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For the Berners

Folks keep telling me that Bernie has an overwhelming advantage over Clinton when it comes to Millennials.  This is true, but it’s not as relevant as Berners seem to wish it were.

If Hillary gets the nomination, then some Millennials will stay home (presumably in ritualistic disgust)… but by definition, the Millennials that stay home will be the Millennials that were already least likely to vote anyway.

The Millennials that were most likely to vote… will be the Millennials that have a solid party affiliation (either R or D).  The drop-off in “likely voterhood” in the under 35 crowd is enormous.

Hillary, on the other hand, polls much better than Bernie among minorities, particularly Hispanics and African Americans.  It’s not even close.  White folks on Facebook or Twitter who support Bernie have been more or less ignoring that very large elephant in the room.  When they don’t, in cringe-inducing circumstances, they are sometimes whitesplaining how dumb minority voters must be, which is really… ugh.  Go look at Twitter if you want to see it, it’s a train wreck and I’m not linking to any of it.

Allow me to put on my ruthless public voting analysis hat.

74% of African Americans support Clinton, compared to 14% for Bernie.  Overall, Hillary has a 67% to 28% advantage over Bernie with non-white voters.

That’s enormous.  Huge.

To put this in the proper perspective, in 2024 it would be a no-brainer on the national election stage.

By 2028 people will be laughing at you if you put forth a candidate that polls well among younger voters but has a weakness with minorities (this does not bode well for the Grand Ol’ Party’s long term health, for certain).

It’s possible that 2016, maybe, maybe… this year might be the last year that betting big on the younger voter over other considerations regarding minorities (who are soon to not be minorities any more; they really aren’t already in many places, but I digress) pays off.

Sure.  Possible.

That’s not where the smart money goes, though.  Granted, the smart money is only slightly smart, at this stage of the game, because one primary characteristic of polling folks is that folks do not have a predictably rational response to longitudinal polling.  Folks who – at this stage of the game – say that they’ll support Sanders over every GOP candidate may change their mind when it is Sanders versus only one particular GOP candidate if they decide that they don’t really like that candidate that much.  Remember how many folks, who were reliable GOP voters, who voted for Obama in 2008 because of McCain’s pick of Palin?  It happens.

The $64,000 question is… “how predictable are likely voters at this stage of the game?”, and granted, the answer is “not very”.  But it’s still probably better than a coin toss…

If Bernie gets the nomination, a number of non-white minority voters will stay home (again, presumably in ritualistic disgust), but again by definition those who stay home will be those who were least likely to vote anyway.  The ones who are most likely to vote will be those with a strong party affiliation (again, either R or D).

But unlike Millennials, who are primarily defined by their age, which is heavily linked to voter likelihood, minorities are of all ages… and winning the minority vote is much more highly correlated with winning the electoral votes when it comes to the battleground states (spoiler: particularly one of ’em…).

A reminder: the national election is pretty much a story of the battleground states.

Nobody cares what California thinks about the election this year because we don’t matter.  Ball up our electoral votes and put them in a bag and hand them to whoever is holding up the blue flag.  That’s how we roll. (You could stay home in disgust if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, or vote for the Peace and Freedom candidate or the Green Party or the Libertarians for that matter and you’re not going to change that outcome.)

Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida.  They are very probably going to pick the President in 2016.

Ohio is the real battleground in 2016.  The GOP has an edge against both Sanders and Clinton; Hillary has a better chance against some of the candidates and Bernie has a better chance against others.  Call it probably GOP (Ohio is worth 18); maybe Dem… but granted again, that probably isn’t a big probably.  270towin’s public poll reporting method is not as gently massaged as the folks over at FiveThirtyEight.

In Colorado, Bernie polls much better than Clinton, but probably not by enough to make the difference.  Colorado probably goes team Red.  (Colorado is worth 9).

Sanders has an advantage over Clinton in Iowa.  (Iowa is worth 6).  Iowa is probably red but not certain.  More probably than Ohio, certainly.

Clinton beats all the GOP likely contenders in Nevada by a lot (surprising, isn’t *that*, for West Coast liberals who think Nevada is all the Bundy ranch?)  Sanders hasn’t been polled.  (Nevada is worth 6)

Sanders beats the snot out of the entire GOP field in New Hampshire (that’s not surprising at all)… but Clinton also cleans the slate, so the fact that he wins “by a gazillion” and she wins “by a lot” doesn’t matter one whit for Hamp’s EC count.  (New Hamp is 4).  It’s blue, either way.

Virginia’s polls show the same, inverted.  State goes blue either way.  (Virginia is 13).

Now here’s the rub.  Get ready for the sadhorns.

Sanders likely loses Florida to Rubio, Cruz, or Trump.  Clinton loses to Trump by a smaller margin (within the polling error), but is in a dead heat with Marco (and it’s been getting better, not worse, showing that Rubio actually isn’t a strong with minority voters in Florida as one might expect), and Clinton burns Cruz to the ground there.  (Florida is the 900 lb gorilla of the battleground states, it is worth 29.)

Tally that all up, Virginia’s 13 and Hamp’s 4 (total of 17) go to blue whoever is the nominee.  Florida’s 29 are much more likely to go blue if Hillary is the nominee and not Bernie.  Nevada’s 6 is in the probable bag for Hillary, no data for Bernie.  Colorado’s 9 are more likely to go red than blue.  Ohio’s 18 are more likely to go red than blue, but could go either way.

