New York Primary Baseline: Clinton 130, Trump 80

New Yorkers vote today in what the press is selling an electoral pivot.  We think next week’s elections are bigger in terms of the delegate math, and there’s sufficient (and pretty good) polling predicting what will happen today.

Republican Primary

Our model predicts that Donald Trump will get 52.1 percent of the vote, John Kasich 26.7 percent, and Ted Cruz 21.2 percent. New York is winner-take-all if a candidate hits 50% of the vote, so Trump’s final number matters a lot.

Why, then, do we have him at 80 delegates? Well, only 14 delegates are assigned given the statewide vote.  The remaining 81 are allocated by races in the 27 individual Congressional district races.  Again, win 50% of that vote, and you collect all three delegates.  If you win with less than 50%, you get 2 delegates and your closer competitor gets 1.

Only Optimus appears to have strong CD-level polling.  Their poll from last week shows Trump winning ALL of the CDs, but missing the 50% threshold in 14 districts.  In one district, NY-12, Trump polls around even with John Kasich.  Put this together, and 80 delegates appears to be the most-conservative estimate (Kasich is on pace to pick up 12 of those that Trump misses, according to the same poll).

Our blind spots are legion. Our model incorporated Kasich doing particularly well in the 14 CDs that voted a Democratic house member in in 2014 by more than 15 points, but the polling data doesn’t match this 1 for 1. While Trump rarely exceeds his poll numbers, in New York it may be easier for him to do so, which could push him over the edge.  We’ll know more at night’s end, but for now, it’s safe to say anything under 80 delegates is a bad night for Trump, and it’s still possible for him to get all 95.

Democratic Primary

Our model shows Hillary Clinton winning 54.6% to Bernie Sanders’ 45.4%.  This tracks with most recent polls, which show Clinton with a 10- to 18-point lead.

Running that prediction straight would give Clinton a 135-112 delegate haul.  However, only 84 of the 247 delegates will be allocated based on the state-wide vote.  The remaining delegates are elected based on the proportion of Congressional districts each candidate wins.  18 of the 27 districts have 6 delegates each up for grabs, 5 CDs have 7 delegates, and the remaining 4 CDs have just 5.

For the districts with an odd number of delegates, if the candidate wins 50% + 1 vote, they collect the “bonus” delegate.  For the 18 CDs with 6 delegates, however, the winner needs to get 58.34% of the vote in that district to take 4 delegates; anything below that threshold will result in a 3-3 tie.

What does this mean for the delegate math? Should Clinton win statewide, and in each CD, by a 56-44 margin, that would be an absolutely huge electoral victory and news story, but would net her only 19 delegates over Sanders because they will have split 18 CDs 3-3.  However, should she poll 58.5-41.5 (this is in no way likely), she would net 46 delegates over Sanders, winning an extra delegate in all but 4 CDs.

Back to the model:  we show Clinton picking up 46 of the 84 statewide delegates (8 net).  We’ll assume a tie in each of the 18 CDs (0 net), and that she picks up a net delegate in the 9 “odd” CDs, to net a total of 17 delegates over Sanders.  This would result in a 132-115 delegate result.  Since this is a “good night/bad night” calculation, we’re flipping one CD to a Bernie blowout, given the huge crowds he’s collected in the state and to account for missed polls.  If Clinton pulls in 130 delegates or more, it’s a good night.  If she gets fewer, she had a bad night.

If she loses the state, the race might not be over next week.

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