Swing State Pres

Monday, February 29, 2016

Super Tuesday Predictions and More: Why Clinton and Trump Will Clean Up on Super Tuesday and All But Lock Up Their Nominations

Super Tuesday is the Super Bowl of the primary schedule.  First, a few facts and figures.  There are 12 states in play on the Democratic side, and 799 delegates, 17% of the total delegate pool.  On the GOP side, it is 14 states, 623 delegates, and 25% of their total delegate pool.  These are very large numbers indeed. 

While most of the states involved are in the South, there are a few in the Northeast and Midwest.  There are both primaries and caucuses, and delegates will be awarded proportionately (rather than winner-take-all) for the Democratic races.  On the GOP side, about 70% of the delegates are awarded on a “winner-take-most” basis, in which the leader must have 50%+ of the vote to take most of the delegates, otherwise they are allocated proportionately.  The other 30% of the delegates at stake will be awarded proportionately.  And some races on both sides have some minimum thresholds required to be awarded delegates, from 5% to as high as 20%, which could be important on the GOP side.  Confusing enough?  There are plenty of other minor wrinkles, but that’s the gist. (Note, here is a wrinkle:  Colorado is having a caucuses for both parties, and Wyoming is for the GOP.  But delegates will not actually be awarded as yet; they have a complex process including state conventions so I am not including their delegate totals in this analysis.)

The stakes are obviously huge.  Simply stated, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are poised to, for all intents and purposes, put away their parties’ nominations. 

For each party I will endeavor to explain as efficiently as possible where we are now, what will happen on Super Tuesday, and where it will go from there, first with the Democrats, and then the Republicans.

THE DEMOCRATS

Where we are now.  On the Democratic side, based on the four contests held to date, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are relatively close in delegates (91-65).  But there are also Democratic “superdelegates” who are free to make personal commitments to the candidates they choose, and an overwhelming number are going with Hillary Clinton.  Unlike delegates earned in the primaries or caucuses, who are by and large committed to vote with their candidate in the first ballot at the convention, superdelegates can switch their allegiance at any time.  But they are unlikely to switch if their candidate is doing well, indeed they have every incentive not to, because politicians have very long memories.  Don’t expect any of those superdelegates to jump ship given the way things are going.  Clinton thus can count a total of 544 delegates while Sanders has only 85.  This is Bernie’s big math problem, and it means that he cannot simply match Clinton from here on in, he has to win by huge margins.  More on this later.



      DEM 2,382 to Win

Primaries/           Caucuses
Dels.
Clinton
Sanders

Total >>>
4763
544
85

Super Del.
712
453
20
1-Feb
44
23
21
9-Feb
24
9
15
20-Feb
35
20
15
27-Feb
53
39
14

Super Tuesday.  Polling for Super Tuesday is a mixed bag.  There are many recent (that is, February) polls in Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia, and one or two in all the others (save American Samoa, in which there are none).  None of these polls as yet reflect the full effect of Clinton’s enormous win in South Carolina (some even pre-date Nevada) and consequently there are many moving parts.  There are also a few caucuses in there, and they are notoriously difficult to predict.

That aside, for Super Tuesday, BTRTN projects a major triumph for Hillary Clinton, with sweeping wins in the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia), closer calls in Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota and a big win in tiny American Samoa, offset only by Sanders wins in Oklahoma and his home state of Vermont.

South Carolina is a bellwether, and in each of the Southern states I have bumped up her polling margins to account for a South Carolina bump.  Sanders has more or less given up in these states, which will contribute to the rout, of course.

Sanders has been putting effort into Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota (in addition to Vermont and Oklahoma), but I see him coming up short in each one.  The polling in these states favors Clinton, and, again, does not yet reflect the momentum from the South Carolina massacre.  Our specific state-by-state projections are as follows:

Super      Tuesday Democrats
ALAB
AmSo
ARK
COL
GA
MAS
MN
OK
TN
TX
VT
VA
Delegates >>
53
6
32
66
102
91
77
38
67
222
16
95
Primary/Caucus
P
C
P
C
P
P
C
P
P
P
P
P
Clinton
73
65
70
51
72
53
60
48
68
69
13
67
Sanders
27
35
30
49
28
47
40
52
32
31
87
33

Where to from here.  I believe Hillary Clinton will have all but sewn up the nomination based on the Super Tuesday results, and the explanation is pretty simple.

She should emerge from Super Tuesday with somewhere north of 1,050 delegates, since the Super Tuesday delegates (and in the races that follow) are allocated proportionate to the vote (pending hitting some minimum thresholds in some states).  She would need to win about 1,330 or so of the remaining 3,096 delegates at stake in the remaining primaries and caucuses (excluding the remaining uncommitted superdelegates).

Here is where the proportional (rather than winner-take-all) allocation really hurts Bernie.  He would thus have to win 57%-58% of the remaining delegates to deny her the nomination, and even more if you believe the remaining uncommitted superdelegates will go to Clinton.  You have to keep in mind that he won New Hampshire 60-39, a state in which 96% of the voters are white (the highest in the nation after West Virginia) AND he is from neighboring Vermont.  He would have to win by New Hampshire-esque margins in states that have much higher minority representation, much less familiarity with him, and in the face of enormous Super Tuesday Clinton momentum.  You don’t even have to look at any polls to know that this is simply not going to happen (barring any cataclysmic new revelation).

Sanders will stay in the race, I assume, for some time, but he will basically be tilting at windmills.  He is in a worse position than Hillary Clinton herself was in 2008, and while she did reasonably well in the remaining primaries, she could never catch up to Obama, or even seriously threaten him.  The proportional allocation guarantees that the kind of huge delegate margins that he needs to lessen the gap are simply not available.

