February 27, 2016
With the fun over on the GOP side, you might have forgotten the Democrats vote in South Carolina today. Before Nevada, some observers wondered if Bernie Sanders could pull an upset in the Palmetto State. At the risk of giving away too much too soon, that’s out of the question.
Not only did Bernie fail to pull even, his best poll result was -19 in a CBS/YouGov survey taken immediately after New Hampshire. They use Internet polling, which tends to favor Bernie and Donald Trump.
Since then, Hillary Clinton has flipped the narrative by winning in Nevada, and has spent vastly more time in South Carolina than Sanders. If you’re in to semi-anecdotal evidence, the Sanders rally this afternoon at a South Carolina university was more poorly attended than the usual BernFest.
A new Clemson poll shows Bernie trailing Hillary and Undecided, 64/22/14. That’s a problem. It’s his worst poll, and I’d imagine he’ll do way better than a 50 point deficit, but it gives you an idea of what he’s up against.
On to the margin:
Hillary Clinton 66.2%
The State Department dumped a new batch of email information just in time to get swallowed up by the weekend. Bernie isn’t willing to discuss this stuff anyway. Hillary has a very solid core in South Carolina. At least 60% of voters are solidly in her corner.
I’m assuming the Sanders campaign will do enough on the ground to keep this within 30-35 points. There’s the potential for a complete and total meltdown. The Palmetto State is as favorable to Hillary as New Hampshire was to Bernie.
Clinton spent well more time there than Bernie has here. It took a full effort, with Bill campaigning solidly, the support of Jean Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, along with any other Democratic office holders in the Granite State, just to keep the margin to 22%.
Hillary is ahead right now overall. Not necessarily by a lot, but she’s a few points up in national polls, and is doing better than that in Michigan and key March 15 states. If you adjust the New Hampshire number for Hillary’s lead and the disparity of effort in South Carolina, you get this result.
Bernie Sanders 33.6%
A loss isn’t just a loss. It’s also a signal of where Bernie’s floor is and an indicator of exactly how big a delegate problem he might face on Tuesday. I’m assuming the campaign is very aware of this and acting accordingly.
There is reason to believe Alabama and/or Georgia could wind up worse than whatever South Carolina does. A couple weeks ago, we looked at the range of outcomes. At the time it seemed like a 15 point deficit was the over/under.
A smaller gap and a moral victory, the type of result to give a Marco Rubio victory speech. Keep it to around 20 points and he could at least say he did the same or better as she had in New Hampshire. This is a Ted Cruz victory speech.
It now appears Bernie is headed for the John Kasich victory speech where he says he did better than if he wasn’t on the ballot and points attention forward to the states where he believes he’s more competitive.
His saving grace for Tuesday is the GOP backyard brawl will likely overshadow anything that happens in South Carolina today.