March 1, 2016
If Ted Cruz is going to make this an interesting day, he’s going to win Arkansas. This is the one state outside of Texas where he’s lead a February poll. Can he grab a victory?
Less drama on the Democrats’ side. The former First Lady of Arkansas is not going to lose her former stomping grounds. However, the margin looks way closer than Vermont.
On to the considerable speculation:Democrats
Hillary Clinton 65.2%
Only a little home field edge. Fewer African American voters than South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, etc. A little bit populist. It takes all of those things to close the gap to 30 points or so, but merely a big 2 to 1 win, not a total Bernie catastrophe.
Bernie Sanders 34.6%
Never was in play. Will get called as soon as the polls close. Nothing much to say.
Donald Trump 32.8%
The Donald has polled relatively modestly. Cruz is from a neighboring state and has spent time here in the past week. We got a new poll from Survey Monkey at the buzzer, and that solved the debate about whether Trump made up the ground we would have expected in the past couple weeks.
This is close enough that any of the top three could win. FiveThirtyEight gives each at least an 18% chance to win. Absent the new poll, I would have picked Trump. With it, no reason to choose otherwise.
Ted Cruz 28.2%
Lots of variability here for Ted. He could win. If he does, it’s an away from Texas victory to go with the early Iowa win. Maybe he gets lucky in Minnesota (I have him second) or Alaska (I have him second, well ahead of Rubio).
Winning anything outside of Texas is beating current expectations. Three or more and he’s giving a somewhat justifiable victory speech.
On the other hand, he could easily finish third. Losing to Rubio in Arkansas and Alabama is not anywhere near what Cruz pictured.
Marco Rubio 25.9%
While Texas is a potential problem, this is upside only. If he finishes third, nobody thinks too much of it, provided he stays ahead of Cruz more places than not today. If he winds up second, one more nail in Ted’s coffin.
An upset win indicates a stronger than expected day, likely combined with a Minnesota victory and winding up ahead of Cruz everywhere outside of Texas and maybe Alaska.
Pay attention to the returns from Arkansas.
Ben Carson 8.1%
A better than average state for Ben. If the top three wind up very close, all will wonder how things might have wound up if Carson had exited.
John Kasich 4.6%