THE REPUBLICANS

Where we are now.  On the GOP side, very few delegates have been awarded, only 125 (or about 5% of the total), and Donald Trump has taken about two-thirds of them.  The GOP has superdelegates as well, but it is customary for them to vote along with their state delegations, so most remain uncommitted at this juncture.  That, of course, makes a huge difference and makes the GOP race seem, at least on the surface, to be more competitive as of this moment.  I believe, though, that semblance of a race is illusory.


       GOP 1,237 to Win



Primaries/           Caucuses
Dels.
Trump
Cruz
Rubio
Kasich
Carson

Total >>>
2470
82
17
16
6
4

Super Del.

0
0
0
0
0
1-Feb
30
7
8
7
1
3
9-Feb
23
11
3
2
4
0
20-Feb
50
50
0
0
0
0
23-Feb
30
14
6
7
1
1

Super Tuesday.  There is even less polling for GOP Super Tuesday races than for the Dems.  Once again there are multiple polls in Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia.  There are one to three February polls in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Vermont.  But there are no recent polls at all in Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wyoming.

But what polling exists is pretty darn clear.

BTRTN projects that it will be a very good day for Donald Trump.  We see a Trump sweep, aside for Cruz’s home state of Texas.  The state-by-state is as follows:

Super        Tuesday GOP
ALAB
ALSK
ARK
COL
GA
MAS
MN
ND
OK
TN
TX
VT
VA
WY
Delegates >>
50
28
40
37
76
42
38
28
43
58
155
16
49
29
Primary/Caucus
P
P
P
C
P
P
C
C
P
P
P
P
P
C
Trump
45
40
34
41
42
46
44
41
36
43
31
42
42
41
Cruz
18
30
33
27
28
11
21
27
27
24
42
13
20
27
Rubio
22
20
26
25
22
21
23
25
24
23
20
22
28
25
Kasich
5
4
2
2
2
18
6
2
5
3
3
19
6
2
Carson
10
6
5
5
6
4
6
5
8
7
4
4
4
5

Where to from here.  The GOP scenario beyond Super Tuesday differs from the Democrats in one important way:  the delegate allocation methodology more frequently is “winner take all,” particularly after March 15, which theoretically would make it easier for a challenger to make up ground.

By my predictions and rough math, the GOP will stand approximately as follows after Super Tuesday:

Trump
Cruz
Rubio
Kasich
Carson
February
82
17
16
6
4
Super Tuesday
275
177
158
11
2
TOTAL
357
194
174
17
6

Trump will have about 160-180 or so delegates more than both Cruz and Rubio, which hardly seems insurmountable, since over 1,700 delegates will remain. 

So why will it be so difficult to overtake Trump?

Where do we begin?  Trump will have incredible momentum out of Super Tuesday.  If he wins 13 out of 14 of the races, or close to that number, it will certainly be viewed as a huge day for Trump.  This will affect everything: the money, the resources, the media coverage, the narrative as well as future turnout.  If Trump will have won every contest but two, the question in the air will be, why would he not keep winning?

Let’s say the field narrows.  Well, that does not really help much.  As you can see from the delegate totals above, Carson and Kasich are not really making much of an impact anyway.  And if they exited, Carson’s supporters would like go to Cruz, while Kasich’s would likely go to Rubio.

What if either Cruz or Rubio lose, reducing it to a two-person race?

The question is, why would one of them drop out any time soon?  Look at Cruz’s and Rubio’s delegate counts post-Super Tuesday…pretty close, right?  And they could easily be reversed.  You can bet that each desperately want to finish second if they cannot finish first.  The GOP is the “next in line” party, right?  They have crowned the runner-up in every cycle as the nominee in the following cycle in every recent campaign except 2000 (George W. Bush) and 2012 (but while Mitt Romney had come in third in 2008, he was extremely close behind Mike Huckabee, and Huckabee chose not to run in 2012).  Both Cruz and Rubio are young (44) and have much terrain ahead of them, and they would both surely want to be Mr. Runner-Up this year.  Why would either cave? 

And apart from the runner-up goal, Cruz hates the Washington establishment, so he won’t drop out to please them.  And Rubio now IS the Washington establishment, and their Great Hope, so he is not going to drop out.  See the problem?

It gets worse.

Even if one of them dropped out, it is not clear that this would narrow the gap. Part of their constituency would head for Trump…not the majority but some proportion.  Look at what happened to Chris Christie, who shocked the world by endorsing Trump last week.  I’m not sure if his followers took his advice, but you cannot take it for granted that Cruz and/or Rubio followers would all go the non-Trump route.

And…for Rubio to have a chance, he needs to win his home state, Florida (as Cruz will likely do in Texas on Super Tuesday).  The polls in Florida now show that Trump has a solid lead over Rubio, by 14 points on average.  And this is BEFORE a Super Tuesday field day for Trump.  Why would Florida voters change their minds between March 1 and March 15 if the only news is more Trump victories?

The fact is, “winner takes all” favors, um, the “winner.”  And Trump has been winning.  Winning everywhere.  North, South, East, West.  Men. Women.  Tea Party. Mainstream.

Want more?

Along with Florida and its 99 delegates, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio are winner-take-all contests on March 15.  Right now Trump is ahead, on average, by 15 points in Illinois, 12 in North Carolina and five in Ohio (over John Kasich, in his home state).  There has been no polling in Missouri but I doubt the pattern is any different there.  Again, these polls are before the big Super Tuesday results and the resulting Trump momentum.

So, America, recognize that if Super Tuesday goes the way I predict, or anything close to it, the nominations will be basically set.  By March 16, everyone else will realize this as well.  And while the primaries will carry on, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will re-set their sights…on each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment