US presidential election: Biden vs Trump

With Biden certain to be the Democratic nominee, will coronavirus damage Trump’s re-election prospects? Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

1:30pm Thursday Biden now leads Sanders by 1,199 to 902 in The Green Papers’ delegate count.

2:30pm The delegate count at The Green Papers has Biden leading Sanders by 1,178 to 884.  Biden is well on his way to the magic 1,990 delegates required, but several primaries have been postponed until June, so he’ll have to wait longer.  Overall popular votes are currently 40.7% Biden, 30.6% Sanders.

2:13pm Arizona casts most of its votes by post.  With most counties reporting their early postal votes, Biden leads by 42.8-30.0, and it has been CALLED for him.

1:42pm In late counting updates, Biden has won Washington State by 1.4% with few votes left.  This should have been a strong state for Sanders.  In California, Sanders leads Biden by 35.2-28.0, with still over 700,000 votes left.  Sanders’ lead has lifted from 6.6% a week ago.

1:30pm Some good news for left-wing Democrats!  With 72% reporting, progressive challenger Marie Newman leads conservative Democrat incumbent Dan Lipinski by a 47-44 margin in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ third Congressional District.   Dave Wasserman has CALLED it for Newman.

12:40pm With 38% reporting in Illinois, Biden is winning by 59-37.

11:30am Biden wins the Illinois primary, where he leads by 65-29 with 2% reporting.

11:12am Wednesday Biden has won the Florida primary, where he currently leads Sanders by 61-23 with 73% reporting.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

This is an updated version of an article I had published at The Conversation on Monday.

Four states were scheduled to hold Democratic primaries on Wednesday in Australia: Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona. These states will award 14.5% of all pledged delegates, taking us to 61.5% of total delegates. However, Ohio dramatically postponed its primary owing to coronavirus concerns. Polls close between 10am and 1pm AEDT.

Given Joe Biden’s crushing victories over Bernie Sanders last Tuesday, the Democratic contest is effectively over, and Biden will be the nominee. So the question now is how Biden will fare against Donald Trump in the general election this November.

Trump has alienated many highly educated voters with his general behaviour; these voters assisted Biden against Sanders in suburban counties. But most lower-educated voters did not care about Trump’s behaviour so long as the US economy was going well. And until recently the economy was going very well.

According to the official February jobs report, there were 273,000 jobs created that month, and an unemployment rate of just 3.5%. Inflation-adjusted weekly wages were up 0.5% in February, lifting the annual rate from zero to 0.7%. The Dow Jones index was above 29,000 points on February 20.

The coronavirus outbreak has heavily impacted global stock markets, with the Dow now just over 20,000. It has not yet affected the US jobs situation, with weekly jobless claims at 211,000 on March 7, about where they have been for most of the last year. The US Labor Department releases these reports every Thursday.

However, the health and economic impact of coronavirus will almost certainly worsen. There are now almost 3,500 officially confirmed US coronavirus cases, and this is likely to be a major undercount owing to lack of testing. Measures attempting to halt the spread of the virus, such as by closing restaurants, schools, sport and tourist attractions, will have an economic impact.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health System Tracker, the US health care system is worse than in comparable countries. About 49% of Americans have private health insurance paid for by their employer; if they lose their jobs in an economic downturn, they also lose their health insurance.

In 2010, Barack Obama and Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to assist the uninsured. In 2017, Trump and the then-Republican controlled Congress came close to repealing Obamacare. If there is a coronavirus-driven recession and health crisis, Democrats will use the 2017 votes to attack Republicans.

In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, Trump’s ratings with all polls are currently 42.7% approve, 53.1% disapprove (net -10.4%). With polls of registered or likely voters, his ratings are 43.9% approve, 52.4% disapprove (net -8.5%). His ratings have slid since their mid-February peak.

In general, the beginning of a major crisis helps incumbent governments. FiveThirtyEight has charts of previous presidents’ ratings, and George W. Bush’s ratings surged over 30 points to 83% approval immediately after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

At this stage, there is not yet a recession or a health crisis in the US. But Trump is vulnerable if either occurs. The economy has been Trump’s great asset. In my opinion, it’s the only reason he has a realistic chance of re-election. On health care, Trump’s ratings were close to their record lows near the July 2017 attempt to repeal Obamacare. Coronavirus poses a clear danger to Trump’s re-election.

