Tag Archives: sanders

The Meaning of Bernie Sanders


Well friends, here we are. One final Super Tuesday! I haven’t written an election post in a few weeks, mainly on account of:

  1. On the Republican side, Trump’s opposition spectacularly collapsed all at once, leaving him uncontested.
  2. On the Democratic side, the math hasn’t changed.

It still hasn’t. Yes, technically, the nomination is not decided until the convention in July. And neither Democratic candidate will have enough pledged delegates to win outright until the Superdelgates vote on the first ballot. But assuming, as all indications are indicating, that she stomps it in New Jersey today and does something at least nearly 50% in California, Clinton will only need a fraction- say 10% of the Superdelegates to vote with her to be nominated. The Superdelegates are not going to switch en-mass to Sanders. Nor should they.

Whatever one thinks of the system as it stands, under the system as it stands, Hillary is unambiguously winning- she has something like 55% of total votes, is several hundred delegates ahead, and has won a majority of individual contests. As I wrote a few weeks back, no self-respecting Sanders supporter, if the situation were reversed, would say it would be okay if the Superdelegates reversed a Bernie 55% of vote, several hundred delegates ahead and majority of contests won and voted for Clinton instead. I like to keep my principles the same no matter what personalities are involved, and the principle is clear to me here- there’s a set of rules, and under that set of rules, one candidate has clearly been chosen over the other.

So I don’t care to talk about that anymore. What I would like to talk about is the meaning of Bernie Sanders.

Exhibit A:


This is what Bernie did, as a virtual unknown running against a candidate with nearly 100% name recognition, a huge fundraising head-start, and overwhelming support from the party establishment.

Exhibit B:


Excluding the unregulated outside groups (Thanks Citizens United!), he actually outraised her. And did almost all of it with small donations from individual donors.

Exhibit C:


These are the vote totals that candidates coming from a similar ideological bent of the Democratic Party got in the previous most recent open contests. Sanders is on track to get around 45%.

To me, the conclusion is inescapable: Even in a very unfavorable party environment for it, an unapologetically Progressive candidate has flourished in this primary cycle. A significant portion of the Democratic base is ready for the party to push a bolder Progressive agenda.

One can imagine that if circumstances had been different- no candidate as predominantly established going in as Hillary, or Joe Biden stepping in and dividing the moderate/establishment vote, Sanders could even have been the nominee. You could also make the argument that Obama already ran and won the nomination in 2008 with this emerging Progressive plurality. While his policy substance was (and still is) pretty centrist/establishment as far as the Democratic party goes, his symbolism and the base he put together was very much fueled by these Progressive voters.  And one can easily imagine, in an upcoming cycle, a candidate who is slightly more polished and camera-ready than Bernie and who isn’t facing a Democratic dynasty running and winning with this agenda.

In the meantime, we organize (especially at the state and local level), we vote (especially for city councils, state legislatures, etc.).

And we keep the faith.





Once more unto the Super-Tuesday breach…


Well, last Tuesday we had New York with 291 delegates on the Democratic side, and today five Northeastern states are up at once with a combined 462 more. This looks like one of those rare times that the preferences of the East Coast will have a major effect on choices the nation makes-28% of all the delegates left in the rest of the race will be chosen by this time tomorrow. Here’s where things stand:


First off, hoo-boy was I wrong! I said last week that I thought there were signs that Bernie Sanders was going to do better in New York than the polling seemed to indicate. In fact, he got shellacked in New York 58%-42%, a proportion pretty much matching what the polling averages were indicating.

Looking back, I would say that, whatever traces I thought I was sniffing, I should have been a good data-head and really crunched the numbers, because I was badly under-estimating the effect of New York being a closed primary. It’s been observed that Sanders has drawn a lot of his support from voters who register Independent, who can participate in states that have open primaries, but can’t in states with closed primaries. Indeed, if you crunch the numbers on averages of non-Southern open primaries vs. closed primaries, you find the following:


Sanders wins a narrow majority of total votes in open primaries, but has lost the closed primaries 47-53. All five of today’s states have closed or semi-closed primaries, which means Sanders will not be picking up cross-over voters. Thus, you can probably take the polls that show him facing double-digit losses in Maryland & Pennsylvania at face value. His best bets for the night look like Connecticut and Rhode Island, where he’s narrowly behind:



If he ends up 0-5 on a night when 28% of the remaining delegates are up, that’s not going to silence the voices calling for him to admit the game is up. Narrowly winning 2 of the smaller states, both from his native New England, won’t either. He’ll certainly have the money and the enthusiastic base of supporters to stay in until the end. There’s even an open primary coming up next week, Indiana, and he remains within striking distance in polling of the largest state of all, California. And a decent argument can be made that he should stay in for the good of his movement, and democracy in general. But in terms of realistic chances, the New York blowout made his already up-hill shot even steeper, and tonight is liable to make it steeper still.


