There are still many Oregon votes left to count, with those voters literally mailing it in, but it looks like Bernie Sanders will win just 55% of the vote there. Hillary Clinton looks to have just edged Sanders in Kentucky on the strength of her showing in Louisville. Lexington barely went her way, and it could still come out that Sanders wins the delegate tie there.
So a tie and 55% of the vote is a bad night? Well, kind of. Our model had Kentucky about where it is (though we had guessed it might look more like West Virginia, where Sanders won handily), but predicted Oregon coming out closer to where Washington voted where Sanders won 73% of the vote and nearly 50 delegates more than Clinton. Our model had him winning 70-80% in Oregon.
It looks like he’ll get something closer to 55% of the vote there, instead.
On the whole, it looks like Sanders will pull in 20 delegates fewer than we predicted. None of that changes the outcome too much; we still have him heading into Philadelphia with a nearly 400 delegate deficit. It does, however, possibly suggest that Democratic voters are beginning to coalesce around Clinton as the nominee and it weakens Sanders’ narrative heading into the big June 7 contests – especially California.
Right now, we have Clinton winning California 54.3% to 45.7%, but polling is several weeks old at this point. We fully expect that to be the last real day of the nominating process. Clinton should both clinch a 350+ delegate lead and should be just 150 delegates short of the 2,383 she needs for the nomination. To pull to a tie, Sanders would need to convince upwards of 300 superdelegates who have already declared for Clinton to switch their vote, which is not going to happen.
The demographics in May 17 races suggest big wins for Sanders in Kentucky (similar to WV) and Oregon (similar to Washington, where he won in a landslide). Those wins should net him nearly 45 delegates, and he may come close to the 70+ percent of the delegates that he needs to stay on pace to tie.
Wins will help the public narrative on Sanders’ viability, as well as his chances on June 7 primaries in California, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Unfortunately for Sanders, polling in California and New Jersey shows Clinton with sizable leads there, and we project her heading into the convention with a 350-delegate lead and needing around 180 superdelegates to clinch the nomination.
None of this, of course, speaks to core Sanders supporters. Running a projection in which Sanders wins 100 percent of all votes in states where there are no state-level polls (i.e. all but New Jersey and California), we still show her heading into the convention with a 180-delegate lead.
Sanders will not be mathematically eliminated until June 8, and so does retain a chance of taking more delegates than Clinton into the convention. To do so, he needs to perform better than he did in Indiana and West Virginia, and will need Oregon-sized wins throughout. That would represent a nearly 50-point swing in California from current polling, and a 60-point swing in New Jersey. Winning 60% of the vote in those states and 70% in the remaining still leaves him 70-delegates short.
Bottom line: It’s not overly dismissive to say that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, but the news this week and next will suggest a closer race.
Donald Trump’s decisive win in Indiana on Tuesday and Ted Cruz’ suspending his campaign have effectively ended the GOP race. We had projected him winning by two points over Ted Cruz and getting 42 of the 57 delegates in play, which would have put him on pace for around 1,210 delegates on the first ballot. Instead, he won by 17 points and took all of the delegates. With Cruz dropping out, we now think he will get around 1,390 delegates of the 1,237 needed. This includes possible Kasich pickups and protest votes, so he could go higher still.
Should Cruz have dropped out?
After last week (and, really, after March 15), Cruz was never running to win. He was just the last candidate running against Trump. Were he more of a player within the GOP establishment, the correct answer would probably be that he should have stayed in through the convention. We expected him to win Nebraska (36 winner-take-all delegates), Montana (27 WTA), and South Dakota (29 WTA). He had a slim chance of blocking a Trump nomination through California, which would have been the ultimate determiner. Here’s how we thought that might work:
However, without an even-more-impressive showing in California than we predicted, the #NeverTrump crowd likely would have lost on the first ballot, with the unbound Pennsylvania delegates putting Trump just over. As it stands, Trump should easily win the nomination in Cleveland, as basically the whole world is now reporting.
A Note On Democrats
Sanders got a nice win in Indiana to keep his campaign hobbling along through the convention, as he has pledged to do. We had projected him losing by two points and getting 41 delegates to Clinton’s 42. Instead, he won by 6 points and pulled in 44 to Clinton’s 39. Ultimately, the 6-delegate swing will do little to alter the math; we think he needs about 69% of the remaining delegates to pull even. We’ll do a full post on the Democratic race later this week, and will focus exclusively on that race until the delegate math, like in the GOP race, no longer matters.