Who Will Win The Next Several Primaries: Clinton or Sanders?

I recently developed a model of how the primary race will play out between Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

That model made certain assumptions, and allowed me to produce two projections (well, many, but I picked two) depending on how each candidate actually fairs with different ethnic groups (White, Back, Hispanic, since those are the groupings typically used).

The two different versions of this model were designed to favor each candidate differently. The Clinton-favored model started with the basic assumption that among white Democratic Party voters, both candidates are similar, and that Clinton has a strong lead among Hispanic voters and an even stronger lead among African American voters. The Sanders-favored model assumes that Sanders has a stronger position among White voters and less of a disadvantage among non-White voters.

The logic behind the equivalence among White voters is that this his how the two candidates did in Iowa, which is a representative of the United States White vote, unadulterated by a favorite son effect in New Hampshire. Nevada failed to indicate that this assumption should be changed.

The favoring of Clinton among non-White voters is based on national polling with respect to ethnic effects. The logic behind the Sanders-favored version is that Sanders' strategy, to win, has to involve a large young, white, male turnout (evidenced in the polls) and a narrowing of the gap among African American and Hispanic voters.

In that model, presented here, I used statewide demographic data to establish the ethnic term. However, that is incorrect, because one's chances of engaging in the Republican vs. Democratic process in one's state is tied to ethnicity. More Whites are Republicans, more Blacks are Democrats. I knew that at the time I worked out the model, but sloth and laziness, combined with lack of time, caused me to simplify.

The newer version of the model adjusts for likely Democratic Party membership. The results are the same but less dramatic, with a much longer slog to the finish line and the two candidates doing about the same as each other for the entire primary season.

The outcome of my modeling (reflected in the non-adjusted and adjusted versions, each with a Clinton- and Sanders-favored version) is different from the expectations of either campaign, as far as I can tell. Clinton boosters are claiming that the Democratic Party is mainly behind her, and these first primaries are aberrant. Sanders boosters are claiming the Sanders strategy of having a surge of support will carry him to victory. Both of these characterizations require that each candidate surge ahead pretty soon, and don't look back. The opportunity to surge ahead is, certainly, Super Tuesday (March 1st).

The models I produced, with the assumptions listed above, show a close race all along, so either the campaigns are wrong or I am wrong.

The graphic at the top of the post represents how far ahead each candidate will be across the primary season, for each of their respective favored strategies.

So for Clinton, the ethnic gap is maintained as wide, and the blue line shows that she will surge nearly 40 committed delegates ahead of Sanders (a modest surge) and continue to develop a wider and wider gap past mid-March, and thereafter, maintain but not increase that gap, of about 80 committed delegates, until the end.

For Sanders, the orange line, the initial gap formed on Super Tuesday, does not start out very large, but his gap steadily increases until the end of the primary season, ending with a gap of over 120 committed delegates.

So, that is the new model. But, it is a bogus model.

I'm trying to stick with empirical data that do not rely on polling. Why? Because everybody else is relying on polling, and this is an election season where the polling is not doing a good job of predicting outcomes. Also, my modeling gives credit to each campaign's claims, which is at least interesting, if not valid, as a way of approaching this problem. If Clinton is right, she wins this way. If Sanders is right, he wins that way.

However, the data are insufficient to have much faith in this model. Super Tuesday will provide a lot more information, and with that information I can rework the model and have some confidence in it.

Who will win the South Carolina Primary, Clinton or Sanders?

While working this out, I naturally came up with predictions for what will happen in all of the future primaries. So let's look at some of that.

In South Carolina, according to my model, if Clinton's strategy holds, she will win 29 delegates, and Sanders will win 24 delegates. If the Sanders strategy pertains, they will tie, or possibly, Clinton will win one more delegate than Sanders.

Who will win the Super Tuesday primaries?

The following table shows the results predicted by this model, for both the Clinton-favored and Sanders-favored versions, for all the Super Tuesday state primaries or caucuses.


The Clinton-favored model suggests that Clinton will win six out of 11 primaries, and take the majority of uncommitted delegates. The Sanders-favored model suggests that Sanders will take 9 out of 11 primaries, and win the majority of uncommitted delegates.

Notice that I put Vermont in Italics, because Sanders is likely to win big in Vermont no matter what happens. This underscores the nature of this model in an important way. I'm not using any data from the actual states, other than the ethnic mix from census data, with an adjustment applied to produce an estimate of Democratic Party membership across ethnic groups. That estimate is based on national data as well as data specifically form Virginia, to provide some empirical basis.

