Swing State Pres

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Super Tuesday: Clinton Locks it Down, Trump Tightens His Grip, the GOP Elites Scream and Scheme...and BTRTN Keeps Pickin' 'Em

Super Tuesday was a watershed night in American politics.  Each party all but crowned a polarizing figure who would be, in his or her own way, a historic nominee.  Hillary Clinton, of course, would be the first woman to top a ticket, and Donald Trump, well, how shall we say this?  Never has a major party been so completely rejected by its rank and file, who are on the verge of nominating a real estate mogul and reality show superstar to lead the party, a man with little dignity, few policies, and no principles at all. 

But if Super Tuesday was thusly epic, the aftermath may be even wilder. The math suggests that both Clinton and Trump will now sail to the nomination, Clinton more easily than Trump, but both still in the fast lane.  But it is a long way to the conventions, much less Election Day, and both candidates may face threats that are unprecedented in modern times.  Hillary Clinton is under investigation by the FBI, and it is almost impossible for anyone to have an objective point of view on what they might find, and when.  Donald Trump, on the other hand, could be sabotaged by his own party, if any of their frantic machinations materialize into an Idea, something creative, something – anything - that could be implemented in time to deny him the nomination.

Super Tuesday itself went more or less according to plan.  Clinton won eight races to Sanders' four, sweeping the six Southern states by an average margin of – can it be? -- 39 points.  She took home 496 delegates to 332 for Sanders, and her lead in delegates swelled to 1,054 to 427.  She is 44% of the way to the 2,382 needed for the nomination, and such a lead is virtually impossible for Sanders to overtake.  This is largely due to the fact that delegates in Democratic primaries are usually awarded proportionately (rather than winner-take-all), meaning that Sanders has to grind out a series of wins by roughly the same margin as he won New Hampshire (60/39), without the natural advantages he had in New Hampshire, a neighbor state for him that has fewer minorities than any state save West Virginia.  Clinton won the South on the strength of colossal margins among African-Americans, approximately 80/20.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump won seven states, a validating night for him in races that were largely held in what was once thought to be Ted Cruz country.  Trump’s good fortune did not end there.  Though Cruz had a far better night than Marco Rubio, winning three states to Rubio’s one, including his home state of Texas, there was not enough “separation” between the two for Rubio to drop out (or even remotely consider it).  And John Kasich put up a decent showing in a few states (Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia), so he will hang around as well, at least until his home state Ohio on March 15.  Only Ben Carson was totally crushed, and he finally dropped out today. 

Trump picked up 237 delegates, Cruz 209 (including 99 from Texas) and Rubio only 110.  Rubio was hurt by barely missing the 20% “threshold” in Texas as well as Alabama and Massachusetts.  Overall, Trump has 319 delegates to 226 for Cruz and 110 for Rubio, with Kasich 25 and the newly-departed Carson with a mere seven.  Those numbers would seem to suggest a hearty race is underway that can last for months.  That, in my view, will not prove to be true.  Instead, I see a race that is close merely by the coincidence of Cruz winning Texas and gaining a huge delegate coup, but that is an outcome that is not easily replicable – and thus the race could be more or less over in just two weeks.

How?  Well, simply stated, Trump is well ahead in the polls in every consequential state in play on March 8 and March 15.  The March 8 races are proportional allocations, thus even if Cruz won them all he would likely pick up only a handful of delegates.  But, more to the point, Trump leads Kansas and Mississippi by a 2:1 margin, and Michigan by 18 points.

When you get to March 15, you have five big states and the races flip to winner-take-all.  In those five states, Trump is up by double digits in Florida (Rubio’s home state), Illinois and North Carolina.  He is up by five points over Kasich in the latter’s home state of Ohio.  (There is no polling in Missouri.)  And all this polling is before the further momentum for Trump created by the glowing Super Tuesday headlines.  One would have to anticipate a bump for Trump in most if not all of these states.