In the RealClearPolitics average of national Democratic polls, Biden leads Sanders by a 55-34 margin, showing the contest is over. In general election polls, Biden leads Trump by 6.4%. Furthermore, in the four polls taken after March 3 Super Tuesday, when Biden took a strong grip on the Democratic nomination, he led Trump by an average 8.5%.

Israel: Gantz to attempt to form government

At the March 2 Israeli election, PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc won 58 of the 120 Knesset seats, to 55 combined for Blue & White (B&W), the Joint Arab List and Labor. Yisrael Beiteinu, which was once part of the right bloc, won seven seats. On Sunday, B&W leader Benny Gantz won the support of 61 Knesset members. He now has six weeks to form a majority government, which would require both the Joint List and Yisrael Beiteinu.

Six states’ Democratic primaries: live commentary

Joe Biden is very likely to win the Democratic nomination, with Sanders needing big breaks in today’s primaries. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont

11:50am Nate Silver on Washington’s count

11:40am In Mississippi, Sanders has 14.8% with all precincts in.  Mississippi has a large provisional vote, so Sanders may exceed the 15% threshold for statewide delegates once those votes are tallied.  Biden won every single county in the three M states.

11:32am However, there’s bad news for Sanders in Washington State.  The latest votes put Biden ahead by 34.8% to 33.5%, reversing a 0.2% Sanders lead in yesterday’s counting.  Dave Wasserman has called Washington for Biden.  Washington appeared demographically friendly to Sanders, and he may not be able to win another state-run primary.  There are few delegates to be decided by party-run primaries and caucuses.

11:24am Thursday In good news for Sanders, he’s the winner in North Dakota by a 53-40 margin.  ND was a party-run primary, not state-run.  There were only 14 polling places for the whole state, and just 14,400 votes total.  Left-wing activists are more likely to make up a greater share of turnout in such low-turnout affairs.

4:00pm Idaho CALLED for Biden.  He currently leads by 48-42 with 74% in.

3:53pm If Sanders stays in, next Tuesday is likely to be brutal for him.  Four big states vote: Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona.  Given Biden’s dominance everywhere in Michigan, he is likely to crush Sanders.  14.5% of delegates will be awarded next Tuesday, taking us to 61.5% of all pledged delegates.

3:49pm In the delegate count at The Green Papers, Biden now leads Sanders by 845 to 706.  Overall popular votes are 37.6% Biden, 30.1% Sanders.

3:44pm With 68% reporting in Idaho, Biden leads by 47-42.  The bottom line, no matter what happens in Washington’s late counting, Idaho or North Dakota, is that Biden is dominating with black voters and both higher-educated and lower-educated whites.  Biden will clearly be the Democratic nominee to face Trump in November.

3:30pm With 22% reporting in North Dakota, Sanders leads Biden by 45-34.  But there are only 14 delegates in this small, strongly Republican state.

3:18pm With 50% reporting in Idaho, Biden leads Sanders by 47-41.

2:57pm Biden has won every county in Mississippi and Missouri, and is barely losing two counties in Michigan.  In the 2016 contest against Hillary Clinton, Sanders dominated in rural areas where there were many lower-educated whites.  Not against Biden.

2:50pm In Mississippi, Sanders’ vote has dropped to 14.9% with 97% in.  If his vote stays at that level, he will miss the 15% delegate threshold for statewide delegates.

2:48pm With all counties reporting initial postal votes in Washington, Sanders leads by just 0.2%, 32.7-32.5.  Many of these votes were cast when other candidates were still in.  I don’t think we will get the remaining votes today; we’ll have to wait a week or two for them to come in.

2:16pm In the first results from Idaho, Biden leads by 43-33.

2:14pm Washington uses an all-postal ballot.  Votes that arrive before election day are tallied as soon as polls close.  With an estimated 64% reporting, Sanders and Biden are tied at 32.8% each.

1:52pm Meanwhile in California, Sanders’ lead has dropped to 6.7% today from 7.0% yesterday and 9% on election night last week.

1:38pm Some good news for Sanders: the North Dakota postal vote has him winning by 40-26 over Biden, but Biden is likely to gain when election day votes report.  Meanwhile, Biden leads by 53-39 in Michigan (55% in), 59-34 in Missouri (66% in) and 81-15 in Mississippi (77% in).  If Sanders does not reach 15% in Mississippi, he will not qualify for statewide delegates.

