April 26, 2016
What. A. Mess. Donald Trump is going to win. Hillary Clinton probably will too. There’s plenty of intrigue and confusion to unpack though. Does Trump clear 50%? He might. Before New York, polls had him in the low to mid 40s. The three taken after show him right around 50.
The whole Trump is just getting a plurality, not a majority argument fades a bit if he clears 50% in all five states today. Though the Keystone State isn’t anti-Trump, it wasn’t showing as a particularly strong location for him for most of the past several months. He didn’t break 30% until early March, 40% until the end of March.
If you are arguing that all but #NeverTrump are coming around to accepting a Trump nomination, if tonight’s results match the most recent polls, it’s convincing evidence. Indiana is more Cruz-friendly than Pennsylvania, but not that, that much. If Trump gets a majority here, Ted has some hearts and minds to change quickly in the Hoosier State.
That’s already worth watching, but we have some delegate fun too. A mere 17 delegates go to the statewide winner. The rest are by congressional district. Three are selected for each. Voters actually choose them on the ballot. Their presdential preference is not listed on said ballot.
Some have announced support for a particular candidate. Others say they’ll vote for the winner of their district or the whole state. The rest are playing coy. Each candidate (or PACs supporting them) have attempted to let voters know which delegates are most supportive of the cause.
Some voters will pick a presidential candidate and skip the delegate choices. Others will match the candidate and the delegates. Some will pick a candidate and guess on the delegates because they lack information. If Cruz does better on the delegates than he does in the overall vote, it’s a sign his organization helped him out again.
With Trump looking like a definite statewide winner, a #NeverTrump movement would show up more on the delegate choice side. If Kasich can steer suburban Philadelphia voters to his preferred slate it would show more logistical skill than his campaign has managed so far.
Democrats have supported Hillary in each poll. Three of the four taken since New York are showing a bit closer race, though not a toss-up. When Bernie smashes his poll numbers, it’s in a caucus or open primary. He lost neighboring Ohio by almost 15 points and did drop bordering New York by that amount.
If he should win it would indicate a larger than expected dose of buyer’s remorse.
On to the picks….
Donald Trump 48.8%
I’m just assuming the polls are about correct here. Cruz spent a fair amount of time in state over the past week and there are a decent amount of conservative voters, far more than the other places voting today. It’s also very pro-life for a light blue state. It’s the one northern state that often votes for pro-life Democrats.
As much we’ve criticized the strategy/tactics of Cruz’s focus on North Carolina bathrooms over the past few days, this is one place where it might help him with enough socially conservative voters still trying to decide between him and Trump.
Still, the momentum is with The Donald. His critique of a corrupt process is especially effective in a state where voters can’t even easily figure out how to choose the voters who would pick their favored candidate. Pennsylvania is the poster child for process reform. This could easily push him over 50%.
Ted Cruz 31.2%
I’m rounding Cruz up slightly from his poll numbers and Kasich down slightly to account for a few strategic voters picking Ted as their horse here. The effect is mild. Most Cruz supporters would find Kasich too moderate, most Kasich supporters Cruz too conservative. Stylistically it goes even further.
While having Kasich step aside might noticeably assist Cruz in Indiana, it wouldn’t help here. Their support is just too different. If Cruz falls short of this number, it’s due to losing voters to Trump and being unable to convince the few malleable #NeverTrump voters to go his way.
John Kasich 19.1%
Kasich sucks as a campaigner. A competent candidate with his overall profile could and should have won Pennsylvania. He governs a bordering state. He could potentially appeal to blue collar voters in Western Pennsylvania and upscale suburban voters around Philly.
His number, which should be within a couple points of my estimate is the percentage of Pennsylvanians who can’t abide either of the other two. At this point his support is a vote of no confidence in his opponents, not confidence in him. Eating habits are the least of his problems if he’s effectively punting on both the Keystone State and Hoosier State.
Nobody wants to think about him very much, but the deal with Cruz was a great way to cover for third place finishes on both sides of the Ohio border.
Hillary Clinton 53.8%
This seems about right. Sanders may get a post-New York sympathy bounce, but isn’t going to close the whole gap in a closed primary. His team is giving no sign that they think he’s destined to win here.
Look to the margin for clues to the future. Anything in single digits argues it’s possible for Bernie to win every May contest. It won’t change the math, but would help him justify his continued existence to the media.
Bernie Sanders 45.7%
Bernie always holds his preferred groups and never does that well with those who prefer Hillary. There’s a small group of voters who truly are in coin flip territory. I’m assuming they go with Larry David today. If it’s more of an even split, she wins by double digits.