Princeton Election Consortium

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South Carolina (R) / Nevada (D) open thread

February 20th, 2016, 8:15pm by Sam Wang


Follow results at the Huffington Post [SC-R] [NV-D] or the Guardian (great coverage there).

Open thread. My comments below.

10:40pm: I think the cake is close to baked. Actually, two cakes. Cakes…the picture above, which comes from one of the Donald’s weddings, seems appropriate.

On the Republican side, Trump may get all 50 of South Carolina’s 50 delegates, as seemed likely to happen.

In equally big news, Jeb Bush dropped out tonight – pushed in part by Nikki Haley. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio are in for the long haul. If Kasich or Carson stays in, that makes at least four candidates. As I have written, a four-candidate race is a scenario in which a front-runner with 40% support can get a majority of delegates by Super Tuesday, and do even better after that. So Donald Trump is on track to have a majority of delegates at the convention. If that happens, he could win on the first ballot.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses. In a state like Nevada, where Democrats are more diverse than in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders needed to win by a reasonable margin. Superdelegates constitute about 8% of all Democratic delegates, and Hillary gets nearly all of those. The remaining 92% are given out proportionally to the popular vote. To get enough of the election-based delegates, Sanders needs about 54% of the vote across all primaries.

He’s just not headed there. Tonight Sanders got 47% of delegates. Next week in South Carolina, polls suggest he will get 33% of delegates. This is not a winning trajectory.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton needs 46% of the popular vote. This assumes that her superdelegates hold in such a situation. This is a complex proposition, but it seems likely to me. Anyway, she appears to be on track for the nomination – though it will be a bit of a fight.

In short, the races for both parties allow their front-runner to get the nomination without a majority of popular support. Considering that’s where the bar is, it would take a seismic event to change the trajectory for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

Media figures are pressured to fill a daily “news hole.” I am not under this pressure. Since I don’t perceive the coming months as being all that suspenseful, I’m tempted to sign off on Presidential coverage until June!

8:20pm: It has been clear for some time that Trump might sweep South Carolina’s 50 delegates. One key district to watch is Congressional District 1, which includes Charleston and is demographically different from the other six districts. The only close counties there are Charleston and Beaufort, where Rubio has almost caught up with Trump – but not quite.

A clean sweep of South Carolina would give Trump 67 of 103 delegates awarded so far, or 65%. Even if he loses a district somewhere, he is well on track to get a majority of delegates through Super Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Hillary leads in the Nevada Democratic caucus. This was a more representative electorate than Iowa or New Hampshire. Sanders needed this win, and he didn’t get it.

My guess is that it’s time to get used to these two particular faces between now and November.

Tags: 2016 Election · President

133 Comments so far ↓

  • Some Body

    Just a thought: perhaps there is a bit of method in the GOP establishment’s madness after all. Consider that the current roster of candidates is almost optimal for minimizing Trump’s number of delegates in proportional or semi-proportional contests (at least two of the three remaining rivals are likely to clear thresholds, while every candidate in the race is also siphoning some votes away from Trump). It’s not before the 15th that leaving one candidate standing becomes more effective in DENYING Trump delegates. Of course, all this only makes sense if the powers that be are betting everything on a brokered convention.

    • Eva999

      To be quite honest, the more I hear Trump open his rallies with the ‘this is a movement folks’ line, the more convinced I am he would mount a 3rd Party challenge if he did not secure the nomination. Either way the GOP is doomed. Hmm, just had a small schadenfreude moment.

  • MAT

    Trump got just slightly below 50% delegates in Nevada (14/30) according to The Green Papers, which is my gold standard of all things delegates. Overall, Trump has earned 61.8% of the delegates (81/133) so far. Cruz & Rubio are tied with 12.8% (17/133) each.

    http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P16/NV-R

    What is obvious is -Jeb! didn’t do Rubio a whole lot of good. Even if you gave him all of the Kaisich 3.6% vote, he’s still light years behind.

  • A New Jersey Farmer

    I must admit that I made the mistake of giving the Republican Party far more credit than it can muster over who will be their nominee.

    The real fun is going to be who Trump picks as his VP and what he actually says when he accepts the nomination this summer. Ratings should be sky high.

    • bks

      I think they picked the candidate most likely to beat Clinton.

    • Froggy

      I can’t see Trump picking Cruz or Rubio for the VP slot, nor would anyone who has a future in the party want to accept it.

      Carly? Trump’s comments last summer about her face indicate that she wouldn’t be his pick.