So, it is possible for Cruz or Rubio to win most of these states and make it a real race.  But it is simply not likely.  Not at all likely.  I’ve speculated that the only thing Trump could do that would really go “too far” would be something like blurting the “n-word” right out loud.  Well, he has not done that, but he did the next worse thing in failing to renounce the Ku Klux Klan’s David Duke.  This flap dominated several news cycles right before Super Tuesday.  And he still won seven states.

What can the GOP do at this point to derail him?  Finally convince Kasich to drop out?  Not nearly meaningful enough to matter, and he’s hanging in until Ohio anyway.  Cruz?  Highly unlikely when he has twice as many delegates as Rubio.  How about Rubio?  Not before Florida. 

Perhaps Cruz and Rubio will somehow join forces, right now, before it is too late?  What are they going to do, flip a coin to see who veeps for who?  Very hard to imagine, especially when "Mr. Next in Line" status is at stake, and Cruz has that delegate lead over Rubio.

How about encouraging a Mitt Romney independent run?  A page out of the Teddy Roosevelt playbook, although Teddy was a former president (as opposed to a former loser) when he ran as a Bull Mooser in 1912, against GOP successor and sitting President William Howard Taft.  Roosevelt and Taft split the GOP and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won easily in the wake of that mess.  But could Romney actually beat Hillary and Trump?  Hard to imagine he would do any more than repeat TR’s fate.

I’m not sure what else the GOP elites have up their sleeve, but they’ll keep thinking.  In their minds, a Trump candidacy threatens their hold on the Senate, maybe even their tight grip on the House.  They will try anything to keep that from happening.

HOW DID WE DO?

Our winning streak had to end, and it did.  We did not pick every winner, but we did manage to get 18 out of the 23 races correct, despite relatively slight polling in a number of states.  Caucuses are the bane of our existence (especially with no polls), and we missed both Minnesota caucuses, which Rubio and Sanders won, as well as the Colorado caucus on the Dem side and Alaska caucus on the GOP side, which went to Sanders and Cruz, respectively.  The only primary we missed was Oklahoma, and that was a very close one that Cruz pulled out by six points over Trump.  We were particularly pleased to get Clinton in Massachusetts, Sanders in Oklahoma, Cruz in Texas and Trump in Arkansas.

We made 79 separate predictions of candidates’ percentages and rank by state (12 Democratic races with two contenders plus 11 GOP races with five contenders).  For these 79 predictions, we were off on average by four points per candidate (excluding Minnesota, it was just three points off.)  We were correct on 57 out of 79 rankings, or 72%.

This is not far from the standard we set in the first 8 races, when we were 8 for 8 in picking winners and off by less than three points per candidate.  But we were better on the rankings, with that 72% correct just ahead of the 67% we achieved with those first 39 candidate predictions in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

So onward!  If you want to look at how we did on all 79 predictions, take a look below!

State
Party
Candidate
Predict.
Actual
Abs.    Diff
Pred. Rank
Act. Rank
Abs Rk Diff
Super T
DEM



5.0


0.2
ALAB
Dem
Clinton
73
78
4.8
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
27
19
7.8
2
2
0
AmSo
Dem
Clinton
65
68
3.4
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
35
26
9.3
2
2
0
ARK
Dem
Clinton
70
66
3.7
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
30
30
0.3
2
2
0
COL
Dem
Clinton
51
40
10.6
1
2
1

Dem
Sanders
49
59
9.9
2
1
1
GA
Dem
Clinton
72
71
0.8
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
28
28
0.3
2
2
0
MAS
Dem
Clinton
53
50
2.7
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
47
49
1.5
2
2
0
MN
Dem
Clinton
60
38
21.7
1
2
1

Dem
Sanders
40
62
21.7
2
1
1
OK
Dem
Clinton
48
42
6.5
2
2
0

Dem
Sanders
52
52
0.1
1
1
0
TN
Dem
Clinton
68
66
1.9
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
32
32
0.4
2
2
0
TX
Dem
Clinton
69
65
3.8
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
31
33
2.2
2
2
0
VT
Dem
Clinton
13
14
0.6
2
2
0

