D), the polls suggest this race is evolving differently. A new Harbor Polling survey for the April 26 primary continues to show former Congressman and 2010 US Senate nominee Joe Sestak (D-PA-7) leading the race. The Sestak spread is 41-31-9% over McGinty and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (D). 

Even the general election ballot test results do not support the Democratic leadership’s argument as to why she should be the candidate. They often say that McGinty will run stronger against incumbent Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). But, the data doesn’t support this argument. The Harper Polling general election sample finds that Sestak actually performs one point better against Toomey. In any event, the Pennsylvania race will be hard fought in the general election and is one of the states that will determine weather Democrats or Republicans control the Senate in the next Congress. 

In Wisconsin, yet another new Senate poll, this one from the Emerson College Polling Society, finds Sen. Ron Johnson (R) closing on former Sen. Russ Feingold (D). This new data yields a 48-44% spread in Feingold’s favor, and is the fourth consecutive poll to show the race in single digits. Before, Feingold consistently posted large double-digit leads over Johnson. Like Pennsylvania, the Wisconsin race will go a long way toward determining the next Senate majority.


New Jersey and Virginia candidate filing periods closed during the week. New Jersey sports one highly competitive campaign, as Rep. Scott Garrett (R) defends his northern NJ-5 against former Clinton speechwriter Josh Gottheimer (D). The campaign will be very expensive and the electorate is politically marginal. Rep. Garrett finds himself at the center of controversy over his actions opposing the National Republican Congressional Committee backing gay candidates. This will be a race to watch.

In Virginia, the court-mandated redistricting plan changed the VA-4 from a Republican seat to a Democratic one. The person poised to win the newly configured district is the lone Democrat to enter the campaign, state Sen. Donald McEachin (D). Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4), who can no longer win the Democratic 4th District, has moved into the open VA-2 with encouragement from retiring Rep. Scott Rigell (R). Forbes must face state Delegate Scott Taylor (R) in the Republican primary. Democrats fielded only a minor candidate for the general election, so if Forbes can successfully complete the move and win the party nomination on June 14, the seat will be his.