March 8, 2016
In a number of the recent contests, your intrepid prognosticator was/is forced to conjure a number set out of thin air or at a minimum, very thin and/or dated polling. Not here. If we miss the call, it was fair and square. If we get it right, it’s not a huge accomplishment.
For a full look at the statistical underpinnings behind this prediction, please hack through the findings of our poll desk.
At the risk of killing the suspense, Donald Trump is a very likely winner. The big question is whether John Kasich or Ted Cruz finishes second. Hillary Clinton is an even more likely victor. The margin is the issue there.Republicans
Donald Trump 37.7%
This is his poll average. It’s a good Trump state. He’s remained steady here over the past week. It’s an open primary. If his message on trade doesn’t play in Michigan, then where?
Cruz is really pushing him in other states where there isn’t another strong anti-Trump choice. There’s competition here. Something in the mid-high 30s is more than enough for a victory.
Ted Cruz 26.1%
Kasich technically has a higher poll average, but it includes a huge outlier from ARG. Cruz does better compared to his numbers on election day. While you might not think of Michigan as a conservative state, with Rubio somewhat neutralized, there’s enough space for Ted to get a quarter of the vote.
John Kasich 24.3%
Everyone was waiting on a two person race. For those who expected three finalists, Rubio was supposed to take this spot, not Kasich. Florida and Ohio will help determine whether three, two, or one anti-Trump(s) go forward, but this is a peek at a Trump-Cruz-Kasich race.
It’s probably safe to assume more Rubio votes would go to Cruz or Kasich than Trump. The Donald polls better in Michigan than other Midwestern states. Though he’d need more than a little help at the convention, this is why Kasich is stubbornly sticking around.
He’d prefer to finish second, but winding up somewhere near here is enough signal to Ohioans that it’s not a waste to keep him fighting a bit longer.
Marco Rubio 11.8%
His numbers are really dropping. Only the most pro-Rubio states aren’t falling apart. With a poll average of 11.4%, it’s tempting to predict an even worse outcome. Some of the drop is a loss of confidence. Some is strategic voting.
It appears voters aren’t ready to trust him as the lead anti-Trump, but also aren’t ready to throw him over the side. When he makes progress, he hits a ceiling before he can truly contend. When he slips, a floor keeps him from fading out.
If the pattern holds, his floor will too. Perhaps for no other reason than core Rubio voters having a hard time choosing between Cruz and Kasich.
Hillary Clinton 57.8%
Her poll average is just north of here. The pollster doing semi-regular tracking is more pro-Hillary than the others, though included only once in the average. Their latest survey had Hillary up 37 points.
The best result for Bernie is minus 11. You can see how this could get real ugly for Sanders real quickly. As long as Hillary stays comfortably in double digits, March 15 sets up very, very well for her.
Bernie Sanders 41.6%
It’s an open primary. Sanders does better with Independents. In New Hampshire this helped him tremendously. In places like South Carolina it didn’t make the slightest difference.
Michigan fits in between in terms of overall likely result, as well as impact of Independents. I’m expecting it to help him some, though not enough to truly contend.
Completely unscientifically, I’m not getting the sense Democrats are in an incredible hurry to have the contest end. If less decided voters aren’t worried Bernie will cost Hillary the nomination, but don’t want him to go away, that could make this a little closer.