February 13, 2016
Finally a poll. As luck would have it, it’s from a pollster who did not previously survey Nevada, so no opportunity to track progress. It was sponsored by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website. It was conducted by Target Point, which polls strategically for Republicans.
As a result, there were a few push poll-style questions. This is useful for our calculation purposes, but something to keep in mind when comparing this poll to others that follow. It appears voters were asked who they supported before being given the push questions, so they shouldn’t have impacted the findings.
However, it does show which candidate is more susceptible to attack over the next week (hint: it’s not Bernie.) More on that later. The top line result will build the narrative over the next couple days:
As you can see, that’s a tie. Let’s look a little deeper.
Definitely Hillary 34
Definitely Bernie 32
Pretty, pretty, pretty close. Slight advantage Hillary. Continuing…
Probably Bernie 9, Leaning Bernie 4
Probably Hillary 8, Leaning Hillary 3
So Hillary’s voters were ever so slightly more locked down.
I think we can all agree Hillary is the more known entity to the average voter. She’s the equivalent of an incumbent. Normally, undecided voters will break towards the newer candidate. It appears this happened in Iowa and definitely happened in New Hampshire.
One more thing. The poll was taken between February 8 and February 10. Bernie’s big win was the evening of February 9. If he gained momentum based on the win, it would only partially reflect here. Another point in his favor.
If we trust the poll (more on that below), and the election were this Saturday instead of next, I would figure Bernie would turn out more voters by a 53/47 or 54/46 spread. Remember, those voters get turned into state delegate equivalents, which get turned into projected convention delegates.
Depending on how the votes are stacked, the geographic spread of support, etc., this could mean anything from a virtual tie, to a 10 point advantage for Bernie. Either way, you’d rather be him.
Can we trust the poll?
They have not released the cross tabs, just the top line answers. We do not know the ethnic breakdown of the voters, so there’s a chance they under sampled African-American or Latino voters. Based on current expectations and pretty much every other poll, this would favor Sanders.
Keep that in the back of your mind, but there’s no reason to suspect they did this. You might want to build in a couple point adjustment just in case. From the information they did reveal, the sample is arguably favorable to Clinton.
It’s true women are more likely to vote and more likely to vote Democratic. This is still an aggressive split. It’s hard to imagine female turnout over 60%. If anything, a higher percentage of men will show up. That would favor Bernie.
How about age?
46 and over: 64%
18 to 45: 36%
Seems reasonable. If Bernie succeeds in getting a bunch of UNLV students and other Millennials to the caucus, the gap could narrow.
The big question is how many first-time participants they are counting on. From pundits to the Sanders campaign, conventional wisdom is more newbies is better for Bernie.
On the surface, this seems very aggressive. It’s not. In Iowa, somewhere between 35 and 40 percent of participants were first-timers. Back in 2008, the Obama/Clinton/John Edwards trio brought out 55% new caucusers in the Hawkeye State.
In this case, the stakes for the caucus are very high. I would have figured a higher percentage than Iowa just based on the competitiveness of the contest. But there’s another factor. The Nevada caucus is new. 2008 was the first one. In 2012, President Obama was unopposed, so little reason to participate in the lengthy process.
There is a very large pool of Nevadans who regularly vote, but have never caucused before. It does not require Obama levels of excitement to create a situation where 55% of participants are rookies. If Bernie has significant post-New Hampshire momentum and gets a large number of young voters to play, 65/35 is imaginable.
In the most Bernie-friendly scenario, the gender split is 56/44, the age split is 60/40, and the history split is 65/35. If the unreleased ethnic numbers are a fair representation, even if Sanders does not convert any voters of color, he’s looking at a substantial win.
Trust: Bernie +24
Cares: Bernie +13
Progressive: Bernie +13
You’ll notice they didn’t ask who was stronger on foreign policy, terrorism, more ready to do the job on day one, or any of the questions that should have favored Hillary.
Assuming the proper ethnic sample, this shows Bernie is doing well on three questions you’d think a Democratic caucus voter would think are important. This carries forward even though almost 60% of the voters sampled are women and only a third are 45 and under.
They asked two gotcha questions for each candidate. Goal was to see if these would make a voter more or less likely to support them. You would normally expect a negative result.
For Hillary, they asked about undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation (-29) and new campaign contributions from Wall Street after supporting the TARP bailout in the past (-26).
For Bernie, the questions involved taxing corporations to improve income equality, though some say it will just go to extra government (+23), and spending $15 trillion for a new government-run health care program (+6).
You’ll notice the first Bernie gotcha isn’t. Many Democratic caucus voters are going to be just fine with taxing corporations for any reason whatsoever. The second is more neutral, as the result shows.
Still, given the respective attacks the candidates will face, either directly from opponents or otherwise, it shows Bernie is guilty of being a redistributive progressive socialist, which voters are increasingly ok with, and Hillary has a few real weaknesses.
They asked about the emails too.
A full 58% thought it was much ado about nothing. That still leaves another 42%. They were split between very and somewhat concerned. Unless you want to assume that only Bernie partisans are thinking about this, it could impact a few undecided voters.
One poll, without cross tabs, from one pollster does not a firm conclusion make. I’m very interested in what the next couple of polls show, and am praying cross tabs with ethnic breakdowns are included.
This data does show why Team Hillary is increasingly playing down her chances in the Silver State.