12:17pm Biden is leading by 54-28 in Missouri with 6% reporting.  There’s a large vote for candidates who have dropped out, which should drop as more election day votes are counted.

12:06pm With all polls now closed in Michigan, and Biden 12 points up without much from Detroit (Wayne county), Michigan has been CALLED for Biden.

11:50am With 3% reporting in Mississippi, Biden has an 83-13 lead.  Most of what’s been counted is likely postal votes, which skew to Biden, but that’s a massive margin.

11:46am CNN analyst Harry Enten

11:43am Biden still leading by ten points in Michigan with 10% reporting.  Twitter commentary suggests Sanders is losing white lower-educated precincts that he won against Clinton in 2016.

11:27am Biden leads by 54.4-41.4 in Michigan with 4% reporting.

11:20am Biden leads by 85-11 in the first Mississippi results.

11:13am Remember that Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally with a 15% threshold.  So margins of victory matter, not just winning a state.  A massive win for Biden in Mississippi will earn him many delegates.

11:07am Based on exit polls, Mississippi and Missouri have been CALLED for Biden.

10:42am Wednesday Polls close at 11am AEDT in Missouri, Mississippi and North Dakota.  Michigan has two time zones, with the majority closing at 11am, while the western bit closes at 12pm.  Idaho and Washington close at 2pm.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Democratic primaries will be held today in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington State. The result will determine 352 of the 3,979 total pledged delegates (9% of the total). Michigan (125 delegates) and Washington (89) are the two biggest states voting. Polls close Wednesday between 11am and 2pm AEDT.

Last Tuesday, Joe Biden won ten states to four for Bernie Sanders. In the next two days, the two remaining contenders, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren, withdrew, leaving a two-candidate contest for the remaining delegates. Biden dominated the south, but also had surprise wins in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Maine.

The delegate count at The Green Papers gives Biden a 681 to 608 lead over Sanders, but this understates Biden’s advantage. Sanders has an advantage with left-wing Democrats and Latinos, but most of the southwestern states, where Latinos have a relatively high share of the population, have now voted.

In 2016, Sanders benefited from lower-educated white voters aversion to Hillary Clinton, something Donald Trump exploited in the general election. However, the Minnesota county results show that Biden performed well in rural regions, helping him to a nine-point statewide win. This implies that Biden has a greater appeal than Clinton to lower-educated whites.

Biden is winning black voters by massive margins, and he is winning both higher-educated and lower-educated whites. There are few states with a significant Latino population left. An exception is Florida, which votes with three other large states next Tuesday. However, Florida’s Latinos are far more conservative than Latinos in the southwest owing to the Cuban Americans. Florida is also demographically elderly. Florida polls have Biden crushing Sanders.

Biden leads Sanders by 51-35 in the RealClearPolitics national average in polls conducted since last Tuesday. Biden leads Sanders by 22 points in Michigan, and has a small lead in Washington, which should be Sanders’ strongest of the six states. In 2016, Sanders defeated Clinton in Michigan after a massive polling error, but he was performing much better then with lower-educated whites.

There’s also bad news for Sanders from California’s late counting, where his lead over Biden has been reduced from nine points on election night to seven. Late counting in California usually skews left, but many moderates did not vote early, withholding their vote until they knew Biden was the moderate candidate.

Super Tuesday Democratic primaries: live commentary

Live commentary on the Super Tuesday primaries that occur tomorrow in Australia. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

2:35pm Friday Warren has dropped out, leaving a two-candidate race between Sanders and Biden.  The delegate count at The Green Papers currently gives Biden a 671-599 lead over Sanders, from popular votes of 35.1% Biden, 28.7% Sanders. In California, Sanders has an 8.4% lead over Biden with over 3 million votes remaining, but some of these will be Republican primary votes.  Late counting in California skews more left the longer it goes.

2:19pm Thursday Last night, Bloomberg withdrew from the contest and endorsed Biden.  No decision has yet been made by Warren.  In California, Sanders leads by 8.7% with all election day precincts reporting.  We should know approximately how many outstanding votes are left tomorrow.