In a certain sense, the Republican side is much clearer, and in a certain sense, it’s murky as %$#@. After a very strong New York last week, Trump is showing solid leads in all five states tonight, and the Republican delegate rules are liable to expand his haul even further.

But behind the scenes, Cruz continues to have a much better ground game for the nuts and bolts of picking up delegates that are still being chosen in state conventions even after the voting has ended. In the current Republican game of delegate-by-delegate attrition, in which a Trump who hasn’t reached the required 1,237 delegates by the convention could have serious problems thereafter, every bit counts.

And then there’s the alliance! Cruz and Kasich are strategically agreeing to stay out of each other’s way in several of the remaining contests. This may indeed be too little, too late, but it does stand a decent shot of handing Cruz Indiana next week, and getting Kasich several Western States. If it does work, Cruz getting all 57 of the winner-take-all delegates next week could seriously complicate Trump’s remaining math. If it doesn’t, that 57 plus his haul from tonight will probably put Trump on track to get close enough to the 1,237 that the game is, effectively, over.

Stay tuned!

Election 2016: The Empire State is About to Strike…


After a blessed break from writing about this blasted campaign for a few weeks, we are now entering what could be a vital stage of the primaries. New York votes tomorrow, with a significant portion of the remaining delegates at stake for both parties. This is followed next week by a truly super Tuesday in which Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island all vote on the same day. The (North)East Coast is about to have its say! How are things looking on the eve of all of this?


Bernie Sanders is coming off of a very strong month. Counting the finalization of the Democrats Abroad Primary results on March 21st, and the primaries and caucuses held between March 22nd and April 9th he’s won 8 out of 9. Am I really going to continue my Sanderskepticism in the face of this winning streak?

Well, I will merely observe the following. Here is where the delegate-count currently stands in terms of pledged delegates:


And here’s where the cumulative vote total stands:


One could point out that this includes the earlier Southern States where Clinton prevailed by a total margin of 67%-33%, and that Sanders has actually won a (albeit slim) majority of the vote in all other states. One could alternately point out that this included many caucuses, where the enthusiasm of Sanders supporters may have given them outsized influence, and there is only one caucus left in the schedule from now through June. Taking the average of the 11 non-Southern primaries, thus theoretically eliminating the pro-Clinton and pro-Sanders distortions, it’s nearly 50-50:


One could counter that Sanders doesn’t need to get enough delegates to clinch the nomination. He could arrive at the convention with more than Clinton, and make a reasonable appeal to the Superdelegates that they should support him instead. Okay. Here are the delegates left, and the minimum percentage Sanders would have to win in order to arrive at the convention with more delegates than Clinton:


This would get him there with 2,182 to her 2,168. Anything less than winning 56% of all remaining delegates, she arrives at the convention with more delegates, and the lead in the popular vote. If he does something like what he’s done so far (splitting it 51/49) in the remaining primaries, they’ll get there with Clinton 2,265 and Sanders 2,085. She would need Superdelegates to win on the first ballot, but less than a quarter of them. Whatever the valid Fall strategy argument may or may not be, no self-respecting Sanders supporter, myself included, would argue in a reverse case (Sanders ahead in votes and delegates) that it would be okay if the Superdelegates nominated Clinton instead. Barring a startling departure in the remaining primaries, the Democratic primary voters have decided.

All this being said, I do think Sanders is going to do much better in New York than expected. Current polling averages have it here:


Meanwhile, however, national polling shows Sanders has pulled nearly even with Clinton:


New York is a very large, very diverse state, and one would be surprised to find that it’s Democratic electorate was markedly different from the National Democratic electorate as a whole. Given this kind of disparity between state and national polling, in the absence of something more precise, we might split the difference, and expect it to be something more like Clinton winning by 7%.

