Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The State of the Race — Are the Front Runners Set to Win

The Democrats

Saturday was certainly important to the Clinton campaign. A win in Nevada was desperately needed to stall Sanders momentum (slightly over played from my point of view but more on that later). Here’s how the Post put it:
Hillary Clinton held off a powerful late challenge from rival Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s Democratic caucus vote Saturday, securing a narrow victory that helps the former secretary of state regain momentum after a crushing defeat in New Hampshire.

Nevada was the first state to test support among minority voters, who have long been expected to be in Clinton’s camp. As it turned out, preliminary entrance polls showed Latinos favoring Sanders, despite having voted for Clinton 2-to-1 when she ran in 2008. African American voters, meanwhile, appear to have overwhelmingly supported Clinton — a development that could bode extremely well for her given the run of Southern states with large black electorates voting in the coming weeks.
It was indeed a win but well look at the results:

Clinton got 52.6%. Sanders got 47.3 and .1 percent went to other. Now look at the vote totals. Clinton 6,316. Sanders 5,678. A total of 11,994 people voted. I’m sorry caucused. That is like just nuts. Once again I will rail against caucuses to no good of course. But change the damn system so more people can participate.

As to the must win as the media put it. Yes, she did need a win. But, if there was any real analysis by the media (mostly but not entirely TV), there would have been emphasis on the contests coming up and how they favor Clinton. There was some of it but the implication was a loss by her in Nevada would have drastically changed things. I’m sorry how exactly would that have happened. Yes, Sanders would have gotten more press. But would this have moved voters from her to Sanders? Especially considering what the make up of the electorate is in states going forward. In other words states are no longer lily white. And Sanders has yet to prove he can win in a diversified electorate.

Clinton is favored to win South Carolina but a lot. The poll averages from RealClear Politics has Clinton up by about 25%. Sanders campaigned briefly in South Carolina but has moved on to other states that vote in super Tuesday.

The Republicans

Donald Trump did really well in South Carolina he got 32% of the votes. 10 percent higher than his nearest rival Marco Rubio. And Rubio barely came in second. Cruz was only 1,091 votes behind.

At least this time the media did not fall into the trap of saying how well Rubio did. He has yet to win a contest and yet he is seen as the “establishment” candidate. There are still some in the media that say he will be the likely nominee. How that happens is beyond me.

Trump one South Carolina. He won across the state. By doing so he got all 50 of the delegates for that state. So far Trump has 67 delegates. Cruz is closest to Trump with just 11. Granted this is still very early. But Trump will likely win in Nevada. And he is ahead in many of the states that vote on Super Tuesday. Even in “liberal” Massachusetts, Trump is ahead and by huge margins.

The question has to be how the Republican establishment stops Trump. How do they get the race down to just Trump and someone else? Right now that does not seem likely. Certainly not likely before Super Tuesday. And on that day Trump will win the majority of delegates. He won’t have an insurmountable lead but it will be substantial.

After Super Tuesday, the contest turns to more winner take all states. But with a crowded field Trump could still win those states without getting the majority of votes. There is also another problem with the idea of getting the field down to Trump and the anti-Trump. It assumes that people who were supporting other candidates instead of the anti-Trump all end up voting for the anti-Trump. That is just not going to be the case. Some will vote for Trump. And some might just stay home because they don’t like Trump or the anti-Trump candidate.

Here's a great link to a delegate tracker on the Bloomberg site.

Going Forward

So does this past weekend’s results mean the front runners are likely to be the two nominees. It is too early to tell in both parties.

I would say Clinton has a better chance simply because of the change in the demographics going forward in the states that vote. I don’t see Sanders winning in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia or Texas. Again the big delegate winner that night will be Clinton. How does Sanders get to 2,383 delegates to win the nomination? Right now I don’t see it.

As for Trump, he need 1,237 delegates to get the nomination. With so many people in the race, especially if the field does not narrow, Trump will be picking up the majority of the delegates. But will he get enough to pass the magic number before the convention. I think that is the interesting question to have answered.

And as we say in my family we’ll see.

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