March 1, 2016
Bernielandia votes today. There isn’t much suspense on the Democratic side, except to see if Hillary Clinton hits the 15% threshold to acquire delegates. The numbers say she won’t.
On the GOP side, we have one old poll taken over two weeks in the first half of February. Like with Minnesota, a quarter of the support is for undecided or candidates no longer in the race, so plenty of room for interpretation.
FiveThirtyEight has an estimate for the Democrats, which I basically stole. They didn’t want to address the Republicans based on a single poll.
Here’s my official pick:
Bernie Sanders 88.8%
We can debate how the South Carolina blowout will affect Bernie in the rest of the country. Do voters switch back to Hillary because he doesn’t seem viable? Do they vote for him thinking Hillary doesn’t need their votes? Who knows. We’ll know more by tomorrow morning.
Vermonters aren’t going to abandon their presidential candidate in his time of need. Larger states are very finicky, dropping away when their home state candidate shows weakness elsewhere.
Smaller states rally. I’m not expecting Bernie’s national erosion over the past 7-10 days to have much impact on his Vermont results. It will give him the largest percentage win of the nomination cycle.
Hillary Clinton 11.0%
Her people will pass this off as a home-field advantage thing, and it certainly is partly that. Bernie has won a bunch of elections in the Green Mountain State. As we’ll see when we get to Arkansas, Clinton has no such advantage in any of her home states.
As South Carolina was the perfect Hillary state, this is the perfect Bernie canvass, even if he wasn’t representing them in the Senate. As such, this winds up being an epically quiet 8 to 1 victory.
Donald Trump 43.1%
Trump won New Hampshire easily. He’s leading by a ton in Massachusetts. Vermont Republicans are arguably the most liberal/moderate in the country. Trump did a large rally in the state a few weeks ago.
He had double the support of any other candidate in the one poll. He’s picked up momentum since then. Every state has a #NotTrump crowd. Kasich should play well here, though there’s no reason for Vermonters to take his chances more seriously than anyone else does.
Anything is possible with limited data, but it seems the big questions are over or under 50%, and better in Vermont or Massachusetts?
Marco Rubio 22.8%
The real contest is between Rubio and Kasich for second. In Marco’s ideal day, he bests Kasich here and Massachusetts, and finishes ahead of Ted elsewhere, making himself the clear anti-Trump moving forward.
Rubio was up 7 points on Kasich in the poll, and I’m figuring the margin should remain similar with each picking up a few undecided voters, and a few refugees from Jeb, Christie, et al.
Recent Massachusetts polling shows Kasich with negative momentum, so not expecting him to surpass Rubio here.
John Kasich 17.6%
I think Kasich spread himself too thin over the past couple of weeks. He should have remained in South Carolina longer to do as well as possible there and maximize his viability narrative.
Moving forward from there, he should have chosen 2 or 3 states to try to win or at least place strongly, instead of visiting several. Though he ran the risk of being tagged a regional candidate, going all in on Vermont and New Hampshire would have given him a point of strength.
It’s hard to imagine that extra trip to Virginia is going to move the needle for him very much. He now runs the risk of failing to finish second in a single state, increasingly making New Hampshire look like a fluke.
Ted Cruz 12.6%
He polled in this range with a quarter of the voters uncommitted to a current candidate. While I doubt he picked up many of those free agents, even a state like Vermont has a few actual conservatives.
Until Cruz underperforms a poll/poll average, I’m going to continue to take his number, round slightly up for his ability to target and turn out supporters, and call it a day.
Ben Carson 3.7%
Same goes for Carson. He gets his voters out. There just aren’t many of them in New England. In Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in the summer of 2014, before many were worried much about the election, I met a 95-year-old man who was all about Ben Carson.
True Carson supporters are all-in like no others. Even Trump doesn’t have the same degree of loyalty. His core is small, 5 to 7 percent nationally, less in places like Vermont, but they will not abandon him.