      Sarah? Too crazy – Trump doesn’t want someone who will out-crazy him, she would not help the ticket in any way, and I don’t think she’d take it if offered.

      How about Scott Brown? As a two-time Senate race loser, he’s done within the party as a serious candidate, yet he’s a former senator, an early Trump endorser, and is able to behave himself in public (which helps balance the ticket).

    • Olav Grinde

      BKS, hate to say it, but I think they picked the candidate most likely to be the American Hitler.

    • bks

      Olav, that doesn’t contradict my claim.

    • Olav Grinde

      bks, you’re absolutely right, and I am not saying it does.

      Today, in the aftermath of the Nevada caucuses, VOX.com (not to be confused with Fox) has a number of fascinating analyses. Here is one of them – identifying the key defining trait of Trump voters.

      http://www.vox.com/2016/2/23/11099644/trump-support-authoritarianism

    • JayBoy2k

      Very interesting article from VOX that Olav added to this string:
      “What I found is a trend that has been widely overlooked. A voter’s gender, education, age, ideology, party identification, income, and race simply had no statistical bearing on whether someone supported Trump. Neither, despite predictions to the contrary, did evangelicalism.”

      Trump is tapping a new source of voters and I would be amazed if going forward, the Republicans ignore that source.
      On Froggy’s statement, I think that Trump is smart enough to select either Kasich (Ohio and nice guy moderate) or Rubio (Florida and Hispanic)…
      My question is why either would turn it down in June? Trump would have proved that this new voter slice is powerful enough to control the Republican nomination process. IF Trump wins or loses, their next opportunity will be 2024. Rubio is out of a job.. what is his next political step? Why not take a shot at the VP job and even if I lose, I’ll have the inside path to the GOP nomination in 2020.

  • 538 Refugee

    Saw this on tonight’s news. Kasich doesn’t even beat Trump in Ohio. He does beat Cruz in 3rd and Rubio in 4th.

    http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/ohio/release-detail?ReleaseID=2325

  • RodCrosby

    My Super Tuesday forecast (cumulative to date):
    Trump 387, Cruz 165, Rubio 72, Carson 55, Kasich 9

  • Amitabh Lath

    I totally understand the waning of interest in this race now. I was half expecting a massive pollster fail on Trump but it turns out that they were pretty much on the mark, that last week in IA notwithstanding. Boring.

    The GOP elites blathering on about the Trump phenomenon is also getting old. You might as well blame a nucleation site for causing the precipitate to form. After Iraq, recession, McCain, Palin, Romney…the Republican hordes were already a supersaturated fluid, if it hadn’t been Trump some other would soon have come along.

  • Eric Walker

    If, as I agree is likely the case, the presidential nominees are essentially settled, what I would dearly like to see is some commentary on the Senate races–especially a highlighting of the real horse races, so that one could make some decisions on where to contribute.

    • Sam Wang

      Eric Walker: I agree, the Senate is more interesting and more important. I won’t be doing that for a little while. Sorry!

      It is an irony that traffic for Presidential primaries is heating up, just as the questions are close to being foreseeably settled.

    • bks

      When Zarathustra was handing out the schadenfreude genes, he forgot Sam. I could know with metaphysical certainty that Ted Cruz was going to be destroyed in the primaries and I would still want to savor every picosecond of the spectacle.

    • JayBoy2k

      The thing I wonder is whether we have something unique happening this year, almost like a black swan event that will change elections and political campaigns going forward.
      A candidate who holds few of the GOP policy positions is going to be the nominee of the Republican party. It is sometimes hard to tell what are Trump’s positions but he clearly is in conflict with some base beliefs. NAFTA, Foreign Policy, Religion, Abortion and just as clearly a champion for others: Anti- Big government, against illegal immigration, for Nationalism, trade restrictions, etc
      Whether Trump wins or loses, it is hard to see how the GOP continues to hold together it’s traditional cores: Evangelical, Tea Party: Libertarians; NeoCons, Foreign Policy Conservatives, etc.
      It will be most interesting what happens to the downstream elections where the GOP currently has a very strong position. How will candidates learn from Trump’s successes and attempt to capture his voters?

    • Susan

      If loyal fans accept that Sam has to curb his blog habits, and yet we readers are fascinated with how today’s Senate meeting (McConnell) on SCOUS impacts 5 “tight” Senate races — who and where do readers suggest we go for analysis.

      Several comment writers could be professional pundits, but accessing the necessary data stumps us.

      Recovering in SC.