I suspect most people will have two responses to this table. First, they will say that a model that incorporates Clinton's strategic expectations should have her winning more. Second, they will say that all the numbers, for all states and all models, are too close.

These are both legitimate complaints about my model, and will explain why it will turn out to be totally wrong. Or, they are suppositions people are making that are totally wrong, and when my model turns out to be uncannily accurate, those suppositions will have to be put aside for the rest of the primary season. (Or, some other outcome happens.)

I will restate this: I'm looking for Super Tuesday to provide the best empirical data to make this model work for the rest of the primary season. But, in the meantime, this seemed like an interesting result to let you know about.

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By Zack Leary (not verified) on 24 Feb 2016 #permalink

Zack, thanks, but I don't do that. Contact the management (via the link below) but they don't really do that either. Good luck with your writing!

Did you factor age into your models? I suspect that if more old people show up it will favor Hillary, if more young people show up, it will help Bernie.

Under 45 years of age = Sanders. 45 and over = Clinton

How does the model account for mysterious ballots showing up at caucuses in favor of Clinton?

By Desertphile (not verified) on 24 Feb 2016 #permalink

Last night I watched TrumpKong vs Super Marco Bros. I thought Marco got some extra lives while Eduardo was over a barrel, but TPM thinks Kong is still in charge:
Carson was wide awake but irrelevant, while Kasich seemed like Michael Palin looking for an argument. No one was spouting much truth or sense. Trump stuck to the identity politics that have served him so well in his quest to be a modern Caesar. One lede this morning is Hillary wondering why Trump is so obnoxious now when he used to be a nice guy. She'd better be ready for him.

Donal: "One lede this morning is Hillary wondering why Trump is so obnoxious now when he used to be a nice guy. She’d better be ready for him."

USA citizens better get used to being subjected to a strap-on if Secretary Clinton is "elected" (i.e., forced upon us against our wishes). But some polls show Trump will be elected if Clinton is the Democrat Party's nomination; the same polls show Sanders will be elected if he is nominated. If Clinton actually cared about the country, one would think she would back Sanders.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 26 Feb 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Donal (not verified)

Donal: "Did you factor age into your models?"

No, because the age effect that separates Sanders and Clinton is reflected in the White People Ratio.

The model does not address who shows up or might show up, as that is considered a factor that diverges from the simple version of the model. As more data come in (actual primaries) I'll adjust the ethnic ratios, and any changes will be reflected in that.

Desertphile: "How does the model account for mysterious ballots showing up at caucuses in favor of Clinton?"

I know of no such thing.

Desert: " But some polls show Trump will be elected if Clinton is the Democrat Party’s nomination; the same polls show Sanders will be elected if he is nominated. If Clinton actually cared about the country, one would think she would back Sanders."

That is actually a bunch of BS, all respect intended. Matchup polls early in the process are irrelevant. The two parties have not gone to the mat yet.

When you ask people how much they like each candidate, Sanders and Clinton both do about the same, and they do about the same across ethnic groups and other categories. This is what the vast majority of potential voters are thinking, and that is what is going to matter at the polling place.

I'm very concerned about the matchup issue, and electability, but my feeling is that Sanders and Clinton have different non-electability issues, but at roughly the same order of magnitude.

I also feel that eating one's own young, as you are doing here, will hurt both candidates. We have to keep the eye on the general election and not strategize using spite, to damage the candidate that we would tend to vote against in the primary, in case that person wins the primary.

"I also feel that eating one’s own young, as you are doing here, will hurt both candidates. We have to keep the eye on the general election and not strategize using spite, to damage the candidate that we would tend to vote against in the primary, in case that person wins the primary."

My concern is that the DNC is strongly pro-Clinton, and she is being force-fed to Democrat Party members instead of letting the party itself nominate the presidential candidate. If the USA were a democracy it would have a vastly different system of voting, but since it is a republic we are required to select the worse evil, not the best good.

