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.

New Hampshire Democratic primary live commentary

Live commentary on today’s New Hampshire primary. Also: Sinn Féin upsets the conservative duopoly at Saturday’s Irish election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont

4:05pm Thursday With all precincts reporting, there were almost 297,000 votes in this year’s Democratic primary, up from just over 253,000 in 2016.  So Democratic turnout in New Hampshire was well up on 2016, but this is partly explained by having an uncontested Republican race.

The final outcome is Sanders 25.7%, Buttigieg 24.4%, Klobuchar 19.8%, Warren 9.2% and Biden 8.4%.

8:18pm Conversation article up.  I argue that Klobuchar has a good case for being electable.  She won her three Minnesota Senate races by at least 20 points, far exceeding the presidential lean of Minnesota.  She’s 59, so she doesn’t fall into the 70+ category.

Also, the FiveThirtyEight forecast has the chance that nobody wins a pledged delegate majority up to 33% (one in three).  We could be heading for the first contested convention since 1952.  The next two contests are the Feb 22 Nevada caucus and Feb 29 South Carolina primary.  Then it’s Super Tuesday on March 3.

3:05pm Two US TV networks have CALLED the New Hampshire primary for Bernie Sanders.

2:50pm With 82% in, Sanders’ lead over Buttigieg down to 1.7%.  The NY Times Needle gives him a 68% chance to win.  Hardly a convincing victory in a state where he crushed Clinton 60-38 in 2016.

2:22pm Sanders’ lead over Buttigieg down to 2.1% with 69% in.  The NY Times Needle gives Sanders a 59% chance to win.

2:07pm Took a break for lunch, but didn’t miss much.  Sanders 2.5% ahead of Buttigieg with 64% in (26.4% to 23.9%).  Klobuchar has 20.1%, and both Biden and Warren have less than 10%, and will both miss the 15% threshold to win any NH delegates.

1:02pm CNN has Sanders still ahead in NH by 4.4% over Buttigieg with 41% in.

1pm The NY Times needle is now giving Sanders just a 53% chance to win, with 33% for Buttigieg and 14% Klobuchar.  However, Wasserman on Twitter is projecting Klobuchar will finish third.

12:47pm The NY Times needle is giving Sanders a 59% chance of winning, with Buttigieg a 33% chance and Klobuchar 8%.  But for some reason, CNN’s results are more up to date than the NY Times.

12:37pm With 32% in in the Dem primary, 27.8% Sanders, 23.5% Buttigieg, 20.0% Klobuchar.  Gap opening up between Buttigieg and Klobuchar for 2nd place.  Warren and Biden still at less than 10%.

12:35pm In the Republican primary, Trump has 85%.

12:25pm Dave Wasserman on Twitter

12:17pm 28% Sanders, 23% Buttigieg, 21% Klobuchar with 20% in on the CNN results.

12:12pm 28% Sanders, 22.5% Buttigieg, 20.5% Klobuchar, less than 10% for both Warren and Biden in CNN results with 17% in.

12:05pm CNN is back ahead of the NY Times, and has 28% Sanders, 22% Buttigieg, 20% Klobuchar, 9% Warren, 9% Biden with 14% in.

12pm With 7% in, 28% Sanders, 22% Buttigieg, 20% Klobuchar, 12% Warren, 7.5% Biden.  US election analysts on Twitter are saying Sanders should win.

11:50am With 5% reporting, the NY Times has 30% Sanders, 22% Buttigieg, 18% Klobuchar, 12% Warren and just 7% Biden.

11:40am The CNN New Hampshire results give Sanders 27%, Klobuchar 22%, Buttigieg 21%, Warren just 11% and Biden 8%.  That’s with an estimated 3% in.  So Klobuchar has had a massive surge in New Hampshire.