    • Sam Wang

      I do think some commenters around here deserve a copy of the keys to PEC. An intriguing thought.

  • bks

    The GOP Nevada caucuses yield the same number of delegates (30) as did the Iowa caucuses. I pity you East Coasters: NV caucuses are over at 9pm PST.

  • A New Jersey Farmer

    If the GOP race stays Trump, Rubio and Cruz, then Trump will likely win. Then the party can blame Cruz for the results.

    Clinton looks solid in most of the next few states. I don’t see Sanders coming back to win.

  • Ralph

    Is this Georgia (D) poll for real? Mother of god.

    https://cmgajcpolitics.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/dem-poll-wsb.pdf

    • Richard

      Not extremely surprising.

      Hill is much more popular than Sanders with both African-Americans and moderate/conservative Democrats. With Democrats in general, in fact.

  • Richard

    As for whether Trump gets the majority of GOP delegates, IMO, the key isn’t Super Tuesday but whether the GOP field winnows down to Trump vs. Other by 3/15.

    FL, OH, PA, AZ, WI, MD, IN, NE, NJ, and CA are all winner-take-all.
    MI, WA & NY are winner-take-all if someone gets over 50%.

    That’s a lot of votes and Trump could still be stopped by Rubio sweepng all of them. However, the Rubio-bot can’t afford to slip in order to pull that off.

    • Amitabh Lath

      A lot of pundits are simply adding up the Christie, Bush, and Kasich numbers and ascribing them to Rubio to estimate what would happen in a race that came down to Trump and Rubio (+Cruz).

      That seems like naive math. At some point in the hazy past Sam had attempted to determine proper transfer functions using polls that queried 2nd and 3rd choices. Perhaps those should be revisited. Of course it would help to know when (and in what order) the remaining candidates plan to drop out.
      (hello? Gov. Kasich? we need some help with our calculation here…)

      Trump will add some non-trivial number of voters when opponents drop out. And some voters will simply sit out. And some will change their registration to D. Any calculation that begins with “Trump’s ceiling is X” should keep in mind that pundit estimations of X have monotonically increased. It used to be 15%, then 25% and now is in the mid-30′s.

    • Richard

      True. We could see Trump win outright or a contested convention (with Kasich/OH and Cruz/TX as kingmakers).

      Then all heck would break loose.

    • Amitabh Lath

      Large chunks of heck have already broken loose, floated out into the shipping lanes and played havoc with vessels previously thought unsinkable.

    • 538 Refugee

      Washington Post reporting the establishment is now rallying behind Rubio but he still has a tough path ahead to stop Trump.

      Evidently that ceiling thing has relativistic properties.
      Rubio aides are confident that Trump has a lower ceiling of support than their candidate.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/rubio-inherits-establishment-support-but-is-on-a-narrow-path-to-stop-trump/2016/02/22/0e076de4-d969-11e5-81ae-7491b9b9e7df_story.html

  • pechmerle

    Such media fuss about Nevada. But 12,002 caucus voters, out of a state population of 2.8 million. Symbolic politics at its finest.

    • Amitabh Lath

      Are you decrying the lack of enthusiasm for the political process among Nevadans, or are you saying the sample size is too small to be statistically significant? If the former, I agree with you, but if the latter then 1/sqrt(N) ~ 1% and the margin larger than that.

      Of course the sample is not unbiased; it takes a dedicated citizen to participate in a midafternoon caucus.

    • Froggy

      The vote reported for Nevada is not the raw vote of caucus goers, but the county convention delegates won. Sort of like how the vote was reported for the Democrats in the Iowa caucuses.

    • Olav Grinde

      Froggy, what is your guesstimate of how many voters participated in the Nevada caucuses?

    • Froggy

      Olav, I’m no expert on these matters, and any guess I would make would not be an educated one. But I did read this: “The Nevada Democratic Party estimates that 80,000 people turned out for Saturday’s caucuses, a drop from the 120,000 participants in 2008.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-nevada-turnout_us_56c9c86de4b041136f1752d4

    • pechmerle

      Oh, misread the meaning of the reported county-level totals.

  • Matt McIrvin

    I see a lot of people still insisting that Rubio is going to get the nomination. I guess he could, but I’m thinking the Ted Cruz vote ultimately goes to Trump and not to Rubio, and that gives Trump a majority.

    • Olav Grinde

      Question: Can the delegates of ex-candidates who have endorsed Rubio vote for Rubio on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention?

    • 538 Refugee

      Rules change but it used to be they were bound to vote for whomever they were elected to represent on the first ballot.

    • Mark F.

      My feeling is that Rubio can grab maybe 3/4 of the votes going to other candidates if they drop out, and also votes will shift to him as people realize Kasich, Cruz and Carson have almost zero chance of being nominated. If the race is 2 man race or it’s seen to be 2 man, I think Rubio can do well. But there is not a lot of time left for him.

  • Amitabh Lath

    I agree that these primaries are going surprisingly according to predictions other than the last week of Iowa polling.

    However, Jeb’s retirement took me by surprise. I expected candidates to stay in the race until they ran out of money. And with all the talk of Bush raking in hundred of millions I figured he would be able to last at least until Florida. I should have realized Super PAC money != campaign money.

    • Kalil

      Well, he apparently is pretty much out of SuperPAC money, too. According to the reporting I’ve seen, he’s down to just 2.7 million of the 118 million he raised.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeb-bush-super-pac-right-to-rise_us_56c9131be4b041136f174a2e?bdv4pldi

    • 538 Refugee

      Jeb was the one raising the PAC money. When he made his candidacy official, he had to stop. The money stopped coming in January. He wasn’t doing well and he couldn’t directly solicit. It’s detailed in a link I posted in this thread or the previous.

    • Matt McIrvin

      The burn rate must have been incredible. For a while it seemed like most of the political ads I saw were pro-Jeb ads attacking Marco Rubio. It got almost bizarre.

    • Amitabh Lath

      I suspect if Bush had done slightly better in SC and indicated he wanted to stick it out to Florida and the Midwest, the Super-PAC would be made flush. All it takes is a few billionaires writing large checks.

      The campaign on the other hand requires bundlers who collect individual checks of $2700. Perhaps all those folks had been tapped out.

  • Kevin

    Predictwise current has Trump 49%, Rubio 46%, Cruz 3%, and Kasich 2%. For the Dems, it’s Clinton 89%, Sanders 13%.

    I think it’s plain that in these numbers Trump is too low, Rubio too high, and Cruz too low. But where would you put Trump? 65%? 80%? I guess I’d go with 70-20-10 (Trump-Rubio-Cruz).

    The Dem results look reasonable–I might shave Clinton down to 80%.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I noticed that PredictIt has a market for predicting candidate wins and a market for predicting party wins, and their current numbers aren’t consistent with each other. A Democratic win is at about 60-40, but the numbers for the individual Democratic candidates winning the election add up to less than that, and the numbers for Republicans add up to more.

  • Mark F.

    Sanders is certainly going to win more than a few very white states, which will get his supporters excited. Unfortunately, unlike on the GOP side, you can’t win the nomination that way. In 2008, Obama and Clinton split the Super Tuesday states, Sanders is just poised to win one or two.

  • Marvin8

    With the SCOTUS and Senate balances on the line, the GOP will turn out in droves to vote, and they’d vote for a wooden nickel if it would protect the SCOTUS and Senate. The Dems, they don’t vote so much unless they have a truly inspiring candidate, which Hillary is not. Trump against Hillary?…easy Trump win because the turnout will be low…lower…lowest.

    • 538 Refugee

      The Republicans already have the electoral map tilted against them before the election and not much they can do to change it at this point. 2012 was a depressed year in terms of voter turnout so it would really have to be depressed for your scenario. Colorado was the tipping point state. Obama could have gone on to lose Virginia, Ohio and Florida and still have won the election.

      The motivation thing? Sounds more like wishful thinking than a point arrived at by looking at the current political landscape. Hillary has staked the middle ground even as Sanders has tried to push the conversation to the left. The Republicans are tripping over each other trying to get as far right as they can. They are causing a lot of fear in middle America and that is the segment that determines the outcome of the election. Sorry, I just don’t see your scenario playing out.

  • Olav Grinde

    Imagine, just for a moment, the following crazy scenario:

    1) Rubio is somehow able to win the Republican nomination, with heavy-handed and back-handed help from the GOP establishment.

    2) Trump goes ballistic at having “his” nomination stolen. Angrily he announces that he’ll run as a third-party candidate, to “Make America great again”.

    3) Sanders somehow beats Hillary and becomes the Democratic nominee.

    4) Bloomberg also announces a third-party run (or is that fourth-party?).

    Quiz question: Who is the likely

    • Olav Grinde

      * Who is the likely next President in this scenario and why?

    • Susan

      Sam-
      Don’t get bored just yet!
      It is precisely because you don’t have to fill a news hole that your work is sensible and reliable.

      Loyal fan here!

    • Sam Wang

      Susan, thank you! It is a weird problem: reader interest is increasing, but as far as I can tell, the level of suspense is decreasing. And might I add that my day job is going strong? Lots of exciting stuff there, which is not aided by a blogging habit.

      However, I do agree with JayBoy2k that it will take 2-3 weeks for the cake to truly set. Once that happens, perhaps I can write a bunch of posts in advance, to be published on a timed basis. Kind of like Hari Seldon. No, that’s ridiculous.

    • Marvin8

      At best, I’ll give you one of those scenarios but definitely not both, and I don’t see much difference whether it’s Trump or Rubio against Hillary. It’s all about turnout. If neither candidate is particularly inspiring, which I don’t think any of them are, the GOP will win the election because their voters turn out to vote, whereas an uninspiring Democrat can’t turn out the vote.

    • Kevin

      Rubio, because the election would be decided by the House.

    • bks

      In re: Hari Seldon

      The hubris of predictions — and our perpetual surprise when the not-predicted happens — are themes of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s engaging new book, “The Black Swan.” It concerns the occurrence of the improbable, the power of rare events and the author’s lament that “in spite of the empirical record we continue to project into the future as if we were good at it.” We expect all swans to be white and are shocked when a black swan swims by.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/books/review/Easterbrook.t.html

    • Sam Wang

      Oh, I see. Now you are daring me. Very well, just for fun, I speculate:

      Third week of March: Marco Rubio drops out, or at least experiences heavy pressure to do so.

      Third week of April: Donald Trump clinches the GOP nomination.

      I do have my reasons for these.

    • Richard

      Disagree strongly.

      Trump inspires heavy turnout in opposition against him (besides bringing in new voters). Also, the Dems have won the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 Presidential elections. How inspirational were Bill C and Gore? And Bush won his second term with the advantage of being a wartime president. Furthermore, unlike in 2000, a 50-50 split in the popular vote would mean a D win in the electoral college now.

    • Sam Wang

      The Clinton/Gore campaign in 1992 was considered highly inspirational to many young people at the time.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Trump is already the Mule, from the perspective of the Hari Seldons trying to call this race a year ago. Remember all the groaning about how it was going to be Bush vs. Clinton redux? Or the great threat of Scott Walker, the man who turned Wisconsin red?

    • Matt McIrvin

      How inspirational were Bill C and Gore?

      1992-era Bill Clinton was actually a highly charismatic orator.

      Al Gore wasn’t, and he didn’t become President either (he arguably won the election, but not by a big enough margin to make it stick).

    • Lorem

      Sam, it should be noted that Hari Seldon set up the Second Foundation whose job it was to use psychic powers to ensure history went the way he predicted. I’m not sure you could swing an equivalent.

      @Matt, I don’t think Trump being the Mule is accurate, though. An anti-establishment surge seems like a world-wide (developed nation) phenomenon, so it seems plausible that if we were cleverer, something like his candidacy would’ve been predictable. At the risk of abusing hindsight, it doesn’t seem like Bush had much chance of winning, Trump or no Trump.

    • DaveM

      Sam,

      Just beware of The Mule!

  • Mark F.

    I must disagree re: the superdelegates. It seems to me that if Sanders comes into the convention with, say, 1% of the elected delegates, the party would face a near riot if they gave Clinton the nomination. So, I think the superdelegates only come into play if there id a razor thin margin with the elected delegates. That gives Sanders a bit better chance. However, I agree that he is not on a winning path at the moment.

    On the Republican side, they absolutely have to get down to a 3 man race ASAP for Rubio to have much of a chance. And game over if he loses his home state of Florida on March 15.

  • A New Jersey Farmer

    I would think that the GOP regulars and party elites will bring all they have to defeating Trump between now and March 15. Let’s see how he does in some of the bigger, more diverse states. He’ll likely lose Texas to Cruz and Florida to Rubio, and I expect that most of Bush’s supporters will move to Rubio as well. Where do Kasich’s supporters go?

  • P G Vaidya

    I would trust Sam over the betting markets anytime. However, here is a devil’s advocate scenario. Sam is partly right and Trump becomes the clear cut nominee quite early. This could induce the independents to vote more often in the democratic race wherever this is possible. The independents could give Sanders that extra boost which he needs.

    • SF Bays

      My experience is that Independents are more moderate, i.e. left leaning or right leaning. I don’t see them voting for a far left candidate like Sanders. If they vote in the Democratic primaries I see them voting for Hillary.

    • Kalil

      SF Bays, that’s a nice theory, but the exit polling has had Sanders winning Independents be very large margins. For example, in New Hampshire, Sanders barely edged Clinton w/ Democrats, 52-48, but won self-identified Indpendents by 73-25:
      http://www.cnn.com/election/primaries/polls/nh/Dem

    • Richard

      Those are independents who are voting in Dem primaries, which is not at all the same as independents in the general election. The US voting base has a very small percentage of swing independents now; maybe 5% who really do not lean either way. Most independents lean R or D regardless of what they call themselves. The independents in the D primary would be those who lean D. Sanders would not do well with swing independents.

    • Matt McIrvin

      There are different types of “independents”. For a while it was popular for Tea Party-type conservatives to insist that they were independents. They weren’t moderates at all; they were more Donald Trump’s voter base. And Sanders himself always self-identified as an independent until recently.

    • Matt McIrvin

      …There are some phenomena going on that nobody could call “moderate” but which defy any left-right spectrum. For instance, there’s at least strong anecdotal support for a body of young, white, angry voters who say they would vote for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, but nobody else. It’s the “smash the system” constituency.

  • bks

    The prediction markets have gone crazy for Robotio. That will last until he gets his clock cleaned in Florida.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Not having Jeb to kick around any more greatly improves Rubio’s chances in Florida, doesn’t it?

    • Liv

      Those seem to be some pretty old poll results though. Have things not changed significantly since then?

    • Sam Wang

      Not that I know of. Rubio’s numbers have increased modestly in SC and nationally. Bush’s support in Florida is also not enough to close the gap, even assuming all his support goes to Rubio. Obviously one might like fresher data, but what is here isn’t a favorable starting point.

    • Kevin King

      Anecdata: I used to live in Florida, and several old GOP acquaintances and the few remaining Republican friends are all voting for Trump. Based on what they say, the comparison to Obama, his missed votes and a couple other things makes Rubiobot a lightweight in their eyes.

  • JayBoy2k

    Certainly Sam sees this more clearly than the drivel we get from FOX, CNN, MSNBC, etc.
    I am not positive that the GOP race is quite over yet. It must be clear to Rubio, Cruz and the GOP establishment that Trump is rolling and that it will take some unusual event to derail the train. I think that Cruz is hoping to catch fire and SC results are a cold bucket of ice water in the face. His handlers just can not see much of a path to the nomination.
    Carson and Kasich will drop eventually and gift their voters to Rubio or Cruz.
    The key is Rubio… what is his strategy for winning the nomination? He and his handlers must be able to see what Sam sees. They need more than winning Florida, Alaska, Vermont, Mass, etc states… Will Cruz make a deal?

    I think we should wait 2-3 weeks. This will be clear by then.

    • Kevin

      The idea that Trump would not take a share of redistributed voters when other candidates drop out is pure fantasy, of the “Does Trump have a ceiling?” genre. If the race were closer, it would be worth parsing whether that share would match the current voter distribution, or be 5-10 points off the current distribution in one direction or another.

      Perhaps the most damaging myth of this election cycle in terms of clouding clear analysis is that different rules somehow apply to Trump than to any of the other candidates.

      The other thing I’m seeing a lot lately is pundits who don’t know what to make of Cruz or his motivations, so therefore pretend he doesn’t exist.

  • Olav Grinde

    With 100 % of the precincts counted, the New York Times has Mr Trump winning 44 of South Carolina’s ordinary 50 delegates – and none of the other candidates receiving any.

    What about the other six delegates? Surely it’ not to early to say what happens to those. After all, South Carolina finished counting the votes.

    • pechmerle

      Now reported that Trump gets all 50 of the SC delegates – won all of the Congressional districts.

  • P G Vaidya

    Can we be sure that that “sickening and tiring” issue of email would not resurface again before the democratic convention?

    We can be sure that Trump will bring it up again and again if it is trump v Clinton.

    • Richard

      Against a generic GOP candidate, that may be an issue. Against someone who is feared and loathed by so many groups of people as Trump, I don’t think it will be anywhere as damaging as all the negative stuff that could be run against Trump.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Few people even understand that controversy well enough to care about it very much. Trump will try, but I think it’s too inside to cause a lot of trouble.

      Barking some more about her husband’s sexual behavior in the 1990s is more likely to have an effect; people at least get that, and Trump is guaranteed to do it. Of course it could backfire.

