March 15, 2016
We saved the most interesting state for last. Any number of interesting things can happen on the Republican side. Trump is sitting with a poll average that is beatable, but not easily.
However, the majority of delegates are allocated by congressional district. His two main opponents are strong in different parts of the state. There’s a scenario where The Donald wins Illinois, but not anywhere near the majority of delegates.
Meanwhile, Bernie has reversed a massive pre-Michigan deficit to lead a recent poll and hold very close in a few others. One, from McKeon & Associates, has Undecided leading both Hillary (31%) and Bernie (30%).
Betting markets are showing a total toss-up. FiveThirtyEight favors Clinton. And us?
Bernie Sanders: 52.3%
Sometimes everything clicks into place, just in time. Bernie got to run against Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago mayor is colossally unpopular. He’s particularly hated by younger voters and voters of color. He’s also a long-time Clinton ally.
During the Trump protest on Friday, Illinois voters saw a multi-ethnic group of pro-Bernie (if not actually sponsored by the campaign) activists, doing something to stop the hated Donald.
You’ve got to figure (too lazy to look this up) that Trump’s approval rating among likely Democratic primary voters with pigment is absurdly bad at the moment. In the South, Clinton had the reputation of fighting for minority voters. In return, they stayed away from Sanders.
This is different. None of the more recent surveys have Hillary over 50%. The last one that does was primarily taken before Michigan, entirely before the Trump incident.
I originally thought this was a likely Bernie win in a competitive race before getting scared off by the pre-Michigan polls. The latest surge brings the contest back to what it was supposed to look like.
My thought that Bernie waited too long to engage, too long to begin attacking Rahm appears mistaken now. Think he wins it, and by a larger margin than Michigan, with his best combined results yet with African Americans and Latinos.
Hillary Clinton: 47.4%
I’m not sure that Hillary did anything particularly wrong here. She has a ton of baggage and her opponent has superb message discipline. Losing the state she grew up in, the home state of the president she’s attached herself to is embarrassing.
Unlike Michigan, where she didn’t spend enough time in the final week, and concentrated almost exclusively on black areas, Hillary was back in Illinois for the final full campaign day, and made it down to Springfield. Had she covered similar parts of Michigan, who knows?
If she saves this one, it won’t seem like an accomplishment, but it is. The tide was running strongly against her.
Ted Cruz: 34.1%
Polls indicate Cruz would win a one-on-one national primary with Trump. If this is so, he’d win the majority of individual states. If that’s so, even with other candidates still lingering, Cruz should be able to narrowly win a state that isn’t any better than average for Trump.
This is that state. All recent polls show The Donald at least 4 points ahead of Ted, usually more. However, they also show Rubio retaining double digit support, often well into the teens.
Most surveys are at least a couple/few days old, and it appears Marco has lost additional altitude over the weekend. Cruz is developing as the anti-Trump candidate for Illinois, spending extra time there and building a bigger profile than Kasich.
Illinois borders Iowa, which Cruz won, and Missouri, which I think he’ll win. Kasich can pull just enough voters from the Chicago suburbs where Cruz isn’t as strong to hold Trump’s overall vote down.
Even if Trump winds up ahead overall, expect Cruz to do very well in Downstate delegate allocation from winning the majority of congressional districts that are primarily outside the Chicago area.
Donald Trump: 33.6%
Trump likes going for the jugular. When it works, as it’s likely to with Rubio in Florida, it’s impressive. We’ve become accustomed to The Donald doing the near impossible. Who would have imagined several months ago that Rubio would outlast Jeb only to lose his home state to Trump.
As such, he relished the idea of knocking out Kasich on the same day and spent a good part of his week in Ohio in pursuit of that goal. It now appears he will fall short. While Trump hasn’t exactly ignored Illinois, even if Friday’s rally had proceeded undisturbed, he still wouldn’t have given full attention.
That left an opening for Cruz. Trump has remained in the 30s, meaning if Cruz can consolidate enough #NeverTrump support, along with his customary ground operation, it’s possible for him to squeeze past.
I think it happens, giving Ted two wins on the day to go with two for Trump. It’s costly from the narrative standpoint, as this is hardly the type of state Cruz was expected to excel in.
John Kasich 22.2%
Kasich did just well enough in Michigan to put himself in position to win Ohio. A better finish and he could have taken a few more field trips to Illinois over the past week and pushed harder to win here.
Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. It also appears any extra decay in Rubio’s support from the final polls is at least as likely to go to Cruz as Kasich. That very scenario was described above.
I do think Kasich will win a congressional district or four and take some delegates.
Marco Rubio 9.5%
There’s an alternative universe, where a couple things break differently and Rubio wins Illinois. Even seven to ten days ago, he was surprisingly competitive here.
When we began modelling the GOP race in December, there was a scenario where he lost Florida, but survived because he won Illinois on the same day. There wasn’t a way for him to sell this approach, but Rubio would have had an easier time spending the week here than at home.
Cest la vie.