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Tag Archives: Marco Rubio
This week, the pace of the primary campaign begins to pick up. The Republican caucuses in Nevada will take place on Tuesday, giving voters very little time to digest the impact of yesterday’s results in South Carolina. (Does Marco Rubio narrowly taking second place over Ted Cruz give Senator Rubio much of a bump or cause much Damage to Senator Cruz? Where do the Jeb Bush supporters go?) Democrats in South Carolina — voting on Saturday — have a little bit more time to consider the not-yet-final results from Nevada.
By taking all 50 delegates in South Carolina, Donald Trump — for now — has won over 50% of the delegates at stake in the first three contests. However, Nevada returns the Republicans to the same system used in Iowa and New Hampshire — proportional allocation by state-wide vote. The win in South Carolina assures that entering Super Tuesday, Trump will be in the lead and will exit Nevada with more than half of the delegates at stake in February. (Currently, Trump is at 67 delegates out of 103 delegates in the first three states. Nevada has 30 delegates. Thus even if Trump got 0 delegates, he would still have 67 delegates out of 133, enough for a slight majority).
The rules of the Nevada Republican Party provide that, for the most part, fractional delegates are awarded based on the highest remainders. With 30 delegates at stake, a whole delegate equals 3.3333__% of the vote. However, to get any delegates, a candidate must get at least one whole delegate (3.33333__% of the vote). Based on the current Real Clear Politics average (which should be taken with a grain of salt, given the difficulty of modeling the Nevada caucus vote and the question of where Jeb Bush’s vote and the undecided vote will go). Donald Trump would get 13.40 delegates (which would translate to 14 delegates); Ted Cruz would get 6.38 delegates (which would translate to 6 delegates); Marco Rubio would get 6.06 delegates (which would translate to 6 delegates); John Kasich would get 2.23 delegates (which would translate to 2 delegates). and Ben Carson would get 1.91 delegates (which would translate to 2 delegates).
In the typical presidential campaign cycle, the calendar year before the primaries is spent doing two things — raising money and campaigning in the early states (almost entirely in Iowa and New Hampshire). The reasons for this focus are simple. There is not enough time after Iowa and New Hampshire for a campaign to raise the type of funds needed to “go national.” Additionally, several major states come early in March; so the campaign has to start working in these states even before the first votes are counted. Both parties have a history of candidates with surprisingly good results in Iowa and New Hampshire who did not have the resources on hand to turn those early results into a successful national campaign. On the other hand, as several candidates in this year’s campaign have already shown, failure in Iowa and New Hampshire mean the end of the campaign. For the eight candidates still running, the question after New Hampshire is simply what’s next.
On the Democratic side, with only two candidates, this question is simple. As 2008 showed, in a two-candidate race (especially with proportional representation), candidates need to run everywhere. The last South Carolina polls were in January, before either the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary, and the newest Nevada polls are even older. The demographics in South Carolina and Nevada are significantly different than the demographics in Iowa and New Hampshire. In the long run, whether this race will be close will depend upon if Sanders can convince minority voters and poor whites in rural areas to support him. While — in European terms — Sanders is a “pink” at most, his characterization of himself as a “Democratic Socialist” might become an insurmountable barrier to gaining these votes in areas in which he is less known as socialist is a “dirty word” to a lot of voters who do not understand the significant distinctions between various progressive political philosophies. While there are some potentially favorable states on March 1 (Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and maybe Colorado), Sanders needs to keep things close in Nevada, South Carolina, and the remaining March 1 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia).
The Republican side gives candidates more choices on how to play. The New Hampshire results have scrambled the field. If Marco Rubio had been able to follow-up on Iowa with a strong finish in New Hampshire, he would have become the favorite to win the nomination. His weak showing has given both Jeb Bush and John Kasich a degree of hope to become the consensus candidate. At this point, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz need to run everywhere. In the pre-March 15 states, while each state has slightly different rules, a general rule of thumb is that 20% state-wide and top two in each congressional district equals delegates. While Kasich, Bush, and Rubio continue to split the moderately conservative vote, the path is clear for Trump and Cruz to pad their delegate totals — making it harder for the candidate who survives between the other three to get the nomination.
For a couple more weeks, the primaries are still in the one or two states per week mode. With one or two states, it is possible to do a detailed discussion of the rules for delegate allocation and to clarify the “math” of winning delegates. Once March 1 hits, with double digit contests on both sides, the battle for delegates will become a multi-front war in which even the campaigns will be trying to figure out where the battlegrounds are.
While the parties did not have much choice about including Iowa and New Hampshire in the window of early states, the theory behind the early states is that all four are small enough and different enough to help narrow the field. While winning is nice, the real goals of the campaigns are: 1) to seem viable enough that supporters (both voters and donors) don’t go looking elsewhere; and 2) to meet targets for delegates. Candidates who are unable to show signs of life quickly find that their campaigns have no life.
While vote totals are not irrelevant to presidential elections (especially in the primary phase when trailing candidates quickly find that they lack the financial resources to continue), what ultimately matters is not the popular vote, but winning delegates (for the primaries) and electors (for the general). The delegate math heading into the Iowa Caucuses are different for the two parties for two reasons: 1) the stage at which delegates are bound and 2) the two parties do proportional representation differently.
In less than four days, voters in Iowa will head to some location in their precincts and cast the first official votes of the 2016 presidential campaign. Both because of its small size and because of the unique compositions of the respective parties in Iowa (compared to the national parties), winning in Iowa is not essential to winning either party’s nomination. What does matter is how Iowa sets up the rest of the race.
It is easy to define the Democratic Primary into three or four key questions. The Republican Primary is an almost infinite number of questions. However, they ultimately come down into several questions repeated over and over again — who makes it to Mid-March and when do other candidates drop out.
Right now Trump has a solid lead in the majority of national polls. While every state has some discretion over their rules, for the states within the two-week mandatory proportionality window, only Trump is safely over the 20% that states are allowed to set as a threshold for delegates. Additionally, when you add the other “non-politician” candidates, about 50% of the primary votes appears to be going to “outsider” candidates.
More significantly, there is little or no meaningful gap between a large block of candidates. There are currently five candidates with between 5-10% of the vote in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Right now, it is easier to define who will almost certainly not make it to March 1 (Graham, Jindal, Pataki, and Gilmore) then to guess who will emerge from the pack to save the party from Donald Trump.