Thoughts and predictions inspired by the United States Presidential campaign of 2016.
October 8: Even Before the Latest Scandal, Donald Trump Was Never Going to be President
For weeks I have been consoling friends, colleagues, and family members that Republican nominee Donald Trump is not going to win the US Presidency. Even leading into the first Presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, where Trump had pulled even in the national polls and was making real headway in the battle ground states, I was convinced Trump would never be President. After his awful debate performance on September 26 and the following week in which Trump continued to body shame former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado, there were still many people in both public and private life worried about a Trump Presidency. In the wake of yesterday’s release of a 2005 tape in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women, there are still mainstream political watchers who hesitate to write Trump off as anything but a curious historical footnote in modern Presidential campaign history. Like Dewey’s surprise defeat at the hands of Harry Truman in 1948, or Walter Mondale’s epic collapse against Ronald Reagan in 1984 (where Mondale won only one state…his home state of Minnesota) Trump will quickly be relegated to a minor figure in the broader history of modern presidential elections. The past six elections have proved that it is extremely difficult for any Republican candidate for president to win the electoral college in the post Ronald Reagan era.
The demographics and structural set up of the state based electoral college system precludes an easy victory for any Republican. The party of Lincoln will have to nominate the perfect candidate and hope the Democrats nominate an awful candidate in every election for the foreseeable future. Here is the basic layout: The Democrats have controlled the Northeast (minus New Hampshire), the Great Lakes rust belt (minus Indiana and Ohio), two mid atlantic states/districts (Maryland and Washington D.C.) and the West coast going all the way back to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. These solid D states for nearly a generation now include Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Delaware, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and California. Every one of these states has voted for the Democratic nominee since 1992…24 years…nearly a quarter century. That gives the Democrats a base of 238 electoral votes. Only 32 shy of the needed 270 to win. And the map has only expanded in recent years.
Since 2008, Barack Obama has added one southern state, Virginia, and two southwestern states, Colorado and New Mexico, to the solid blue mix. New Mexico has been considered a lock for Clinton throughout the current election. The other two are still discussed as battleground states by the mainstream media despite Hillary Clinton ending her campaign’s advertising in Virginia, because she is leading by a comfortable 8.2 points in recent poll averages, and is up by a mammoth 11 points in Colorado. These are not toss up states by any reality based metrics. That brings the electoral count up to 265 electoral votes that are in the bag for a D in any normal Presidential election year. So the Democratic party essentially starts every presidential election cycle only 5 electoral votes shy of the 270 needed to capture the White House. Additionally, the Democrats have added North Carolina, Nevada, and Iowa, to the perennial toss up states of Florida and Ohio. These five states represent 74 electoral votes. A generic Republican candidate must win all of these twenty first century battle ground states to win the presidency. A Democrat only needs to win one. But wait! there’s more!
There is also the curious cases of Indiana, Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district and New Hampshire. Indiana voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but has been a reliable Republican state in every other election since 1992. It shows that Indiana can fall to the Democrats in a wave election, but otherwise it is not a toss up. Nebraska, like Maine, apportions its electoral college votes by congressional district rather than winner take all. Obama won the district in 2008 and is competitive in 2016. The Nebraska 2nd isn’t a true toss up quite yet, but it, and Indiana, adds an extra dimension of uncertainty for a Republican candidate trying to cobble together enough electoral votes to get to 270. New Hampshire voted for George W. Bush in 2000, but this seems to be an outlier and has been a solid D state since 1992 otherwise. You can bank on New Hampshire voting Democratic and add them to the current solid blue states, bringing the D count up to 269. One shy of the presidency.
This does not mean that a Republican has no chance at the White House. George W. Bush won twice quite recently. But, he represented the perfect Republican candidate who faced two bad Democratic candidates in Al Gore and Joh Kerry. And it should be noted that Bush won with only 2 electoral votes in 2000, further evidence of how incredibly difficult in today’s America it is to win if you are an R. Donald Trump is far from the perfect Republican candidate. You could argue Hillary Clinton is a bad democratic candidate (how could any D be tied with Trump nationally at any point in this election?) but Trump is not even an average-generic Republican candidate. Trump is demonstrably worse than even the flawed Clinton. Donald Trump alienates African American, Latino, Women, and College Educated voters in an environment that calls for perfection from a Republican candidate just to squeak out an electoral college victory. This is why I have never, and will never, be worried that Donald Trump will occupy the Oval Office.
April 27: Grade: A-
As expected Trump swept yesterdays primaries by convincing margins. He’s the Republican nominee. Clinton won all but Rhode Island. She’s the Democratic nominee. None of their opponents seem ready to give up despite the obvious staring at them in the face. Once comps are over I’ll have much more to say. Here’s the round up:
Actual vote percentages are shown in parenthesis following the original prediction:
Connecticut: (D) Clinton >54% (51.7%) Sanders <46% (46.5%); (R) Trump >55% (57.7%) Kasich >26% (28.5%) Cruz >12% (11.7%)
Deleware: (D) Clinton >55% (59.8%) Sanders <45% (39.2%);; (R) Trump >60% (60.8%) Kasich <25% (20.4%) Cruz <15% (15.9%)
Maryland: (D) Clinton >60% (63%) Sanders <40% (33.2%); (R) Trump >50% (54.4%) Kasich >27% (23%) Cruz <23% (18.9%)
Pennsylvania: (D) Clinton >57% (55.6%) Sanders <43% (43.6%); (R) Trump >50% (56.7%) Cruz <27% (21.6%) Kasich >23% (19.4%)
Rhode Island: (D) Clinton >51% (43.3%) Sanders <49% (55%); (R) Trump >60% (63.8%) Kasich <25% (24.4%) Cruz <15% (10.4%)
April 26: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Primaries:
Today we have a slew of Northeastern primaries in the nomination fight for the Democratic and Republican candidates. This will be a quick rundown as I am still in the middle of comprehensive examination preparations. Bottom line is that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should do very well today if not sweep each state respectively. There could be a few surprise upsets, but nothing today should change the prevailing dynamics of the race, unless that is if Bernie Sanders decides to suspend his campaign after what is expected to be a shellacking at the polls.
Connecticut: (D) Clinton >54% Sanders <46%; (R) Trump >55% Kasich >26% Cruz >12%
Deleware: (D) Clinton >55% Sanders <45%; (R) Trump >60% Kasich <25% Cruz <15%
Maryland: (D) Clinton >60% Sanders <40%; (R) Trump >50% Kasich >27% Cruz <23%
Pennsylvania: (D) Clinton >57% Sanders <43%; (R) Trump >50% Cruz <27% Kasich >23%
Rhode Island: (D) Clinton >51% Sanders <49%; (R) Trump >60% Kasich <25% Cruz <15%
April 20: New York Primary Grade: A
As expected, Clinton and Trump easily won the New York Primary. Ted Cruz did a little worse and Trump did a little better than I predicted, but the rest line up pretty close to what I forecast. I got Clinton and Sanders within 3 points and almost nailed Kasich to the decimal point. Analysis after the rundown:
Actual vote percentages are shown in parenthesis following the original prediction:
New York Primary: (D) Clinton >55% (58%), Sanders <45% (42%); (R) Trump >55% (60.4%), Kasich <25% (25.1%), Cruz >20% (14.5%).
