2016 Democrats, 2016 Republicans, March 1, Poll Watch, Uncategorized

March 1 Poll Watch: Episode 1 (Looking Ahead)

February 15, 2016

We’re only about two weeks away from the Big Day. With South Carolina and Nevada in between, there’s plenty of time for events to change polls, and last minute voters to go beyond those final surveys.

But. We can still see which March 1 states are most hospitable to each candidate. Not every state has adequate polling, so we’ll concentrate on those with some data. The goal is to get a lead on who has an advantage in a state, and what state(s) are the best opportunity for each contender.

Today, we skim through the states. Look for summaries for both Democrats and Republicans. Since the Dem race has only two options, I’ll list the candidate with an advantage based on presently available information.

Here are links to Real Clear Politics polling compilations:



Geographic Tour

No/Not Enough Info: Alabama, North Dakota (R), Vermont, Wyoming (R)

Ted Cruz needs to win Alabama, Bernie Sanders will win Vermont. I’d hate to hazard a guess on North Dakota or Wyoming, both of which are GOP only. None of these states have any polls taken in the last several months to look at.

Alaska (R)

One poll from early January, just as Bernie was surging. Clinton 44, Sanders 41. This is a Bernie state if he’s going to win the nomination. It’s not part of the Hillary firewall, and has a white majority. Alaskans tend to favor non-traditional candidates.

If you figure Bernie is running slightly ahead of his early January pace and give him a fair share of the 15 percent undecided, he has a narrow edge. It’s a caucus state. Bernie’s enthusiasm versus Hillary’s organization. In this large and sparsely populated a state, organization can only do so much.

Advantage: Sanders

On the GOP side, this shapes up as a Trump/Cruz race. Trump led 28/24 in early January, with nobody else in double digits. It’s a good state for Ted. From the beginning of 2015, he polled well, usually noticeably ahead of his national average.

If you’re looking for a tiebreaker, Cruz has a ground advantage in any caucus state, and Trump is very unlikely to make an appearance in a big Alaska rally. On the other hand, Sarah Palin endorsed Trump after the most recent poll. The question is how popular she remains in her home state.

Prior to voting, some states lumped Rubio in with the establishment also-rans, others included him with Trump and Cruz among the top-tier. This is the former. Bush runs a little ahead of his national average, so if he’s viewed as viable on March 1, he could beat Rubio here.

This is the first of many states where we have no data after Kasich’s New Hampshire result. He barely registers, but he didn’t in January in South Carolina either, and now he’s even with Jeb in the Palmetto State.


Millennials don’t remember this, but Hillary once lived in Arkansas. Her husband governed there. She’s also leading 57/25 in an early February poll. Nothing much to see here. This is a true firewall. If Sanders gets close here, she should drop out of the race.

This does show 18% undecided, so there is an opportunity for Bernie to pull off a moral victory.

Advantage: Clinton

Prior to the Rubio debate crash, Cruz narrowly led Trump and Marco 27/23/23 in a very early February poll. Jeb Bush was at 1%. One percent. Not a typo. Kasich was at 4% prior to New Hampshire.

Cruz really needs this one to have a good path to the nomination. It’s potentially in play for Rubio, though he’d need a good finish in South Carolina. This poll caught him at his peak. Trump as always is a threat to win. The only previous survey is from August, and The Donald led that one with 26%

If you play connect the momentum dots, a decent South Carolina finish and Kasich’s 4% adjusts to 12-17%. Lots of uncertainty here. Should be an interesting primary.


It’s a caucus state, so more polling variance than otherwise. Clinton is heavily organized here, having taken steps to avoid losing caucus delegates the way she did to Barack Obama in 2008. Bernie is making this his top March 1 priority.

One November poll from Quinnipiac. Hillary led 55/27. In other states and nationally, Qunnipiac leans towards Bernie. The Iowa results vindicated their numbers, but it’s unlikely they understated where Sanders was three months ago.

The trick is adjusting this result forward. At the same time of this poll, Hillary led 51/42 in Iowa with Quinnipiac. There are more undecided voters to partition here. If you adjust for that and Bernie’s polling progress, it feels like 53/47 Hillary.

