Polls vs. Delegates

A trio of new Republican national presidential primary polls again give former President Donald Trump big leads for the party nomination, but countrywide surveys don’t always reflect the commensurate delegate count.

As we know, it is the latter process that will determine the eventual party nominee.

While the media likes to report national research studies because they are easy to explain, the national vote count isn’t necessarily a good indicator as to how the key states will unfold.

During the April 18-25 period, three national polls, from the Cygnal research firm, Fox News, and Emerson College were conducted. All largely found the same result.

Cygnal (4/18-20; 2,500 US likely Republican primary voters; online) sees Mr. Trump holding a 46-26-5-5% advantage over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, ex-Vice President Mike Pence, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, respectively.

Fox (4/21-24; 1,004 US registered voters; 412 US likely Republican primary voters; live interview) projects a similar Trump lead at 53-21-6-4% over the aforementioned contenders or potential contenders in the same order.

Finally, Emerson College (4/24-25; 1,100 US likely Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system and online) actually finds the former President with an even larger 62-16-7-3-3%, over Gov. DeSantis, Mr. Pence, Ms. Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. At this point, only Mr. Trump, Ms. Haley, and Mr. Ramaswamy are announced presidential candidates.

While these numbers may prove interesting, they don’t necessarily reflect what may be happening throughout the various states. Partisan presidential nominations are won through the accumulation of delegate votes individually through, on the Republican side, 56 state and territorial entities.

As the focus begins to shift to the key states, the Republicans will first go to the traditional Iowa Republican Caucus procedure on February 5th to begin the process. Following, will be primaries in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The Democrats have adopted a different calendar for 2024 that eliminates Iowa from the pre-Super Tuesday lineup and adds Georgia and Michigan, but the Republicans and the entire complexion of the affected early states have not yet agreed to those changes. Therefore, the final calendar is still considered in a state of flux.

Combined, the Iowa-New Hampshire-Nevada-South Carolina configuration accounts for only 138 cumulative delegates (IA 40; NH 22; NV 26; SC 50) of the aggregate 2,467 national convention votes. Though this number represents just 5.6% of the total delegate vote pool, the four early entities determine the early momentum before heading into Super Tuesday where 14 states holding a cumulative 837 delegate votes will conduct their primary elections. Included within this group are the two largest delegate rich states of California (169 delegate votes) and Texas (162).

The following shows the latest available polling in each of the key early and Super Tuesday states:

Iowa – Victory Insights – Apr 10-13: Trump +30

Iowa – Cygnal – Apr 3-4: Trump +7

New Hampshire – Univ of NH - Apr 13-17: Trump +20

Nevada – none reported in 2023

South Carolina – National Public Affairs – Apr 11-14: Trump +22

Alabama – none reported in 2023

Arkansas – none reported in 2023

California – Univ of Cal at Berkeley – Feb 14-20: DeSantis +17

Colorado – none reported in 2023

Maine – none reported in 2023

Massachusetts – none reported in 2023

Minnesota – none reported in 2023

North Carolina – Differentiators – Jan 9-12: DeSantis +13

Oklahoma – CHS& Associates – Mar 27-31: Trump +9

Tennessee – none reported in 2023

Texas – CWS Research – Mar 30-Apr 2: Trump +32

Utah – WPA Intelligence – Apr 14-20: DeSantis +11

Virginia – Differentiators – Feb 21-24: DeSantis +3

Vermont – none reported in 2023

As you can see, the state-by-state count through Super Tuesday is very different than nationally reported polling results. The fact that most of the states have no polling in 2023 or already outdated numbers suggests that the delegate count could presently be much different than what the national projections portend. In any event, the difference in national versus state count is wide, meaning the Republican race is not necessarily over before it starts.

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