Democrats: The Bernie Sanders campaign is now over. He even went home to Vermont last night without giving a speech and left his national press corps behind. Look for Uncle Bernie to stay in the race until next weeks primaries of Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. If he does as expected (poorly) he will likely drop out of the race. His campaign has already begun to lay the groundwork for a suspension saying they would reevaluate after the April 26 primaries. A confident and healthy campaign does not say they will ‘reevaluate’ if things are going well. Clinton is already beginning to pivot to the general election spending most of her election night victory speech attacking Trump and Cruz and laying out her rationale for the presidency. I will wait to write a postmortem on the Sanders campaign for when he officially suspends his campaign…next week.
Republicans: Trump is back!!! Well, he never really went anywhere. There was just a great deal of hope among Republicans that he might be finally fading and they can finally have the convention they really want. Not gonna happen. Trump will either gain the necessary delegates to win on the first ballot or face a floor fight with Cruz in subsequent rounds. I have been going back and forth on whether he could win a contested convention, but I am (currently) back on board the ‘modern political parties are not built to deny the leading vote getter the nomination’ bandwagon. Cruz is making impressive inroads in the fight for delegate support after the first ballot. But, Trump has revamped his campaign and will fight hard for delegates from this point forward. My crystal ball shows Trump a dozen or so delegates short headed into Cleveland in July and finding a way to get the nomination in one or two ballots.
Clinton V. Trump here we come!! See everyone next week.
April 19: New York Primary
I am now knee deep in my preparations for comprehensive examinations, so this will be a short blog post on the New York Primary. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are expected to win by comfortable margins. Trump has a commanding lead, and should get over 50% of the vote. Despite Cruz insulting New Yorkers at every turn, he seems to be in a close race for second with Kasich. Both are poised to garner around 20% of the vote each. I predict that Kasich will beat Cruz out for the second spot, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cruz pull a mini upset over the Ohio governor. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has had a consistent double digit lead over Bernie Sanders in most polls. For the Republicans, Donald Trump will need more performances like tonight if he wants to avoid a contested Republican convention and the growing likelihood he will lose a floor fight to Ted Cruz or another Republican in July. For the Democrats, Sanders needs an upset win in the Empire State to change the hardening dynamics of the race. Although Clinton grew up in Illinois, she served as New York’s Senator before joining the Obama cabinet as Secretary of State. It would be a disaster for Clinton to lose her adopted home state. A Bernie win would not guarantee him the nomination, but it would cause many top Democrats to reevaluate Hillary’s candidacy. With a probable 10 pointish Clinton win, the Sanders campaign will be effectively over. It is doubtful he would drop out, but with no momentum to take him into other big states like Pennsylvania and California, Clinton will be able to begin focusing on the general election and a likely Trump or Cruz opponent.
New York Primary: (D) Clinton >55%, Sanders <45%; (R) Trump >55%, Kasich <25%, Cruz >20%
April 6: Wisconsin Primary Grade: A+
I accurately predicted the Wisconsin Primary for both the Democrats and the Republicans. Cruz and Sanders won by double digits. My only real prognostication hiccup was Kasich only getting 14% versus the 20% I forecasted. Takeaways after the round up.
Actual vote percentages are shown in parenthesis following the original prediction:
Wisconsin Primary: (D) Sanders >56% (56.6%), Clinton <44% (43.1%); (R) Cruz <44% (48.2%), Trump >36% (35.1%), Kasich <20% (14.1%).
This was an important win for both Sanders and Cruz. For Sanders it proves he still has legs and is dangerous. However, it was not a surprise win or a true game changer. If he wins the New York primary on April 19, then the narrative truly changes as New York has a mammoth 291 delegates available for the Democrats. Sanders should win the Wyoming Caucus on April 9 with ease. Sanders will earn the majority of the 18 delegates of this northern plains state with a strong performance of somewhere in the neighborhood of a 60 point win.
The Cruz win makes it much more difficult for Trump to win the nomination outright before the Republican convention in July. It is still mathematically and realistically possible, but he has to maintain healthy wins the rest of the way. If you listen to the media on what percentage Trump needs to win the rest of the way, you are in for a confusing research project. According to the New York Times, Trump would need to average around 44% in the remaining contests in order to get to 1,237. According to the Washington Post, Trump now needs to win 64% of the remaining delegates. Either way, the Wisconsin loss made life more difficult for Trump and a contested convention much more likely. For a run down on that scenario scroll down. See every one in three days!
April 5: Wisconsin Primary
Wisconsin holds its Democratic and Republican Primaries today and both Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders should defeat the two leading candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Although there is one poll that has Trump beating Cruz in Wisconsin, it seems to be an outlier as Cruz has about a 5 point lead in the Real Clear Politics poll averages. The same is essentially true on the Democratic side as Bernie is edging out Clinton by about 3 points. Both are very close races according to the polls and a surprise Trump and/or Clinton win are not out of the realm of possibility. Clinton is a historically weak Democratic front runner who should have put Sanders away weeks ago. While she will be the nominee, her inability to close the deal this late in the campaign (with her name recognition and institutional support) just proves that a number of Democratic politicians really missed the boat in not jumping into this race. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are two names that jump immediately to mind (although the death of Biden’s son is certainly an understandable reason why Biden did not run). Scroll down for my analysis of the possibility of a brokered Republican convention that takes the nomination away from Trump after the rundown.
Wisconsin Primary: (D) Sanders >56%, Clinton <44%; (R) Cruz <44%, Trump >36%, Kasich <20%
For weeks I have said that modern American political parties are not built to take the nomination away from candidates who win the most votes. However, Trump is different. He has the highest unfavorable poll numbers of any modern presumptive presidential nominee. He is regularly scoring in the high 60s, which is understandably scaring the hell out of the Republican party. What’s more, Cruz seems to be playing the byzantine long game of capturing the hearts of the delegates that will head to Cleveland, OH for the Republican National Convention from July 18-21. The theory goes something like this: Trump will be short the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot. As a result, the party will vote in a second ballot to see if anyone can get to the magic number. If no nominee is crowned after the first two ballots, you keep voting until there is a consensus candidate. Most delegates have to stick to the candidate they were pledged to, in the primary or caucus in their state, through the first and sometimes second ballot per state party rules. After that…they are free to vote for whatever candidate they want. Cruz and Kasich (along with some other Republican pols) are hoping to deny Trump the nomination on the first two ballots and win on a subsequent vote. Cruz and his campaign are hard at work getting slates of delegates elected in states all over the country who would switch to him after their mandated first and/or second ballot votes for Trump and other candidates.
