April 5, 2016
Welcome to arguably the highest stakes contest on the GOP side. As of yesterday morning, Ted Cruz was the winner of six consecutive polls. Then ARG weighed in and gave Donald Trump a 10 point edge. If Cruz holds on, Trump has a very hard road to 1237 delegates by the end of the primary schedule.
If The Donald wins, his math gets way better and Cruz is likely done as a threat. No pressure or anything.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is sitting at a blackjack table with a three and a four while the dealer is showing two kings. A Wisconsin win is just the first of a series of favorable draws required.
He’s ahead, but not by enough to relax. While Bernie was closing in Wisconsin, Hillary was back in New York protecting her home turf. Is she conceding?
On to our fearless predictions:
Ted Cruz 43.1%
The ARG survey is a little scary, but they hate Cruz. Love Kasich, hate Ted. It’s consistent. There’s a structural reason. They tend to calculate a large number of Independent and/or Democratic voters participating on the GOP side of open primaries.
Trump and Kasich are both more likely to score with these voters than Cruz. Other polls have indicated Wisconsin won’t have as many crossover voters as New Hampshire or Ohio did. We’ll know who was right in a few hours, but Hillary and Bernie are a better fit here than Ohio
While ARG wasn’t enough to talk me into a Trump win, it did help convince me a 50% result for Cruz was pushing it a bit. I think he wins, but not by so much that they call the race a few minutes after the polls close.
Donald Trump 36.2%
The good news for Trump is that ARG poll. Most of it was taken after his several reversals on abortion, after his comments about wanting to keep using nukes in Europe on the table. After whatever else was supposed to make last week the worst of his campaign.
The bad news is a simultaneous survey from Emerson College. They have Trump trailing by 5, which isn’t exactly insurmountable. The catch is the same poll had him 1 behind about 10 days ago. Not a free fall, but the wrong direction.
While Trump normally does better in open primaries than Cruz, Ted closes better. The Donald rarely exceeds his final polling average. Cruz almost always does. Figure Trump falls a bit short.
John Kasich 19.3%
Even ARG, the unofficial booster of the Kasich campaign, only has him at 23%. They’re always his absolute ceiling. His polling average is just under 20.
Kasich almost never beats his final average. He doesn’t have Cruz’s ground game, and many wavering anti-Trump voters wind up going to the candidate with the best chance of beating him. Outside Ohio, that’s not Kasich.
All of the favorability polling shows Kasich doing well. They like him well enough, but don’t think he can get it done. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Bernie Sanders 53.8%
The polls are a little tighter than this. Hillary was ahead 49/48 with ARG and 47/41 with Loras College. I’m estimating an 8 point gap when people actually vote, but only one poll actually showed Bernie with that big a lead.
Emerson College is that outlier. More than the number itself, I’m interested in the improvement from 10 days prior when they had Hillary ahead by 6.
The only other pollster with multiple entries is Marquette University. They only surveyed once in March (a few days ago), but have him up on his February numbers.
The surveys showing Clinton ahead are from sources that previously underestimated Bernie. He’s done fairly well against the polling averages with liberal northern electorates, even in primaries.
That leaves us with this estimate. Definitely not an early call. Not up all night followed by a recount either.
Hillary Clinton 45.7%
This is actually a good result for her. Sanders spent more time campaigning in the state. Hillary is safely back in New York waiting for him.
Bernie is likely to wind up short of Barack Obama’s 2008 result. He needs more than a couple delegate advantage here to start changing the math. A win is a win and Hillary hasn’t won since March 22, but unless the polls are way off, it’s not a decisive win.
Clinton does not have an evening event or speech scheduled for tonight. Don’t read too much in to it. Her campaign has taken a very conservative approach to any state she wasn’t looking likely to win by a large margin.
They acted similarly in Nevada and that turned out quite well for her. I think he’s probably got this, but not because of Hillary’s itenerary.