#9 - "We have to keep the eye on the general election and not strategize using spite, to damage the candidate that we would tend to vote against in the primary, in case that person wins the primary."
That won't fly for young people and working class people that have been left behind in this economy. For them, this election is less republican versus democrat than outsider versus establishment. The right wing outsiders are going with Trump (or Cruz); the left wing outsiders are going with Sanders. Neither group of outsiders gives a damn about supporting Rubio, Kasich or Clinton. If Sanders doesn't win the primary, quite a few of the left-wing will write-in Sanders or punch for Jill Stein. If Sanders doesn't win the primary, some independents will punch for Trump, and vice versa. If Trump doesn't win the primary, he'll probably go third party and sap the GOP vote.
The revolution is being televised, but the comfortable classes just don't want to see it.

People who think scientifically should realize that the contest is going to be Clinton vs. Trump. (I say this as a Sanders supporter.) And Trump is not going to be a pushover. Clinton has many flaws, but at least she has held public office and has not gone batsh.t crazy. Another battle in the fall will be for control of the Senate. If you can't bring yourself to work for Clinton, at least pick a vulnerable GOP Senator and put your energy there.

With respect to eating the young:

To be fair, very few comments I've read anywhere from Clinton supporters have any negatives about Sanders that would be used against him in the general election.

Unfortunately, the converse is not the case at all. While I attribute some of it to Republican disinformation efforts, which I've come to recognize (in terms of style and language) from climate wars, comments about Hillary's "character" are common, as well as the childish "I am a lifelong Democrat but I will never vote for Hillary in the election". (The latter having 65% probability of being from a Republican troll.)

My own strategizing is purely pragmatic-- I don't think, as Greg says, polls have any meaning at this point. I just look at who the American people have elected over the years, and the role demographics and psychology and the electoral college have played in that.

I also look at individual matchups. Now, bks, I don't think Trump will be the nominee, and I think a Rubio/Kasich or Kasich/Rubio would be the strongest ticket for the Republicans. But in any event, make up a matrix of factors for each individual matchup for Bernie and for Hillary.

However sincere or a nice guy Bernie is, his only chance is against Trump, and that's because there's no predicting in such an unusual scenario. Hillary, on the other hand, should manage a victory even against Kasich/Rubio, if she finds a good VP candidate.

North Carolina Presidential matchups: Elon Uiversity and Survey USA

Clinton 47 Trump 41, Clinton 43 Trump 45
Sanders 48 Trump 40, Sanders 44 Trump 44

Clinton 43 Cruz 48, Clinton 46 Cruz 46
Sanders 47 Cruz 43, Sanders 46 Cruz 42

Clinton 45 Rubio 48,Clinton 42 Rubio 49
Sanders 43, Rubio 46, Sanders 45 Rubio 44

In these two polls vs the top three GOP contenders we have
Clinton goes 1-4-1
Sanders goes 4-1-1

Yet in the head-to-head Clinton vs Sanders polls by the same organizations Clinton has 10 and 15 point leads.

North Carolina voted Obama in 2008, but went for Romney in 2012. Indiana is the only other state that made this switch.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

Kevin O'Neill 14,

Greg: "Polls now on the general election are BS." (paraphrase)
zebra: "Polls now on the general election are BS"
Most survey/statistics experts: "Polls now on the general election are BS."

Kevin: "Whoa! Look at these polls now on the general election!"

This is why you guys don't come off as sincere much of the time. There is ample evidence, even from recent primary polls e.g. NH and Iowa, that surveys only begin to be meaningful as you get close to the election date.

You are cherrypicking as much as any climate denier.

zebra: There is ample evidence, even from recent primary polls e.g. NH and Iowa, that surveys only begin to be meaningful as you get close to the election date.

Exit polls, minutes after people voted, are also widely off the ballot counts for electronic voting. Recall how the Republican Party explained that for year 2000.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

In reply to by zebra (not verified)

zebra - I like evidence, someone said something isn't evidence.
So go "cherry-pick" this - observe Obama head-to-head with McCain from this period 8 years ago.

Someone is denying evidence, it ain't me.

Also, observe I made *zero* conclusions, not even any observations from the poll results I posted. So anything you drew from it was a projection of your own making.

If you want to get into an insult war, fine.

Frickin' moron.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

Kevin: “Whoa! Look at these polls now on the general election!”

As a disinterested 3rd party to this nascent flame war, Kevin said nothing of the sort and did not in any way imply what you purport, Zebra.

Are you trying to pick a fight by insulting people here and putting words in their mouths?

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink


In my (admittedly old fashioned) universe, telling someone that he is wrong is not an insult, and telling someone that he is cherry-picking is not an insult, whether a denier or anything else.