Obama won all of the above except Iowa and got 332 EC votes in 2012.

So if Hillary is the nominee, assuming no other major changes in voting patterns (which is possible!) she would predictably (right now) get 305, maybe as many as 323, maybe as few as 276  EC votes.

Bernie on the other hand gets probably 276, maybe as many as 294.

Either one has a far better than even chance of winning against the GOP field, as you only need 270… but given that Ohio’s 18 and Colorado’s 9 are more likely red than blue this year, from a voting analysis standpoint it’s all about the best chance in Florida.

Again, the 900 lb gorilla.

And Hillary is the best chance in Florida.  She is also handily beating Bernie there, in the primary polls.

Now, granted, Bernie’s apparent deficit against Clinton could be a function of familiarity, or something else.  It might not be as stark as the numbers currently indicate.  All early polls are of dubious predictive value.  There’s a lot of caveats and provisos here.  But you can’t counter that with “the youth will rise up!”, though.  Not seriously.  Because the youth have a chance to rise up every year and they somehow manage to not do it.  Sure, it will change some day.  All voting patterns are patterns until they aren’t any more.  But if the youth were really going to rise up and vote, en masse, this year, you may be seeing something resembling evidence that this was more likely than not.  Like, voting drives.  Young folks walking around with packets of registration forms.  Organized “get out the vote” movements everywhere.

I have to say, if I’m a dark, smoke-filled room Democratic insider who is trying to ensure that my party has the best possible chance to win in November (not that I endorse dark smoke filled rooms or the folks who sit in them), I would err on the side of predicting that the candidate that polls 35 points better among minorities has a much, much better chance of winning in the general election than the candidate that polls 50 points higher among people under 35.

Because betting on the youth vote is something you do when you don’t have any other choice, and when you’re stuck with it you’ve already got the ground game working to make it happen.  You’ve got MTV showing “RocktheVote” commercials, etc.  Celebrities making “register to vote!” YouTube videos which are getting play in social media.

The 900 lb gorilla can probably be taken down, and it can more probably be taken down by Clinton, making the rest of the conversation about which states are battlegrounds a whole heck of a lot more moot.

I know, kinda frustrating that our system of politics produces a situation where 1% of Florida’s population is more likely to make the call as to who wins the Presidency than the other 300 million or so folks in the country.

Hey, that’s America for you.  It’s in the Constitution and everything.  You want to change that, you’ve got a whole ‘nuther problem to tackle.

To win, it’s nice to have broad support.  When you have two candidates that have more support among different groups who support the party, the one that is more likely to win in November is the one who gets more support from the bigger group.

(Not to mention that white folks insisting that their youth are more likely to matter than persons of color strikes me as problematic to say the least, for a lot of reasons, but it’s particularly weird coming from the left.)

Now, the really funny part about this election?

Everyone on the Left is looking at the GOP “Clown Car” and laughing about how the GOP insiders can’t keep the “obviously unqualified and/or disastrous candidate” (either Cruz or Trump or both, depending upon who is writing the Think Piece) out of the race… but at the same time they’re talking about how Hillary’s advantage over Bernie is all with the political establishment and not with Bernie’s populist support.  Given New Hampshire’s landslide Bernie vote and probable delegate draw for Clinton this is the current blog-fodder of the week on the Left.

The irony of the inconsistency is not lost upon me.

In my assessment of party politics in the U.S., if the political establishment in a party wants something, it wants it for one reason only: parties in the United States want the Win.

Individual party members want their own policy preferences, sure.  Parties will take stances on what their aggregate members call out as matters of justice, absolutely.  There are substantive differences between the normative principles espoused by the two parties, yes.

All of that is true, and I’m not denigrating the parties by saying that their organizational structure is designed to produce a particular outcome.  Whether or not the Win is more important than Justice probably is a matter of cases more than anything else.

But it is vitally important to recognize that the parties *themselves* are decision-making critters independent of their membership, from an organizational science perspective.

An analogy: a for-profit corporation is aligned, top to bottom, to make money (it might offer all sorts of community goodness, it might be an altruistic organization, etc.)… but structurally speaking, that’s the outcome the organization is evolved/designed to produce.

Political parties are organized, top to bottom, to produce a Win (particularly right now, on the Democratic side, focused far too hard on Presidential Wins at the expense of local and state Wins, but that’s a topic for another day).

If the “political insiders” want an outcome that isn’t reflected by popular opinion polls, it is very often the case that “political insiders” are looking at something that isn’t shown by the headline in popular opinion polls.  Political insiders typically know a lot more about their own constituency voting patterns than what is reported in the media reporting of polls.

Political insiders pay very much attention to the most likely voter. 

Because that’s what gets their party the Win.

Remember what I said above, how California voters don’t matter as much because we’re team Blue?

The fact that our state hasn’t moved *our* primary to the beginning of the cycle shows that our largely Democratic leadership undoubtedly recognizes that California’s impact on the Democratic primary process can only be a *detriment* to the *party’s* success in the national election.

The DNC certainly recognizes this, they aren’t stupid.

If some well-meaning local California *Democrats* tried to elevate California’s position in the primary cycle so that we could, you know, actually have a contributory outcome on the nomination?   Something I see California Democrats reliably gripe about every four years?

I can imagine that the party mechanics would take aside the nice, justice-minded, idealistic, and probably newly minted legislator and inform them nicely that current movement on their proposal will probably be buried forever in committee for eminently practical and justifiable (indeed, necessary!) goals.  Whether or not this is a speech that is true or not in a normative sense isn’t really germane.

Because California weighing in early and picking a candidate that doesn’t fly in Florida – even if that candidate *is the objectively better candidate in all ways* would not improve the chance of a Democrat in the Oval Office.

You want to know why highly Democratic California doesn’t participate in the primary process?  Because our highly Democratic legislature doesn’t want us to do so.  Q.E.D.

In this country, about a quarter of the populace can’t vote, and of the ones that can about half of them aren’t registered, and of the ones that are about half of *them* don’t show up at the polls.  The differences are even more stark when you take into account age: 65% of eligible, registered seniors vote, only 35% of eligible, registered folks under 35 do.

That means the national election is decided by under 19% of the population.

Of that 19%, about a third (6%) reliably vote for the Dems, about another third (6%) reliably vote for the Republicans, and the remaining 7% are a pool of less-likely voters who show up depending upon how motivated they are by the election this year.  Of that 7%, just under half (3%) are going to swing GOP with about an 80% confidence interval, and just under the other half (3%) are going to swing Democrat with about an 80% confidence interval, and the last 1% are the actual swing voters.

If that 1% were 100 voters, only about 28 of them would be under 35.  The other 72 of them aren’t.

(image credit: Flickr user Hjallig, Creative Commons 2.0 license).

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Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution. ...more →

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117 thoughts on “For the Berners

  1. It’s a good analysis, but the circular reasoning of why minorities tend to support Clinton is never addressed; namely, the perception that Clinton has the best chance to win against whoever the Republicans offer.
    I’m sure that perception would change quite drastically were Sanders to win the nomination.

    As for the youth vote, I don’t think raising the voting age to 30 would be as controversial as raising the drinking age to 25.


  2. The only electoral contest where the party didn’t conspire to limit alternative candidates to Hillary Clinton is the one that Hillary lost.

    If Hillary Clinton loses this one, too, she can’t even win a rigged game.


  3. I largely agree. The thing about a lot of Sanders supporters is that they don’t realize that they are a minority in the Democratic Party. You can see this back when Zephyr Teachout challenged Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic Primary for governor of New York. Teachout won among white liberals. Cuomo still crushed her by winning the African-American and Latino(a) votes.


  4. Trolling the establishment candidate is far more important than actually having Bernie Sanders win.
    (And you thought Democrats didn’t have a sense of humor)


  5. There’s also the gaming of who will be going up against whom.

    Can Trump beat Hillary? I suspect that he can.

    I suspect that Hillary’s support among African-Americans/Hispanic-Americans is broad but shallow and she will not inspire the turnout that Obama did for various reasons. (On top of that, I think that Trump will win a larger chunk of the African-American vote than Romney did by a dang sight. Probably not the Hispanic-American vote, though…)

    Can Jeb beat Hillary? Hell, no. Can Cruz beat Hillary? Hell, no. Can Rubio? Dunno. He polls well now but doesn’t seem to perform well under the relatively minor pressure of an also-ran yelling at him on a debate stage.

    Can Bernie beat Trump?

    Hrm. I… Hrm. I don’t know. I have no idea who is stronger in that matchup.

    But can Hillary beat Trump?

    I don’t know that she even knows how to fight against him.

    If that the rumors about how Trump is one of the besties of the Clintons and he’s only doing this to destroy the Republican party to make way for his buddies are true, then we’ve got ourselves an answer right there.

    If they’re not…


    • It doesn’t matter a whit if Hillary knows how to fight Trump. She’ll have the troll who started the entire Trump thing on her side. Once he’s done trolling her, of course.

      Trump, in my opinion, is a sideshow act. He might win Indiana for the Democrats, if he’s the Republican Nominee.


        • I perceive him as a sideshow act because I don’t think most of the Republicans like him… but more importantly, I think Republican leaning independents would rather vote anyone than him (particularly once the press really starts savaging him, which they will). I think Democratic leaning independents will happily vote for Sanders, and indifferently vote for Hillary. The democrats have a huge advantage, it being a presidential election. I wouldn’t bet on Democratic leaning independents in any midterm, without extreme and outstanding effort.

          Have you seen Bernie Sander’s Dank Meme Stash?


          • My knuckle tattoos spell out “DANK MEMES” thanks to my polydactyl left hand.

            I know about Bernie’s dank memes. But, and here’s the point (and I think the point of the essay), real people who have lives and junk do not and will not know about his memes or their dankness.

            As for how Republicans like him… I know that the establishment loathes him but the real people I know in real life who have lives and junk think that he makes some good points (with a smattering of “I love Trump! He’s really sticking it to the effing RINOs!”) and they’d vote for him.

            I have to go to the internet to find Republicans who actively hate Trump. The ones I know in real life? They don’t hate him.


            • Republicans… are strangely parochial in their likes and dislikes. With the Democrats, you have your Southerners, sure… but most people organize based on “broader” or more “global” things. Feminists, PoC, Liberals…

              A Philly republican is a very, very different animal than a Colorado Springs Republican. (and I honestly think Trump may have gotten some points with the military-leaning Republicans (McCains voters), when he said that the Iraq war was a mistake)


      • A troll, huh?

        Trump will be sitting down in the Oval Office on January 21st, 2017 and people will still be saying “he’s just kidding, he doesn’t really MEAN it…”


        • Trump will be harder to troll than McCain or Romney, I think. But that’s just my unfounded opinion.