Former Oklahoma Republican congressman Mickey Edwards recently destroyed Trump’s argument that getting the closest to 1,237 is good enough to win the nomination. Edwards essentially wrote that Trump’s argument is nonsense. And he has a point. Benchmarks are there for the good of the party:
Electing a U.S. president is not a schoolyard game, where goalposts change when bullies whine. There’s a reason a candidate has to make it to 1,237 votes to win the nomination. Each party’s goal is to put forth a nominee whom the party’s members, represented by their elected delegates, believe will best reflect the party’s collective judgment—a determination possible only when the level of support is clear and convincing. That’s why both parties set a benchmark, the political equivalent of the tape at the finishing line of a race, sufficient to establish the party’s preference. In a hundred-yard dash, a runner who beats the others but who can only manage 95 yards doesn’t go home with a medal.
Can Trump be stopped at the convention?…maybe. Trump can not win the general election. Along with his high unfavorable poll numbers with the vast majority of voters, he is losing women in particular by huge margins. According to CNN, Trump has a negative rating of 73%!!!!! among women nationally. That’s astounding. It is difficult get 73% of any group of people to agree on anything. However, deciding that Trump is a louse is the consensus conclusion for the vast majority of women in this country. The disastrous polling reality of Donald Trump, coupled with the establishment of the Republican party recoiling in horror at the Trump circus, may be enough to deny him the nomination in Cleveland. I am still predicting that Trump will be victorious in July, but the Republican Convention may turn out to be the most exciting political show in my lifetime.
March 27: Saturday Democratic Caucuses Grade: B+
Bernie Sanders easily won Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska as predicted. I am docking myself a letter grade because the margins were so big for Sanders. Takeaway’s are after the round up.
Actual vote percentages are shown in parenthesis following the original prediction:
Washington: Sanders >63% (73%), Clinton <37% (27%).
Alaska: Sanders >60% (82%), Clinton <40% (18%).
Hawaii: Sanders >55% (70%), Clinton <45% (30%).
Takeaway: Clinton will still be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. It was a good day for Sanders and it at least keeps him alive for the ‘what if something crazy happens’ chance to be the Democratic nominee. The next election is over a week away on April 5, when Wisconsin holds its Republican and Democratic primaries. It will be interesting to see how the week plays out, especially on the Republican side where that race has degenerated into attacking spouses.
March 26: Saturday Democratic Caucuses:
Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska have their Democratic Caucuses today. Once again there are few polls to help gauge what the results may be. Since they are caucuses, Sanders should do well in all three states. I am predicting a win for Uncle Bernie in all three. However, if Clinton can eek out a win in any of the states, it will be a mildly news worthy event. Hawaii is probably her best opportunity as it is a reliable Democratic state and diverse. It is a closed caucus where only Democratic party members are allowed to vote and independent voters are shut out. This generally favors Clinton as independents break for Sanders heavily. I’m still predicting a win for Sanders because the Hawaii electorate is more liberal than even many Dem states. Washington is one of the most liberal states in the union as well and with a caucus format Sanders should do very well. Alaska is a Republican state but like other sparsely populated conservative states like the Dakotas, Alaska has a more liberal democratic party contingent. Sanders should be able to take advantage of the caucus format and win easily. My, now usual, caveat: It does not matter if Sanders does well today. Clinton will be the nominee.
I have written recently that Trump will be the nominee even if he doesn’t have the required delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican Convention this summer. Some very good reporting recently detailing Cruz’s machiavellian moves to control the rules committee for the Republican Convention have me second guessing the Republican party’s inability to stop Trump. Look for a new post on the growing likelihood of a Republican Convention floor fight that takes the nomination away from Trump in the next few days.
Washington: Sanders >63%, Clinton <37%.
Alaska: Sanders >60%, Clinton <40%
Hawaii: Sanders >55%, Clinton <45%
March 24: Chalk-Grade: B+
Hello folks. Last Tuesday’s elections turned out the way I and most predicted. It is difficult to see any real effect on the election from the terrorist attacks in Brussels. The Arizona election was already baked-in weeks ago because of the state’s heavy early voting tradition. I did not factor that aspect in to my predictions, so while I got the order correct, the percentages were off a tad because many voters had cast their ballots for Marco Rubio long before he dropped out of the race after the Florida primary. Ironically, I was off the most on the percentages in the other two states as Cruz and Sanders both outperformed their poll numbers and most experts predictions. In Utah Cruz easily got over 50% and captured all of the states delegates. Sanders crushed Clinton in Utah and Idaho with nearly 80% of the vote. Because I missed on the percentages in some cases I am docking myself a letter grade despite getting the winners and losers correct. Takeaways are after the round up.
Actual vote percentages are shown in parenthesis following the original prediction:
Arizona: (R) Trump >45% (47%), Cruz >35% (25%), Kasich <18% (10%); (D) Clinton >55% (58%) Sanders <45% (40%). Grade: A+
Utah: (R) Cruz >49% (69%), Kasich >27% (17%), Trump >20% (14%); (D) Sanders <55% (79%), Clinton >45% (20%). Grade: B+
Idaho: (D) Sanders <52% (78%), Clinton >48% (21%). Grade: B+
Takeaways: The convincing Utah win for Cruz keeps the myth of a convention rebellion against Trump alive and well. I give the chances of Trump not being the nominee at 10%. I would love to see a floor fight that wrests the nomination away from Trump. It would be mana from heaven, must watch TV, catnip for politicos, etc. etc…it would be fun. Nothing last Tuesday convinces me that is a likely scenario. The same essentially goes for the other side of the isle. Even Uncle Bernie’s big wins in Utah and Idaho do not change the arc of the race. Sanders ended up with more delegates than Clinton (73-53), but he needs to do much better than that if he wants to catch up to her. The current delegate count is 1223-920 in Clinton’s favor. That doesn’t include all the Superdelegates that Clinton has pocketed. The math just doesn’t work in his favor unless he can start demolishing her in big states like California and New York. Bottom line: It’s still over for Sanders. See everyone Saturday for the next round: Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington Democratic caucuses!
March 22: Another Tuesday Election:
I am curious to see if the terrorist attacks in Brussels today have any effect on the elections tonight. There has been very little polling in the three states holding elections today and people do strange things when they feel scared. The combination of the horror unfolding on our tv screens and social media feeds today-coupled with the sparsity of the polling makes predictions very difficult. But, that’s what I do every week, so with a heavy heart I continue. My thoughts are with the wonderful people of Belgium tonight. Whether you know it or not, we are with you.
