March 15, 2016
It’s prediction time again. We begin in the Tar Heel state, where Bernie Sanders is trying to minimize his delegate loss to Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz is attempting to sneak up on Donald Trump.
Do we have an upset on the GOP side? Will Bernie avoid another huge loss in a Southern state? For these answers and more, proceed to the details.
Hillary Clinton: 56.8%
For the most part, we’re paying at least some attention to the polls. The trick is in making the adjustments. Like most other Southern states, there’s some data to work with, but not the overpowering amount of surveys we have for the GOP in Florida for example.
In the previous couple rounds in the South, Hillary has exceeded her polling average, sometimes by quite a bit. In this instance I’m expecting her to fall short. The reason is Michigan.
Not because the polling proved inaccurate. In retrospect, we should have known to make a regional adjustment there, in the opposite direction of what we were doing in the South.
It’s that the result has caused a bit of a reset in the race. Between New Hampshire and Nevada, Bernie was closing the gap. He trailed by 15 in one North Carolina survey, 17 in the other.
He made similar progress in South Carolina, though with more ground to make up. As soon as Hillary won Nevada, momentum shifted and her margins began to expand in the South.
Massachusetts, which was another place we’d projected Hillary to win before voting started, swung back to her after giving Bernie an edge for a week or two. She ultimately won a close contest.
It appears post-Michigan, we’re looking at a race closer to what we might have expected before Nevada. At that time the assumption was Hillary would win North Carolina, but not by that much.
I don’t think Michigan completely made up for Nevada, but it does appear it made a difference. If Bernie can win three states today, he’s back to the status he would have attained with a Nevada victory.
Anyway, the most recent survey from PPP has Hillary up 19 with 7% undecided. Historically PPP favors Hillary slightly. Combine that with the post-Michigan improvement in Bernie’s overall status, and you get a margin in the 14 point range.
Bernie Sanders: 42.9%
There aren’t many sets of circumstances under which Bernie could have won North Carolina. Even when I thought Virginia and Tennessee were possibilities (I came to my senses before the two states actually voted), the Tar Heel State was still on Hillary’s list.
Between the upscale voters in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham who tend to support Hillary, and the robust African American population, there are just too many things working against him.
There is more of a college student/university population than some other states in the region, but not enough for parity. In some states Bernie has done as poorly as 12 to 15% of the African American vote.
In Michigan he reached approximately 30%. He’s polling in the mid-20s in Illinois. My guess is he makes some progress here (relatively speaking) and winds up with exit polls indicating support in the 20-22% range.
Donald Trump: 42.5%
This feels like Kentucky and Louisiana all over again. Polls show Trump with a double-digit lead, but there are a few undecided voters that should go to Cruz, along with a few extra Rubio voters to abandon ship.
It’s hard to say which way Kasich voters would go without him as an option, but he’s there. North Carolina is an open primary state, so it may be that some of his votes are from Democrats or Democrat-leaning Independents who think Bernie and this version of Hillary are too far left.
Anyway, in a four-way race, it’s hard to imagine a number over 40% isn’t safe, and it appears Trump is going to wind up over the line.
Ted Cruz: 38.8%
Remember, this state is completely about the delegates. It’s proportional allocation. If this result occurs, Cruz only gets a couple delegates less than The Donald. Ted’s best poll number was 33%, but he usually closes well.
I’m figuring he and Rubio combine for about 45% here, which is almost identical to their results in Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina, the three bordering states.
John Kasich: 11.1%
Kasich is polling unbelievably consistently in states outside of his target area. In the four March polls, he wound up with 11 three times and 12 once. It’s not like he had any chance of winning North Carolina when voters began migrating to him, so there’s no reason to figure they’ll leave now.
Any North Carolina #NeverTrump voters are already with Cruz. As a rule, figure I’m going to give Kasich whatever the polls are showing. He’s yet to exceed his final polling average, but hasn’t fallen short very often in the past several contests either.
Marco Rubio: 6.8%
Rubio actually won Washington D.C. on Saturday with 37% of the vote, narrowly finishing ahead of Kasich. In an area where he was always the first choice, even his current seeming hopelessness isn’t that much of an impediment.
North Carolina isn’t that place. It’s somewhere that anti-Trump voters have thrown him over the side to choose the more successful Cruz. If Ted had one Super Tuesday victory and Marco three, instead of the reverse, you would find Rubio challenging Trump and Cruz on his political deathbed.
Didn’t happen, so he’s here. If I’m off on the number, it’s actually too high.