March 26, 2016
Washington is the prize. Hawaii and Alaska are voting too, but the largest amount of Pacific Saturday delegates are in the greater Seattle area. As always for the Democrats, delegates are assigned proportionately, but in this case within each congressional district.
So delegate percentages may not match vote percentages. With this knowledge, both candidates have spent time in places like Spokane in Eastern Washington, and Vancouver, just across the Columbia River from Portland.
With Seattle light on African Americans and Latinos and having passed a $15/hour minimum wage, it’s the most Sanders-friendly major metro area in the country. Data on contributions bears this out. His per-capita haul is larger than any of the other top 50 metropolises.
Hillary is hoping the less urban, more conservative parts of the state are more favorable. That didn’t work in Colorado. The way Hillary kept the final result to around 20 points was by doing well in the Denver area, while Bernie cleaned up in the Rockies and on the Western Slope.
I’m guessing the delegate split winds up fairly close to the overall result. You might see a difference due to rounding, which can favor the trailing candidate, but a gap of any more than 4 or 5 delegates (out of 101) compared to being assigned statewide is pushing it.
So how much can Bernie roll up the score?
It’s an open caucus. That’s the best possible combination. It’s a strong state for Subaru sales. Pot is legal. It was a good state for Ross Perot in 1992 (this actually matters), but not a great one like Idaho and Utah were.
The other potential break on the victory margin is the size of state. Georgia (71% for Clinton) is the most populous to have a Democratic candidate pass the 70% line. Washington is a little smaller (13th instead of 9th.)
Side Note: Twelve of the 20 most populous states have voted so far. Hillary won 11 of them. The exception was Michigan, which Bernie won by less than 2 points.
Most caucuses have seen far less than 100,000 voters. It’s easier to rack up a big percentage advantage the smaller the turnout. Washington has enough voters that even with the extra difficulty of a caucus, they’ll see closer to a primary-sized electorate in a smaller state.
Seventy percent is the target. That would put Bernie in the same range Hillary had in Georgia. The delegate count is almost identical (the parties allocate with an adjustment for how blue or red they are, so the Democrat friendliness of Washington makes up for the population difference.)
On Tuesday, Sanders got almost exactly the same percentage of Idaho caucus votes as Barack Obama in 2008. He did better than Obama in Utah, but 2008 was a primary. As for Bernie now, Obama did better in caucuses.
In many parts of the country, particularly the South, the 2016 results are opposite of what happened in 2008. However, the Western and Plains states are treating Hillary almost as poorly as they did eight years ago.
Back then, Obama won Washington 66/32. Bernie was unable to surpass the president’s numbers in Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska or Kansas, doing a few points worse on average.
If we make a similar adjustment here, it would indicate a result in the low 60s. I’m going to take the over on that. Bernie is resonating particularly well and was able to focus more time on the state than Obama did. He held a rally yesterday at Safeco Field, drawing at least 20,000 supporters.
Give him a bump for that, remember that Obama drew about as well in closed caucuses as open, explaining why Sanders didn’t quite match his numbers in Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. In open caucuses, the numbers were much closer.
Flip a coin, remember we have zero polls to go on, and the final estimate is….
Bernie Sanders 67.6%
Hillary Clinton 31.8%