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 final RealClearPolitics poll average for today’s New Hampshire Democratic primary gives Bernie Sanders 28.7%, Pete Buttigieg 21.3%, Amy Klobuchar 11.7%, and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren both 11.0%. Most polls close at 11am AEDT, with some staying open until 12pm. Unlike Iowa, New Hampshire is a primary, not a caucus. Primaries are administered by the state’s election authorities, not by a party. Counting is slow in New Hampshire.

 Sinn Féin comes first in Irish election

 Irish politics has been dominated by two conservative parties: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. But at Saturday’s election, the far-left Sinn Féin upset this order by coming first on first preferences with 24.5% (up a massive 10.7% since the 2016 election). Fianna Fáil was second with 22.2% (down 2.1%) and the governing Fine Gael third with 20.9% (down 4.7%). The Greens won 7.1% (up 4.4%). Irish Labour has never been a strong party, and won just 4.4% (down 2.2%).

While Sinn Féin advocates a united Ireland, its success at this election appears to be the result of a campaign focused on homelessness and hospital waiting lists.

Despite winning the popular vote, Sinn Féin was second in lower house seats with 37 of the 160 (up 14). Fianna Fáil won 38 (down six), Fine Gael 35 (down 14), the Greens 12 (up ten), other left-wing parties 17 (up one) and independents 19 (steady). There were two more total seats than in 2016. A Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael grand coalition would have 73 seats, short of the 81 needed for a majority. Government formation is likely to be difficult.

In Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system, which is used in Ireland, leakage from within parties has occasionally cost seats. In Ireland, leakage is a bigger problem, as the ballot paper lists candidates alphabetically, not by party grouping (see Antony Green). To reduce leakage, Sinn Féin only nominated 42 candidates, and were unable to benefit as much as they should have from their late campaign surge.

Previous Irish elections have been held during the working week, but this one was on Saturday. Turnout was expected to increase, but it actually fell 2.2% to 62.9%.

Iowa Democratic caucuses: live commentary

Live commentary on the US Iowa Democratic caucuses. Also: Sinn Féin surges ahead of Saturday’s Irish election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

9:27am Sunday The exit poll for Saturday’s Irish election has been released.  The governing Fine Gael has 22.4%, the far-left Sinn Fein 22.3% and Fianna Fail 22.2%, so there’s only 0.2% between the top three parties.  The Greens have 7.9%.  The full exit poll is in the comments.  No vote counting in Ireland until tonight AEDT.

5:15pm Friday With all precincts reporting, Buttigieg provisionally wins Iowa’s state delegate count by 0.1%.  However, the AP will not declare a winner owing to irregularities.  We will probably never know for sure who won Iowa’s state delegate count.

Sanders won both of the popular vote measures.  He won the “initial” vote by 3.5% and the “final” vote by 1.5%.

4:37pm This tweet explains why Sanders is doing so well with these satellite caucuses.

4:35pm Late counting Iowa drama!  I’m not sure what the “satellite caucuses” are, but there were four of them, one for each of Iowa’s Congressional Districts.  Three of them have reported, and they are all very strong for Sanders.  There’s still one to go.

With 97% in, Buttigieg now leads Sanders by just three state delegates or 0.15%.  Sanders leads by 3.5% on the “initial” popular vote, and by 1.5% on the “final” popular vote.

10:41am In the FiveThirtyEight post-Iowa model, Biden’s chance of winning a pledged delegate majority has plunged from 43% to 21%, with Sanders up to 37%.  The probability that nobody wins a pledged delegate majority (contested convention) is up to 27%.

10:20am Thursday More Iowa results!  With 86% in, Buttigieg leads Sanders by 26.7% to 25.4% on state delegates, the measure the US media is using to call a winner.  Warren has 18.3%, Biden 15.8% and Klobuchar 12.1%.

On two other measures, Sanders is still ahead.  He leads Buttigieg by 24.3% to 21.6% on “initial” popular votes.  He leads by 26.1% to 25.5% on “final” popular votes after realignment.

4:05pm 71% of precincts are now in for the Dem Iowa caucus.  The latest 9% haven’t made much difference to the figures.

