March 5, 2016
Maine votes over the next two days. GOP today, Democrats tomorrow. We’re flying blind on the data side. No polls for the Dems, one pre-Trump survey from November 2014 for Republicans.
We made several limited-to-zero data predictions on Super Tuesday. Alaska turned out pretty well. I wasn’t brave enough to pick Cruz to defeat Trump, but at least managed to assume he would distance himself from Rubio.
Minnesota turned out well. Both Sanders and Rubio made the prediction department look good. Again, a little bit of fear on Cruz prevented us from correctly putting him ahead of Trump, but we had them closely bunched. I’m taking credit for this one.
Colorado was a miss. Bernie did what the betting markets expected and won, not what the old polling and your fraidy cat correspondent suggested. Overall, not too bad, enough to justify plunging back into the abyss this weekend.
John Kasich 34.4%
This is a blind stab. Maine has a severely schizophrenic voting pattern. They pick moderate Republicans like Senator Susan Collins, my model for Kasich doing well.
They pick populist outsiders, like Governor Paul LePage, who has both endorsed Trump and is occasionally more inflammatory than The Donald.
There are also more than a few true conservatives here. It should wind up the strongest New England state for Cruz. For whatever it’s worth, he was second in that ancient poll.
A Rubio win would surprise me. He doesn’t fit any of the templates for success in Maine. He hasn’t done that well in New England, failing to break 20% in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.
Kasich got very close to Trump in Vermont, only losing by a couple of points. The debate helped him with the type of voters who are wiling to consider him. Once upon a time, Maine was something of a GOP bellwether. This was a very long time ago.
In 1936, it and Vermont were the two states to vote against FDR’s re-election. Where it was once said, “as Maine goes, so goes the country,” after this it was said, “as Maine goes, so goes Vermont.”
If this still holds true, Kasich has made enough progress in five days to turn a narrow defeat into a thin win.
Donald Trump 32.1%
This is a pretty good Trump state. A week ago, I’d have figured he would win by at least 10 to 15 points. But Vermont was dangerously close. Then The Donald had a rough debate, one that will not shake true believers, but will move a few leaners away.
The two candidates who did best were Kasich, who will take a few moderate voters, and Cruz who will take a few conservative ones. Normally, Trump benefits from opponents being sandwiched.
He held on in Virginia because Kasich took a few upscale Rubio voters, while Cruz retained enough strong conservatives. Here, Trump is a likely victim of getting pulled from both sides. Like Rubio sometimes, The Donald is probably the candidate the largest number of Maine GOP voters could live with, but isn’t the favorite of enough.
Ted Cruz 19.6%
I’ve mentioned this is setting up as a dangerous day for Marco Rubio. Losing to Cruz by several points here would extend the day of doom. It would mean the senators split the four New England states to have voted.
If both stay below 20% in Maine, it would mean neither cracked that barrier in any of the states. Ted is a little rough around the edges for Vermont, but in Maine, as long as someone is voting for a conservative, they prefer a sharper, more Tea Party-friendly one.
There’s a chance I’m actually selling him short here. If I’m wrong, it’s more likely he beats this number than falls short of it.
Marco Rubio 13.7%
Way back in the day (Thursday morning), I thought today looked very promising for Rubio, with Kansas a possible win, Kentucky a possible out-perform, and Louisiana an eh, not great, but not worse than Ted.
Even looking through Marco-colored glasses, I thought he might finish fourth in Maine. Both data and narrative have eroded his position in the last 48 hours. If he was headed for trouble then, he is now.
Bernie Sanders: 65.1%
If you put the Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts results in a blender and puree them for a couple minutes, you get this forecast. It’s literally the average of Bernie’s other three New England results.
It also makes sense. It’s a caucus, which helps him. All of the other three were primaries. However, it’s closed to anyone that wasn’t registered as a Democrat by a predetermined date. That hurts.
Maine has strong outsider streak, perhaps more than any of the neighboring states. However, they have their own Independent senator, Angus King, so Bernie isn’t quite as special. Another wash.
Hillary has made less attempt to contest the race than in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where her vote percentage was higher than I’m predicting here. However, she did more organizing than in Vermont.
Anyway, if you use neighboring states as your poll sample, we may have found a way to make a strong prediction. I’m feeling pretty comfortable about this one.
Hillary Clinton: 34.3%
Narrative combined with getting the right result a couple of times is an incredibly powerful thing. Assuming things shake out as we expect, Bernie will get relatively little play for winning Maine by 30 points, while Hillary will bask in the glow of a Louisiana spotlight.
We’ll hear how Bernie is being rejected in the South, rejected among African Americans. These are both quite true. He apparently lost African Americans in Alabama by a 93/5 margin.
But white voters outside the South aren’t often on board with Clinton either.
By the time voting ends on Sunday, it’s likely only three of the first nineteen Democratic contests will wind up inside of 10 points.
Those three are Iowa, Nevada, Massachusetts. Hillary won the first by a few voters and a few coin flips, the second by a legit 5 to 6 points, and the third by a couple points. With the possible exception of Iowa, these are real wins.
The Clinton campaign may have played the rules a bit, but that’s what you’re supposed to do in politics. Anything else would qualify as malpractice, and her team would have rightly suffered the consequences.
A few votes in Iowa, a few thousand in Nevada and Massachusetts, and Bernie’s campaign is pointing out Hillary can only win in the Old Confederacy, only in states that will vote Republican anyway.
Clinton leads in perception, leads in earned delegates, leads in pledged super delegates. Maine serves as a useful reminder of how close she came to a different scenario.