17 February 2016

The Horse Race Going Into South Carolina and Nevada

If the polling in advance of this Saturday's Republican primary in South Carolina and Democratic caucus in Nevada, and Tuesday's Republican primary in Nevada and the upcoming Democratic primary in South Carolina are even remotely correct:

1.  Trump will will both South Carolina and Nevada by large margins, second and third place spots will got to Ted Cruz and Marc Rubio, not necessarily in that order while Carson, Bush and Kaisch will fall far behind in 4th to 6th positions, with other candidates who haven't officially dropped out yet like Santorum and Fiorina disappearing into invisibility in the dust.

These results mirror national polls, which also show that Bush is widely hated by the Republican electorate with a large percentage of Republicans believing that he would be a terrible or poor President, while Kaisch has almost no love (or name recognition) either.

Thus, when the dust settles, Trump will have three first place finishes plus a second place finish in Iowa, and no one other than Cruz and Rubio will look like even remotely viable alternatives to Trump for the GOP nomination.  Rubio is probably done if he can't secure at least a second place victory in either Nevada or South Carolina (having already failed to have done so in Iowa and New Hampshire).

The margin of Trump's lead and its uniformity across all Republican demographics, makes it look increasingly likely that Trump will be the Republican nominee.  Indeed, Trump could have the nomination pretty much cinched as soon as late March.

I put the odds that Trump will win the Republican nomination now at about 60%, with a roughly 25% chance of a Cruz nominee, a 10% chance of a Rubio nominee, and a 5% chance of some other nominee.

2. The polls suggest that Nevada's caucuses will produce a Democratic result almost identical to Iowa, with Clinton having a razor thin lead over Sanders that could flip in an instant.  In South Carolina, Clinton's lead over Sanders is almost as great as Sanders lead over her was in New Hampshire.

There is a good chance that Clinton will need super-delegates (where she has an overwhelming lead) to win the nomination, and that the struggle between Clinton and Sanders for the nomination will continue well into April or even May.  The ordinary delegate count between the two could favor either candidate going into the convention and it may take until the late California primary to even determine which candidate will lead in the ordinary delegate count.  But, it seems unlikely that Sanders will be able to overcome the roughly 400 super-delegate endorsement lead that Clinton has secured going into the convention, so even a small ordinary delegate lead for Sanders going into the convention probably means that Clinton will be the nominee.

I put the odds that Clinton will win the Democratic nomination at this point at about 70%, with a 30% chance that Sanders will win.

The fact that the Democratic nomination race will be close will also provide the Democrats with more free publicity in the late spring and summer, closer to the election, after the Republicans have dominated media focus so far in the race.

3. The other consideration is the Michael Bloomberg has threatened to run a third-party campaign if the race comes down to Trump v. Sanders, running as a centrist.  I think that the likelihood that he actually does so in the situation is roughly 50%, and that the odds that he runs in some other partisan nomination combination is roughly 10%.

I think that Bloomberg's chance of winning in a three way Trump-Sanders-Bloomberg race is only about 20% or less.  But, he could act as a spoiler, taking votes either from Trump or from Sanders. I'm inclined to think that a Bloomberg run would hurt Trump a bit more than Sanders, but it is a very hard call and could have the opposite effect.

4. What does all of this imply for the overall probable lineups:

*  Clinton v. Trump (37.8%) - Clinton advantage
*  Clinton v. Cruz (15.75%) - Stronger Clinton advantage
*  Sanders v. Trump  (9%) - Narrow Sanders advantage
*  Sanders v. Trump v. Bloomberg (9%) - Unclear Impact
*  Sanders v. Cruz (6.75%) - Narrow Sanders advantage
*  Clinton v. Trump v. Bloomberg (4.2%) - Bloomberg draws more from Trump favoring Clinton
*  Clinton v. Other (3.15%) - Clinton advantage
*  Sanders v. Rubio (2.7%) - Best chance for GOP, narrow Rubio advantage

Possibilities with a combined likelihood of less than 5%:

*  Clinton v. Cruz v. Bloomberg (1.75%) - Bloomberg draws more from Cruz
*  Sanders v. Other (1.35%) - Sanders advantage
*  Sanders v. Cruz v. Bloomberg (0.75%) - Bloomberg draws ore from Cruz
*  Clinton v. Other v. Bloomberg (0.35%) - Unclear Impact
*  Sanders v. Rubio v. Bloomberg (0.3%) - Unclear Impact
*  Sanders v. Other v. Bloomberg (0.15%) - Unclear Impact

5.  Applying my subjective sense of the odds in each possible lineup, I conclude that:

* Clinton is the most likely person to be our next President with odds better than one in 3 of being the next President, but less than one in 2.
* Trump's odds are about one in 3 of being the next President.
* Sanders odds and Cruz's odds are each about one in 8.
* Rubio's odds are about one in 40. The odds of a Bloomberg Presidency are less than one in 40.  The odds of anyone else becoming the President are significantly smaller than one in 40.

The odds that I have given to Other Republicans and Bloomberg are probably a bit high, and the odds of Bloomberg running are probably a bit high.

Democrats are clearly more likely to win in the general election given the possible lineups and their relative likelihoods.


Anonymous said...

If Sanders has the lead in ordinary delegates, the super delegates will not overturn it. The Dem convention will give the nomination to whomever has the lead in ordinary delegates.

OTOH, if Trump does not have a majority of the delegates in hand before the convention, the Republican convention will choose someone other than him as the nominee.

andrew said...

I seriously doubt that the Super Delegates at the Democratic National Convention would choose Sanders as the nominee unless he had a decisive majority of ordinary delegates (e.g. 300 delegates), although some super delegates probably would throw their vote to Sanders in that situation. If Sanders had only single digit or double digit lead in ordinary delegates, I'm fairly certainly that Clinton would get the nomination.