I said polls this early are worthless, based on what I have read from people who specialize in the field, just like I base much of my detailed understanding of climate science on what the experts say.

If Kevin wasn't saying "look at these poll results" by his comment, what exactly was he saying? He obviously intended for us to look at them, right? Why else would he bother to present them?

Maybe you are the one trying to pick a fight?

Desertphile 16,

I am not a big fan of exit/entry polling either, with or without conspiratorial possibilities.

There are serious polling outfits and analysts who can give a reasonable prognostication following numbers in a series leading up to the election over what-- a couple of months maybe. Other than that, we are constantly getting breathless reports about some poorly done bit from the media trying to make a story when there isn't one, like "Bernie Wins Hispanics!"

At this point, I am looking at fundamentals, as I said at #13. I find that I have as little success getting people to drop the rhetoric and deal with what we do know as when, to use the example again, I try to point out the irrefutable basic physics to denialists.

zebra: "Desertphile 16, I am not a big fan of exit/entry polling either, with or without conspiratorial possibilities."

I am not convinced that "conspiracy ideation" is involved in my head, but I am willing to concede I am wrong about the year 2000 elections and the balloting fraud I think occurred. Everyone I know has suggested I'm paranoid, about everything.

However, the USA Senate held a hearing on the issue, and witnesses testified under oath (after being granted immunity from prosecution) that they tampered with electronic balloting machines while employed at Diebold Electronics Inc. and at Electronic Voting Machines Inc.--- there are even videos of some of the hearing sessions, available on YouTube. They explained how they tampered with the machines, how many machines they tampered with, who paid them to do it, where, and why.

Other witnesses testified, under immunity, that they located the most balloting machines in "Republican Party" precincts, and restricted machines in "Democrat Party" precincts. Hundreds of machines that were scheduled to be moved to "Democrat Party" precincts stayed in their warehouses.

In Northern New Mexico (and elsewhere) thousands of voters who looked Mexican and/or spoke Spanish had their ballots "challenged" by Republican Party "monitors" which means they were never even looked at to see who the voters cast their ballots for--- over 23,000 ballots in New Mexico were "challenged" and never counted.

In Nevada and Iowa many black people said they were called on the telephone and told they would be arrested if they showed up to vote; a hell of a lot of black people in Nevada said they were called a day or two before the election and told to go to the wrong polling locations, far from where they lived.

Regardless of the fact I'm a raving schizophrenic paranoid, all this is public record.

When the exit polls showed that millions of people who said they voted for Al Gore didn't show up in the official ballot counts, the Republican Party's leader in the Senate said the Democrats had some how tampered with the exit pool data.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 28 Feb 2016 #permalink

In reply to by zebra (not verified)

By the way if Trump is made USA president, Cape Breton Island has offered special dispensation to USA citizens for emigration status to live and work on the island. They also advertised refugee status might be extended for USA citizens who have been and/or will be subjected to increased persecution if Trump managed to implement his many threats against citizens: black people, Muslims, and women among them (but not limited to).

The person I talked to, to get emigration information ("Florence"), wrote to me saying "It is overwhelming how much positive feedback has been received. We love our Island and are sure you will too! There is great interest surrounding employment opportunities, realty, business ownership and general information on our Island. See the attached document for more information." I have the necessary forms already filled out and ready to post the day after the general election.

And you can, too! It's okay to abandon the USA to the fascist lunatics: the country abandoned us first. See the file:


By Desertphile (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

zebra - if you wanted to know what I was saying (if anything) you should have asked. Instead you made up a bunch of crap and unfounded assertions.

The conventional wisdom in national politics is that primaries favor the more liberal (conservative in the GOP) candidate. But because of this the winner of the primary is too liberal (conservative) to win the general. This was an argument cited hundreds of times in the 2008 primary season by Clinton supporters as a reason Obama could not win the general election.

The NC results, though, are interesting in that the more liberal candidate (Sanders) is losing the primary, but winning the general. It's exactly the opposite of what conventional wisdom would tell us. Note the word "Yet" in my post #14. That's the clue you obviously missed.

As for the another piece of conventional wisdom, you *claim* that head-to-head polls at this time of the campaign season are meaningless BS. Sorry, you present zero evidence to support it. Polling from he 2004, 2008, and 2012 Presidential elections do not support this hypothesis. I.e., your assertion is not backed by any evidence -- just an argument from vague authority and non-authorities.