Consider also 538.com’s analysis from a few months back of how you would expect Sanders to do, based on demographics, if he and Clinton were tied nationally. More often than not, this has correctly called the direction of contests so far, and here’s what it shows for New York:

New York

Back that off a little from a national tie to Clinton ahead by 1.2% nationally, it suggests a New York that’s a photo-finish. Add to this the size of Sanders’ rallies in the state and his recent union endorsements… I don’t expect he’ll win New York, but I do expect it will be a scarier victory for Clinton than she’s currently expecting. Which keeps us going until the next Super Tuesday…


I had so many weeks worth of math pent up on the Democratic side that I’m out of time! I will observe that Trump is in no appearance of any danger at all:


What this means in terms of delegates is a bit more murky. Unlike the proportional allocation on the Democratic side, the Republican primary rules in New York are, “New York allots 14 at-large delegates proportionally based on the statewide results of the primary; 81 delegates — three for each congressional district — are awarded according to the results of the district, and then “split 2-1 between top two finishers, with 50 percent winner-take-all trigger,””. Huh?

In short, Cruz and Kasich have an opportunity to peel off delegates from Trump even given a massive victory on his part. This is significant because the numbers are currently steep for Trump to get enough delegates for a first ballot win at the convention:


And there’s a persuasive argument to be made that, if he doesn’t take it on a first ballot, he’ll actually do worse than that on following ballots. His delegates are pledged to vote for him on the first ballot, but the Trump campaign so thoroughly eschewed traditional state-by-state organization that they didn’t make sure there were slates of delegates that actually liked Trump. Cruz has done a far better job of this groundwork, and as soon as they can, many of the delegates in the hall will switch votes from Trump to him.

Cleveland is looking like it could be a wild ride…



State of the Campaign: Spring Break


Well, we’ve had the first four contests in February. We’ve had three Super Tuesdays! We’ve also had a smattering of other days and un-super Tuesdays, like this week’s confabs in Arizona, Idaho and Utah. Along the way, we’ve whittled things down from 22 candidates to five. From here, things take a little break. The Republicans don’t have another outing for 13 days, and after three contests this Saturday the Democrats are out too until everybody gets back together for Wisconsin on April 5th. So how are things looking on the eve of the campaign’s Spring Break?


If you look on a county-by-county basis, there’s almost a Mason-Dixon line going on the Democratic side:


Tuesday’s results reinforced that, with Hillary doing well in Arizona (probably inadvertently helped along by state Republican officials voter suppression strategies), and Bernie doing very well in Utah and Idaho. In fact, Sanders got such lop-sided margins in those two states that he actually slightly reduced his delegate gap versus Clinton, something that he stands to do again this weekend with Alaska, Hawaii and Washington. This follows up on his win by a 2/3 margin of the Democrats Abroad primary announced this Monday. Statistical analysis of where he’s done well so far would also indicate he stands a good shot in the next two states once we resume again in April, Wisconsin & Wyoming.

Does all of this improve the outlook on his possibly winning the nomination? In a word: Probably not. Okay, it was two words, you got me. My fellow Berners pretty much aren’t speaking to me at this point because of my stubborn insistence upon the existence of math. She is indeed a harsh mistress, but a fairly clear one. Based purely on pledged delegates (not those wily Superdelegates) this is where the math currently stands:


The good news for Sanders? There are no more Southern States, and while Clinton has trounced him in the South, he’s actually narrowly beaten her in total votes for all contests outside that region:


There’s also some interesting analysis out there indicating that Clinton, where she is winning, is doing so largely based on early voting that happened weeks or months ago, and Sanders is beating her on election day voting. Even given all that, though, the numbers still don’t add up. So far, he’s gotten a little over 50% of the vote in all non-Southern states. He’d need to get 69% of all remaining delegates in order to win. One can imagine circumstances where this could happen, a la major Clinton scandal. But in any vaguely status quo scenario, you would be very surprised to see his average in the remaining 25 contests jump to 69% compared to 50% for the 18 non-Southern contests that have happened so far.


The outlook here is much cloudier. Trump won resoundingly in Arizona, but Cruz meanwhile did very well in Utah.