    • 538 Refugee

      Bringing up Bill’s infidelity only makes her look better because she was able to get through it. Trump is on wife #3? Not a place he should go in my opinion. Remember the Tammy Wynette dust up? Kind of amusing in retrospect I guess.

  • AySz88

    Could see a bunch of ways to look at whether it’s time to hibernate:

    On one hand, Sam did just list some presumptions about the political behind-the-scenes stuff. Those probably deserve to be tracked and verified. We can’t be 100% sure yet whether the other R candidates will drop out ‘too slowly’, so to speak. Or whether the superdelegates will hold in a weird situation (I agree they probably would stick with Clinton in a 50.5/49.5 Sanders “win”, but not sure about 52/48. And iff Trump, 54/48 might not even be safe for her.)

    (I think there’s an undercovered question about when/if the media coverage shifts to delegate math, and whether the voters will then get wisdom about threshold rules and tactical voting. Even if “too many” candidates stick around, voters could start bailing anyway.)

    But on the other hand, since any curveballs would be due to such weird situations, that stuff would be more an “unknown unknown” than in the realm of data-based predictions. (Unless there are precedents to look at that I’m not aware of?) So yes, it’d be mostly for entertainment value.

    And in the sock drawer, there’s still the fact that there’s data coming in that may be of little impact on the race, but may still be useful as test fodder for modelling accuracy.

    • Owen

      If the superdelegates overthrow an earned delegate majority — even by one half delegate — then the party will be over in its current form and the presidential nominee will lose in an historic landslide. Hundreds of supers will lose their jobs at the next election. The Democratic rank and file take the Democratic name very seriously.

      Which is why the superdelegates won’t do that. Any earned delegate majority for Sanders will result in a Sanders nomination.

    • AySz88

      Whoops. Meant 50/50 in the iff Trump case.

    • Kanwaljit Singh

      @ Owen, I think your statement is predicated on the (most possibly flawed) assumption that there will even be such a situation where Hillary’s earned delegates will be outnumbered by Sander’s earned delegates.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Well, Sanders’ popular support has been increasing almost linearly over the course of his campaign and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. If you just crudely extrapolate that line, it looks like he’ll be leading Clinton nationally by sometime in March or April., and he’ll have a substantial lead during the summer. In principle he could make up his Super Tuesday deficit in earned delegates in the big-state primaries late in the cycle. It would require him to carry places like California and New York, which seems unlikely, but recent polling in those places has been sparse to nonexistent.

  • E L

    “History is the autobiography of a madman.” —Alexander Herzen.

  • Liv

    When Cruz drops out eventually, where do his voters go? Trump or Rubio?

    • Kevin

      Yes, unless Rubio has dropped out by then. What about Cruz’s history, messaging, or campaign makes you think he’s dropping out? He just tied for second in SC, and is heading into a favorable block of states March 1st.

      Since the only matter of suspense on the Republican side is the (inconsequential) race for second place, I expect that Rubio will probably continue to tie Cruz or worse in the South, while tying Kasich or worse in the Midwest and Northeast, for a disappointing and anemic second place overall.

    • SF Bays

      Trump. They are both the non-establishment candidates. Rubio is a younger, less intelligent version of Romney, including the near perfect hair, and the establishment candidate god help them.

  • Anthony Shifflett

    Rubio the only hope? Strange world we live in…

  • Disillusioned

    A couple days ago, 538 showed a rough estimation of what outcomes would look like if Sanders and Clinton were tied nationally. In that chart, Clinton is up 3 in Nevada.

    Sure, Senator Sanders’s loss in Nevada is less than optimal, and he hasn’t made headway among black voters. However, in Nevada, he actually won the Hispanic vote. He lost by about 5 points, so that seems consistent with the narrative that he’s only behind nationally by 4-6 points. Does not not show serious momentum, particularly compared to mere weeks ago?

  • 538 Refugee

    Apparently Bush blew threw $116 million in his failed effort. I could have failed for half that.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeb-bush-super-pac-right-to-rise_us_56c9131be4b041136f174a2e

    • Froggy

      So close. Jeb got four delegates, which works out to $29 million per delegate. In 1980 John Connally spent $11 million in the GOP primary ($32 million in 2016 dollars) to get but a single delegate. Even in failure Jeb fails short.

  • AnonLiberal

    Kasich never expect to win or do particularly well in South Carolina, so it’s difficult to see him making a decision to drop out because of the results there. Cruz will stay in, as will Rubio. So aside from Bush’s 8-10% in any given state, which could be distributed somewhat evenly among Cruz, Rubio and Kasich, it’s not clear to me how they expect to beat Trump.

  • bks

    So to recap: Trump denounced George W. Bush, went to war with Pope Francis, embraced the core of Obamacare and proposed executing Islamic terrorists with pig blood bullets this week. And he won big.–Alan Rappeport, NYTimes

    • Olav Grinde

      [i]Trump denounced George W. Bush, embraced the core of Obamacare…[/i]

      Well, I’ll applaud two out of five.

      Oh, by the way, Trump got his story about General Pershing and the pig-blood bullets wrong – that’s pure fiction. Just like Mr Trump’s claim that “thousands of New Jersey Muslims were celebrating as the building was coming down” on 9/11.

      http://www.snopes.com/rumors/pershing.asp

  • SP

    Looks like Jeb is out. Kasich has to go too, before Rubio can become a viable candidate.

    • Owen

      Kasich has to stay in for Rubio to become viable. The only voters Kasich has attracted are the moderates that are impressed with his deal making in Congress and his compassion and moderation in taking Obamacare money.

      Rubio is a far-right radical that doesn’t deal (except the embarrassing Gang Of Eight) or accept any truck with Obamacare.

      Trump will inherit most of the Kasich voters as the only remaining moderate, the only remaining deal maker, and the only remaining compassionate supporter of universal health care. They’ll be reluctant because of Trump’s attitude but there’s nowhere else they can go.

      They will put Trump out of Rubio’s reach.

    • SF Bays

      If Rubio was actually a viable candidate he would have put away all of the establishment candidates by now. He has no affirmative action plan to win, just hang on until others drop out. That shows real weakness. If he somehow gets the nomination will he just hang back and wait for Hillary/Bernie to drop out?

  • Joseph

    If Mr. Bush gets beaten by Mr. Kasich, what are the chances he’ll drop out? And wouldn’t that help Rubio’s chances?
    Isn’t the problem right now that there’s no clear two-man race?

    • JayBoy2k

      Bush dropping out as I type this. His campaign just imploded.
      Carson has stated that he will be staying in, which has implications to Cruz. Only question is whether Kasich will drop out at this point. I think not.

    • Otter McGonickle

      He just dropped out. Jeb¡

    • bks

      Suspended as of now.

    • Froggy

      Goodnight, sweet prince.

    • Joseph

      Jeb was a good soldier. Maybe Mr. Kasich will fall on his sword now as well.
      But is it too little too late? Cruz is a dead candidate walking, but my guess is he’s going to keep it a three man race right to the bitter end.

    • 538 Refugee

      Kasich may hope to pick up former Bush supporters but Rubio is probably the beneficiary of this more than anyone else.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Over the past few weeks, Kasich has actually been gaining noticeable support for the first time in ever. But he’s still down in single digits. He might hang in through Super Tuesday to see if he gets some of Jeb’s supporters.

      I don’t see the current non-Trump vote uniting behind a single candidate. Cruz isn’t going to get the nomination, and when he drops out his supporters will mostly go to Trump. That alone will put Trump over 50%.

  • Froggy

    No momentum to Sanders from a loss, especially when it cannot be spun as a “virtual tie.” Clinton goes on to win by double figures next week in SC, and then on to win about 7 of 11 states on Super Tuesday (losing Vermont, probably Colorado and Massachusetts, and perhaps Minnesota).

    On the Republican side only Rubio can stop Trump now. He’d better hope that Bush and Kasich drop out quickly. Cruz won’t drop out, especially from a second-place finish, but there’s no way that the party unites behind him as the non-Trump candidate.

    • Josh

      Bush is done but Kasich, as the only “moderate” left, has less of a reason to drop out–there are a few states on Super Tuesday where he could now reasonably compete, if not to win, then at least to collect some delegates. He’s also got Ohio in a few weeks. My guess is that he sticks around until then.

      As for the Dems, agree that Hillary has no hope of winning VT. MA will also be tough. But I think she’s got a decent shot at both MN and CO. If she wins one or both of these, I think it’s game over for Sanders. But even if she loses all four, unless she gets killed in all of them, Sanders is still probably too far behind to come back.

    • Jinchi

      Cruz is expected to win in Texas. There is no way he will drop out before that. It’s value in Texas politics, alone, is worth the wait for him. He’ll likely be in a strong second place position overall after super Tuesday. He’ll stay through the end.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Republican Party insiders are supposedly trying to get Kasich to quit so establishment voters can unite behind Rubio.

  • Jim Mayer

    Try to imagine the next five years without the 12th amendment!