The fact you cited yourself and Greg as saying it might make me smile, but it doesn't exactly cause me to re-evaluate my worldview. I try to let evidence dictate that instead.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

Kevin 22:

The conventional wisdom in national politics is that primaries favor the more liberal (conservative in the GOP) candidate. But because of this the winner of the primary is too liberal (conservative) to win the general.

Kevin, the winner of the primary always wins the general election, so I don't see how that could be "the conventional wisdom".

Here I am, asking you to explain what sounds like a very irrational statement, OK?

If Kevin wasn’t saying “look at these poll results” by his comment, what exactly was he saying? He obviously intended for us to look at them, right?

You imply that he put stock in the poll results (not substantiated), and that he was trying to enroll others in "believing" in them (also unsubstantiated).

In my (also admittedly old-fashioned) universe, telling someone that he is wronging another person is not an insult, and questioning someone about putting words in someone else's mouth is not an insult.

So I see no reason why you would suggest that I'm interesting in picking a fight -- especially when I'm more interested in heading off yet another unproductive self-righteous flame war on Greg's blog. We've had too many of those lately.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

zebra - Of course one of the two primary winners is going to win the election. That doesn't stop conventional wisdom from saying that the losing party elected too liberal (conservative) of a candidate. We can find dozens of stories from this election cycle warning about that. We can go back to 2008 and find hundreds more. Do you deny their existence?

Haste make waste.
A stitch in time saves nine.

Illogical. Truisms ain't laws of physics. Neither is conventional wisdom.

As for "Most survey/statistics experts: “Polls now on the general election are BS.”"

I see no evidence for this. I can find plenty of evidence that polls on head-to-head matchups a year or more out are only weakly correlated to the final election winner, but nothing that shows an actual time series of polling date versus general election accuracy.

So you've accepted a belief without any actual evidence. Not only accepted it, but choose to pass it off as truth without any evidence. The past few Presidential elections do not support the claim.

Obviously we assume that polls become more accurate the closer we get to the election, but when do they actually become significant? A month out? Three months? Six? Nine? Eleven? If you have actual evidence for the claim that they're not relevant now, it would save a lot of time to just link to it. Otherwise I can only assume you have none.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink


I listen to climate scientists about science.
I listen to polling experts about polling.


You are free to continue to make assertions without evidence as you like.

Note that the suggestions cited are non-partisan in nature; they are sound advice for people in either party or faction thereof.

“...suggest that I’m interesting in picking a fight...”

... that I’m interested

Aside from bad usage, I agree with those who express distrust of general election polls at this time. The Republican primary election is unprecedented, and is tearing the party apart. No matter who their candidate is, he will be weakened by what has transpired.

I haven't checked the polling from previous elections, but it seems to me that unexpected events (the financial crisis) or attacks that aren't effectively countered (Willie Horton, swift boat, Bain Capital), or serious missteps (the 47%) can and have changed the trajectory of campaigns.

Trump and Cruz are my dream candidates. Neither of them would be able to unite the party behind him.

(“If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” Lindsey Graham)

I don't think Rubio would either. I may be wrong, but I think many of the voters Trump appeals to because of his clash with Republican orthodoxy and the Republican political establishment would rather stay home than vote for someone who represents those. The extent to which this clash is real is immaterial. Trump is a demagogue, not an ideologue. We're not dealing with choices based on dispassionate analysis, and many Trump supporters seem to be so emotionally engaged that they would find it hard to accept anyone else

The Democratic campaign has been more civil, and neither Clinton nor Sanders has been hurt as much by it. Considering the stakes – action on climate change, a successor to Scalia, to mention only a few – it is imperative that their supporters unite around the final choice. You can't afford to conjure up conspiracy memes (#4) or threaten to sulk and throw a then-I-won't-vote temper tantrum (#11). Remember Al Gore.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

I have no idea how this will shake out, but Rubio truly concerns me. He's not any less batshit crazy than the others, but he has been able to make himself seem sane.

I know West Michigan is unusual in its conservative base - many rich, mostly Christian Reformed - but Rubio has very big support here. DeVos just spent a bunch of money on a shindig for him.
Trump isn't seen in a positive light for a variety of reasons, none of them his racism or bigotry, primarily due to his once stating that he supported some type of universal health care. Cruz isn't a big name because he isn't seen as viable - nobody likes him, and I get the impression he isn't trusted.

dean 28,

Yes, you are correct to be concerned in my view. I think the most effective Republican ticket would be Kasich/Rubio, but Rubio/Kasich is worrisome as well.

