Saturday, April 2, 2016

Is a Winning Scenario For Sanders Even Possible?

Take a good long look at this fascinating chart from Nate Silver:
For Sanders to have any chance at flipping more than a few superdelegates, he'll need to end the primaries with at least one more pledged delegate than Clinton. And that's not even considering Clinton's popular vote victory. Otherwise the superdelegates will stick with Hillary and give her the they should.

So let's take a quick look at the upcoming contests to see if Nate's chart is feasible.

First up is Wisconsin, which is an open primary (good for Sanders) with early voting (good for Clinton). This is no gimme for Sanders though, as the polls have been tight for months. Nate Silver's numbers have been fluctuating daily, but it still looks close. If Bernie loses here, he's truly toast...but my guess is that he will probably win by a few points. However, if he wins Wisconsin by anything less than +16...guess what? He's only falling further behind where he needs to be.

Next up is Wyoming on the following Saturday and it wouldn't surprise me if he hits his target of +57 here. The only problem is that a very tiny number of delegates are at stake.

Then New York, where he has to win. But apparently even the Sanders campaign knows that's not going to happen.
So...I guess that's that. He's not going to win New York and won't be the nominee. Hillary is way ahead in the polls and will probably win by 30 points or so. But for argument's sake, let's say Clinton only wins New York in a 5-point squeaker...52-47%. I'd say a result like that is his absolute best case scenario, as unlikely as it may be. Even then he falls further behind.

The next week brings Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut. For Sanders to hang on after New York, he'll really need solid victories in every single one of these states. However, he's currently down in PA & MD by around 30 points. DE seems just as unlikely for him. RI and CT seem like possible wins for Bernie...but by +33 and +13 respectively? No way.

Then comes Indiana, which is more likely a close Clinton win rather than a 16-point Sanders landslide.

Sanders will probably win Oregon, but not with caucus-style 48-point blowout. +15 is more like it, as it's a closed primary.

And does anyone really expect Sanders to win New Jersey? Clinton will win that by 10 points at the very least...probably much more.

Finally, the very best that Sanders can reasonably hope for in California is to bring it to a rough delegate tie. That would be impressive for sure, but not nearly enough to change the final outcome. There's simply no reason to believe that he could have a solid 15-point win there.

There are plenty of contests that I've left out, but you get the idea. For Sanders to emerge in mid-June with more pledged delegates than Clinton seems essentially impossible...logically, demographically and mathematically.

And "essentially impossible" will probably become "absolutely impossible" by the end of April.


  1. The problem is that with any wins he can claim "momentum", and justify staying in the race, continuing to raise money and run negative ads tearing down the eventual Democratic nominee. If Hillary should then lose narrowly in the General, we'd have Bernie to thank for it. I'm not saying that is likely, but I think for him to even risk that is pretty irresponsible.

    1. Yeah, the negative smearing tone is really the problem. It's destructive and it needs to stop. I've lost all patience with Bernie's campaign, and it sounds like Hillary feels the same way. Good!

  2. I think Hillary has factored into her strategy that Bernie plans to stay in the race till the primaries are over, the way she did with Obama in 2008 (although that race was much closer).

    But I think something's changed. Starting yesterday, Hillary and her campaign became much more aggressive in calling out Bernie's lies and exaggerations, after he promised to run a clean campaign. At the same time, I saw a poll that had Bernie's favorable rating dropping from 60 percent to 48 percent in one month, which has to be reaction to his negativity. I'm guessing her camp saw this as a perfect time to call out his hypocrisy and put him on the defensive.

  3. Also, see this weird release on WI put out by Sanders' people. I can't figure out if he's lowering expectations in WI or raising them. And I saw Hillary's pollster, Joel Benenson, say the race is neck and neck, which leads me to believe she has a shot.

    1. Yeah, interesting tweet. I guess its worth the risk, as it's definitely do or die for them.

  4. And I just saw Bill is campaigning in WI on Monday, as Hillary is this weekend, so her team must see an opportunity there to at least make it close enough so a Sanders win basically is so narrow it results in more or less a delegate split.

  5. I wouldn't put much stock in the Loras Poll. They have good cell phone coverage but I think severely underweight 19-29 and 30-44 voting groups as compared to the percentages those two groups made up in MI. They are about 4 points low on the 17-29 cohort and similarly or more low on the 30-44 group. They also seem to try to balance out across the congressional districts, and the sample is just too small to do that with. And another consequence of that is you assume uniform voting rates across all districts - which, again, MI demonstrated to be demonstrably false. So - while a big HRC supporter, I'd be knocked out of my socks if the end result looked anything like that poll. On the positive side, even though they are wrong, they'd have to be wrong by over 20 points for it to be bad news for HRC and good news for Sanders.