March 8 Primary Contests

Unlike past contests, in Tuesday’s primaries, a different candidate has an endorsement lead from state legislators. In Idaho, Ted Cruz is winning, in Michigan it’s Marco Rubio, and in Mississippi it’s Donald Trump (the only state he’s ever “won” this way).

Idaho

Hawaii

There are only 8 Republican state legislators in Hawaii, and one of them, Senator Sam Slom, has endorsed Ted Cruz.

Michigan

Mississippi

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Super Tuesday Endorsements

Super Tuesday is today. Below are the endorsement counts in 11 of these states. Note that Alaska and Colorado Republicans have made no endorsements of the 5 currently running candidates.

The pattern is clear: Marco Rubio is the overwhelming leader in 9 of 11 of these states. Ted Cruz has the endorsement lead in his home state of Texas, as well as Wyoming.

Rubio’s endorsement lead amongst the variety of Super Tuesday states is a testament to the idea that he is the most acceptable to most of the Republican party’s factions, as opposed to Ted Cruz.

Trump and Carson are complete non-entities when it comes to Super Tuesday endorsements, though of course they don’t seem to care much. Presumably Kasich does — and the party signal here is very clear, apart from 2nd place in states like Massachusetts and Virginia.

Alabama

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Arkansas

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Georgia

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Massachusetts

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Minnesota

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North Dakota

Two endorsements — both Marco Rubio.

 

Oklahoma

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Texas

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Virginia

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Vermont

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Wyoming

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Endorsements and the Texas GOP Primary

Super Tuesday is next week and Texas, with its 155 delegates, is the largest prize for the GOP presidential candidates.  As the home state of Senator Ted Cruz, Texas is an important source of support as well as having symbolic importance.  The polls in Texas produced different results although all have shown Senator Cruz leading in his home state (see here, here, here, and here).  Yesterday Boris noted that Senator Rubio has moved into the lead in terms of endorsements from state legislators as well as national legislators.  The Texas contest is also the first time that the presidential contest will not be the only election on the ballot for voters and that may well have consequences.

In Texas, 44 delegates are awarded on the basis of the statewide presidential vote and 108 delegates are awarded on the basis of the results in each of the 36 congressional districts (Josh Putnam has a great explanation here).  There is a 20% threshold both statewide and in each of the congressional districts in order to win delegates.  First I will describe the current state of play with regard to endorsements and then explain why the election in Texas differs a bit from the other states and why these endorsements might be helpful.

Looking at the big picture in terms of endorsements, Senator Ted Cruz holds a dominant advantage among members currently serving in the Texas Legislature.  In terms of percentages, 53.5% of the GOP members of the Texas House have endorsed compared with 53.2% of GOP members in the U.S. House of Representatives (including endorsements for candidates who have left the race).  Within the Texas congressional delegation, Senator Cruz has received endorsements from 8/24 members (only 11 have endorsed and notably the senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn has not endorsed).  To date, Senator Cruz has 43 endorsements from the 99 Republican members of the Texas House as well as the endorsements of 12 of the 20 GOP senators.  Senator Rubio has earned the endorsements of 8 GOP members of the Texas House and no members of the Texas Senate.  No Texas legislators have endorsed Donald Trump, John Kasich, or Ben Carson.  

tx endorsements

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The advantage Senator Cruz has over Senator Rubio is less pronounced when including the endorsements from retired members of the state legislature.  Senator Rubio has received 13 endorsements including a 4 former state senators.  Senator Cruz, on the other hand, has received no endorsements from former members of the Texas Legislature.

Texas is likely to continue the trend of record turnout in GOP primaries and according to data compiled from the Texas Election Project (@TXElects), turnout in early voting is ahead of both 2008 and 2012.  It is possible that turnout will break the Republican record in a presidential primary, which was set in 1988 when 1,767,045 Republicans went to the polls (far outpacing the famed 1976 and 1980 races).  The early speculation surrounding the increased GOP turnout is Donald Trump and that conjecture may well be correct, but it is impossible to tell from the early voting numbers.  Another plausible scenario is that Texas is conducting congressional and state primary elections in addition to the presidential primary on March 1st.  

Unlike previous states, many of the state legislators who have endorsed one of the GOP candidates for president are actively running their own campaigns for office so there might be more mobilization and activation of voters.  The Texas GOP is in the midst of a civil war over the definition of conservatism and support for Speaker Joe Straus (see Mark Jones here).  Speaker Straus (HD121) had supported Jeb Bush while key Straus allies Byron Cook (HD08) and Charlie Geren (HD99) have not endorsed in the 2016 presidential contest nor have some well-respected members who are retiring like John Otto (HD18) or Jimmie Don Aycock (HD54).  Using the ideal points from Mark Jones or those from Boris Shor, many of Senator Rubio’s endorsements come from House members near the Republican median or to the left of it while Senator Cruz has broad based support among GOP members of the Texas House.

One other factor shaping the GOP race is that each congressional district in Texas receives 3 delegates.  If a candidate receives 50% of the vote in the district, he collects all 3 delegates, but anything less and the delegates are awarded proportionally.  Mark Jones noted that there are likely to be substantial differences in turnout in congressional districts and in some cases create “rotten boroughs” where there are many fewer GOP voters and some of those districts will also be less conservative than the Texas GOP average.  The endorsements Senator Rubio has received could be especially beneficial in cracking the 20% threshold in some of these districts such as the 29th Congressional District (endorsement from State Representative Gilbert Pena), the 35th Congressional District (endorsement from State Representative Rick Galindo) and the 5th and 32nd Congressional Districts (endorsement from State Representative Jason Villalba) that are less conservative than the GOP average.
As the race in Texas draws to a close, it seems likely that Senator Cruz will win his home state, but the question is whether the support from a broad network of political allies can boost him past the critical 50% threshold to win more delegates than his opponents.  It will also be fascinating to watch the turnout numbers in districts that are much less Republican and see what kind of effect that has on the distribution of the race.  One final note, while the presidential circus will be leaving town, it may have a long-term effect as some candidates who “win” on March 1st may face a runoff election on May 24, 2016.

Marco Rubio passes Ted Cruz for endorsement lead

Over the past year, Ted Cruz has led the field in endorsements from sitting Republican state legislators. That provided a different narrative than Congressional endorsements, where Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio led for a long time.

No longer. The Republican party is turning to Rubio very rapidly, as can be seen below:

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In the past two weeks, Marco Rubio has accumulated an unprecedented haul of endorsements and is now the clear frontrunner, passing by Cruz. As of today, he has 301, or 41% of those making endorsements. Cruz has 258, or 35%.

For the rest of the candidates, the endorsement race has been very static. Kasich hasn’t had many new endorsements since early December and is stuck around 100. The same is true of Trump, who has barely got any new endorsements in 2016. Ben Carson has collected a mere 2 endorsements.

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These new endorsements are certainly welcome news for Rubio as the party seems to be rapidly coalescing around him as the alternative to Trump. Is it, however, too little and too late?

The State of the Nevada Endorsement Race

Today is the Nevada Republican caucus. Of the 34 elected and sitting Republican state legislators, 62% of them have endorsed a presidential candidate. Marco Rubio dominates the endorsement race, with 14 to Ted Cruz’s 6 and John Kasich’s 1. This differs from the national race, where Cruz leads narrowly. Rubio’s lead with state legislators echoes his domination of congressional endorsements in Nevada.

Here is how the endorsement race has changed over time. Note Rubio’s acceleration.

Including retired state legislators, the endorsement count looks like this: