March 15, 2016
Two potentially close contests, with candidacies hanging in the balance. Ohio will determine whether their governor continues campaigning or is forced home to serve out the balance of his term.
Depending on how Illinois votes, Ohio could put Hillary on the extreme defensive if it becomes the third Sanders victory of the evening. A few days ago, polls had Clinton up by Michigan-sized margins.
She’s still ahead in every poll, but it’s closer now. Closer than Michigan was. You know the Clinton campaign is at least as curious as we are. They definitely didn’t go to sleep feeling overly sure of themselves.
Enough stalling. On to the show.
John Kasich: 40.6%
He could wind up a point or two higher, perhaps slightly lower. The important thing is it appears he’s going to avoid the fate of being rejected by his own constituents.
His trend is favorable, and he’s now over 40% in a couple of polls. Even with Rubio’s support now requiring a microscope, only one candidate is going to clear that number. Trump only exceeded it once, registering at 41% in a CNN/ORC poll earlier in the month.
They tend to favor him, and he hasn’t repeated the number. While not a bad Trump state, it’s not a great one, so we shouldn’t expect him to exceed his poll average.
That being the case, Kasich should have this under control. His big variable is what Independent and Democratic cross over voters will do. He has a 43% approval rating with Ohio Democrats, so he should get a few anti-Hillary, anti-Trump votes.
We’ll see how much Kasich’s general suitability impacts Bernie.
Donald Trump: 35.7%
This is what the numbers indicate. Whenever a state has a decent amount of polling, Trump winds up where the numbers suggest he will. For all the chaos he’s brought to the race, pollsters aren’t having a particularly hard time projecting his support.
Ted Cruz: 18.2%
Cruz is giving this a bit more of a push (more through advertising than personal appearances) than you might figure for a state where he’s going to finish third and the winner gets all the delegates.
The question is what he’s up to. Does he think he can take votes from Kasich, making Trump the winner and setting up that one-on one showdown?
Or, is he thinking he can take votes from Trump, helping to ensure a Kasich win, and making it extremely difficult for The Donald to get his 1237 delegates before the convention.
Either is plausible. I’m assuming he wouldn’t want to waste money on TV if he wasn’t planning on a full ground operation on primary day. That would enable him to finish a couple points ahead of his polling average.
Marco Rubio: 4.2%
When the candidate is giving his supporters permission to vote for another candidate, it’s a sign he’s not going to do very well. If he somehow wins Florida, Rubio would likely complete the unimaginable feat of winning a major state while finishing last in the other four, all with a single digit vote share.
Hillary Clinton: 50.5%
Hillary has escaped doom twice already. An Iowa loss would have caused her some real problems, especially with a New Hampshire loss set to follow. She survived by a couple tenths of a percent, relying on the state delegate equivalents not exactly matching the individual vote.
After New Hampshire, Nevada was very much in play and exit polls indicated an incredibly close race. Whether it was her big campaigning push over the final 48-72 hours, Harry Reid getting enough extra caucus locations on the Strip for union workers to turn out, or poor ground game from Bernie, Hillary won again with her back up against the wall.
An Ohio loss today would help create an extremely unfavorable narrative for Hillary, heading into a stretch of primaries and caucuses that favor Bernie.
Poll averages would give her a larger advantage than this, but I don’t trust them. However, it’s not enough to make me predict a Sanders win. Michigan was always slightly more favorable to him than Ohio is.
Some observers think she will do well because Southern Ohio tends to vote more like the South, while Northern Ohio acts more like a Northern state. There’s some definite truth in this, and if it turns out this way, Hillary would win by a decent margin. She did very well there in 2008.
The catch for Hillary is places with mostly white voters who supported her over Obama in 2008, now usually prefer Bernie. Southeastern Ohio borders West Virginia, where Bernie had a 2:1 polling edge last month.
Six of one, half dozen of the other, coin flip of a state. Think she barely survives.
Bernie Sanders: 49.3%
When we first projected the race in early January, this was on the list of Sanders targets. In a world where he swept Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada to make this a real race, Ohio was a win.
Of course, he only won 1.5 of the first 3, and while Michigan righted the ship, it had taken on a bit of water.
Most importantly, the initial read of the race didn’t allow for Kasich sticking around long enough for his home state to save him. If this in fact winds up as close as I’m estimating, losing a few Independent voters to him may have made the difference.
There are two choices for voters who don’t like Hillary or Trump and find Cruz too conservative. In Michigan, Kasich wasn’t as much of a factor. Without the huge support from Independents, Bernie doesn’t win.