Big Sanders Wins Coming, But Trouble Looms In New York

Bernie Sanders is likely to rack up a string of wins over the next two weeks:  it’s a favorable calendar combining both caucuses and voting demographics that have favored him throughout the cycle.  It’s entirely plausible that he wins the next five contests — most of them in blowouts.

In so doing, he may chip in to Hillary Clinton’s lead by 70-80 delegates, leaving her around 250 delegates ahead, and helping forestall for a bit the growing narrative that he doesn’t have a chance.  We should note here that there isn’t much data in the upcoming contests, but our upgraded projection model allows us to posit what a Sanders blowout might look like.

A favorable calendar helps Sanders chip away, but a strong Clinton lead in New York erases his progress.
A favorable calendar helps Sanders chip away, but a strong Clinton lead in New York erases his progress.

You can see above that there’s no polling data for Alaska, Hawaii, or Washington state, so we’ve plugged in big wins for Sanders (with Wyoming following suit).  That would track with similar performance in small caucus states with similar demographics.

The potential trouble for Sanders, though, is that the latest polls in New York show him trailing badly.  The 67-24 split would be among her bigger margins.  Even if she were to drop to a more-realistic 55-45 win, the two Democrats would break even on delegates over the six contests, and Sanders will be left to fill a 310-delegate gap with significantly fewer chances.

The silver lining for Sanders is that our projection shows Clinton falling short of the pledged delegates she’s need to win the nomination outright, meaning she would need around 15% of the superdelegates to lean her way (she has nearly two-thirds in her camp now).  Barring a big turnaround in New York, though, Sanders is unlikely to make a dent in Clinton’s lead.



Model updates

We’ve completely overhauled the projections spreadsheet on the Republican side to narrow in on the variables that are likely to matter in the 18 contests before the convention.  The updates also allow for more-granular control to adjust the remaining states on both sides, which will be especially useful due to the lack of state-level polling data for the upcoming states.  That granular control is not user-editable (yet), but we’ll be using the scenarios to help make predictions in the coming weeks.

We’ll have a series of posts in the coming days, but the updated model suggests that Donald Trump’s path to 1,237 delegates requires strong shows in California, New York, and Indiana.  Our projection still shows him falling short, needing to pick up a significant portion of the unbound delegates (and Marco Rubio’s soon-to-be unbound delegates) to avoid a second ballot.

Quick take: Another Tuesday

We’re updating the underlying model to tune it a bit and allow a little bit greater variable control, but it won’t be ready until after the March 22 primaries.  These may end up being relatively straightforward.


Surprisingly, this side works out pretty easily.  Arizona is winner-take-all.   Trump is leading Cruz by over 10 points, and should all 58 delegates.  Utah offers a bit of excitement.  Cruz is polling just over 50%.  Our model has him taking nearly 55%.  If he gets above 50, he gets all 40 delegates.  If not, he has to split them proportionally with Kasich (who would get 10-12) and Trump (who’d get 5).


The next week should be good for Bernie Sanders.

Sanders should take at least 50% of the next week's delegates...but that does little to close his gap.
Sanders should take at least 50% of the next week’s delegates…but that does little to close his gap.

That’s a bunch of caucuses in states that should favor him.  The one where he might come out behind is Arizona.  There’s simply no state-level data in most of the states though.  One big pickup for him could be Washington, where a 10- or 20-point gap could help him chip into Clinton’s delegate lead.  In the best-case scenario, though, it’s hard to see him making up more than 30 delegates all in, which is less than 10% of what he needs to get even.  April may help, but new polls in New York show Clinton building a big lead there.