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.



Will Clinton get 400 delegates tonight?

Before voting opened, we said that 400 was Hillary Clinton’s “over perform” number, expecting her to pull in closer to 368 delegates.  We’ll update the delegate counts in the morning, but it looks like she’ll hit that 400 target. Combined with the narrative of winning 5 of 5 states (if only just), she would seem to be back on track to get the 2,383 delegates see needs without dipping into her superdelegate reserve.  She should have a 300-330 delegate lead when she wakes up tomorrow. For context, Sanders would need to win every delegate in the next seven states just to catch up. He needs blowouts in places like Wisconsin and Washington to even start chipping into the lead.