Swing State Pres

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Nevada (D) and South Carolina (R) Go Exactly as We Predicted (Yet Again!): Clinton By a Nose, Trump By a Very Big Mouth

There are so many storylines coming out of Saturday’s results from Nevada (D) and South Carolina (R) it is hard to know where to begin.  But I think there is one story that rises above all the others, and it is getting surprisingly little play.  Sure, Hillary won some redemption, Bernie proved he could be a true national candidate, Bush dropped out, and Rubio and Cruz will now argue over who came in second.


But the story is Donald Trump and his firm grip on the GOP nomination.  At this point, given his double digit win in South Carolina, he is in control, the presumptive favorite to top the GOP ticket this fall.  And he seems impervious to two of the usual derailers, the disastrous gaffe and the notorious flip-flop.



THE GOP IN SOUTH CAROLINA

What didn’t Trump do or say over the last week that would have sent a traditional candidate packing?  He shattered Reagan’s so-called 11th Commandment (“thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican”) countless times, calling Ted Cruz an outright liar.  He took on the Bush family in South Carolina, where they are venerated, and in the baldest terms, blaming W for 9/11 and accusing him, too, of lying about WMD in Iraq.  He took on the Pope (“for a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful”), admittedly after the Pope sideswiped him first.  Old video emerged in which he declared he was pro-choice (“I am pro-choice in every respect”), and evidence also emerged that he was for the Iraq War before he was against it.

And he came through it all without a scar, and with an easy win over Rubio and Cruz.  Unless John Kasich can make an unlikely recovery in the Midwest in early March, we are, indeed, down to a three-person race.  Or a one-person race?  Trump should win Nevada comfortably on Tuesday, and will be in excellent position for Super Tuesday on March 1.  By March 15 the GOP will have elected 60% of its delegates.  It is hard to imagine the Trump steamroller somehow being stopped by then.

The Bush exit will go down as one of the largest comedowns in the history of campaigns.  Jeb Bush was blessed with everything:  the name (yes, both Bush 41 and Bush 43 are quite popular now, with approval ratings of 63% and 53% according to Gallup in 2014), the money, the organization and the establishment support.  He is widely known and lauded as a policy wonk, with a fine track record as Governor of Florida.  And yet, in the end, he simply ran at the exact wrong time.  Sure he is a lousy campaigner and a fairly rotten debater, but I feel pretty confident he would have trounced Mitt Romney in 2012.

THE DEMOCRATS IN NEVADA

That giant breathing noise you just heard was a huge sigh of relief from the Clinton camp.  While Nevada was not a “must win” for Hillary Clinton (that would be South Carolina), it was a badly need win nonetheless, similar to Iowa in many respects.  Sanders was coming on strong, and the notion that he could inject a massive youth-driven turnout into a sleepy caucus process and win it was a strong possibility.  That Clinton held Bernie off and took a six-point win was important for the “narrative” heading into South Carolina.

That said, like Iowa, it was a win for Bernie, too.  In Nevada he demonstrated his appeal in a state that did not know him well, and his ability to turn the race for the nomination into a long slog.  Clinton had surely once hoped to be crowned after Super Tuesday and that will not happen.  Bernie won’t win the South but he has enough appeal, support and money to sustain him for months and months.  In many respects, after Super Tuesday we will be back to 2008 – with a clear frontrunner and a dogged pursuer.  My sense is that Bernie in 2016 will play the role of Hillary in 2008, and lose in the long run (with Hillary assuming the Obama role).   Hillary needs to keep winning enough to keep her massive super delegate lead intact.  Big wins in the South will do that.

OUR PROJECTIONS

This is no time to be modest – we at BTRTN are in the election prediction business and we had another exceptional day.  Save for 1,700 more votes for Kasich, we would have run the table on the rankings and were more than respectable on the percentages.  All in all, we have been pretty dead on for all six races thus far (more on that below).

South Carolina (R)
BTRTN Prediction
Actual
Trump
28
33
Rubio
23
22
Cruz
18
22
Bush
12
8
Kasich
13
8
Carson
6
7



Nevada (D)
BTRTN Prediction
Actual
Clinton
52
53
Clinton
48
47

Now the two parties flip, with the GOP up on Tuesday with their Nevada caucus, and the Dems following on Saturday with their South Carolina primary, where Hillary Clinton will look for her first sizable win.  We’ll be back for each.

*************************************

For those of who are wondering how our forecasting results look overall, we have made a total of 32 projections in 2016, one for each competing candidate across the six races that have occurred.  We have called the winner of all six races correctly (better than Nate Silver!) and are off an average of a mere two percentage points per candidate projection.  And we’ve also done well on rankings, off a half a rank on average.  Here are each of the 32 projections, if you care to peruse them.

State
Party
Candidate
Predict.
Actual
Abs.    Diff
Pred. Rank
Act. Rank
Abs Rk Diff
ALL

ALL 32


2.0


0.5
IOWA
DEM



2.7


0.0
Iowa
Dem
Clinton
50
50
0
1
1
0
Iowa
Dem
Sanders
46
50
4
2
2
0
Iowa
Dem
O'Malley
4
0
4
3
3
0
IOWA
GOP



1.0


0.7
Iowa
GOP
Cruz
25
28
3
1
1
0
Iowa
GOP
Trump
24
24
0
2
2
0
Iowa
GOP
Rubio
22
23
1
3
3
0
Iowa
GOP
Carson
7
9
2
4
4
0
Iowa
GOP
Paul
5
5
0
5
5
0
Iowa
GOP
Bush
4
3
1
6
6
0
Iowa
GOP
Fiorina
2
2
0
10
7
3
Iowa
GOP
Kasich
3
2
1
8
8
0
Iowa
GOP
Huckabee
4
2
2
6
9
3
Iowa
GOP
Christie
3
2
1
8
10
2
Iowa
GOP
Santorum
1
1
0
11
11
0
NH
DEM



3.5


0.0
NH
Dem
Sanders
57
60
3
1
1
0
NH
Dem
Clinton
43
39
4
2
2
0
NH
GOP



2.0


0.6
NH
GOP
Trump
32
35
3
1
1
0
NH
GOP
Kasich
16
16
0
2
2
0
NH
GOP
Cruz
14
11
3
4
3
1
NH
GOP
Bush
12
11
1
5
4
1
NH
GOP
Rubio
15
11
4
3
5
2
NH
GOP
Christie
4
8
4
6
6
0
NH
GOP
Fiorina
4
4
0
6
7
1
NH
GOP
Carson
3
2
1
8
8
0
NEVADA
DEM



0.8


0.0
Nevada
Dem
Clinton
52
53
0.7
1
1
0
Nevada
Dem
Sanders
48
47
0.8
2
2
0
SC
GOP



3.2


0.3
S. Carolina
GOP
Trump
29
33
4
1
1
0
S. Carolina
GOP
Rubio
22
22
0
2
2
0
S. Carolina
GOP
Cruz
18
22
4
3
3
0
S. Carolina
GOP
Bush
12
8
4
5
4
1
S. Carolina
GOP
Kasich
13
8
5
4
5
1
S. Carolina
GOP
Carson
6
7
1
6
6
0

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