The catch is that, unlike Democratic primaries and caucuses, which are almost all proportional to vote, Republican contests often feature some kind of rule- winner-take-all, delegate allocation based on who gets the majority in each congressional district, minimum percentage cut-offs to qualify for any delegates- that tends to magnify the lead of a front-runner. Even if you are a front-runner by virtue of only getting 30-something percent of the vote, you’ll get a much higher percentage than that of the delegates. So that works to Trump’s favor, but the field was fractured enough for long enough that it is very borderline whether he can get to the total before the convention.

If it’s hard to see how he can pull off the total in time, it’s pretty near impossible to see how Cruz or Kasich could do it. The numbers currently stand as follows:


Even if Rubio were to endorse Cruz and pledge his delegates to him (as there are some rumblings may happen), and even given that the party establishment is working its way toward supporting Cruz, despite the fact that they don’t like him much, there isn’t an easy to see scenario where he gets the percentage of delegates he’d need in order to catch Trump before the convention. Meanwhile, Kasich would actually need to win 116% of the remaining delegates, i.e. he has no path forward that doesn’t involve a time machine.

Prominent Republicans continue to say that whoever arrives at the convention with the clear preponderance of delegates should be the nominee. So, Trump. A number of them also continue to say that they’re deeply troubled by Trump’s behavior, and a surprising number hedge on whether they would support him if he is the nominee. So, maybe not Trump. If nothing else, this should be fascinating to watch!


Super Tuesday 3!


This election is kind of silly with Super Tuesdays, but in this case, it’s not overkill. We have the above assortment of 5 fine upstanding states, four of which happen to be among the most populous states in the union. So what happens here could indeed be pretty consequential for the race.  Here’s what we have at stake on each side.


You may recall that I made the case last week that Sanders is, mathematically speaking, a dead man walking. This was before his surprise win in Michigan, which I was certainly gratified by. So am I changing my tune? Well, I’m modifying the key slightly, but not really.

The thing about last week is that Sanders won a narrow victory in Michigan. A historically unprecedented, great news for his campaign victory, but still narrow. Clinton meanwhile won a lopsided victory in Mississippi, as she has throughout the South. It was so lopsided that, even though Mississippi is a significantly smaller state than Michigan, she ended up with more total votes and more delegates on Tuesday than Sanders, thus increasing the gap between them. Bluntly put, you can generate the best headlines ever, but if your opponent keeps scoring on you like this, you’re not going to win.

So wither my humming in a different key? This recent HuffPo piece makes a good case that Michigan presages that the next phase of the campaign is going to be tougher for Clinton and better for Sanders. We’ve all been noticing all along how lopsided her Southern victories have been. This got me mathematically curious, So I re-ran my totals from last week, honing in on the difference between Southern results and everywhere else. Overall, Clinton/Sanders are at 60/40 for vote totals so far, but if you break it down from there, it looks a bit different:


The significant thing about this is, Clinton is almost out of Southern states. North Carolina and Florida are the only ones left. so one could make a not ridiculous argument that Sanders might win a majority of votes and delegates for the remainder of this race after Super Tuesday 3. Ultimately, though, that doesn’t change the math. Right now, excluding Superdelegates, we’re at:


If Sanders performs at the average of his non-Southern state totals for the remaining contests, he would still be under pace for the total of remaining delegates that he needs to win. Clinton would too, but not by as much, and the big wins she’s likely to get in Florida and North Carolina tomorrow will Probably bring it in range- she’ll need mid to high 40s percentage of remaining delegates, and she can be expected to average mid to high 40s percentage of remaining votes.

Sanders, meanwhile, based on where he’s done well so far, will probably win Missouri, and be quite competitive in Ohio and Illinois, maybe even score a narrow victory in one of them. I don’t think this changes the ultimate trajectory, but he now has every chance of remaining in the race, and strongly so, for the duration.


The big story here is the winner-take-all contests in Florida and Ohio. Unlike the Democrats, who generally reward delegates proportional to vote most everywhere, the Republicans have many states where the highest placing candidate gets all the delegates. In this case, interestingly, it intersects with the home states of two of the remaining candidates, Marco Rubio and John Kasich.  Unfortunately for Rubio, all signs are that this won’t work out for him:


Kasich, meanwhile, seems to have a pretty decent shot of taking his home state, and all of its delegates:


All of this is quite volatile. You can make a good case that, notwithstanding what happens in Florida and Ohio, Trump could do well enough in the other states to effectively put the whole thing away. On the other hand, you could also make the case that Cruz is close enough that, if Super Tuesday 3 ends up knocking out both Kasich and Rubio, he could still win a one-on-one with Trump. We could also have a case where, by virtue of winning Ohio while Rubio loses Florida and places badly elsewhere, Kasich becomes the surviving establishment candidate, holding down a roughly equal percentage of votes to Cruz going forward, and keeping all three of them below the threshold before the convention.