2:50pm My Conversation article on these caucuses is up.  We need to see if there’s a significant impact on national polls from these results.  The next contest is New Hampshire on February 11; polls close by 12pm February 12 AEDT.

There was a big moment in Trump’s State of the Union address today.  At the end of the speech, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi literally tore it up.

10:30am New York Times analyst Nate Cohn says results reported so far are representative of the whole state.

10am Wednesday We FINALLY have more Iowa results.  With 62% of precincts reporting, Buttigieg leads Sanders by 27% to 25% on State Delegate Equivalents, the traditional measure that most of the media has focussed on.  Warren has 18%, Biden 16% and Klobuchar 13%.

On the two other measures, Sanders leads.  He leads on the “initial” popular votes by 24.5% to 21.4% for Buttigieg.  He leads on the “final” popular votes after realignment by 26% to 25%.

8:15pm More than EIGHT hours after the caucuses began, still only 2% has been reported!  I hope we have better results by tomorrow morning.

3:57pm In Ireland, a new poll has Sinn Fein in outright first on 25%, with Fianna Fail on 23%, Fine Gael 20% and the Greens 8%.

3:43pm Nate Silver

3:15pm Turnout at these caucuses in on pace for 2016.  In 2016, 172,000 participated in the Iowa Dem caucuses, well down from the record 240,000 in 2008.  In 2008, the Dems had a charismatic candidate in Barack Obama.

3:05pm With 1.9% in, Sanders is on top with 28% followed by Warren at 25%, Buttigieg 24%, Klobuchar 12% and Biden just 11%.

2:57pm On the Dem side, we’ve only got 32 of 1,765 precincts reporting their post-realignment votes.  Much slower than in 2016, when 85% had reported by this time.

2:55pm In 2016, 187,000 votes were cast in the Republican Iowa caucuses.   With 83% in, 29,000 votes have been cast in 2020.

2:35pm Still only 1.7% counted, with Buttigieg leading Sanders by 1.3% after realignment.  Biden down to 14%.  Hurry up!!

1:56pm In the Republican caucus, Trump has over 96% of the vote.  Republicans love Trump.

1:54pm By “after realignment”, I mean after the initial division.  Candidates polling below 15% in a particular precinct are declared unviable, and their supporters are asked to pick a viable candidate.  Candidates originally declared unviable can become viable if they pick up enough to make it over 15% in the second round.  It’s explained in this Conversation article.

1:50pm The AP has Buttigieg leading Sanders by 27% to 24% on final alignment numbers, followed by 19.5% for Biden, 15% Warren and 14% Klobuchar.  1.3% of precincts are in.

1:40pm The New York Times results page now gives Sanders 408 final votes (after realignment presumably), Buttigieg 380, Biden 310, Warren 277 and Klobuchar 176.

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 final RealClearPolitics poll average for Iowa gave Bernie Sanders 24.2%, Joe Biden 20.2%, Pete Buttigieg 16.4%, Elizabeth Warren 15.6% and Amy Klobuchar 8.6%. As I noted in Friday’s Conversation article, polling for these caucuses has often been inaccurate. The caucuses begin at 12pm AEDT, and the process is described in that article. I will begin commenting on the results about 1:30pm after I return from bridge.

Elsewhere, the far-left Sinn Féin has surged in the Irish polls ahead of this Saturday’s election. Sinn Féin is equal first with Fianna Fáil in one recent poll, and two points behind in another. There is a chance that the two dominant Irish parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, will fail to win a combined majority of the seats. Both these parties are conservative. Other parties likely to win seats are left-wing, so a left majority is a possibility.

Polls in Ireland close at 10pm local time (9am Sunday AEDT). Exit polls will be released then, but no votes are counted until the next morning (Sunday evening AEDT). As Ireland uses Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system, it is likely to take at least a few days to finalise all counting.

And in Britain, Boris Johnson appears to want a hard Brexit on December 31, when the transition period ends.

