A lot has been written over the past week about Bernie Sanders’ chances of getting a majority of unplugged delegates. Nate Sanders has a good writeup, but doesn’t show a lot of his work. Demrace.com would be a better tool if it defaulted to current polling. Here’s our contribution to this theme:
A few assumptions at the top:
- Our model has Sanders winning Wisconsin 54.6-45.4, giving him +8 delegates. We’re keeping that assumption.
- Few states have state-level polling (though the states that do account for 70% of outstanding delegates). Our model uses national polls there, which would give Clinton a 53.2-46.8 edge. We’ll ignore that in every state, with most states going 60-40 for Sanders, which means he needs to over perform his polls by 15 points.
- For a few states (Wyoming, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, DC), we’ve assigned Sanders Alaska-level blowouts.
- We’re putting Clinton’s delegate lead at 229 through April 1.
Our rough estimate is that Sanders would need to take 15 points off of Clinton in New York to have a chance of breaking even, even with the generous spot our assumptions give him. The latest polling average has Clinton up there 57-37. For this exercise, we have Sanders winning 58-42. Here’s how this scenario plays out, and look closely at what a polling shift would need to happen to get there:
We left Maryland and Pennsylvania within the reasonable bounds of change, and assigned Sanders a 10-point victory in California (our model shows Clinton actually just squeaking by there by one point).
Here’s a more-likely scenario:
For this chart, we leave in place most of the favorable projections from the last run, but instead leave Clinton winning New York 52-48 and giving her the 1-point victory in California, a conservative estimate on the latest polls. This still represents Sanders taking away 5 points of Clinton’s support in New York, which a 10-point win in Wisconsin might reasonably do (despite Clinton’s heavy campaigning in the Empire State). The final tally in this scenario would be Clinton 2,061 delegates, Sanders 1,979.
The key here is that each percent of the vote in New York is worth about 2.5 delegates. If Clinton nets more than about 10 delegates there, it’s very difficult to see how Sanders can break even.