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We’ve already adjusted our model to account for a “Clinton ceiling,” and it’s looking like it may be the right projection. New polls from Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling show Sanders closing the gap in Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri. Our model baked in a Missouri upset (we have him winning there by nearly 10 points on the assumptions late breakers go for him). The potential softening in Ohio, where PPP has Clinton 46-41 is a significant shift from our model’s 55-45 split (as, under our rule, this would translate to a 9-point Sanders win). PPP’s 48-45 split in Illinois is not too far from the 51.5-48.5 we’re projecting.
The GOP numbers are equally interesting in Ohio, showing a tied race there. If Kasich fails to win there, it’s hard to see a credible pathNew @ppppolls and @QuinnipiacPoll numbers show tight Dem race in OH, MO, IL with potential #Sanders upset. #Kasich #Trump tight. for him and Rubio to stay in (and for the GOP to block Trump).
The story of the week on the Democratic side this week was Bernie Sanders’ impressive win in Michigan, where polls had him trailing 20%. It’s probably right to question the demographic models pollsters are using for the upper-Midwest states (including Ohio and Illinois that vote March 15 – and where Clinton holds 20-point leads).
This blog isn’t going to do that. Our model is set up to assume that the candidates’ polling averages are their “floor”. In Michigan, for example, polls showed Clinton at around 58% support and Sanders at 38%. Our model split the remaining votes proportionally (i.e. Clinton got 58% of undecideds).
In the event, Clinton’s strength was oversold by around 10%, and Sanders, in effect, won all of those plus all of the undecideds. Since polls are the only data that show likely support, changing that as a baseline for the model would put us too far into guess territory. Instead, we’ve built into the model a couple of variables to re-align how undecided votes are split.
National polls have Clinton leading Sanders 51.8% to 37.6%. So what happens if all of the undecideds vote for Sanders (i.e. if he is polling 48.2%)?
Well, the race closer, and ends with a different result from our baseline projection. Clinton would end up 150 delegates short of the 2,382 delegates the Democrats need to win on the first ballot without superdelegates. Most outlets show her with around 460 superdelegates pledged, so she would likely still win the nomination, but with Sanders saying he’s in until the convention, the backroom politicking would continue until the actual nomination.
How likely is this outcome? The polls suggest Clinton is holding/gaining nationally and in most states where there is polling. Obviously, that’s not how things played out in Michigan. The key states to watch for assessing both whether the polls are overplaying Clinton’s strength and whether late deciders are breaking to Sanders are Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina, and Ohio (there just isn’t good polling in Missouri). Until then, the current polls are the best information we have.
Big nights for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The former grew his delegate lead (though not by quite as much as our model projected, mostly because there wasn’t any polling in Idaho somewhat because Cruz/Kasich had a stronger-than-expected night). Sanders, though, still lost ground overall to Hillary Clinton.
Clinton still leads by over 200 pledged delegates, and our model still shows her getting a majority of delegates without dipping into her (substantial) super delegate reserve – but only just. The big caveat here is that Sanders will almost certainly get a national bounce from Michigan, and the result there may suggest that polls in other states are under representing his strength:
On the GOP side, the thing to watch is if Rubio drops out. He’s widely thought of as the “establishment” candidate, but, as we’ve reported before, he’s not necessarily loved by GOP insiders. We’re speculating here, but Rubio’s best hope may be to do what he can to help Kasich survive in the hopes he could win points with insiders for a potential Kasich ticket emerging from a brokered convention. It’s a risky strategy: for Kasich to win at the convention, he would need to wheel and deal considerably, possibly abrogating whatever primary deal he strikes with Rubio. Oh, and Trump is still on target to win:
There are 234 winner-take-all delegates on March 15 in Florida, Ohio, and Illinois. Polls show Trump winning all of them. If he does, we project him winning in early May. Kasich appears to have a better shot at winning his home state than Rubio does in his. If Kasich pulls it off, the #NeverTrump movement’s only hope – and slim one at that – is to get Rubio to drop out and full-throatedly endorse Kasich.
Hillary Clinton led by about 20 points going into Michigan’s primary. Even if she squeaks out a win, it’s impossible to deny that Bernie Sanders had a huge night there. With 74% of districts reporting, Sanders is up around 4%. From a delegate math perspective, though, Sanders said it himself “the delegates are going to get split up because of proportional representation.”
Based on the 20-point lead, we projected Sanders would leave with a 30-delegate lead. If the current numbers hold, Sanders will probably walk away with a 6-delegate lead. Regardless of what happens, Clinton will widen her gap overall, as she will probably get around 30 more delegates than Sanders in Mississippi. So, in the short term, Sanders win is big and unexpected, but doesn’t matter much.
In the long term, well, Clinton is still has a 200-delegate lead, and the March 15 states look pretty favorable to her. But if Sanders’ result in Michigan is an indicator that the national numbers are tighter than the current 13-point spread, Bernie could start chipping away, possibly preventing Clinton from getting a majority without having to use Superdelegates.
Donald Trump will almost certainly win Michigan; he has a 16-point lead in the latest polls. Ted Cruz and John Kasich both come in around 20%. A story to watch for tonight will be whether Rubio, who is polling around 11%, breaks the 15% delegate threshold. Doing so will give him around 9 delegates in Michigan, of which four will come from Trump and 3 from Cruz. Not a huge swing, to be sure, and fourth-place is already going to be hard enough, but a delegate goose egg will be a tough thing.
There’s a lot of talk from Bernie Sanders supporters about the super delegate race, and it’s pretty clear that Clinton currently holds a commanding lead with 460 of the 712 on the board. They argue, though, that those delegates will start flipping to Sanders when he builds a pledged delegate lead. Based on our projections, however, Clinton is likely to earn the 2,382 delegates she needs to win without using any of her pledged delegates.
Based on our count, Clinton holds a 699 to 458 lead in pledged delegates. Based on current polling, that lead should expand considerably on March 15:
Of the above, only Missouri lacks state-specific data and is therefore based on Clinton’s nationwide 51%-37.6% lead. If those numbers hold, Clinton will hold a 1244-776 lead following those votes.
Is that impossible to make up? Well, mathematically, no. But the path to get there is highly improbable. To make up a 480-delegate deficit, Sanders would have to win every single delegate in Pennsylvania AND New York, for example.
Does that mean Hillary has it locked up? Well, no. After March 15, we see Sanders basically keeping pace with her. Our projection sees her building her lead a bit on April 22, but mostly that’s just big-delegate states that are relying on the national poll. Unless things change, she won’t actually wrap it up until the last day of voting on June 7:
Sanders is now on record saying he won’t drop out before the convention. That probably makes sense. There’s not much that Clinton can offer him now that will make him back down, and it probably helps her general-election campaign to have the come-together moment happen at the convention. That will probably happen: it’s hard to see Sanders losing the political revolution fight and then letting Trump take the White House.