If Bernie outperforms in Nevada and/or South Carolina and builds one more level of momentum, he’s got a real good chance here. It’s still possible otherwise if he can motivate enough caucusers. Nevada will give us a good indicator. Until we have more data, though…

Advantage: Clinton (very slight)

On the GOP side, we’re again using a single, three month old Qunnipiac poll. At the time, Ben Carson was ahead with 25%. Things have deteriorated rapidly for the Doctor, but if he’s still around on March 1, he should have a core of support here, even if only in the 8 to 10 percent range.

That would impact Cruz, who sat in 4th place with 14%. On the whole, Colorado seems better suited to less combative candidates. Carson was 8 points up on Trump, Rubio 5 ahead of Cruz.

At the time, Jeb, Kasich, and Christie combined for 4%. Not a governor-friendly state. Aside from expecting a governor to win, you can make any argument for how the top-tier will shake out. We need newer data. This does seem like a good opportunity for Rubio to break through if he’s still looking for a win after February.


In October, Hillary was +57. After Iowa, Bernie closed the gap to +41. Even if you give him all of the undecided voters, assume extra momentum after a good Nevada result, there’s no way to get Bernie above 40-45%. If Hillary has any chance to win the nomination, she wins here by at least 20 points.

Advantage: Clinton (strong). Better state for her than South Carolina.

Trump leads Cruz in any relevant polls. Rubio caught up to Cruz in the early February survey, when Marco had his greatest amount of momentum. This indicates he’s a problem for Ted if South Carolina goes well for him.

Ted is close enough to catch Trump, but unlike Arkansas does not have an advantage on The Donald. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the result among these three mirror how things turn out in the Palmetto State.

Even before New Hampshire, Kasich was slightly ahead of Jeb here. The southern March 1 states are more unfriendly to Bush than South Carolina. Think of his eventual result there as an absolute ceiling in places like Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia. He has virtually no floor.


This is a Bernie target. It’s the home state of Elizabeth Warren, and he did plenty of Boston area advertising to capture southern New Hampshire televisions. Residents of the Commonwealth are definitely aware of what just happened a few miles to the north.

The most recent polling is from November. Bernie trailed Hillary by 25, with 17% Undecided/O’Malley. You can adjust this up to being close to a tie. Sanders was at 29%, if you give him two-thirds of the undecided, it’s a 59/41 race.

Bernie pulled 5 to 10 points of Hillary’s support in most places between late December and mid-January. Call it 53/47 or so. That doesn’t require much momentum from New Hampshire, or a good result in Nevada to get Bernie a victory.

Advantage: None

Boston Globe/Suffolk took a look under the GOP hood in November. Nobody has surveyed that side since. Trump led, followed by Rubio. That matches what you would tend to expect in a state like this.

If Kasich is going to make a run, he needs to compete well here. He can justify finishing second to Trump, but needs to make an impression. You would think some of his New Hampshire efforts bled over the border.

Back in November, he was still an afterthought, so we have no poll evidence to show any progress Kasich made since being at 2%. It’s an important unanswered question.


The Minneapolis Star-Tribune did a mid-January poll. This is more useful than it might seem. Bernie and Hillary have not moved much since this point in the regularly surveyed states. I’d feel comfortable assuming this is as good an indicator as a single poll can be.

Hillary was up 34 points. For a state the Sanders campaign is planning on investing heavily in, that’s a good result for her. PPP had the race closer in August (Hillary +18), and they have not favored Bernie in other states.

Either the Star-Tribune is way off, or Hillary is actually doing a good job of rallying the Democratic troops in a state that hasn’t voted Republican in a general election since 1972. Fifteen percent of voters were undecided in January, so there’s room for Bernie to improve, but his floor is much lower than his supporters would prefer.

Advantage: Clinton

This is a Marco Rubio state. He led the January poll, with 23% to 21% for Cruz and 18% for Trump. It looks like Marco is about at his mid-January numbers in other states with recent polls, so this is likely representative.

A two point lead isn’t exactly dominating, and there are plenty of undecided voters, but if you are looking for a place for Rubio to get his first win, this is as good a prospect as any. It is also a noticeably weak state for Trump. He has not exceeded 26% in any Minnesota poll.

If Donald Trump wins Minnesota, he probably is damn near unstoppable. It’s also important to note Cruz was positioned well. You wouldn’t normally think of this as a Cruz state. He could make a big deal out of a victory or strong second.


Where Hillary is stronger in Minnesota than I would have figured, the Sooner State is a better opportunity for Bernie than I thought. The campaign has specifically mentioned Oklahoma as a target and is pushing ad and ground resources into the state.

The Oklahoman recently showed a competitive 44/28 race, favoring Clinton. This compares to 41/16 in the Sooner Poll from January. This is a very high percentage of undecided voters. While Bernie has plenty of work to do, Hillary is still under 50%.

If you give the challenger two-thirds, it’s 53/47 Clinton or thereabouts. Oklahoma is 72.2% white, with another 8.6% Native American. I have no idea if Clinton does as well with Native Americans as African Americans, but the percentage of white voters would seem to favor Sanders.

On the other hand, Oklahoma is not viewed as a particularly liberal/progressive state. It’s about as red as it gets these days. This is another virtual toss-up and one that Bernie needs to have a big March 1, especially if Minnesota doesn’t come together for him.

Advantage: None

The most recent poll, taken by The Oklahoman mostly after Rubio’s debate mishap, had him in contention, with 21%, trailing Cruz (25%) and Trump (30%). In January, Trump was at 35%, Cruz 25%, Rubio only 10% with the Sooner Poll.

If this is accurate, Marco benefitted greatly from doing well in somewhat nearby Iowa. Most other states do not show this much upward movement. He was in the top-tier group in the November Sooner Poll.

Long way of saying this looks like a three candidate race. Trump leads, Cruz needs it as part of the road to 1237 delegates, and Rubio has a good chance for an upset. Bush and Kasich aren’t yet showing a pulse here.


We haven’t heard much about this one in the media. If the Sanders campaign is making a big push, they’re keeping it quiet. The one poll is from November and already had Bernie within 20 (48/28).

This is closer than he was in places like Colorado, Minnesota and Massachusetts, all of which are talked about as easier for him. It’s closer than he was last month in Minnesota. It’s where he is now in Oklahoma, a place that is mentioned as a target.

If you adjust for time and undecided voters, this would put Bernie ahead now. There’s no current data and no whispers to this effect, but the information we have indicates he should actually have an edge here.

Advantage: Sanders

In November, the Trump/Carson/Cruz anti-establishment group combined for 68% support, above their national average at the time. With no current data, we need to assume this will skew towards perceived outsiders.

Rubio was at 12% in November, so if he’s riding high after South Carolina, he could contend here, but whichever of Cruz and Trump are looking stronger on election day has an edge until we see new numbers.


The one survey taken since early November, a late January poll, has Hillary ahead 50/16. This was after Bernie’s surge, and he only had 16% mostly in his corner. If the undecided voters break heavily for him, things may get well more competitive, but no evidence pointing to a Sanders victory.

There are a ton of delegates here, so it matters if Bernie gets 25% of the vote outside of Austin or 38%. To have a chance at the nomination he needs to get closer to the latter, but we need more information.

Advantage: Clinton (solidly)

Cruz led Trump in both of the late January surveys. He needs to win his home state. There is no data yet to suggest he won’t, but Trump is close enough to make him sweat. No indicators of any other candidate challenging for the top two.

If any residual Bush family regard is going to apply to Jeb, it’s not showing up in polls. He’s consistently trailing Rubio. Finishing behind Kasich in his brother’s state is technically possible.


No Democratic surveys since early November. Hillary led 63/27. She’s got the full support of the Clintonista Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe. Bernie is not signaling a major challenge here.

Given how well Obama did against Hillary with white voters in 2008, I’d thought Sanders could make this interesting. Emphasis on the past tense. There’s no way to adjust those November results up to something that makes this close. Until new data shows otherwise…

Advantage: Clinton

Carson had 29% in early November. That was at/near his peak overall. The problem is we have no data since to see how this was distributed. Rubio and Cruz were at 11% and 10%, Trump at 24%.

This tells us very little. You can make a case for any of the top-tier candidates winning here. Really need more information.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll break this down by candidate so you can see a range of possible March 1st outcomes for each.



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