Today Idaho, Arizona, and Utah hold their Democratic primaries and caucuses while Arizona and Utah hold Republican primaries (Cruz won the Idaho Republican caucus on March 9). I will continue to predict each state as they have their primaries or caucuses despite the reality that Clinton and Trump will be the nominees. Only something crazy can upset this outcome at this point.
It appears that Cruz will win Utah because apparently Mormon’s aren’t that big on Trump. The real question is whether Cruz can get above 50%. If he does, then he can lock up all of Utah’s delegates. If he falls short…then they will be apportioned to all the vote getters, which means Trump could pad his lead with less than 25% of the vote. Sanders should win in the Utah Democratic caucus, but again, since there is little polling from the state, I believe Clinton could easily edge him out. Trump will romp to a big victory in Arizona and could possibly get over 50%. Arizona is, after all, the state of Governor Jan Brewer and “America’s toughest sheriff” or as I like to say “America’s Most Racist Sheriff,” Joe Arpaio. Clinton should win Arizona comfortably and only a surprise win by Sanders could even begin to change my mind that HRC is on her way to the nomination. Idaho is a complete mystery. No polling. No real feel for the state. It’s white and in the plains, so I guess it’s Sanders country? Why not, Uncle Bernie deserves a few more state wins even though he will not be President of the United Sates.
Arizona: (R) Trump >45%, Cruz >35%, Kasich <18%; (D) Clinton >55% Sanders <45%
Utah: (R) Cruz >49%, Kasich >27%, Trump >20%; (D) Sanders <55%, Clinton >45%
Idaho: (D) Sanders <52%, Clinton >48%
March 16: March Madness!! Grade: B-
What a night. At long last we have our Republican and Democratic nominees for President of the United States. Yes there will be the die-hards who will say that neither Clinton or Trump have the delegate’s yet to officially wrap up the nominations and Trump is likely headed to an open convention where anything is possible, but I’m here to say, it…is…over. Clinton and Trump effectively swept the March 15 primaries with only Kasich winning his home state of Ohio. Sanders can not at this point make a convincing argument that he can get close enough on the earned delegate count to convince the Superdelegates to switch from Hillary to him. As for Trump, there is no way the Republican convention will take the nomination away from him this summer. Modern political parties and conventions are not built to deny the leading vote getter the nomination. As a political and history junkie, I will be desperately hoping for an exciting floor fight that wrests the nomination away from Trump and gives it to someone else. Not gonna happen though. I’ll have to think up some sort of bet over the next few weeks in which I do something crazy if Trump is not the nominee. Mostly because I know I will never have to pay up.
Looking ahead to the general election: This will be the most insane, dirtiest, unconventional presidential race in over a hundred years. Political pundits and the networks are going to make a lot of money over the next few months. But in the end Hillary Clinton will crush Donald Trump in November. The Senate will switch to the Democrats and the House of Representatives is now in play. Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
How I did last night: P=Prediction A=Actual Result
P= Ohio: (D) Sanders >51%, Clinton <49%; (R) Kasich >38%, Trump >38%, Cruz <18%, Rubio <5%
A=Ohio: (D) Sanders 43%, Clinton 57%; (R) Kasich 47%, Trump 36%, Cruz 13%, Rubio 3%
P=Illinois: (D) Sanders >51%, Clinton >49%; (R) Trump >40%, Cruz >32%, Kasich <20%, Rubio <9%
A=Illinois: (D) Sanders 49%, Clinton 51%; (R) Trump 39%, Cruz 30%, Kasich 20%, Rubio 9%
P=Florida: (D) Clinton >65%, Sanders <35; (R) Trump >44%, Rubio >28%, Cruz <20%, Kasich >8%
A=Florida: (D) Clinton 65%, Sanders 33%; (R) Trump 46, Rubio 27%, Cruz 17%, Kasich 7%
P=North Carolina: (D) Clinton >70%, Sanders <30%; (R) Trump <45%, Cruz <30%, Kasich >10%, Rubio >7%
A=North Carolina: (D) Clinton 55%, Sanders 41%, (R) Trump 40%, Cruz 37%, Kasich 13%, Rubio 8%
P=Missouri: (D) Sanders >52%, Clinton <48%; (R) Trump >45%, Cruz <32%, Kasich <12%, Rubio <9%
A=Missouri: (D) Sanders 49%, Clinton 50%; (R) Trump 41%, Cruz 41%, Kasich 10%, Rubio 6%
March 15: March Madness!!: Early Takeaways:
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the Republican and Democratic nominees.
Trump appears to be running the table with the exception of Ohio where Kasich won and Missouri is yet to be called. Bottom line: Trump is the nominee. Even a contested/brokered convention won’t stop him now.
Clinton is wiping the floor with Sanders, winning Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina with Illinois and Missouri yet to be finalized. Even if Sanders pulls it out in Illinois or Missouri, his campaign is effectively over. He can’t catch Clinton.
I’ll have a more detailed breakdown and a look ahead to the general election tomorrow. Have a great night!
March 15: March Madness!!
Tonight we have 5 states holding primaries on both the Democratic and Republican sides. It is make or break for Rubio and Kasich, as both are trying to win their home states against the insurgent and violent campaign of Donald Trump. Oh who is kidding who here…Kasich and Rubio are done no matter what the results are this evening. What they are really fighting for is a future in politics. Rubio is in the most danger as he is young and could be selling insurance by this time next year. A loss in his home state, which I’m predicting, will likely end his political career. He might be able to win the governorship in a few years, but Trump trouncing him will sting for quite a while. I’m predicting that Trump will sweep the primaries tonight and end, once and for all, the fantasy that Trump can be stopped. Tonight is Trump’s coronation, and the end of the modern Republican party.
I am predicting two mild upsets in Ohio and Illinois for uncle Bernie, while Clinton will continue to dominate the south with big wins in Florida and North Carolina. Missouri should go to Sanders as well. Clinton is still the likely nominee, but with two big Rust Belt state wins for Sanders, he will put pressure on the Superdelegates resistant to him and loyal to the Clintons and Obama. Don’t let anyone fool you, President Obama is pulling for Clinton and the Democratic party faithful know it. Sanders is accomplishing much more than I thought possible and as I said last week, He has a slim path to the nomination. If he can pull off what I’m predicting tonight, then that slim opening gets a little wider.
Have fun watching the results!