This is where the numbers stand at the moment:


Where they are at this point next week will be fascinating to see!


State of the Race: Post Super Tuesday And Swell Saturday




In last week’s column, I posited that it was super-possible that both nominations would effectively be decided on Super Tuesday. Now that the Tuesday in question has come and gone and we’ve also had a pretty swell Saturday’s (and pinch of Sunday) worth of contests, how am I doing? In all honesty, I’d have to give myself a 42.5%. As follows…


I think it’s important to fully out myself before I say what I’m about to say. No surprise to anybody who knows me, I lean toward the Progressive side of the fence. I would vastly prefer to see Sanders be the nominee instead of Clinton, and I think he’s the only major candidate in the race who is even close to talking about the magnitude of changes we’ll need to make to avoid disaster at home and as a global species in the coming decades. I voted for him in our primary in Vermont, contribute to his campaign every pay day, and will continue to do so as long as he’s in the race. Despite all this, I am, reluctantly, 85% confident that the Democratic Race has in fact been decided for Clinton, though it will take the numbers a while to catch up.

It comes down to some simple facts of math. Counting just the pledged delegates because, as many people have pointed out, Superdelegates can (and do) change their votes as the race shifts, we currently have:


Given what each candidate has, how many delegates are remaining, and how many are needed for the nomination, this is the percentage of remaining delegates each would have to win to get the nomination:


The issue with pledged delegates on the Democratic side is that they are more or less proportional- if you win, say 60% of the votes, you would expect to also win roughly 60% of the delegates. Some of the caucus states don’t report their numbers in a way that votes can be tabulated, but of the seventeen states and territories that have voted so far that we can add up votes for, this is the percentage breakdown:


Refer back to the delegate target numbers above. Clinton has won 61% of the vote so far, and she would need roughly 54.5% of the remaining delegates. She could actually do about 10% worse than she’s done so far in all the remaining contests and still do it. Sanders has won 39% of the vote so far, but he’d need to win 60% of the remaining delegates. He would have to do about 50% better than he’s done so far in all the remaining contests to take it.

Is this categorically impossible? No. Bernie clearly has the financial and enthusiastic supporter resources to stay competitive, and is still less well known than Clinton, so he has room to grow. And Clinton has often proven to be a less appealing campaigner when she’s ahead than when she’s behind, and also has investigations brewing which (based on bullshit or not) could blow up at any time. Barring something truly disruptive, though, you would be surprised to see Clinton do markedly worse in the 2/3 remaining than the 1/3 behind. And you’d be really surprised to see Sanders do 50% better.


As for my prediction about Trump before Super Tuesday, I would have to mark myself as totally wrong! It looked quite possible, going in, that Cruz wouldn’t win anything except his home state of Texas, and Rubio wouldn’t win anything. But, while Trump did quite well, Rubio won Minnesota and hung in there in other races (albeit much less well than he would have if Kasich weren’t still hanging around). Cruz, meanwhile, won several states, and racked up some more this weekend.

You can’t as readily do the kind of delegate vs. votes analysis I did above for the Democrats with the Republicans, as they have several large winner-take all states, and also have many states where there’s a threshold of 20% to get any delegates at all. However, their delegate math at the moment is:


And their vote totals have been:


In other words, even allowing for the distorting effects of Republican delegate allocation rules, nobody so far has had nearly a total vote percentage even roughly comparable to the delegate percentage total they’d need. This outlook could change if it got down to a two-person race. However, that’s not remotely likely to happen until after March 15th, since Rubio and Kasich both aim to win their respective winner-take-all home states that day (Florida and Ohio).

Another 12 states and territories will have had contests by then, including five of the ten most populous states in the country (Florida, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina & Ohio). So, come 3/16, more than half of all delegates will have been handed out, and odds are three candidates will have major blocks, all of them needing much more to go to get to the total. If anything, at this point, I might start to put my money on a brokered convention.