It is basically a clone of Bush/Cheney, with a little ethnic twist like Obama/Biden. "Don't worry, this is a relatively harmless kind-of-HIspanic, nice young guy with a nice family and a nice story, and there's the experienced senior type available to give advice."

This is why I get nervous about the prospect of Bernie going up against them-- it has nothing to do with policy; it's about how the voters relate to the candidate.

This is totally irrelevant here, but it may be worth a thought. Rubio isn't running for re-election. If he loses, he's out of national politics. I believe that something similar holds for Ted Cruz. Becoming a Senator, contributing to the legislative process, were never his goals. His Senate seat was a platform for a presidential run, and having failed, he would find himself stuck where he is universally despised. When his term is up, he'll leave the Senate, and there won't be much left of the Republican's purported very deep bench.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

#28, 29
I too have argued that Rubio is the slickest of the bunch, but he worries me a little less now than he did before. The Republican civil war has been nasty, and the longer it goes on, the more divided the party, and the more damaged the candidates will be. To some extent, the Democrat will be able to succeed by repeating an attack that has already been made. It would be easy to portray Rubio as a puppet of the Republican establishment, and thereby alienate many in the Republican base. If nothing else, Trump has exposed tremendous resentment against the values Rubio represents. Rubio appeals to the rich.

I don't see him exciting blue collar Republicans. He may excite Cubans, but he doesn't excite Mexicans. Finally, he desperately needs to win Florida, and his outlook isn't good.

Both Clinton and Sanders have vulnerabilities, but I don't think they've been correspondingly magnified by the primary race.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

zebra - do you even read the links you provide? I said there was a weak correlation between polls one year out - and you provide a link to exactly that information.

Clue: We are not one year out - we are 8 months out. So we know there is a weak correlation one year out - correctly predicting the winner via head-to-head polls in 12 of the last 14 Presidential elections, albeit with a high margin of error.

Now is that a record that says they're complete B.S. as was your claim? Would we expect polls 4 months later to be more or less accurate?

Jesus, the 538 article does not support your claim. You apparently read the numbered point paragraph headline and never looked at the actual data.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

zebra - The 2nd link 538 provides is paywalled, but there is a non-paywalled paper that as far as I can tell covers much the same ground and is 10 years newer. The Timeline of Election Campaigns:A Comparative Perspective*, Jemnnings amnd Wlezien, 2013.

As I suspected, there is a weak correlation one year out (r-squared = 0.6) and it increases to election day. At 250 days out the r-squared is 0.7 Combining these numbers with the fact even one year out the head-to-head polls correctly predicted the winner in 12 of the last 14 Presidential elections does *not* lead me to believe head-to-head polls at this time of year are complete B.S.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Feb 2016 #permalink

The following explains why Sanders's support among young voters isn't as important as he or they would like it to be.

Young voters: At this rate, all future candidates might as well give up on trying to build a campaign around the support of young people. Despite tens of thousands of people showing up to Sanders rallies, and young people favoring him overwhelmingly so far, they just aren't showing up to vote like he needs them to. Fewer than 1 in 6 voters in South Carolina were under the age of the 30. And it follows a pattern of young people just not giving Sanders the turnout he needs. In fact, young voters were less of the electorate there than in any of the first three states.”

“The problem — which also happens to be the ongoing, perpetual problem for candidates who bank on the youth vote — is that older voters usually over-perform...

We’ve noted repeatedly that young people simply don’t turn out to vote as much as older voters...

Hillary Clinton won Nevada in large part because of her overwhelming support from black voters. She won Iowa because older voters turned out more than they did in 2008 and because younger voters turned out less. What’s more, there’s not much evidence that Sanders’s younger voters are more motivated to turn out for him than are Clinton’s older ones.

This is why campaigns that need younger voters in order to win often don’t. Younger voters — who move more often, work weirder hours and aren’t in the habit of voting — simply don’t vote as much.”