          Yes, I know a troll. Do you remember the pot-smoking Elmo account on twitter? (google Qwikster if you don’t believe me).

          [as with all the weird stuff I say, you’re not supposed to believe me.]


      • Here are the RCP numbers.

        The main question is whether Trump has a ceiling and whether Clinton has a floor.

        Both of those questions strike me as being up in the air.

        The main thing I’ve noticed about the Republican Primary so far is that Trump has spent a lot more time attacking Republicans than Democrats… and he’s done a lot of damage.

        When the time comes for him to start attacking Democrats…

        Of course, maybe he’s just doing a favor for Bill.


        • I suspect, but of course don’t know, that Trump’s strategies aren’t going to be very helpful against Hillary. In the primary he’s playing to the GOP base which means his barbs are tuned to them and his targets, in defending against them, also have to be very mindful of the sensibilities of those voters. Democratic voters aren’t going to have the same sympathies and every time Trump fires a bombardment against Hillary he is dancing a difficult dance with about half the electorate. Now it’s possible he can do the same dance but I am deeply skeptical.


        • The main question about Trump is not is general popularity. Same applies to any candidate, really.

          Presidential politics at this point is largely structural. The parties have both worked pretty hard to make it that way.

          So the questions that matter are:

          (a) What are the positives for the candidate in the battleground states
          (b) What are the negatives for the candidate in the battleground states

          Trump polls well in Florida, but not Ohio or Virginia. He has no chance in New Hampshire and probably not one in Nevada. Colorado he’s probably got, on the other hand.

          The big thing about Trump is that the people that don’t like him really, really don’t like him. Possibly even moreso than Hillary.

          Regardless, I wrote this last week and after the passing of Antonin Scalia I don’t think it matters any more.

          The GOP announced that they’d stonewall Obama’s appointment before he even announced who he might appoint.

          Voter turnout in this election is going to be up all the way across the board, and that as always favors Team Blue, because their favored demographics are the ones that turn out in lesser numbers.


          • Well, here’s a fun little toy to play with.

            The maps worth looking at:
            Same since 2000
            2016 battleground
            2016 toss up

            My fundamental assumption for 2016 is that the groups that turned out with such passion in 2008 and 2012 will not have that passion transfer to Hillary.

            We’re in the middle of a very, very interesting time, I think. Things are fundamentally changing. Both the Republican Party and Democratic Party, on a national level, are a shambles propped up by little more than how awful the other party is.


            • Been playing with that exact site for a little while now. Looks like any Democrat starts out with 247 votes and any Republican starts out with 206. Pretty much nothing realistic will change those 44 jurisdictions.

              In play are: New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), Colorado (9), Virginia (13), Ohio (18), and Florida (29).

              If the Democrat (whether that be Sanders or Clinton) takes Florida, game over, that’s 276 votes for the Democrat.

              If the Republican gets Florida, then there’s 54 votes in 6 states up for grabs, but even then the Democrat has a 12-vote lead.

              Which is to say that I’m glad the Democrats are having a race and debates and disagreements that looks significantly more like grownups disagreeing than what I see going on in the admittedly more entertaining GOP primary. And it’s why I’m not actually particularly apoplectic about the successor-to-Scalia thing. If Mitch McConnell wants to say, “Next Congress, next President,” that’s still quite likely to result in Justice Srinivasan anyway.


        • Trumpy is notoriously thin skinned and has been for decades. Assuming a Trump v Clinton match up, Hills and Bill would be able to needle him into a loud stupid statement per week if they wanted. Trump has little filter, as we’ve all seen. What you can get away with in the R electorate is very different then the general electorate. Very different.

          You can picture Trump doing better than people think, but he is high risk v high reward. He could easily do worse then people think. I wonder, he said knowingly, if there are hours and hours of video out there of him saying embarrassing, hypocritical, stupid, bizarre and contradictory that would be easy pickings for a D campaign.


          • “Assuming a Trump v Clinton match up, Hills and Bill would be able to needle him into a loud stupid statement per week if they wanted.”

            Louder and stupider than “blood coming out of her, wherever”?


            • I’d put money on stupider and louder than that. So yeah. Most people know trumpy from his tv shows. But he was a big loud wig in the NJ/NY/ atlantic city area for many years before tv. That is when i lived back east. Trump is thin skinned, regularly says way out there things and has a talent for irritating everybody who isn’t in the bag for him.


    • I think Rubio is more of a threat to HRC than Trump. Trump has decades of alienating the African-American community. He discriminated against them for housing, there is the inflammatory Central Park 5 ads, etc.


      • I’m kind of mystified as to how people keep jumping from the fact that Trump is weirdly popular with 30-40% of the Republican primary electorate to thinking that he would actually be a strong candidate in the general election. The fact that Rubio has better odds against Clinton is, to put it mildly, over-determined.


        • Some people just really dislike the Clintons. My general stance is to be cautious. I think smugness is dangerous in politics and life. You should never assume a cake walk but Rubio’s recent performance shows he is not quite ready for prime time.


          • I’m not saying Clinton will have an easy win; on the contrary, i think that unless one or both parties put up an incredibly dumb nominee like Sanders, Trump or Cruz, 2016 will be an extremely close election. I’m saying that Trump is an obviously weak general election candidate.