A Slot Machine and a Palmetto walk in to a voting booth…


…and a President walks out? Well, probably not quite this early, but the next stage of our little every four-years elimination death match is happening this Saturday, courtesy of the Republican primary in South Carolina and the Democratic caucus in Nevada. (Nifty graphic above from FiveThirtyEight.com, by the way.) So, how’s it looking?


All the leading indicators are giving Clinton an edge over Sanders, but also indicating that he’s surprisingly competitive. Let’s start with the straight polling. Nevada has only been lightly polled so far, but the recent polls all have Sanders and Clinton within a few points of each other:


Keep in mind that this is a state which, as recently as late December, Clinton led by more than 20 percent. Over at 538.com, their polls-only and polls-plus models are both tilting to Clinton:



In terms of margin, their polls-only model (which takes an average of polling, weighted by reliability of the pollster) has Clinton ahead by 4 points, and their polls-plus model (which takes the polling but also adds in effects of national polls, trend-line changes, outside factors like endorsements, etc.) has her ahead by 7 points. This is basically the same outcome as 2008, where Clinton beat Obama in the state 50.1% to 45.8%. It is, in other words, a very strong showing for Sanders, even if he doesn’t win.

If you recall my first election column of the year, Sanders seems to be not too far off what I outlined there as his “best case” scenario: “he wins Iowa, then New Hampshire, and does better than-expected in Nevada and South Carolina, and goes on to get a striking distance 40% or more of the states and delegates on Super Tuesday.” So far, he’s tied Iowa, blown-out New Hampshire, and is definitely better than expected in Nevada. Of course my next sentence in that column was that “best case” gives him, at best, a tough, but at least still conceivable path to the nomination. 538.com has just done an excellent state-by-state overview of what that might look like for him. If nothing else though, a strong Nevada showing for Sanders will keep South Carolina interesting when Democrats vote there next weekend.


All indications are that Donald Trump retains a solid lead in South Carolina. Which, let’s pause to think about it for a second, is really remarkable. A win there this weekend would make him legitimately the front runner of a party that continues to not want him, to the extent that a packed room of party operatives kept booing him at this past weekend’s debate, and he hasn’t picked up a single endorsement from a current or former Republican Governor, Representative, or Senator, despite being almost-continuously in the lead since he announced in July. The numbers, though, are hardly ambiguous. Based on eight polls all from the last few days, RCP has this:


538.com is showing the following:


And the betting markets agree:


As with New Hampshire, the real interest here may be in the second spot. Rubio seems to have recovered from his pre-New Hampshire debate stumble and fifth (!) place finish there, and is clearly narrowing in on Cruz. 538’s “polls plus” model actually has him narrowly beating Cruz. If Rubio can get a second-place, it will go a long way to bolstering his claim to being the anti-Trump that the party is looking for. Cruz, meanwhile, has a strategy that depends on gaining momentum from strong showings in the Southern states voting in March. A distant second, or much worse, a third, in a state that should be a good fit for him would cloud that path.

Of course the whole party’s path is somewhat cloudy at the moment. Trump is clearly viable, Cruz has every incentive to hang in there until the March voting is done, and Rubio continues to split the “consensus” party vote with Bush and, though probably not for much longer given his South Carolina numbers, Kasich. Mutterings about a brokered convention are beginning to seem more plausible…

New Hampshire, and the importance of being second

new hamsphire.jpg

Hi friends! Isn’t it exciting that people are finally voting? Actual election results cut through so much blather. Not to mention mow down superfluous candidates. Iowa alone winnowed out Huckabee, O’Malley, Paul & Santorum. You read my pre-Iowa prognostication. So what do I think of New Hampshire? Actually (barring an extremely interesting upset), who’s in first is pretty apparent on each side, and the real action is all about the nature of second.


Whether you look at poll averages:


538.com’s “polls only” and “polls plus” models:

NH pollsonly

NH polls+

Or the betting markets:


The story is the same. Bernie Sanders is overwhelmingly favored to win New Hampshire. And therein lies the trap for him. As the analysts at 538.com have noted, Sanders strongest demographic is white, liberal voters, and so it would be expected that Iowa and New Hampshire would be very strong states for him. States to come have many more non-white voters, and self-describerd moderates, segments he has made much less polling headway with so far. So he would be really benefited by the maximum possible bounce out of these first two states.