Another factor that needs to be taken into account is that Sanders may not do well in caucuses that are limited to registered Democrats:

“In an interview last week, Ben Tulchin, a pollster with the Sanders campaign, did not seem optimistic about his candidate’s chances in closed caucuses. He said that there was opportunity to organize, but that such caucuses were difficult for independents, who would have to change their party registration to participate, and young voters — two sources of strength for Mr. Sanders. “They’re not tailor-made for us,” he said. “It’s still structurally challenging for us to do well.” He was more optimistic about open caucuses, in states like Nebraska and Alaska. Whether Mr. Tulchin’s thoughts reflect the campaign’s views or represent an effort to lower expectations is hard to say.
What’s clear is that modest Sanders wins in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado and Oklahoma would not indicate that he had much of a chance to overtake Mrs. Clinton’s delegate lead.”

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 28 Feb 2016 #permalink

In South Carolina, according to my model, if Clinton’s strategy holds, she will win 29 delegates, and Sanders will win 24 delegates. If the Sanders strategy pertains, they will tie, or possibly, Clinton will win one more delegate than Sanders

The first of the results are in.

The AP is reporting in South Carolina Clinton picked up 39 delegates, Sanders 14.

The model uses statewide demographic data, or, for South Carolina, about 35% black. But according to NBC exit polls, the voters in the primary were about 60% black. So, at least in states with large non-white populations (which includes several Super Tuesday states), the model over-estimates Sanders support.

Also, the model assumes a that Clinton would get about 70% of the black vote, while the NBC exit polling shows closer to 85%.

Which, if this holds for other southern states, shows Clinton in a much stronger position than the model suggests.

Kevin O'Neill,

Your last two posts are incomprehensible.

Sorry, but you just seem to be stringing together "statistics-like" words with no understanding.

Here's what my 538 reference says (among other agreements with my take):

"Wait. Shrug off polls until just before primaries, or until after the conventions for the general election. General election polls are far more accurate on the eve of an election, and the candidate who leads after the major party conventions is likely to win."

Even the paper you refer to, which is not US-specific and includes parliamentary and other systems, as well as caveats about changes in polling practice over time, shows a .7 correlation only beginning at 150 days out, which is approximately around the time of the conventions for the US.

Maybe you should take greater care in reading, and reading graphs?


Thanks for the info. I think the problem with Greg's model is that it doesn't account for what the campaigns may do in real time-- it is a static picture.

So, as campaigns make tactical/strategic decisions about committing resources and particular approaches to particular demographics, we may see variations one way or the other for individual states.

#34 Thanks for the link. Young voters not turning out for Bernie is just what I've been worried about, so we'll see if they do any better in other states.

zebra - One year out head-to-head polls showed the winner of 12 of the past 14 Presidential elections. That's directly from the 538 data. Now, in your world that means the polls 8 months out are complete BS? 538 didn't say that, you did. The data speaks for itself.

Look, I realize people have a hard time admitting they were wrong. But your characterization of head-to-head polls at this time of year was wrong.

As for the correlations of the head-to-head polls in Jennings and Wlezien; again, I can only surmise you didn't read it. Go look at figure 7 on page 35 "Adjusted R-Squareds for Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Taken Separately."

Do I need to spoon-feed you on how to read a graph? The r-squared is clearly 0.7 at 250 days prior to the election.

You got one thing right, this *is* like dealing with climate change deniers. Unable to read the science, unable to understand it when they do, and make laughable claims as a result. What you got wrong is that you're the one on the denial side.

And I notice your complete silence on the head-to-heads one year out correctly getting the winner 12 out of the past 14 Presidential elections. Complete BS is what I call *your* claim.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 28 Feb 2016 #permalink

zebra - I realized this yesterday when you linked to the 538 article (having previously read the 538 post myself), that you did not understand what 538 was looking at; they were looking at the final percent error in the vote. If one is only concerned with the final margin of error, then the 538 statement is true. If one is interested in who would win - regardless of margin of victory - then their statement is false.

There is a difference between a qualitative approach and a quantitative approach. For a qualitative judgement on who would win between Tweedledum and TweedleDee, head-to-head polls even one year out can give us a very strong signal. For absolute accuracy on the final percentage vote totals they are much poorer. They get the sign right (who wins) but get the value wrong.

538 is obviously interested in absolute accuracy and getting the final margin wrong by 10% would be considered awful. But knowing a year in advance that if TweedleDee faces TweedleDum in the general election, then TweedleDee will win is very useful information - regardless the final margin of victory. I.e., the head-to-head polls are not complete BS *unless* you're only interested in the absolute accuracy of the final vote total percentages.

By Kevin O'Neill (not verified) on 28 Feb 2016 #permalink