            • Close means diddly squat.
              Since the Republicans couldn’t win in 2008 and 2012, they’re in so much shit that their backers have totally Given Up on winning the Presidency.

              Can’t win without money, and that goes double for Republicans.


              • Has Trump gained popularity with moderates and independents since then? To my mind, the story of Trump’s success thus far is that the Republican party has failed to unify around an alternative to Trump or to start attacking him decisively. That’s really weird, and I wouldn’t have predicted it six months ago, which is why I’m surprised at his success thus far. But the general election is a whole different ball game, in which all of the people that are baffled and horrified that Trump has gotten this far actually get a say in the matter.


                • When it comes to moderates and independents, what would you say would be the stuff most likely to get them to purse their lips and take another look?

                  Off the top of my head:
                  A willingness to say “Man, Iraq was a major mistake.”
                  On the topic of abortion, to be somewhere between “abortions on demand even in the 9th month for healthy babies!” and “no abortions even in cases of rape or incest or mother’s life in danger even if the girl has only skipped one period”.
                  On free trade, a willingness to say “those damn corporations moving overseas and skipping out on taxes!” instead of “corporations are people!”

                  I don’t know what Trump’s ceiling is. I have consistently said that it is much lower than it turned out to have been.

                  I don’t know what Hillary’s floor is.

                  I do know that the trend lines for how Hillary is doing against Trump are all over the place. I also know that Hillary is very attackable and Trump’s attackability is a lot (a lot a lot) lower than you’d think it’d be.


                      • The R’s aren’t’ going full bore at Trump because they don’t want to alienate his followers from jumping over to them or away from the R’s in general. Some of the attacks would relate to his constantly changing statements. Trump has a long history in the NY area of being a viscous loudmouth and buffoon and, importantly, a joke. And plenty of it is on video.


                        • I think that’s just a general feature of the political process: candidate A will only attack someone who’s perceived as a threat to their candidacy but only when doing so doesn’t backfire on them personally and doesn’t result in alienating those voters.

                          So … there’s always lots of shells in various chambers that never get fired because doing so is viewed as counterproductive. (Bernie has LOTS of shells he’s not firing at Hillary …)


        • I think the thinking is that Trump would peel off blue collar democrats from Hillary (advantage Trump). On the other hand, his nom would discourage the socon base from voting (ad. Hillary). On the third hand the horrific thought of a Hillary Presidency motivates the GOP base to record turnout (ad Trump). On the gripping hand, same logic applies mutatis mutandis to the enraged Dem base (ad Hillary). And so on for the clock hand, the farm hand, the even hand(ed), the back hand, the glad hand, and the bird in hand.


          • From what I understand, the socon base was discouraged from voting by Romney.

            By ROMNEY!


            All that to say, my small and unrepresentative circle of socons is not fundamentally depressed by Trump. “But he’s divorced!” “But he’s an adulterer!” and so on elicit something closer to eyerolls/shrugs than a head tilt and a “I’ve never thought about that.”


          • You’re leaving out that Latinos will vote against Trump the way African-Americans vote against Republicans every cycle, that parts of the Republican Party will stay home or hold back, and that the non-Fox media will treat him like the total buffoon that he is for the entire campaign.

            Trump can succeed if he only has to appeal to Republican primary voters and if his opposition is split and weirdly uninterested in really attacking him. That won’t be the case in the general. He’ll be constantly and rightly portrayed as a lewd, racist, ignorant billionaire that wants to give out huuuuuuuge tax cuts to his billionaire friends and doesn’t know anything about public policy. He’ll be in a contest where media coverage is baked into the cake, so it won’t be nearly as big an advantage that the media swarms over every dumb thing he does. The man’s favorable/unfavorable numbers are at -25, for pete’s sake, worse than anyone else in the field. Donald Trump, if he somehow wins the Republican primary, is obviously doomed in the general. If the R’s somehow convince themselves otherwise, they are fools to do so.


            • I guess I missed the target with the comment up there by a wide mark: my point was that, from my pov anyway, it’s simply impossible to predict that far out with an accuracy higher than throwing at a dart board blindfolded after being spun around a few times.

              In my view, Trump could definitely win against Hillary or Bernie. So could Rubio, in my view, but probably not Cruz or Jeb. But you’re right that it’s harder to see how a Trump victory is realized. But based on that same type of reasoning the CW was that he wouldn’t even be in the race at this point let alone leading with 41% support nationally.


  6. “By 2028 people will be laughing at you if you put forth a candidate that polls well among younger voters but has a weakness with minorities”

    Really? In 2028 whites will be a minority and nobody will give two tugs of a dead dog’s dick what they think because they’ll finally be getting what they deserve for being such horrible racists.


    Through this whole column I was thinking back to what people were writing before New Hampshire about how Sanders failed to decisively win Iowa and that meant his “coalition was shaky”, and he’d get crushed in New Hampshire and go home. And then, um, well, that didn’t happen.


  7. Well look, this is what we have primaries for.
    Bernie doesn’t have good numbers with significant blocks of the Democratic Party right now; accordingly he will loose. But the primary isn’t being decided right now: it’s being decided over the next couple of months. Bernie is going to get a perfectly fair shot to improve his standing with those blocks. If he can then he should do okay in the primaries. If he doesn’t then he’ll eventually go down. Along the way he’ll spar with Hillary and keep her on her toes. It’ll be good for her, it’ll be good for the party.
    I’d also speculate that Bernie is keenly aware of it. That venerable ol’ socialist has run a very particular campaign and it’s to his credit and honor. He isn’t trying to sink the Dems chances in the general.


    • Yes, all this is granted. And if Bernie does well in the next two or three primaries I expect his poll separation from Clinton to go down (although I don’t expect Bernie to do well in the next two or three primaries).

      This is more along the lines of Bernie supporters all being agog that the superdelegates are supporting Clinton. Why? Um, because as it stands today she’s the better candidate in the battleground states and that’s what the superdelegates care about.


      • Many people don’t get why superdelegates exist in the first place. IIRC, it wasn’t to “control elections” or “give the establishment candidate an edge” (there aren’t enough, for one, and they’ll all jump towards the winner anyways).

        It was because the whole delegate system was choking out grassroots folks who wanted to go to the convention, but as the delegate elections moved up — they started losing to actual politicians and party figures who, go figure, are pretty popular locally and also somewhat skilled at winning elections.

        The Democratic party created superdelegates to remove the actual establishment folks who always went to the convention and who did so as regular delegates. In short, a system now described as the heavy thumb of the establishment was put into place (and quite successful at) getting more actual grassroots folks to go to the convention.

        If you got rid of super delegates, something like 90%+ of those supers would end up taking ordinary delegate spots.


      • Supers will follow the elected delegates so long as the decision on that side of things is decisive. If Bernie wins the voters by an unambiguous margin I don’t believe for even a moment that the Supers would tip it back to Hillary. Now if it’s a dead heat tie or extremely close, sure, they’ll put their thumbs on the scales for Hillary but flat out “steal” the nomination for her? Not happening; they’re not suicidal.


  8. What if people like Trump and Sanders for the same reasons?

    Their message is the same–“people have stolen all the power that ought to be yours, and they’ve beat you down so hard that you’re convinced that you can’t take it back, and I’m here to tell you that’s not true.”


    • There might be some similarities in the anger at a rigged game but Trump and Sanders are polar opposites of New York. Sanders lives quite modestly and sincerely so. Sanders fans love that he only made 1800 dollars in speaker’s fees and gave it all to charity. I suspect a Trump supporter would call this doing it wrong.

      Say what you will about Sanders but he lives by his convictions and has the only campaign that pays its interns.


    • I’m quite confident that is the case for many voters. They’re mad about getting shafted by the economy, they’re mad about being bamboozled by politicians, and they’re in the middle of making up their minds who’s at fault and what to do about it. Which way they jump is going to determine a lot about the future of America.

      Saul is entirely correct that Bernie and Trump are completely different, even diametrically opposed, people. But the frustrations that are drawing people to them are similar.


  9. Great analysis. I feel like this debate is likely to resolve itself, in some respects. If Sanders doesn’t improve his numbers with non-white voters, it strikes me as doubtful that he wins the nomination under any circumstances. As with the Republicans, we’ll likely start to get real answers with South Carolina. If Sanders can reduce the gap with Clinton on minority voters in SC en route to a win, then he has a genuine shot at the nomination, while also demonstrating that he was able to boost his appeal among non-white voters. If not, then he’ll lose.

    Which is to say: I much prefer exit polls to pre-vote polls. So I’m looking forward to SC’s, for both parties.


    • I feel like this debate is likely to resolve itself

      Agreed. If Bernie gets the X, Y and Z and wins the nom, he’s got … well … the X,Y&Z (plus more time to gather more support). Ditto Hillary, tho I think she’s fighting a rearguard to maintain support which is harder to do in the face of a real mojo threat (plus, I really do think Hillary has an identifiable ceiling in a way that Bernie doesn’t). The last poll I saw had Bernie ahead of Hillary in head-to-heads against GOP contendas (ie., he won two tied for one, she lost two tied for one). For whatever that’s worth.


    • I agree with you Dan.

      The Democratic primary cycle has been about the next four primaries, not the first two.

      And it is, of course, possible that Bernie picks up increasingly good numbers in the next two primaries.

      Just based on the numbers I’ve seen, I doubt it. But the numbers only tell part of the story.

      The big question is what are the ground games doing in the Super Tuesday states. And I don’t live in any of them so I have no idea.

      But I suspect that Clinton learned her lesson against Obama and I expect the ground game is priority number one for her this election.


  10. Colorado’s 9 are more likely to go red than blue.

    If I were betting, I would go the other way. State-wide elections are settled in the Front Range suburbs. In the almost-30 years I’ve lived here, the suburbs have drifted slowly left. About seven percentage points in my county, encompassing most of the western suburbs. Since 2012, population growth has continued at a rapid pace, much of it young and into those suburbs. Hispanics are just over 20% of the total population now. In 2014, an off year with a huge national Republican wave, Hickenlooper hung on and Cory Gardner (R) won the US Senate seat with a narrow plurality.

    The big question will be turnout among the young, which absent someone like Obama, will depend on which initiatives make the ballot. Single-payer health care is already on; wine and beer sales at groceries will almost certainly make it; I expect one or more of the anti-fracking initiatives to make it. I predict the Dem candidate narrowly.


  11. Your analysis rests on the assumption that minority voters are willing to risk Trump getting elected if Bernie wins the primary. And Trump’s looking like a shoo-in to win the primary, at the moment.

    Given how much time Trump has spent calling people of colour terrorists and criminals, I would rate that probability as “low” for black voters and “nonexistent” for Hispanic voters.

    Bernie vs. Rubio? I can see the risk. Bernie vs. Trump? Not an issue.

    Even more to the point: Trump’s ONLY constituency is “antiestablishment white folks”. Choosing Hillary cedes that constituency to him almost entirely – she’s the essence of the ‘establishment’ to most of those folks. Choosing Bernie competes with Trump among the only demographic that Trump currently holds.

    Obama lost Florida in both elections: the Democrats don’t need Florida to win. I’d put Bernie as being very likely to sweep the entire midwest, and pick up enough of the southwest (due to Trump’s open hostility to Latino people, if nothing else) to win handily. Which way the midwest will swing in a Hillary-Trump election…that’s a lot more doubtful.


  12. Idle thought: if the Republican debates were Jeb and Walker and Perry all mumbling to each other about the importance of the difference between a 2.2% tax cut and a 2.21% tax cut, would Bernie be doing half as well?

    Is the insanity of Trump putting the insanity of Bernie in perspective and making people think “yeah, Bernie isn’t that bad”?


  13. Shorter version of what I said:

    Voting for Bernie in the primary isn’t gambling on the youth vote. It’s gambling on the lower/middle-income, non-university-educated, white person vote. The Independent, pissed-off-at-the-establishment vote.

    Those are the kind of people the media like to describe as “swing voters”.


  14. I must say that the most annoying people in my Twitter feed are the Bernie and Hillary homers. The “millennials with daughters support Hillary” thing yesterday was perhaps the height of this annoyingness.


  15. It’s worth noting that, in most of the polls of Hillary vs. Trump, Hillary is losing Florida:

    So betting on the candidates’ electability based on who’s best to win Florida seems like a dubious proposition.

    On the other hand, the polls show Hillary and Bernie both beating Trump in Ohio (albeit by narrow margins): http://www.270towin.com/2016-polls/2016-general-election-matchups/. Sanders is also performing better against Trump than Clinton does in virtually all the other midwestern states.

    And those are older polls. Gallup results generally suggest (although there’s nothing measuring the favourability ratings of the candidates among the general population rather than their parties’ bases) that Sanders is becoming better-liked as he is becoming better-known.

    If you think Virginia is solid for the Democrats, then Sanders only has to win either Ohio or one of the southwestern states. The only poll of Colorado (back in November) shows him doing substantially better against Trump than Clinton does there: http://www.270towin.com/2016-polls/2016-general-election-matchups/ (although both of them are behind Trump in that poll – Sanders 2 points back, Clinton 11 points back).

    Also as regards Colorado: what are the candidates’ positions on legal weed? I expect that any candidate who says they’re planning on cracking down on use of pot in states where it’s legal will have troubles in Colorado, and candidates who are okay with leaving things as-is will do better.


    • Hillary is losing Florida to Trump, but by less than Bernie is. In Florida she’s a dead heat with Rubio and Bernie loses. She beats Cruz, he doesn’t.

      That makes her the better bet than Bernie at this stage of the game (yes, we do have a long way to go yet).

      And if she goes up against Trump, she could lose Florida but she has a better chance than Bernie against Trump in Ohio.

      Bernie’s only current upside over Hillary is in New Hampshire, which the Demo get either way. Hillary even polls better in Virginia.

      Yes, those numbers could change. Sure.

      That doesn’t change the fact that as of right now, she has all the states Bernie gets anyway plus a better crack at Ohio, Virginia, and Florida.


      • :

        “Yes, those numbers could change. Sure.

        They could indeed. If I were Hilary, I would be more than a little concerned that the trending numbers look not so far different from these trending numbers here.

        I still believe that Hilary is the stronger candidate in a national election, and by no small margin. But as I recall, when we were in Feb of the year those other numbers were current, that was the identical (and equally obvious at the time) argument for voting for HRC. And that turned out to be not so much the case.


      • How Hillary does against Rubio or Cruz is only slightly more relevant than how she does against Romney.

        Trump is far ahead in South Carolina. If he wins there, he’s the frontrunner going into Super Tuesday, and has momentum. He’s already ahead in most of the country. The Republican Party have run out of time to stop if, if they wanted to – they needed the field to thin out more before Super Tuesday than it has.

        Unless something in the Republican race chances substantially, all my electoral calculations are based on Trump being the nominee. I agree that Hillary may be stronger against, say, Rubio, than Sanders is (though the national polling doesn’t indicate so). I just don’t think that’s still meaningful.

        She doesn’t have a better chance than Bernie in Ohio; they have approximately equal chances. Sanders has two polls showing him +2 and +3; Clinton has two polls showing her +1 and +5. And all those polls are from 2015 (the +5 Clinton one is from back in August). Given that Sanders is significantly stronger in other midwestern states with more recent, 2016 polls (e.g., Minnesota where he’s +16 to Clinton’s +5; Wisconsin where he’s +18 to Clinton’s +9), taken after he started becoming a better-known candidate and more of a contender, and given that – to my knowledge – the demographics of the midwestern states are fairly similar to each other, I would put strong odds on him having a better chance in Ohio than Clinton does.

        The most recent polls also have Sanders stronger than Clinton in Virginia, going up against Trump, but since Bernie is +22 to her +17, that’s not looking like an issue either way; I agree with you that Virginia’s looking solidly blue regardless.



          • I remained confident that his lead was meaningless – a flash-in-the-pan, like Gingrich and Santorum in 2012 – up until around late November-early December. Then I started getting worried. Then he started actually winning, and showing no drops in his lead in nationwide Republican primary polls.

            People have been predicting his campaign would fall apart for the last several months, probably partly because they (like I) want it to. But there’s no avoiding the fact that he’s won one primary, placed a narrow second in another, and is ahead in South Carolina and Nevada. If he does well enough in Super Tuesday, stopping him will become extremely difficult, if not impossible.


        • I think it’s weird that you think Trump’s huge advantage in South Carolina is going to give him momentum enough to take the pack but you don’t think Hillary’s huge advantage in South Carolina will do the same thing.

          You might be right about Ohio, though. It is admittedly too early to give a real prognostication and a *lot* depends on Super Tuesday.

          For the record, I still am a solid believer that Trump will not win the primary. I am still putting my money on Rubio.

          I will admit, it doesn’t look like the bet I thought it would at this point, though. The GOP insiders took longer to jump on Rubio after Jeb flubbed than they should have, and that gave the Trumpinator a gap to push into.


          • I think it’s weird that you think Trump’s huge advantage in South Carolina is going to give him momentum enough to take the pack but you don’t think Hillary’s huge advantage in South Carolina will do the same thing.

            I think Hillary’s got a major advantage, and that winning South Carolina going into Super Tuesday – especially if she wins it by a large margin – will give her substantial momentum going into Super Tuesday. I’m quite aware Bernie’s a long shot in the primary, regardless of my views on his chances in the general election.

            Bernie’s advantage, which is not shared by the Rubio and Cruz and Bush, is that he’s in a two-person race. The larger the Republican field is going into Super Tuesday, the better Trump’s chances. If Bush drops out after South Carolina, then there’s a better chance of Cruz or Rubio giving Trump a run for his money, but Trump’s still at a substantial advantage. Heck, Trump’s 20 points above any other candidate in Florida primary polls, and Florida is Rubio’s own state.

            The other difference is that Trump seems to be ahead in virtually all the states in the Republican race, whereas Bernie has regions where he’s at an advantage.


        • The GOP has plenty of *time* to stop Trump. Very few delegates are pledged at this point. Hovering around 30-40% with limited appeal with half of the party, there’s a really good chance that he is going to have to fight it out. If he doesn’t get more support along the way, he might not be able to win outright even if he wins every state (yes, even accounting for Winner-Take-All). Which makes it unlikely that he will get the sort of delegate count to be prohibitively ahead.

          What they may not have is the ability to do it. They might get Jeb/Kasich/Carson to back down, but they’re not going to get Cruz to. If Trump can just bump his support up to 40%, then he is the likely nominee. That, ironically, gets easier to do if J/K/C do drop out. In most of the scenarios I’m running, assuming that a single candidate can’t get ahead of Trump, the goal has to be to keep him in the 30-40% range, take it to convention, and fight it out there.

          Which is to say, we need to be polling HRC against Mitt and/or Paul Ryan.

          (My current nomination odds are about 40% Trump (looking to rise), 40% Cruz (looking to fall), and 20% Other (looking to rise).


          • A) Is Rubio toast? I’m not convinced he is. He took a punch in NH, but I’m not yet convinced it was a TKO. If not, look for Establishment to get in line behind him. Seems like he’s waiting to pick up delegates in his home state where he’s more popular and better-machined than Jeb! by a significant degree.

            B) if Rubio is toast, then a strong showing in SC sets the table for Jeb! to be the guy after all. A weak showing by Jeb! in SC likely means the Establishment holds its nose and goes all in for Cruz, because as much as Kasich would be the best President of the lot, he’s the least charismatic candidate.

            C) I am beginning to think that Trump’s strategy of winning primaries might actually work, and if he can execute on it through to California, there is fish all Reince Priebus and Co. can do about it. Maybe then it’s Schism City.

            D) If I’m wrong about C) and Reince Priebus and Co. can superdelegate Trump out of contention, then maybe it’s Schism City anyway so we’d have a three way race between a Clinton, a Bush, and a crazy billionaire and we should all remember how that story ends.


        • I would just like to remind everybody that general election polls this far out have as much usefullness as a dart board. There were polls showing Herman Cain beating Obama in late 2011 / early 2012.

          I’d also point out that Hillary has had the entirety of the right wing media + a large chunk of the new left wing media pointing at her every foible for the past 20 years, barring a few year break when the Republican’s decided to pump her up as somebody reasonable compared to Obama while Bernie has pretty much been ignored.

          Let’s see how those general election numbers look when we’ve gotten $500 million dollars in SuperPAC ads about Bernie honeymooning in the USSR, visiting Sandinista rebels in Central America, wanting to raise middle class taxes while taking away private insurance, something about him wanting to downsize the military, repeated video of Bernie calling himself a socialist, and then we’ll get to the actual stuff they’ll make up whole cloth just because.

          These are the same people who made 40 to 45% of the country believe that an actual war hero, no matter your opinion of his political positions, was a fraud and a phony. If they can do that, I have total faith they can work a number on Bernie. Now, against Trump, that might not be enough to actually lose but against Rubio, it’d be a wipeout.


          • Jesse,
            I’m going to just say that if you had to run the Democratic Intelligentsia against the Republican Intelligentsia in terms of dirty tricks, the Democrats win every single time.

            When the Democrats make ads referencing 9/11, they’re not only effective, they also don’t get called out by the press, because nobody realizes that it’s 9/11 imagery. Damned effective, though.


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