9:53pm Conversation article up.  Biden is likely to win ten states to four for Sanders, and has a 102-delegate lead in The Green Papers count.  In 2016, Clinton had little appeal to lower-educated whites, and that’s likely why Sanders was competitive.  But Biden has more appeal to the lower-educated than Clinton.  Once moderate rivals withdrew, he consolidated the moderate vote.

8:37pm With 79% of election day precincts counted in California, Sanders leads Biden by 31.8% to 22.8%.  California takes FOUR weeks to count all its votes, so there’s lots of late counting to look forward to!

7:32pm With almost all votes counted in the Israeli election, the right bloc lost a seat, so Netanyahu will be three seats short of a majority.  It’s right 58 out of 120, left 55, Yisrael Beiteinu seven.

7:27pm The California Secretary of State now has 64% of precincts reporting, and Sanders is almost 10% ahead of Biden.

6:00pm Texas CALLED for Biden.

4:15pm Biden up to a 1.8% lead in Texas, and the Needle now gives him a 70% chance to win.

4:06pm Biden overtakes Sanders in Texas.  He’s 0.4% ahead with 60% of election day precincts in.  The Needle gives Biden a 56% chance to win Texas.

4:05pm The NY Times shows 23% of California’s Election Day precincts have already reported, but the California Secretary of State (the official results service) says only 4%.

3:47pm With 54% of election day votes reporting in Texas, Sanders leads by 1.2%.  The Needle still sees this as 50-50 between Sanders and Biden.

3:21pm Dave Wasserman has called Texas for Biden, but the NY Times Needle says it’s 50-50 with 34% reporting.  Sanders has a 3.6% lead.

3:18pm Massachusetts officially CALLED for Biden.  With 65% reporting, he has 33.4%, Sanders 26.7% and Warren 22.1%.

3:10pm With 93% of election day votes in in North Carolina, Biden’s lead is now almost 19 points, up from seven before election day votes.

3:03pm California not called for Sanders, but it looks good for hime in exit polls.  Biden likely the only other candidate who breaks the 15% delegate threshold statewide.

2:47pm Minnesota CALLED for Biden.  He leads by eight points with 57% reporting.  Sanders was supposed to win here.

2:45pm With 43% reporting in Alabama, Sanders is at 16.2%, close to the 15% delegate threshold.  Falling below 15% would be a disaster for Sanders.

2:34pm Sanders has won Utah, a stronghold for Republicans where the small Democratic electorate is progressive.

2:30pm In Texas, Sanders leads Biden by 5.6% with 23% of election day precincts in.  The NY Times needle has Biden very slightly ahead.

2:25pm Dave Wasserman projects Elizabeth Warren will finish third in her home state of Massachusetts, behind Biden (first) and Sanders (second).

2:15pm While I was out for lunch, Biden was CALLED the winner in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, giving him six state wins.  Sanders won Colorado, mainly due a split early vote.  Early voting dominates in that state.  Biden currently leads in Minnesota and Massachusetts, which Sanders was supposed to win.

1:01pm The NY Times needle gives Biden a 68% chance of winning Texas although Sanders currently leads by 6.6%.

12:58pm As the Election Day vote comes through in North Carolina, Biden increases his lead.  He’s now leading in NC by 11% with 29% in.

12:45pm In Virginia, where the election day vote was virtually all voters, Biden leads Sanders by 54-23 with 96% reporting.

12:34pm Maybe early voting will stop Biden from routing Sanders.  Biden is only up by seven points over Sanders in North Carolina with 12% of Election Day precincts reporting.  Biden not doing so well in votes cast before South Carolina and the withdrawals.

12:18pm With 66% reporting in Virginia, Biden is crushing Sanders by 30 points.

12:15pm Polls in Arkansas close at 12:30pm, then it’s Colorado and Minnesota at 1pm, Utah at 2pm and finally California at 3pm.

12:10pm As regards Texas, a small part of the state is in the Mountain Time zone and doesn’t close til 1pm AEDT.  Exit polls will be released then.

12:06pm Alabama CALLED for Biden, while the other 12pm states are uncalled.  In Massachusetts, it’s a close three-way race between Biden, Sanders and Warren (it’s Warren’s home state).

11:57am Biden is over 20% in the first Vermont results.  If he stays above 15% there, he gets delegates, which Hillary Clinton was unable to do in 2016.

11:49am Biden has a 55-23 lead over Sanders in Virginia with 32% in.

