April 26, 2016
Maryland is not a Donald Trump state. It’s neutral at best for him. He’s going to win. The question is by how much. If he gets near or above 50% it’s a very bad sign for anyone trying to stop the runaway train. Before New York, he was in the mid 40s. The one post-NY poll from Gravis Marketing has him at 54%.
If he winds up anywhere near there, it means voters would need to have a change of heart once tonight makes his nomination seem virtually imminent in order to stop him. Having Cruz and Kasich strategize, ally, move tactically in any way only matters if Trump isn’t clearing 40% by much in a state that doesn’t favor him.
A strong result would validate polls showing Trump near 50% in California. That’s another neutral-at-best state for The Donald where surveys indicate it doesn’t matter what Cruz and Kasich try to do. Any #Never Trump plan requires three important elements.
First, Trump’s current support can’t exceed 45%. Even if Kasich and Cruz are perfectly efficient in allocating resources, math is math. There aren’t enough delegates in Cruz-friendly states (Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota) to push this to the convention if they can’t keep Trump in range elsewhere.
Second, all but the most committed Kasich and Cruz voters need to shift between the two depending on strategic imperatives. If Trump is contained in the low 40s and no more than 10% stay with whichever of Cruz/Kasich are abandoning a state, the other can sneak a win in Indiana, Oregon, Washington, California, or New Mexico.
A Kasich win here would shock. So would a Cruz victory in Pennsylvania. Polls show support divided between the two, with a slight edge for the governor here and the senator there. If these voters are anywhere near influencible enough, we should see this margin widen in both places as they hit the polls today.
Third, through more effective campaigning/messaging and/or buyer’s remorse on Trump, a few voters currently favoring The Donald need to move to an alternative in future contests. If Trump is at 44-45% in Maryland, that translates to 38-40% depending on the state if they waver. Above that number, even a change of heart won’t do enough.
Which side of the line will Maryland fall on?
Donald Trump 48.3%
Consider this an official vote of no confidence in Team Cruz-Kasich. I think if I’m wrong here it was in giving Trump too little credit. He could easily top 50%. We’ve hit Peak Trump. If there was a national primary today, he’d likely break 50% of the GOP vote, especially if non-affiliated voters were allowed to participate.
Maryland is a closed primary, which should help the anti-Trump forces. I can’t think of anything else. Polling is moving in Trump’s direction everywhere. You can say we should adjust for different pollsters this week than last week, but the direction is still favorable to him.
Trump won the 24 hour news cycle after the Kasich/Cruz announcement. Neither of his opponents distinguished themselves while trying to explain why they teamed up or how voters should respond. Trump continues to have the more marketable argument.
John Kasich 29.2%
If Kasich does better than this, he’s more viable than I’m giving him credit for. If he does worse, it’s another indication that voters don’t really care if Kasich stays, goes, teams up or stays on an island. Even if Kasich gets a last minute boost from anti-Trump voters strategically picking him, only part of the state is more suited to him than Cruz.
If strategy is actually in play here, the D.C. Suburbs part of Maryland should move to Kasich to attempt to deny Trump delegates from those congressional districts. The rest of the state should actually pick Cruz. This isn’t a Connecticut or New York, where Kasich can compete in favorable districts and Cruz is destroyed everywhere.
It’s more like Washington and California, where they would divide congressional districts. That level of coordination doesn’t exist here. It may never exist down the road, as Kasich is incapable of saying “vote for Cruz” out loud, but they definitely didn’t pull it together here.
As in Connecticut, his performance in the most favorable districts is more important than the overall statewide number. I think I may have slightly overrated how we’ll he’ll do here. If Trump breaks 50%, it’s probably at Kasich’s expense.
Ted Cruz 21.8%
Cruz should stay above 20%. Only one of the last 8 polls had him below the line and just barely (19%) at that. He traditionally closes well, and has by far the best Election Day ground game. He spent a little bit of time in the state over the past week, though he’s moved his focus to Indiana in the past couple/few days.
If he winds up in the upper teens, it indicates even a partial Kasich abdication won’t save him in Indiana. It would mean voters are starting to see him as Loser Ted instead of Lyin’ Ted. An awful April 26 would only magnify the effect.
It’s an interesting primary day on the Democratic side, mostly because of down ballot races. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards are in a brutal nomination battle to succeed Barbara Mikulski in the Senate. The fight for Van Hollen’s House seat is fun too. The candidate polling third has spent $12 million so far. There’s a primary fight for Baltimore Mayor too.
Between these races, all of which are almost guaranteed wins for the Democratic nominee in the fall, and the ongoing if less suspenseful Clinton/Sanders contest, there is plenty to bring voters out.
The combination of African Americans and wealthy white D.C. Area voters is not favorable to Bernie. New York was an easier target for Sanders than this is. Polls are consistently showing Clinton with a 20 point lead. The close one was 15.
None of the surveys were taken completely after New York, so if there was a last-minute sympathetic move towards Bernie, the data isn’t available to reveal it. Any result approaching single digits would mean some upscale voters and some African Americans are also feeling the Bern when they aren’t worried about actually nominating him.
Hillary Clinton 58.5%
Demographics Uber Alles. It’s a closed primary with every faction of the Democratic establishment driving turnout for their favored state and local candidates. Bernie will need a few more voters going with their heart than usual, just to keep this below a 20 point gap.
Bernie Sanders 40.8%
This is where we should wind up if we use available data and make a semi-decent pro-Bernie adjustment. If a key down ballot candidate or two were running on a Sanders platform, perhaps he’d find himself in better position. They aren’t. Any margin closer than this indicates a real change of priority for a significant percentage of voters in the wake of New York effectively ending the contest.