May 3, 2016
Welcome to Ted’s Last Stand. Everyone seems to realize he must win to keep his chances alive. Even winning might not get it done. Just under half the delegates go to the statewide champ. The others are winner-take-all by congressional district. Unlike some of the recent primaries, there is no need to reach 50% to grab the full haul.
Even if Cruz pulls an upset and comes out ahead statewide, as David Wasserman explains, he may lose the majority of districts. Ted looks strongest in the 5th district, the northern suburbs of Indianapolis, where Mitt Romney got a large proportion of his Indiana votes in 2012. He could win the state by dominating this heavily Republican district, while Trump takes many of the other 8.
While a victory would keep him going, Cruz needs to win almost all of the delegates to prevent Trump from reaching 1237, not just his fair share. Late polls are breaking against him. The two most recent surveys have him trailing by 15 and 17 points respectively.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is trying to throw some extra kindling on the fire before his supporters’ hope is completely extinguished. He’s not going to win the nomination. But there’s a difference between running hard to the finish line with plenty of late primary victories and fading into California. Indiana is a state he should win if he still has a purpose in the campaign.
Polls are showing him close, but universally trailing. Hoosiers have participated in early voting for the past month. Usually, older voters are more prone to use this option. As we know, they favor Hillary Clinton. Bernie will need to get his voters to turn out with far less at stake now. Can he?
One other note. Indiana is an open(ish) primary, which favors Bernie and Trump. However, it works differently than many other states, where a voter can choose either ballot, regardless of registration. Voters take the ballot for the party they voted for most frequently in the last election. If they didn’t participate, they are on the honor system.
The goal is to get voters to participate on the side they most often vote for, preventing spoilers. This should work fine for the two insurgents. Many Trump voters haven’t voted as frequently, so they’ll be able to grab a GOP ballot. Core Sanders voters are usually either new, or Democratic/progressive leaning Independents. It’s not like most Bernie voters have a history of supporting Republicans.
Cruz was polling better three weeks ago than he is now. He may have picked up some important early votes. Pollsters do include early voters, so theoretically, you can trust newer polls and ignore when someone voted. However, some may have picked Cruz and switched to Trump in surveys.
Even more likely, it acts as a brake against discouraged voters figuring Trump has this and failing to show up for Cruz. It appears some of Trump’s dominance on April 19 and 26th was from #NeverTrump voters figuring they couldn’t make a difference in their state and staying home. At least Ted has some (if not enough) of these votes banked.
Enough conjecture. Time for predictions:
Hillary Clinton 50.6%
Bernie Sanders 48.3%
I can’t figure out whether Hillary voters are more likely to stay home because they think this is a done deal, or Bernie voters are more likely to for the same reason. They seemed to cancel out last week. Hillary beat her numbers in Maryland, Bernie exceeded them in Rhode Island. There was no data in Delaware, and Pennsylvania and Connecticut came in about right.
So, we’ll just trust the polls, which have proven mostly accurate on the Democratic side of late. Hillary has reached 50% in many of them, and has an average lead of 7. Giving Bernie a little bit of an open primary boost should make this closer. Michigan is still the only state Sanders won without leading in a single poll, so I have a hard time predicting a victory for him here.
Donald Trump 47.8%
Ted Cruz 35.6%
John Kasich 14.6%
The final numbers look just like Wisconsin, except with Trump and Cruz changing places. Ted just isn’t popular enough to pull this off. The protests in California will help Trump. A desire to end this already will help Trump. The complete lack of viability for Kasich is a neutral, or even a positive for Trump.
Only so many voters self-identify as very conservative. Moderate to somewhat conservative voters aren’t choosing between Kasich and Cruz, they’re deciding between Kasich and Trump. For each voter Kasich loses (approximately) one stays home, one picks Trump, one picks Cruz.
The only way Ted was going to win was by winning over voters torn between him and Trump, getting #NeverTrump voters to turn out for him, and grabbing most of the truly undecided. It appears Cruz will strike out on all of these. Absent the early voting, I would have predicted Trump would reach 50%. It might happen anyway.
I think there’s more chance of a Trump majority than a Cruz victory. I’m expecting The Donald will win at least 7 of the 9 congressional districts. Ted should win the 5th. Perhaps he takes one more. That would give Trump all but 3 to 6 of the 57 delegates. Game Over.