11:40am Count in Virginia is already up to 22%, and it’s Biden by a crushing 54-24 over Sanders with nobody else close to clearing 15%.

11:34am CNN CALLS North Carolina for Biden based on a large exit poll lead.  This is looking better and better for Biden.

11:27am With 1% reporting in Virginia, Biden leads Sanders by 51-25.  Everyone else is well below the 15% delegate threshold.

11:24am The next polls to close are North Carolina at 11:30am AEDT, then Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas at 12pm.

11:08am Sanders CALLED the winner in his home state of Vermont, but the exit polls suggest Biden will beat the 15% threshold there, restricting Sanders’ delegate advantage.

11:01am Biden CALLED the winner in Virginia by CNN based on exit polls.  He has a 63-18 lead over Sanders with black voters (27% of the electorate) and a 43-26 lead with whites (63% of electorate).

10:20am Wednesday With 94% counted in the Israeli election, right-wing parties have 59 seats (up four since the September 2019 election) and left-wing parties 54 (down three).  Likud is the biggest party with a 36-32 lead over Blue & White, reversing the 33-32 deficit last September.  It appears that Netanyahu’s coalition will be two seats short of a majority.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Fourteen states vote in the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries tomorrow, in which 1,357 of the 3,979 total pledged delegates are awarded (34% of all delegates). Delegates are awarded proportionally to vote share, but with a high 15% threshold that applies to both statewide delegates and Congressional District (CD) delegates. The more Democratic-leaning a CD is, the more delegates it receives. Polls close between 11am and 3pm AEDT.

A few days ago, it appeared likely that Bernie Sanders would come out of Super Tuesday with a large delegate lead over his nearest rival. Even if Sanders did not win a majority of Super Tuesday pledged delegates, such an outcome would have put him on course for a large plurality of all pledged delegates at the July Democratic convention. In those circumstances, Sanders would probably be the nominee.

However, Joe Biden had a crushing 28-point win over Sanders at Saturday’s South Carolina primary. In the next two days, moderate rivals Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar withdrew from the contest and endorsed Biden. There has not been enough time for polls to catch up with these developments, but they are very likely to assist Biden.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast has the chance nobody wins a pledged delegate majority surging to 63%. This does not necessarily mean a contested convention, as it includes cases where one candidate wins a strong plurality, and a deal is worked out before the convention. No delegate majority chances have surged because Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren are still in, and will be assisted in getting to 15% by the withdrawals.

Sanders now has just a 52% chance of winning more delegates than any other candidate, down from over 70% at his peak, while Biden’s chances have rocketed to 48%. The Democratic contest is now effectively a race between two men in their late 70s, and the winner will confront Donald Trump, who is a mere 73.

I recommend The Green Papers for delegate and popular vote counts. The next contests are next Tuesday, when six states vote that account for 9% of pledged delegates.

Netanyahu could win Israeli election outright

With 81% counted in Monday’s Israeli election, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc of parties had 60 of the 120 seats, to 53 for the opposition left bloc. If the right bloc wins one more seat, Netanyahu would have outright victory after April and September 2019 elections resulted in no government being formed. Yisrael Beiteinu, with seven seats, was unable to cooperate with either the Arab Joint List or the religious right parties before. This result comes despite Netanyahu’s November indictment on bribery and fraud charges.

South Carolina Democratic primary: live commentary

Live commentary on today’s South Carolina primary, where Joe Biden has surged back to a big poll lead.  Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.   The main general discussion thread is here.

10:49am Tuesday Overnight, Amy Klobuchar also dropped out.  She and Buttigieg will endorse Biden at a rally today.  Biden has risen in California, and is likely to easily meet the 15% threshold for statewide delegates.  The FiveThirtyEight forecast now shows a tossup between Sanders and Biden as to who wins more delegates.

10:45am Monday Pete Buttigieg has quit the presidential race.  This is likely to help Biden, as Buttigieg was one of the moderates.  Without such a crowded field, non-Sanders candidates are more likely to get over the 15% threshold in California, hurting Sanders’ delegate haul.

4:30pm With all precincts reporting, Biden wins by 48.4-19.9.  There were almost 528,000 Democratic votes cast in South Carolina.

3:11pm In the FiveThirtyEight forecast, there is a 60% chance that nobody wins a pledged delegate majority, followed by Sanders at a 28% chance and Biden 11%.  The chance of a delegate plurality is Sanders 64%, Biden 32%.