US Iowa Democratic caucus minus six days

Polls show Bernie Sanders with a narrow lead over Joe Biden in Iowa. Also: the upcoming Irish election and yet more on Brexit. 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.

Six days before the US February 3 Iowa Democratic caucus, the RealClearPolitics poll average has Bernie Sanders narrowly leading with 25.0%, followed by Joe Biden on 22.0%, Pete Buttigieg 17.0% and Elizabeth Warren 13.5%.  Nationally, it’s 28.4% Biden, 23.0% Sanders, 14.9% Warren, 8.0% Michael Bloomberg and 6.9% Buttigieg.  In the last two weeks, Biden and particularly Sanders have gained, mostly at Warren’s expense.

Iowa is important because it helps to winnow the field of candidates, and candidates who exceed expectations often get a surge in their national voting intentions.  Three more contests are scheduled in February: New Hampshire (February 11), Nevada (February 22) and South Carolina (February 29).

The early states are important mainly to demonstrate strength; on “Super Tuesday” March 3, 36% of all pledged delegates will be awarded, and this could be decisive.  Delegates are allocated proportional to vote share in each state and Congressional District (CD), but with a high threshold of 15%.  That threshold applies to CDs, so any candidate who fails to break 15% in a CD gets zero delegates from that CD.

Biden has polled strongly with black voters, but not so well with whites.  Iowa is a virtually all-white state.  If, as some polls suggest, Biden nevertheless won Iowa, he would likely be the Democratic nominee to face Donald Trump in November.  If he fails to win Iowa, Biden is still well-placed when the contest turns to more diverse states.

You can see my Conversation articles for more on the US elections.  The strong US economy is Trump’s best asset.

Is Brexit over on January 31?  No

After the Conservative landslide at the December 12 election, Boris Johnson easily passed his Brexit deal through the Commons, and Britain will Leave the European Union on January 31.

However, there will be no major changes until at least December 31, when the transition period expires.  The transition period could be extended, but Johnson has ruled it out by legislation.  The transition period is time to negotiate a UK/EU trade deal, and pass it through parliament.

While the Conservatives hold 365 of the 650 Commons seats, 118 Conservative MPs rejected Theresa May’s deal when first put to a vote in January last year, and 75 in March.  Johnson would easily lose Commons divisions if those defections were repeated.

If Johnson agrees a soft trade deal with the EU, he is likely to anger hard Leave Conservative MPs.  If no deal were agreed, there would be a “no deal” Brexit on December 31.  With Brexit assured, there would be little incentive for hard Leavers to hold their noses and vote for a soft Brexit.

Also in Britain, there is a Labour leadership contest.  This will be decided by a preferential postal vote among Labour members, with the result announced in early April.  The main contenders appear to be the pro-Remain Keir Starmer and the pro-Corbyn Rebecca Long-Bailey.  A mid-January YouGov poll of Labour members gave Starmer a 63-37 lead over Long-Bailey, from first preferences of Starmer 46%, Long-Bailey 32%.

A Starmer victory is unlikely to help Labour in Leave-voting regions.  According to a YouGov post-election poll, the Conservatives won lower-income voters by a greater margin than higher-income voters.  They won those with the lowest education level by 58-25.

Irish election: February 8

The Irish election will be held on a Saturday.  Previous Irish elections have been held on weekdays, so this Saturday election may boost turnout.  The 160 lower house seats are elected in 39 electorates that each have three to five members.  Ireland uses Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system, so a quota for election is 25% in three-member electorates, 20% with four, and 16.7% with five.

Irish politics has been dominated by two conservative parties: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.  Currently there is a minority Fine Gael government.  Polls suggest Fianna Fáil will narrowly win the most seats, but there will be a large increase for the far-left Sinn Féin and the Greens.

Spain’s Socialists win confidence vote after election

I wrote for my personal website on January 8 that the left-wing Spanish government won its investiture vote by just two votes, 167 to 165.  Also covered: the left won the Croatian presidential election, a conservative/green government was formed in Austria, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu easily won a primary for leadership of his Likud party.