Posted: April 21, 2016


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

A presidential primary in Delaware means never having to get stuck with a loser. Not in this century.

The state has a little streak going. Actually, it seems to have a way with presidential streaks.

Delaware once went 12 elections in a row, voting for the candidate who won the White House, and it was hardly the state's fault when Florida's infamous hanging chad stopped the run, but never mind.

As the streak for voting the right way for president was going down with Al Gore in 2000, a new one was cranking up in the presidential primaries. The state has gone every time for whoever eventually locked down the nomination.

Democrats or Republicans, it does not matter. Both parties can hear that bandwagon coming.

Year President Top Democrats Vote Top Republicans Vote

















no primary














no primary






The Democrats voted for Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, and the Republicans for George Bush in 2000, John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, as state election records show. Neither party has a primary when it is re-nominating a sitting president who is unchallenged.

Both parties are going to the polls in 2016, when Delaware votes on Tuesday during an "Atlantic Primary Day" along with Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

So? Hillary Clinton? Donald Trump?

They are the front-runners, although the delegate math is currently adding up better for Clinton to clinch the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia by securing 2,382 delegates than for Trump to be assured of the Republican nomination in Cleveland by getting to 1,237 delegates, when the national conventions are held in July.

Still, it is hard to tell what will happen here. As far as pollsters are concerned, Delaware is like coal in the Christmas stocking. Nobody wants it.

Nate Silver, the political swami who runs the FiveThirtyEight prognostication Web site, which takes its name from the total number of votes in the Electoral College, was frustrated enough to be pleading for polling last week.

"We could really use a poll of Delaware!" Silver wrote.

Since then, there has been a single, naked poll using robo-calls by a firm called Gravis Marketing from Florida. For the Democrats, it found Clinton ahead of Bernie Sanders by 45 percent to 38 percent, and for the Republicans, the poll showed Trump with a commanding lead of 55 percent over John Kasich at 18 percent and Ted Cruz at 15 percent.

The Democrats have 31 delegates, with 21 of them awarded proportionally based on the primary and 10 super-delegates who are party leaders or elected officials, free to vote any way they want.

Republican delegates

Automatic delegates: Charlie Copeland (party chair), Laird Stabler (national  committeeman), Ellen Barrosse (national committeewoman)

Proposed: Carol Bodine, Allison Brokaw, Billy Carroll, Fred Cullis, Tom Draper, John Foltz, Richard Forsten, Bonnie McCann, Ken Simpler (state treasurer), Gary Simpson (state Senate minority leader), Rob Stout, Mike Uffner

Pending: David Staats or Cliff Werline

The Republicans have 16 delegates, awarded winner-take-all. By state party rules, the delegates will be bound to vote for the winner of the primary on the first ballot at the convention but unbound if there are additional ballots.

The Republicans already have a slate of proposed delegates. It was put together by the party's executive committee and will be submitted to a vote for approval at a state convention at the end of the month.

On the Democratic side, Clinton is faring well among the party establishment. She quickly picked up endorsements from the governor and the three members of the federal delegation, once Joe Biden took himself out of the running, and a host of other endorsements followed.

On the Republican side, Kasich collected the best-known endorsements, namely, from Mike Castle, the former governor and congressman, and Tom Evans, another ex-congressman, but it is Trump who appears to be stirring stuff up. Natch.

Despite the meager polling, political analysts -- including FiveThirtyEight and the Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia -- are predicting Delaware will go for Trump.

In a little state where the voters like to see the candidates for themselves, Trump can only be helping himself by coming in for a rally on Friday at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.

It also looks like Trump is particularly energizing politics in Sussex County, where the voter registration recently flipped to put the Republicans ahead of the Democrats.

The other two counties continue to give an edge to the Democrats, most notably in New Castle County, where most of the people live and 52 percent of the voters are registered with the Democrats, but also in Kent County, where 43 percent of the voters are Democrats and 30 percent are Republicans.

Sussex voters Democrats Republicans Others Total
January 56,921 56,491 35,158 148,570
February 57,126 56,870 35,319 149,315
March 57,220 57,457 35,032 149,709
April 57,462 57,864 35,214 150,540

Sussex has long been known for voting conservative, even if its registration was nominally Democratic, but the county has experienced a surge of voters changing their affiliation since January to bring its registration more in line with its voting inclinations, as state election records show.

Out of roughly a thousand Sussex voters who re-registered, 6 in 10 of them switched to Republican after a previous affiliation with the Democrats or minor parties or no affiliation at all.

It must be because of Trump. Oh sure, it could be because the party has a congressional primary coming up in September, when people might be falling all over themselves to vote for the two candidates, what's-his-name and what's-her-name. Or not.