3:03pm With 96% reporting, Sanders has hit 20%, but Biden has almost 49%.  Over 500,000 votes now in SC, which makes it the largest turnout increase of any state so far, according to Nate Cohn.

2:05pm With 87% reporting, Biden leads by 28.6% in the SC popular vote.  The Green Papers has Sanders gaining two delegates for a 38-16 Biden delegate split.  If only two candidates are viable, as in SC, then half-delegates are the crucial line.  A candidate who is just over half a delegate gets the full delegate, while if they’re just under, they get no delegate.  On the latest results, Biden’s remaining vote fell below a half-delegate in one Congressional District and statewide.

Sorry if the above explanation is confusing!

1:50pm It’s a dismal showing for Buttigieg, Warren and Klobuchar.  Buttigieg has 8%, Warren 7% and Klobuchar just 3%.

1:38pm I recommend The Green Papers for tracking delegate counts.  They currently have Biden winning SC’s 54 delegates by 40-14 over Sanders.  After four states, Sanders still leads the delegate count over Biden by 58-53 with 26 for Buttigieg.  But remember only 4% have been awarded so far!

1:32pm With 69% reporting, Biden has a 105,000 popular vote lead over Sanders in SC.  That’s enough to give him the overall popular vote lead after four states have reported.  Also, Tom Steyer has dropped out of the Democratic nomination contest.

1:17pm With 57% of E-day votes in, it’s Biden 50%, Sanders 19%, Steyer 12%.

12:43pm With 27% of Election Day precincts in, Biden leads Sanders by 52-18 with 12% for Tom Steyer.

12:20pm With 9% of Election Day precincts in, it’s Biden 53%, Sanders 17%, Steyer 12%.  Sanders’ numbers are creeping up as more Election Day vote is counted.

12:12pm NY Times analyst Nate Cohn tweets that Sanders is doing much better on Election Day than postal votes in the ten precincts that have reported both.

12:09pm With 5% of election day precincts reporting, Sanders is up to 15.5%, above the 15% threshold for statewide delegates.

12:07pm Sanders had a big win in last Saturday’s Nevada caucus, but it was Biden who surged before SC.  So the big SC Biden win won’t necessarily help him on Super Tuesday.

11:52am The vote we’ve got so far is mostly postal votes.  Only five election-day precincts are in.  Sanders will hope he does better when more of the election-day vote comes in.

11:45am So far just two counties in initial results – York and Greenfield – where Sanders is above 15%.

11:33am So far, Sanders is at less than 15% in all counties reporting.  If that persists, he would be shut out of delegates.

11:25am First actual results have Biden with 70%, Tom Steyer at 14% and Sanders just 10%.

11:05am Biden CALLED the winner by CNN based on exit polls.  He has a 60-17 lead over Sanders with black voters, who made up 56% of the electorate, slightly down from 61% in 2016.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls in South Carolina close today at 11am AEDT.  It’s a primary, not a caucus, so it is handled by the state’s election authorities.  Shortly before the Nevada caucus, the RealClearPolitics poll average had Joe Biden’s lead over Bernie Sanders down to just three points.  But in the last week, Biden has pulled away again, and now leads Sanders by 12.5 points.  There is large variation in the Biden leads, from four points to 21 in individual polls.

Another favourable point for Biden is that in the last two contested Democratic primaries (2008 and 2016), polls in South Carolina greatly understated the victory margin for the candidate with more black support (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton).

In national polls, Sanders has 29.5%, Biden 18.4%, Mike Bloomberg 15.5%, Elizabeth Warren 12.1%, Pete Buttigieg 10.5% and Amy Klobuchar 5.0%.  Bloomberg and Klobuchar are down on last week, while Biden is up a little.  If Biden has a big victory in South Carolina, will that boost him enough to be competitive with Sanders?

As of South Carolina, only 155 pledged delegates, or 4% of the total of 3,979, will be allocated.  The biggest day of the primaries is three days later.  On Wednesday AEDT, 14 states vote, and 1,357 delegates (34% of the total) are allocated.  The largest delegate prizes are California (415 pledged delegates) and Texas (229).  Polls close from 11am to 3pm AEDT.

Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally, but with a high 15% threshold applied at both the state and Congressional District (CD) level.  So if a candidate is just below the 15% threshold in a large state, that candidate is likely to win CD delegates from variation in their vote share.

In the RealClearPolitics Super Tuesday averages, Sanders has 32.5% in California, followed by Warren at 15.3%, Biden 12.5%, Bloomberg 10.8% and Buttigieg 9.5%.  If this occurs, it will be a BIG delegate haul for Sanders from California.  However, US polls include undecided voters, so it may not be that bad for the non-Sanders candidates. In Texas, Sanders has 26.0%, Biden 20.0%, Bloomberg 18.7% and Warren 13.3%.  Biden needs a major boost from South Carolina to stop Sanders getting a large delegate lead in three days.

One complication for Sanders is that California takes four weeks to fully count all its votes.  Votes counted after Election Day skew heavily left.  Based on Election Day counts, the media could say Sanders had a disappointing night, and this narrative could impact his chances in later March states.

The only reason that Donald Trump has a realistic chance of re-election is the good US economy.  The coronavirus-caused stock market rout last week is bad news for Trump.  If the economy falters on an issue that draws attention to the US healthcare system, Trump’s ratings are likely to fall, and his re-election chances will deteriorate.

Israeli election minus four days, Germany and Ireland

Monday’s third Israeli election in a year will probably result in another stalemate. Also covered: the recent German political crisis and Sinn Féin surges in an Irish poll. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

There are global electoral events happening outside the US. On Monday, the day before the US Super Tuesday primaries, Israel will hold its third election in a year, after no government could be formed following April and September 2019 elections. This was due to Yisrael Beiteinu leaving right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. While Yisrael Beiteinu will not govern with the religious right parties (Shas and the UTJ), neither will they form a government with the Arab parties (the Joint List).

The 120 members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, are elected by national proportional representation with a 3.25% threshold. For most of this election campaign, polls gave the left-leaning Blue & White (B&W) a lead over Netanyahu’s Likud, but three of the last four polls have given Likud a narrow lead.

In Israel, overall alliances are more important than major party support. Even with the recent increase for Likud, the right bloc has 56-57 seats, short of the 61 needed for a majority. The left bloc (B&W, Labor and the Joint List) has 55-57 seats. The most likely outcome is therefore that Yisreal Beiteinu again holds the balance of power, but cannot work with either side.

Many people on the Israeli left thought this election would be different after Netanyahu’s indictment in November on fraud and bribery charges. But there have been many scandals involving Donald Trump and Boris Johnson that have had no impact on their popularity. It appears that the economy and other factors are more important to most voters than political scandals.

Israeli polls close at 7am Tuesday AEDT.

German political crisis in Thuringia

On my personal website, I covered the recent German political crisis in Thuringia, in which the far-right AfD and conservative CDU supported a small pro-business party’s leader to become state president. It is the first time that any German party has cooperated with the AfD to form government. While it caused the resignation of the CDU’s presumed candidate for Chancellor at the next federal election, there has been little impact on German federal polling.

I also covered two late January regional elections in Italy. The left held one region, but the right gained control of the other. In Taiwan, the centre-left candidate won a landslide at January’s presidential election.

Left-wing parties had a massive victory at the German Hamburg state election on Sunday, with a combined 72% of the vote. Hamburg was left-skewed compared to the overall German results at the last federal election.

Sinn Féin surges to 35% in an Irish poll

An Irish poll, taken after the February 8 election gave Sinn Féin a shock popular vote lead, suggests the party would win 35% if no government can be formed and a new election is required. The two conservative parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, that have dominated Irish politics, would respectively win just 17% and 18%. This would be a swing of over 10% to Sinn Féin. If replicated at an election, Ireland would have its first left-wing government.

Nevada Democratic caucus: live commentary

Live commentary on today’s Nevada Democratic caucus. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

4:06pm 88% counted now, and Biden will finish second ahead of Buttigieg.  I’ve done an article for The Conversation that emphasises the differences between the county delegate count (huge win for Sanders) and the initial popular vote (far less impressive for Sanders).

9:50am Monday Still only 60% reporting.  If Nevada was close like Iowa, there’d be another stink about the slow results.

4:30pm 43% now reporting, and Sanders has 47% of county delegates, but only 34.5% of the initial alignment vote.  He has 40.3% of the vote after realignment.

4:08pm CNN has more up-to-date figures on initial and final votes.  Using CNN’s results, I calculate that Sanders has 35% of the initial vote and 40.5% of the vote after realignment with 34% in.  Those figures are not as impressive for Sanders as his share of county delegates (47%).

Once again, we’ve had a dreadfully slow caucus count.  Hopefully there’ll be more clarity tomorrow.

2:10pm And it’s suddenly jumped to 22.5% reporting, with Sanders at 34% on first alignment, 40% on final alignment and 47% of county delegates.

2:07pm With 11% reporting, the Sanders margin is smaller on the first alignment votes.  Sanders has 34% on this measure, Biden 19%, Buttigieg 16% and Warren 12%.  On popular votes after realignment, Sanders has 40%, Biden 23%, Buttigieg 17% and Warren 10%.  On county delegates, 47% Sanders, 24% Biden and 14% Buttigieg.

Sanders is being assisted in the final alignment votes by being the only candidate who exceeds the 15% threshold in the vast majority of precincts.

12:20pm With 4% reporting, the Associated Press has CALLED Nevada for Bernie Sanders.

11:18am Once again (as in New Hampshire), the AP count, used by the NY Times, is well behind the count used by the TV networks including CNN.  With 10% reporting, the CNN results give Sanders a large lead in initial votes, but there are no percentages.

11:05am As with Iowa, the counting in Nevada is SLOOOOW!!  Just 3.4% of precincts have reported their initial alignment.

9:52am With less than 3% reporting, Sanders has 44% of the initial vote, 54% of the final vote and 55% of county delegates.  The initial vote is slightly ahead of the other two measures in precincts reporting.  Still a long way to go, but it’s looking like a big win for Sanders.

8:41am With 1% reporting, Sanders has 48% of the initial alignment, 53% of the vote after candidate realignment, and 52% of the county delegates.  Biden is a distant second with 18%, 23% and 26% on these three measures respectively.

7:33am The caucuses actually began 33 minutes ago.  First results are expected by 8:30am.  Entrance polls give Sanders about 35%, with the next highest at 15%.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The Nevada Democratic caucuses begin at 10am local time Saturday (5am Sunday AEDT). I am not sure when to expect results; they could come in the early morning, but may not come on Sunday at all, given the Iowa fiasco. Caucuses are managed by the party, not the state’s electoral authorities. It should be a relief that there are very few caucuses after Nevada.

Democratic delegates are allocated proportionally to all candidates who clear a 15% threshold, both within a state and Congressional District.  In the RealClearPolitics Nevada poll average, Bernie Sanders has 29.0%, Joe Biden 16.0%, Pete Buttigieg 14.0%, Elizabeth Warren 14.0% and Amy Klobuchar 10.5%. Current national polls give Sanders 28.7%, Biden 17.3%, Mike Bloomberg 15.2%, Warren 12.7%, Buttigieg 10.0% and Klobuchar 6.7%.

With these polls, Sanders is the only candidate far enough above 15% to be assured of clearing that threshold virtually everywhere. If these national poll results are reflected on Super Tuesday March 3, when 14 states vote and 34% of all pledged delegates are awarded, Sanders’ share of delegates would far exceed his vote share.

There is one contest after Nevada before Super Tuesday: the South Carolina primary next Saturday.  Biden needs a big win, but his lead over Sanders has plunged from 14 points in late January to just four points now.

Bloomberg had been gaining in the polls, at least before Wednesday’s widely criticised debate performance.  However, in a direct match-up with Sanders, he got crushed by a 57-37 margin in an NBC/WSJ poll.  While Bloomberg is winning the votes of those Democrats who believe only a billionaire can beat Donald Trump, most Democrats dislike giving the nomination to a billionaire.

If nobody comes near a majority of pledged delegates, there will be a contested Democratic convention in mid-July. Should this occur, it would be the first since 1952. If Bloomberg defeated Sanders at a contested convention, the Democratic party’s left would react badly to the perception of a billionaire stealing the nomination from their guy.

Assisted by the good US economy, Trump’s ratings are trending up.  In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval is -7.8% with polls of registered or likely voters. Trump still trails the leading Democrats in RealClearPolitics averages, with Sanders, Biden and Bloomberg leading by 4.5 points, and Buttigieg, Warren and Klobuchar leading by two points.