March 14, 2016
For a look what the Republican candidates want, need, and will likely get tomorrow, click here.
As for the Democrats, it’s a zero-sum game with only two candidates. But that doesn’t mean they have the same expectations or requirements for a good day. Time to take a closer look at what Bernie and Hillary can reasonably hope for.
Wants: Wins in Illinois, Ohio, Missouri. All are within reach at this point. He’s narrowly ahead in the latest Missouri poll. In Illinois, he holds a tiny lead in one and is at a small deficit in another. Two new Ohio polls have him within five.
In each case, his numbers are better than they were a week ago, significantly so in Illinois and Ohio. Until the newest surveys, the Buckeye State was polling like Michigan. A place Bernie should compete in, but wasn’t, at least according to the surveys.
We know what happened in Michigan, so the polls were viewed with some skepticism, even by the Clinton campaign. With Bernie now close in polls, it’s pretty close to a toss-up for tomorrow.
Completing a Midwestern sweep, along with last week’s Michigan win, would go a long way to arguing Hillary is more of a regional candidate.
That’s not all. Sanders spent more time in Florida than normal strategy may have indicated. He wants to close the gap there and in North Carolina, so that he can come close to breaking even on delegates for the day.
While the calendar becomes very favorable going forward, he can’t afford to ruin an otherwise good day by bleeding out a bunch more on the delegate side.
Likely: He’s extremely likely to win Missouri. I know the one poll favoring him is 47/46, not exactly an insurmountable margin. But Bernie has exceeded his polling in this part of the country by wide margins so far.
Momentum is heavily on his side in Illinois. It has the feel of a snowball. There are indications he’s way ahead among Latino voters. They aren’t a huge percentage of the electorate, even on the Democratic side, but it could make the difference.
Ohio feels possible. If he does win, it will wind up very close. In all three states, Bernie is relying on Independent and even a few Republican voters taking advantage of the open primary rules to vote for him. Hillary leads among registered Democrats in all three states.
With Governor Kasich in a very tight race with Donald Trump, it’s hard to say if Independents will find themselves less likely to gravitate to the Democratic contest. Either way, expect a long evening waiting on the returns.
Anything under 20 points counts as a win in North Carolina. He lost Virginia by more than 30. Tennessee and South Carolina were even worse. Two months ago, when we were taking a look at where Bernie might compete on March 15, I thought he could get real close here.
The problem is that was based on him doing well in Virginia and Tennessee. So far, the best way to predict Democratic primaries is to look at what neighboring states are doing. With all weighing in heavily pro-Clinton, a 10 to 15 point loss would signal a major overall change in the race.
Florida is a similar situation. If Bernie can get inside 20 points, it’s a very positive indicator for New York and some of the other Northeastern states still on the docket. North Florida and the Panhandle share characteristics with Georgia and Alabama where he got destroyed.
There’s no reason to expect a major change there from recent primaries in the Deep South, so any tightening is due to doing well in the I-4 Corridor and/or South Florida. If the seniors of Broward County are beginning to Feel the Bern, Hillary has a problem.
Not expecting that.
Needs: If his goal is to actually win the nomination, he needs to win all three Midwestern states, and get within 20 or so in North Carolina and Florida. Momentum is great, and I’ve indicated the delegate math is overrated, but there are limits.
If Hillary wins even one of Illinois/Ohio/Missouri, she can say she’s won everywhere in the country, where Bernie has not. It would mean she won the day at least 3 to 2 in states and by a good margin in delegates.
Two wins and he keeps pushing forward, and still has a solid chance to begin a long winning streak on March 22. But it makes catching up in earned delegates extremely unlikely and hurts an eventual argument that the earned delegates don’t properly represent the actual wishes of voters due to the proportional allocation system.
If he wins 3 states, but loses by 25 to 30 points in North Carolina and Florida, that’s probably better than only taking 2 states, but again, it adds to the math problem. He really needs 3 states, plus semi-respectable margins in the other two.
Wants: At least four victories total, along with wide margins in North Carolina and Florida. That would shut down much of the Michigan momentum. With Hillary doing so well in the South, if she can break even elsewhere, it makes the nomination decision easy.
Her Massachusetts win on March 1 prevented New England from going straight Bernie. There is reason to believe she has a good shot in Rhode Island and Connecticut later, so it may wind up even closer.
Nevada is an important placeholder out West. If she can add Illinois and Ohio to Michigan, that ruins the idea the Midwest is Bernie territory. A Missouri victory would add to Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to indicate there’s a particular area that supports him, but nowhere near a whole region.
Bernie is pushing forward no matter what, and winning another state would help him claim relevance, but as long as she wins the majority, she remains the clear front runner and the mathematical inevitability continues.
Big wins in North Carolina and Florida help the argument that she wins by a ton in some places, while he wins by a little in others. Winning the crucial swing states of Florida and Ohio on the same day helps her argue she’s the better November candidate.
Likely: Florida and North Carolina still appear plenty safe. Even in Michigan, where everyone was shocked, Bernie was still within 10 or 11 points in a few polls. Not here. In Michigan, he was in a region where he’d previously done well. Not here.
Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri are another story. At this point, Missouri is somewhat unlikely, and the others are toss-ups.
She absolutely can win 4 states tomorrow. The polls showing Bernie doing well in Illinois are expecting heavy turnout of young voters. Ohio requires enough Independents supporting Bernie instead of Trump or Kasich.
Just wouldn’t call it likely anymore.
Needs: To stay on track for the nomination, Hillary only needs Florida and North Carolina. It would allow her to win the delegate count for the day and push forward as the leader.
But that’s not enough to keep the narrative from beginning to collapse around her. She had huge poll advantages in Ohio and Illinois. The first is a key swing state, the second her birthplace and home of the president she’s tied herself so closely to.
Hillary and Bernie split two states on March 8, split four states over the March 5th/6th weekend. If Sanders wins three times tomorrow, it would mean he’s won more contests (at least not counting islands in the South Pacific) since Super Tuesday than she has.
A semi-inevitable front runner, with the support of the entire establishment, leading to a massive lead in announced super delegates, should not find themselves losing on a regular basis.
Losses in these states would put New York on April 19 very in question. It might mean she would go another several weeks without a victory. Hillary really needs Ohio or Illinois.