Ohio: (D) Sanders >51%, Clinton <49%; (R) Kasich >38%, Trump >38%, Cruz <18%, Rubio <5%
Illinois: (D) Sanders >51%, Clinton >49%; (R) Trump >40%, Cruz >32%, Kasich <20%, Rubio <9%
Florida: (D) Clinton >65%, Sanders <35; (R) Trump >44%, Rubio >28%, Cruz <20%, Kasich >8%
North Carolina: (D) Clinton >70%, Sanders <30%; (R) Trump <45%, Cruz <30%, Kasich >10%, Rubio >7%
Missouri: (D) Sanders >52%, Clinton <48%; (R) Trump >45%, Cruz <32%, Kasich <12%, Rubio <9%
March 9: Little Tuesday! Grade: B+
For perhaps the first time this primary election season, the Democratic race was more exciting and consequential than the Republican side last night. Bernie Sanders scored a historic upset victory in the Michigan Primary. Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls by double digits, as much as 20 points, before the voting began. Even Sanders seemed a little surprised at the results, conducting a hasty news conference late at night to claim victory. As Nate Silver said last night, the Sanders win “will count as among the greatest polling errors in primary history.” So I don’t feel so bad about missing that prediction, because so did everyone else. Hillary Clinton wiped the floor with Sanders in Mississippi 83-17, not too far off my prediction of 75-25. When the winning margins are so large, an 8 point difference between the result and prediction is nothing to get too excited about. More on the ramifications of all of this for the Democrats is below.
On the Republican side, Trump had a very good night and Cruz remains as the only real challenger. In Michigan I got the order correct and did very well on the percentages. Trump ended up with 37% where I had him at 42%, Cruz netted 25% and I predicted 23%, Kasich got 24% where I had him at 19%, and Rubio ended with a pathetic 9% that was only 2 points above where I had him. Not bad if I don’t say so myself. I got the Mississippi Primary close, but no cigar. Got the top two, but Kasich beat out Rubio for third and Cruz did quite a bit better than I thought he would. Trump ended with 47% and I had him at 50%, Cruz vaulted up to 36% and I only predicted 20%, Kasich got 9% which was exactly what I predicted while Rubio pulled 5% in a disaster that was well below the 14% I believed he could get. I nailed Idaho with pin point accuracy. Cruz won with 45% and I had him at 42%. Trump garnered 28% and I predicted 33%. Rubio pulled 16% where I had him at 15% and Kasich rounded out the four with 7% against my 6% call. Again, not too bad for some joker in Western Mass. Hawaii was impossible to predict. There were no polls to go on and only a few thousand people participated in the caucus. Trump ended up winning with Cruz coming in second. I called it for Cruz, so I got that wrong. Between a historic upset win for Sanders and an impossible to judge Hawaii Republican Caucus, I think a B+ is a good grade for getting most of the rest of the night correct.
Takeaways/Democrats: Sanders is alive and now a real threat. He beat the Clinton narrative that he couldn’t win big diverse states. Although Clinton still beat Sanders with African Americans pretty handily, it was not nearly as bad as in the South and this made all of the difference in Michigan. So the question is…can he win? I don’t know. But he does, finally, have a plausible path to the nomination. Clinton’s huge lead in the delegates is a result of Superdelegates. Clinton is only a little over a hundred delegates above Sanders if you discount the Superdelegates. If Bernie can string together some wins in the industrial rust belt, he can make the argument that Clinton may not be electable in the Fall…and then maybe convince a sufficient number of Superdelegates to switch sides. This is still a tall order as most of the Democratic Party establishment do not believe Americans will elect a socialist as president and they are not willing to risk what they believe will be an easy win against Trump in November. I am still predicting that Clinton will ultimately win, but for the first time my head can allow my heart a glimmer of hope for uncle Bernie.
Takeaways/Republicans: Rubio is finished. Even if he wins Florida, which is not at all clear, he has no path to the nomination. Cruz is the only one who can stop Trump. Cruz really needs to keep Trump from gaining the requisite delegates and then hope he can win it all at a contested/brokered Republican convention this summer. Bottom line is that Trump is the odds on favorite to win. Then the real fun begins as Republicans across the country trying to win governorships and House and Senate seats will have to decide if they will support The Donald or run for the hills and hope for the best.
See everyone in a few days!
March 8: Little Tuesday!
I have been unable to offer detailed predictions over the past week of elections do to my involvement in planning a great international graduate student history conference this past Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. But, with that now completed, I can return to predictions of a very exciting election season. Tonight we have four states going to the polls. Michigan and Mississippi have primaries for both Democrats and Republicans while Hawaii and Idaho have Republican elections only. After Super Tuesday, and some big elections on Saturday March 5, the nomination fight has gone through some ups and downs. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich are the only ones left standing on the Republican side. Although the reality is that it is now a two man race with only Trump and Cruz having a realistic chance at the nomination, Rubio and Kasich are hoping to hold on long enough to win their respective states of Florida and Ohio and then pray for a miracle in a brokered convention this summer. The continuing story of the Republican establishment trying anything to stop a Trump nomination continues as Cruz racked up some interesting wins last Saturday March 5th. Some establishment Republicans are even thinking the unthinkable, supporting Cruz just to stop Trump. Last Saturday did see a few chinks in the armor of Trump and it may still be possible to stop him, but time is short. The Florida and Ohio Republican primaries will be held on March 15 and are both winner take all states. If Trump can not be stopped there, it is all over.
As for the Democrats, Clinton seems to have a commanding lead in the delegate count despite Sanders continuing to pull in boat loads of cash and a victory here in there to make his continued run plausible. Most of the lead Clinton has amassed relies on Superdelegates. Although many Democratic politicians and party leaders that have Superdelegate status have pledged their support to Clinton, they are not bound by these promises and can change their vote once at the convention. This is a highly unlikely scenario. Sanders is, like Rubio and Kasich, hoping for some kind of miracle at the convention in which he has either stuck it out long enough to deny Clinton an outright victory or the more improbable chance that legal trouble from the State Department email scandal makes Clinton unelectable in the Fall. The inability to adequately fundraise is often the ultimate reason candidates are forced out of an election in today’s American political system, but because Sanders is still able to raise huge amounts of money, there is little reason for him to step aside. As a result, this will be a long nomination fight for the Democrats even though the ultimate outcome is becoming more than clear. If Sanders can’t win over minority voters and continues to lose states like Massachusetts that should be his natural constituencies, all the Maine’s in the world will not make a real difference.
Michigan: (R) Trump >42, Cruz <23, <Kasich 19, Rubio >7. (D) Clinton >68, Sanders <32.
Mississippi: (R) Trump >50, Cruz >20, Rubio <14, Kasich <9. (D) Clinton >75, Sanders <25.
Idaho: (R) Cruz >42, Trump >33, Rubio <15, Kasich <6.
Hawaii: (R) No idea. No polling. No gut feeling. This guy has predicted a Cruz win and his reasoning sounds good enough, so we’ll go with that.
Have a fun night!
March 1: SUPER TUESDAY!!!
Tonight is the night! We will likely have our Republican and Democratic nominees by tomorrow morning. Barring something crazy, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will rack up big wins tonight and put their competitors in the position of needing a hail mary in some big states voting after today. So, I am predicting that Trump and Clinton will be the Super Tuesday winners. Unfortunately, other responsibilities today did not allow me the time to make detailed predictions of each state. So I will be watching with everyone to see if Sanders, Cruz, or Rubio can steal any states away from Clinton or Trump. Sanders has a shot at Massachusetts, and Oklahoma, while he is sure to nab his home state of Vermont. Cruz is battling for his political life in his own state of Texas where Trump has made inroads. I will have a detailed analysis of the results in the next few days. Have Fun watching the results!!