You’ll notice the narrowing in his New Hampshire margin following Iowa in the first chart above. This narrowing seems to have backed off a bit, but primary polling  can be remarkably unpredictable (add to which Superbowl Sunday was a very ineffective day to be polling most Americans). It is certainly possible that Sanders could end up under 50%, and Clinton within single-digits of him. And if so, she benefits from the “better than expected” narrative. On the other hand, if he gets a wide margin, the press will probably run with the “she only tied Iowa, and just lost New Hampshire big” storyline. In which case Bernie is close to the best case scenario I laid out last time-he wins Iowa, then New Hampshire, and does better than-expected in Nevada and South Carolina, and goes on to get a striking distance 40% or more of the states and delegates on Super Tuesday.

Of course “best case” is still an uphill slog for him, but at least it’s a possible slog.


As with the Democrats, poll averages:


538.com’s “polls only” and “polls plus” models:

538 New Hampshire

Or the betting markets:


All produce the same likelihood- Trump easily carries New Hampshire. Which really makes the race for second the story everyone will focus on. In this regard, Rubio had a New Hampshire surge after nearly passing Trump for second in Iowa, but it seems to be fading. Add to this what was widely seen as a poor debate performance this weekend, there is a serious chance he gets eclipsed by Cruz or Kasich in New Hampshire.

Kasich deserves further thought. New Hampshire is much more moderate, as Republican politics goes, than Iowa. So this is the kind of state he’d have his best shot in. A third place finish wouldn’t really get him a lot of attention past New Hampshire, but a second could have the party establishment re-evaluating whether he’s the alternative to Trump and Cruz that they might want to back instead of Rubio. The nightmare scenario for Rubio, of course, would be to actually end up fourth, if both Kasich and Cruz pass him by. That could make for a very messy, and interesting, South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

We’ll have to tune in Tuesday night and see!

Four things I’ve avoided by not writing about the 2016 election until now


I’m going to be breaking from my usual themes occasionally over the next year to talk about the presidential election. I really can’t help it, I’ve been a political junkie for actually longer than I can remember- my mom tells me as a three year old, I was fascinated with watching “the Watergate” on TV. My promise in my coverage: I have my leanings (solidly Democratic). But my analysis will be fact-based, to the chagrin of both leftie friends and rightie friends. You can look back at my postings from 2012 to get an idea of what that will look like.

However, to keep it in synch with my more usual blog themes, this first entry will be in the form of a list. The thing about Presidential politics is, there’s a lot of noise in media coverage that tends to drown out the signal. Before Nov. 1 of the year before the election, it isn’t even worth paying attention to, really, because the early speculation is based on so little, empirically, and early numbers aren’t indicative of much of anything. Here’s a few things I’ve been able to avoid talking about by not writing about it until now:

1. 4 whole candidates! First, and in an originally 22-candidate field, the value of this is not to be overlooked, by waiting I’ve avoided having to talk about Chaffe, Perry, Walker and Webb at all! Especially relieving, because I would have thought Walker had a decent chance at the Republican nomination, so it’s nice not to have to endure the daymare that would have been.

2. Joe Biden. I love Uncle Joe! Always have. He was actually one of my two preferred candidates at the start of 2008 (the other was Bill Richardson, which goes to show you what I know). But it would have been a long shot for him, and explaining that to people imbibing the latest media narrative would have grown tiresome. Now I don’t have to!

3. Arguing about Bernie Sanders. I actually can’t win with Bernie. My small cadre of rightie friends starts in on the whole tired socialist trip whenever I talk about Bernie. And my Progressive friends call me a cynic when I try to talk realistically about his chances (which have been, and remain, low according to every reliable indicator). Then I have my mainline Democratic friends who try to convince me that Bernie is worthless or even dangerous and Hillary is golden. By not writing about the election until now, I’ve at least had some break from this argument.

4. Dismissing Trump. My early take was that he would be gone before voting started, and certainly would not be in the top three by Super Tuesday. I’m glad I didn’t have a chance to write more about this, because I’m starting to question my premise. Nate Silver at 538.com, who I put a lot of stock in, still thinks Trump is ultimately doomed, because he’s so unpalatable to the party power brokers, and they have numerous opportunities in the process to derail him one way or another. It’s a solid argument. But, now that he’s been in the lead for three and a half months straight, is polling first or second in the three first primaries, and actual voting starts in 90 days, I’m a little less sure. I still don’t expect him to be the nominee (my current best guess is Rubio), but he’s actually in this thing for real.

More to follow!