Dem
Sanders
87
86
0.8
1
1
0
VA
Dem
Clinton
67
64
2.7
1
1
0

Dem
Sanders
33
35
2.2
2
2
0

State
Party
Candidate
Predict.
Actual
Abs.    Diff
Pred. Rank
Act. Rank
Abs Rk Diff
Super T
GOP



3.5


0.3
ALAB
GOP
Trump
45
43
1.6
1
1
0
ALAB
GOP
Cruz
18
21
3.1
3
2
1
ALAB
GOP
Rubio
22
19
3.3
2
3
1
ALAB
GOP
Carson
10
10
0.2
4
4
0
ALAB
GOP
Kasich
5
4
0.6
5
5
0
ALSK
GOP
Trump
40
34
6.5
1
2
1
ALSK
GOP
Cruz
30
36
6.4
2
1
1
ALSK
GOP
Rubio
20
15
4.9
3
3
0
ALSK
GOP
Carson
6
11
4.9
4
4
0
ALSK
GOP
Kasich
4
4
0.1
5
5
0
ARK
GOP
Trump
34
33
1.3
1
1
0
ARK
GOP
Cruz
33
31
2.5
2
2
0
ARK
GOP
Rubio
26
25
1
3
3
0
ARK
GOP
Carson
5
6
0.7
4
4
0
ARK
GOP
Kasich
2
4
1.7
5
5
0
GA
GOP
Trump
42
39
3.2
1
1
0
GA
GOP
Cruz
28
24
4.4
2
3
1
GA
GOP
Rubio
22
25
2.5
3
2
1
GA
GOP
Carson
6
6
0.2
4
4
0
GA
GOP
Kasich
2
6
3.6
5
5
0
MASS
GOP
Trump
46
49
3
1
1
0
MASS
GOP
Rubio
21
18
3.1
2
3
1
MASS
GOP
Kasich
18
18
0.1
3
2
1
MASS
GOP
Cruz
11
10
1.4
4
4
0
MASS
GOP
Carson
4
3
1.4
5
5
0
MN
GOP
Trump
44
21
22.8
1
3
2
MN
GOP
Rubio
23
37
13.8
2
1
1
MN
GOP
Cruz
21
29
7.9
3
2
1
MN
GOP
Kasich
6
6
0.2
4
5
1
MN
GOP
Carson
6
7
1.2
4
4
0
OK
GOP
Trump
36
28
7.7
1
2
1
OK
GOP
Cruz
27
34
7.4
2
1
1
OK
GOP
Rubio
24
26
2
3
3
0
OK
GOP
Carson
8
6
1.8
4
4
0
OK
GOP
Kasich
5
4
1.4
5
5
0
TN
GOP
Trump
43
39
4.1
1
1
0
TN
GOP
Cruz
24
25
0.7
2
2
0
TN
GOP
Rubio
23
21
1.8
3
3
0
TN
GOP
Carson
7
8
0.6
4
4
0
TN
GOP
Kasich
3
5
2.3
5
5
0
TX
GOP
Cruz
42
44
1.7
1
1
0
TX
GOP
Trump
31
27
4.2
2
2
0
TX
GOP
Rubio
20
18
2.3
3
3
0
TX
GOP
Carson
4
4
0.2
4
5
1
TX
GOP
Kasich
3
4
1.3
5
4
1
VT
GOP
Trump
42
33
9.3
1
1
0
VT
GOP
Rubio
22
19
2.7
2
3
1
VT
GOP
Kasich
19
30
11.4
3
2
1
VT
GOP
Cruz
13
10
3.3
4
4
0
VT
GOP
Carson
4
4
0.2
5
5
0
VA
GOP
Trump
42
35
7.3
1
1
0
VA
GOP
Rubio
28
32
3.9
2
2
0
VA
GOP
Cruz
20
17
3.1
3
3
0
VA
GOP
Kasich
6
9
3.4
4
4
0
VA
GOP
Carson
4
6
1.9
5
5
0



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