February 27: South Carolina Democratic Primary:
Tonight is the South Carolina Democratic Primary. There is very little drama tonight as Hillary Clinton is expected to wallop Bernie Sanders. She has consistently led the polls in South Carolina anywhere from 20-50 points. How big of a win is the only real reason I, or anyone outside SC, will be paying attention. In fact, expect all the major news networks to call the election for Clinton as soon as the polls close at 7:00pm EST. Next Tuesday is Super Tuesday where over a dozen states and territories will cast ballots in Republican and Democratic primaries and caucuses. If Bernie Sanders wants to remain a viable candidate beyond next week, he needs to have some surprise wins. I’ll have a larger Super Tuesday breakdown early next week.
Once again the bigger news since last Tuesday the 23rd was made on the Republican side. I accurately forecast the order of the first three but got Kasich badly wrong as he finished behind Carson with a measly 3.6% to Carson’s equally pathetic 4.8%. I also undervalued Trump’s number by over 10% as he ended up with 45.9%. Basically all of the votes I had allocated to Kasich went to Trump and there you have the ultimate outcome. I got Rubio and Cruz pretty closely as they both finished only a couple of points above where I forecast. So I am giving my self a B-, mostly because I can’t stomach another self inflicted C grade. Where I went wrong was Kasich. I thought perhaps some of his stronger finishes recently might propel him into the low double digits, but I should have known better. He didn’t campaign or spend any money in Nevada and he is virtually an unknown out West.
The real question for Republicans, is whether they can stop Trump. I won’t link to all of the articles written this week about the Republican party’s meltdown over the prospect of The Donald being their standard bearer. But you might be interested to look at this one about the money men looking to stop Trump and the overall picture from inside the party here. One of the biggest bombshells was Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump a few days ago. I’m rarely surprised by endorsements, but I have to admit this one floored me. Christie might as well have said “I’m not interested in being in politics anymore, so I’m doing this crazy thing.” Some have speculated he wants a Vice Presidential running mate position or possibly the Attorney General post in a fantasy Trump administration. As my father accurately texted me the other day with regards to Christie being the VP running mate… “can you imagine the two angriest most spiteful men in politics as our leaders?” This from a moderate who has voted for mostly R’s in presidential elections. I think this captures it pretty well for the overall prospects of a Trump general election run. So, let me be clear…Donald Trump will never be President of the United States…never. Even an indicted Hillary Clinton will defeat Trump. His success so far has come from a minority of a minority political party. A small sliver of the population at large that will never translate into a winning national coalition. Only 23% of Americans identify as Republicans. And Trump is only winning around 30%-35% of that number on a regular basis.
We may be seeing the immolation of a major American political party for the first time since the Whig party fell apart in 1854. If Rubio can’t stop Trump (and he’s the only one who can), then there is a real question as to what the hardcore movement conservatives will do. A brokered convention is probably not an option. The Republican Party isn’t built to reject a candidate that has won the most votes leading into its national convention. The more probable outcome will be a well financed third party candidate run from a big name establishment Republican. A Mitt Romney type of guy. The conservative neocon Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol floated a Dick Cheney and Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton third party ticket. Sounds crazy, but dyed in the wool Conservatives will not support Donald Trump. Some have even said that if it was between Trump and Clinton…they would vote for Clinton. It will be an interesting March. Until then enjoy the South Carolina results!
February 23: Nevada Republican Caucus Predictions:
Tonight we have the Republican version of the Nevada Caucus. The Democrats have the night off and will reconvene in South Carolina on Saturday.
The past two Republican primaries have generally conformed to the available polling, particularly the Real Clear Politics poll averages. All you have generally had to do is add a couple of percentage points to most of the candidates and you had their final numbers. The one exception was the Iowa Caucus. That election generally favors the hottest religious right candidate and that was Ted Cruz at that date and time. So that is why I predicted his ‘upset’ win correctly when the polls had Trump winning.
The Nevada Caucus, however, is a completely different matter. The Nevada Republican party has been a mess for a decade. The last two presidential nomination fights in 2008 and 2012 saw them in complete chaos with attempted and successful hostile takeovers initiated by Libertarian Ron Paul supporters. As a result of this turmoil, in 2012, many Nevada delegates voted for Ron Paul at the national convention even though Mitt Romney won the caucus . It has gotten so bad, the state party is fearful the National Republican party will take this early caucus date away from them if they can’t get their act together. There is also the problem that this is a caucus and not a primary, which only sees the most dedicated of voters actually turn out. The republican version of the caucus is a bit more easy to participate in than the Democrats, but it is still a caucus. Add to this, there has been very little polling. Like the Democrats on Saturday there has been virtually no recent polls in the state. So this prediction will be completely by the seat of my pants. If I can give myself a B grade after tonight, I will be ecstatic. Oh, and I’m tempting the gods by picking Rubio second. Will he screw me for the fourth time?
February 21: Report Card: C+
I lost a letter grade for getting the Democrats wrong and then another letter grade because Marco Rubio killed me…again.
First, the Democratic Nevada Caucus. The results were the exact opposite of what I predicted. Hillary won with 53% to Bernie’s 47%. I believed Sanders would win the Nevada caucus going all the way back to Iowa. As a general rule, caucus elections favor the base candidate, or in other words, the candidate furthest to the left or right depending on the party. Sanders is spinning this as a victory of sorts, saying that he came from behind to make Nevada a competitive race, calling Nevada tailor made for Clinton, and that he leaves with nearly the same amount of delegates as Clinton. The last part is true. I did say in my predictions that they would leave Nevada with basically the same number of delegates. However, a 6% Hillary win is pretty important. Despite Bernie’s claim, Nevada was not tailor made for her. It was tailor made for him. And he lost. Not only did he lose the delegate count, but he confirmed the Clinton narrative that he can’t win over minority voters. The Clinton camp argues that Sanders will not be successful outside states with predominantly white, ultra liberal Democrats. There is quite a bit of confusion on how the Latino vote came out for both candidates. The entrance polls say Bernie won them 53% to 45%, but Clinton won the heavily latino counties handily, so those entrance poll numbers don’t seem quite right. What is not in dispute is that Clinton won African American voters by a whopping 76% to 23%. You just can’t win the Democratic nomination losing the African American vote by that much. And we are moving into states with even higher Latino and African American populations. Sanders will lose South Carolina next week pretty badly and he knows it. He did’t even mention the state in his post election speech, instead focusing on Super Tuesday on March 1. That will be his last stand.
The most exciting events yesterday happened on the Republican side. Jeb! Bush dropped out of the race after finishing a distant fourth with only 8%. This ends one of the most surprising runs for the presidency in many years. Bush was the presumptive favorite when he announced last year and built up a huge war chest for both his campaign and the super pac that supported him. He spent well over $100 million dollars and never finished even close to the top in any election. Trump won easily with 33%, exactly what I predicted. Cruz finished tied for second with 22%, only a couple points higher than I predicted. The surprise was Rubio once again who had a strong result with 22% as well (technically Rubio finished second with 22.5% to Cruz’s 22.3%). It appears Rubio will be the bane of my prognosticating existence throughout this election cycle. The rest of the field performed as I predicted.
The Republican party can still stop the disaster that awaits them with a Trump nomination. But they are running out of time. Bush dropping out helps, but until Carson and Kasich gets out, Rubio and Cruz will have a difficult time consolidating the anti-Trump vote before it is too late. If you held a gun to my head and forced me to predict who will end up with the nomination, I would say Marco Rubio. But he needs a lot of help over the next few weeks and he needs to fully display the political talent and skill many of us think he possesses.
I haven’t done any big picture predictions so far this election cycle because the nomination fight has been so much fun. But at the end of the day, whether the Republicans nominate Trump, Cruz, or Rubio…Clinton will wipe the floor with them in November. And yes Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Scott Walker, Jeb! Bush, and Kasich are all candidates that could have beaten Clinton in the general. Two are now out of the race and the third can’t win the Republican nomination.
See everyone next week!
February 20: Results
Got the D’s wrong. Hillary won 53%-47%. Did better with R’s. Nailed Trump at 33%. Rubio did it to me again and will finish basically tied with Cruz at around 22% each. The rest finished a distant third and Bush dropped out of the race as a result.
D’s = Sanders needs to deliver on Super Tuesday because he will lose badly in South Carolina.
R’s = Three man race just like I said after Iowa. Trump, Cruz, Rubio.
I’ll have a more detailed analysis and a final grade tomorrow. Good night folks!
February 20: South Carolina Primary and Nevada Caucus Night!!!
We have two elections today. The Nevada Caucus for the Democratic nomination and the South Carolina Primary for the Republican nomination. A quirk of the calendar splits these events up for the two major parties.
First, the Nevada Caucus: After a surprising split decision in Iowa and a commanding victory for Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, Nevada looks like a toss up. Hilary Clinton had led in the state up until recently. Granted, there has been a severe lack of polling in the state so it was actually a little presumptuous to consider anyone in the lead. Even at this late date, there has only been 3 major polls taken in the state this month, so there is still a great deal of uncertainty. However, Caucus formats seem to help out the outsider/base candidates, which should bode well for Sanders. What you should be looking for is delegate count and not actual voting percentage. Nevada has county delegates and national delegates. It’s complicated. Obama ended up with one more delegate than Clinton in 2008 after it looked like Clinton had won. I think both Clinton and Sanders will end up with basically the same delegate count, give or take a few. Both sides will spin this as a win no matter what the results are. They can do this because of the complicated way the caucus splits up delegates to the national democratic convention. The key will be Clark County. Clark is Las Vegas and has the largest and most diverse population. Clinton is expected to win there, but how big? Can Sanders keep it close? Can Sanders run up the score in the less populous counties like Obama did in 2008? This is a very difficult caucus to predict because of the lack of polling, but it is the first election on the Democratic side to have a high number of minority voters so we will know quite a bit about Sanders and Clinton after today. Having said that, I have underestimated Sanders so far. I’m not going to do that today. I’m picking him to win by a narrow margin.
South Carolina Primary: Since New Hampshire, a number of candidates have dropped out. Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina have joined Huckabee, Santorum, Graham etc. in the also ran category for election 2016. That leaves Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Kasich, and Carson. Carson is a non factor, his campaign has nothing to do with winning at this point. Bush is on life support and even his own staffers are sending out resumes. Kasich has not campaigned much in South Carolina and should not make much noise despite his good performance in New Hampshire. Which leaves the big boys: Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. All are polling well and should finish one, two, three respectively. Cruz and Rubio are essentially tied in the polls. I have consistently gotten Rubio wrong this cycle. He does good when I think he won’t and then does really bad when I think he will perform well. I’ve always believed that he is the most talented and dangerous Republican candidate in the field for any Democratic nominee. But he’s young and inexperienced and makes mistakes, which accounts for his uneven performances. I can’t pull the trigger again on Rubio after being burned consistently. I’m picking him third, and only because the polls won’t let me drop him any further. Cruz is hated by Republican politicians and mainstream activists. But average base republican voters like him and he would probably be running away with this if Trump wasn’t in the race. Cruz will finish second. After New Hampshire, Trump proved he could translate his poll numbers into actual votes. Until that changes, my predictions for him will be very close to his poll numbers. Trump is the leading Republican candidate. Feel free to take a moment after that sentence.
February 10: Report Card Revision: C+
I have revised down my grade on predicting the New Hampshire Primary to a C+. Perhaps a little tough on myself, but hey, this is just for fun, so why not? There are three reasons why I have done this. Even though I got the order basically correct in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, I had some big percentage misses within the predictions. 1.) I missed Rubio pretty badly. I had him coming in second with 20% and instead he finished fifth with 10.6%. Which is a 9.4% miss. The debate Saturday night hurt Rubio much worse than I thought it would. I wouldn’t say he’s done yet, but he is severely wounded and will have a difficult time recovering. 2.) Trump won as everyone expected, but he won uuuge. I had him at 26% and he got 35.3%. Which is a difference of 9.3%. Trump proved he could turn his big rallies and good poll numbers into actual votes. I am still skeptical that he will be the nominee, but it’s no longer crazy to start imagining Donald Trump on the general election ballot in November. 3.) I had Sanders winning easily and projected him at 55%. He ended up with 60.4%. A difference of 5.4%. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things, but Hillary only receive 38% where I had her at 45%, a difference of 7%. So all together I had the spread at 10% and it ended up at 22.4%. That’s a pretty big miss and much higher than I think even the Clinton people expected. I am confident they knew they were headed for a bad night and they quickly released a ‘where we go from here’ memo before she took to the stage to concede the night. Also, word started leaking out long before the polls closed Tuesday that there would be big changes in the staff going forward. I still believe that Clinton will be the nominee and will win South Carolina and most of the Super Tuesday primaries in early March. But, that is what most people said this same time in 2008 when Obama was starting to roll. Momentum is a powerful thing and I am convinced that Hillary Clinton just isn’t a very good campaigner. I expected her poor performance as a campaigner and lack of ability to connect with wide swaths of the Democratic coalition not to be a major problem in the primaries, but it may be a fatal flaw for her. Sanders on the other hand is an exceptional politician and campaigner. You don’t win mayorships and US House and Senate seats as an avowed socialist if you can’t convince people to vote for you. By the beginning of March we will all see if Sanders actually has a nomination up his sleeve after all. I’m quietly, not so secretly, hoping for a Sanders/Trump general election. It would be unlike anything in modern American Presidential election history.
As an aside, Christie and Fiorina dropped out of the race as I predicted. Carson is a wild card. He should drop out, but this isn’t about winning the nomination for him and he may stay in for a long time no matter what his actual vote totals and delegate count is.
February 9: Report Card: B
As expected, Trump and Sanders win. If the numbers hold, Sanders will be at 59%, only 4% better than I forecasted. Trump did much better than I predicted at 34%, I said 26%. Trump hit his poll numbers for the first time. My only big miss was Rubio once again, only the other way. He will finish at least 9% below where I thought. The debate really hurt him Saturday. Clinton also performed well below where I predicted with only 39%. I predicted 45%. Which means a lot of voters cast votes for candidates no longer in the race. Not a good sign for Clinton. Nailed Kasich, he got 16%, I had him at 15%. Bush, Cruz, and Christie got 8%-12% each, right around where I forecasted.
Takeaway: Christie, Fiorina, and Carson are done. Expect all three to drop out soon (although Carson is a bit of a wild card). Kasich, Bush, Cruz, and Rubio will stay in through at least South Carolina. I’m still not convinced Sanders will last past the end of March. He will win Nevada. South Carolina will really tell us if Sanders can win the nomination. If he wins there, away from a predominantly white ultra liberal democratic electorate, or at least comes very close, all bets are off.
I will have a more in depth analysis on this blog tomorrow.
Have a good night!
February 9: New Hampshire Primary Night!!!
Here are a few thoughts and predictions before the votes start rolling in.
For the Democratic side, this is pretty easy to predict. Sanders will win with a comfortable margin of victory. The real question is by how much. The Real Clear Politics average has Sanders up by a little over 13% and he has been leading in the state essentially since late August with a brief Clinton lead in November. Sanders has been a long time politician in neighboring Vermont and New Hampshire voters tend to skew a little more liberal than the rest of the democratic coalition outside of New England. The Clinton campaign is just hoping to keep it within singe digits. If Sanders outperforms his poll numbers like he did in Iowa and wins by 15% or more, the Clinton campaign will go into a mini meltdown. There are news reports that a staff shakeup is in the works after tonight. If Sanders wins by 5% or less, expect the Clinton team to spin it as a huge victory for her.
The Republican side is much more difficult to predict and I am not anywhere near as confident with the following predictions as I was for the Iowa caucus. By comparison, Iowa was a cakewalk to predict. Iowa Republicans who actually show up and stand around for hours on a Monday night to vote are more likely than not Christian conservative voters. In the past two election cycles, Iowan Republicans chose the most Christian conservative candidate in the field. In 2008 that was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and in 2012 it was former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. So, all you had to do is figure out who the hottest Christian conservative was last week and that was your winner: Ted Cruz. Trump, with an awful ground operation, was never going to turn out voters at the same ratio as his poll numbers. But he is formidable and came in a distant second with the surprisingly surging Marco Rubio close behind. I didn’t foresee Rubio’s great night percentage wise, but I did have him coming in third to Trump, which is what happened.
After Iowa, I was set to pick Rubio in an upset much like I chose Cruz in Iowa. Rubio had all the mojo coming off his strong third place finish and it looked as though he was finally going to be the candidate that could rally all the establishment conservatives to one banner. Then…Rubio had an awful debate performance on Saturday night. I personally did not see it as much of a slip up as the national and social media has claimed, but perception becomes reality and a first place finish for Rubio is probably out of reach now.
Cruz, the winner of Iowa, will struggle to finish in the top three. He was never going to set New Hampshire on fire as the electorate is much more like the rest of the Republican coalition throughout the country, which is evenly split between Christian, economic, foreign policy, and Tea Party conservatives. Cruz left Iowa wounded despite his win due to the bad press surrounding his campaign floating the erroneous story that Carson was going to drop out and then lying and claiming they just got it from a CNN report. The Cruz campaign also sent around some shady snail mail leaflets that got people all in a huff. Finally, establishment Republicans have many more voters and opinion makers in New Hampshire and they loath Cruz with the passion of a thousand suns.
Which leaves Trump. He should win the primary, but it is up for grabs what the final number will be. I am still skeptical that he can turn out voters at the same rate as his poll numbers, but he seems to have a solid lead. Who comes next? I’m sticking with Rubio but only by a slim margin over the other moderate establishment Republicans. Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Rubio are all fighting for the third spot behind Cruz and Trump in the national polls. They are all within a percent or two of each other in New Hampshire, with the exception of Christie who is hoping his debate performance taking down Rubio will launch him into the top three or four in New Hampshire. I have the distinct feeling that these predictions may turn out much like my Super Bowl prediction: Not good. But hey, what fun would it be to run scared?
February 1: Report Card: Called the Republican caucus pretty closely. Predicted a Cruz win (did 2% less), nailed Trump exactly, Rubio did much better than I predicted (off 9%), got Carson right (1% off).
Totally missed on the Democratic side. Sanders did very well tonight fighting his way to a virtual draw. Good job Bernie.
Takeaways: Clinton will lose New Hampshire, then steam roll Sanders on the way to the nomination. Republican’s are a three way race. Cruz, Trump, Rubio. Anyones race on that side.
February 1: Before the curtain goes up on the Iowa caucuses tonight, here are a few thoughts and predictions.
Iowa is very different due to caucus format. Especially for D’s. In caucus states-turning out voters is harder work. For D’s, voters may have to spend hours voting, arguing, persuading, voting, etc..big commitment for people. For R’s, a little more straight forward. But, still more daunting than the more familiar primaries.
Don’t be surprised by the surprising tonight. Polling has had a number of issues the past few years because fewer people have land lines. Pollsters have whiffed domestically and internationally recently. US 2012 & 14, UK 2015 2x, Israel 2015, etc., have been a little/way off.
So, I am skeptical of the poll numbers for Trump and don’t believe he will be able to get low info voters (his peeps) to actually caucus. However, The only two outcomes that would completely stun me, is an O’Malley D win or a Jeb! R Top three finish. Beyond this, anything could happen.
So with those caveats out of the way, here are my predictions:
1. Cruz >30%
2. Trump <24%
3. Rubio <15%
4. Carson <10%
5. Everyone else…On to New Hampshire!
1. Clinton >53%
2. Sanders <47%
3. O’Malley: non factor. Won’t get to 15%, supporters will have to switch per D caucus rules.
Finally: Hard to tell if any candidates will drop out after tonight. Many are betting on New Hampshire (See: Jeb!, Christy, Paul, Kasich, etc.) If anyone does drop out, most likely are: O’Malley, Fiorina, Carson, Huckabee, Santorum, Gilmore (yes, he’s *still* running)
Enjoy the show!