March 8, 2016
Time to plunge into the unknown. No polls. Not much history. When in doubt, I’ve taken to looking at the 2008 and 2012 results for clues. Here’s what we’ve got for Hawaii:
2008 was a non-straw poll caucus. Like Wyoming this time, we don’t have a count. They decided things at the state convention, by which point John McCain had the nomination clinched.
Think I can build a narrow ledge to walk a prediction across anyway.Marco Rubio 39.3%
Here’s what we know. Rubio is an inclusive, aspirational candidate. Hawaii is the most multi-ethnic state in the country. There are a low number of evangelicals. It’s a blue state with a lower percentage of strong conservatives.
Though Rubio requires momentum to win in places where other candidates are also well suited, Puerto Rico shows he can hang on (and then some) if the location favors him. At least until this becomes a definite Trump or not Trump race, momentum impacts voters deciding between candidates, it doesn’t make them abandon a strong first choice.
Voters debating Rubio/Cruz may move towards Ted. Voters debating Rubio/Kasich have no reason to change their mind until Kasich wins somewhere. This isn’t Michigan, where Kasich is governing across the border. Maybe a few Rubio/Trump voters move away from him too.
If Rubio was riding high, I’d figure him for closer to 50%. As you’ll see below, it doesn’t appear the state is suited to any of his opponents. Betting markets are favoring Rubio too, as they did in Puerto Rico. The only other place he was strongly in the running within 24 hours of voting was Minnesota.
He should hang on here. How much good it does him in the narrative is a whole different issue.
Donald Trump 25.6%
Trump managed to finish ahead of Cruz in Puerto Rico. I have no idea how predictive this is, but if you figure there are only so many votes for the two senators to divide and Rubio does well, it may limit what’s left for Ted.
They both finished ahead of him in Minnesota, but we had polling to indicate Trump was far less popular there than elsewhere. Here there’s zero data. Although Minnesota isn’t a red state, there are more conservatives than you may think, helping Cruz.
Hawaii is lighter on those, so more benefit to Trump, who also does well with moderates. Many 2012 Romney states are favorable to Rubio, but also The Donald. When Gingrich did well too, it’s a Trump state. When he didn’t, not as much.
Kick all that around and you wind up with him taking about a quarter of the vote.
Ted Cruz 23.7%
Santorum did ok in 2012. It wasn’t a disaster for him. Usually Cruz can at least hold that number, provided it isn’t in a very strong Trump state. This isn’t one (or at least I don’t think it is).
It’s a caucus. That’s definitely a positive for Cruz. He’s finished ahead of Trump 7 times. Five were caucuses. The other two were his home state of Texas, and neighboring Oklahoma.
However, all 7 of those states voted for Ross Perot in 1992 at a higher rate than the national average. Perot got 19% of the vote. These states were between 22% and 30%. Hawaii gave the upstart 14%.
Combined with this being a better fit for Rubio than Cruz, not having a large group of very conservative evangelical voters, a limited Tea Party population, etc., and I’ve got him a narrow third.
John Kasich 11.1%
I’m still a bit scarred from thinking Kasich would narrowly win Maine. No more giving him more than 11% until I have data showing otherwise. On the one hand, his relative moderation is a good fit for a blue state. On the other, they don’t really elect Republicans very often.
In a place like New Hampshire or Michigan, when moderate Republicans are actually elected statewide fairly regularly, voters are in the habit of picking candidates with Kasich’s approximate profile.
Somewhere like Hawaii doesn’t work as well. If you’re a Republican somewhere in the islands, you’re used to finding yourself in the minority. If I’m wrong here, it’s probably for giving him too high a number.