Debate Prep: Nobody Likes Mike

There’s one story and one story only. The entrance of Mike Bloomberg, once doubted by many (including me), now surging in the polls, to the debate stage. He should help ratings. Viewership for the past couple debates has run at 30% of the level for the introductory round. It seems voters have had their fill. When this happens to TV show, it’s time for the introduction of a key new character.

Bloomberg got to debate a few times while running for and retaining his office as Mayor of New York City. His last effort was in 2009, so you’d think he’s a bit rusty. Also, he was never considered a tremendous debater. And as all the presidential candidates will tell you, sparring with one, maybe two opponents in a mayoral, senatorial, or gubernatorial debate is nothing like these presidential scrums. Should Mike perform very well, it would be barely short of miraculous.

His job is to do better than Rick Perry did, when he parachuted in to the 2012 GOP contest and couldn’t make it out of 2011 unscathed. He’s not getting support based on presumed debate skill. Some voters and endorsers like the idea that he gets under Donald Trump’s skin. Easily and often. Others question Joe Biden’s capabilities. Ok, everyone does at this point, but some who are allergic to Democratic Socialists and candidates under 40 with thin resumes want more options. These are all different ways of saying the expectation bar is low. Continue reading “Debate Prep: Nobody Likes Mike”

How Low is Bernie’s Ceiling?

There are a few key questions in the ongoing Democratic nomination scramble. Can more moderate voters unify around a single candidate? If so, whom? And, perhaps most important, where is Bernie’s ceiling? If it’s high enough, it doesn’t matter if he only has a single opponent. If it’s low enough, he could lose the nomination even in a world where Joe Biden survives in addition to Mike Bloomberg being a force. Maybe even if those two are joined by Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg for the duration.

The fun part is there are excellent arguments for varying levels. Let’s try a few out:

The Sky is the Limit

Sure, Bernie’s national poll numbers are still in the 20s. He’s got very few polls anywhere over 30. It’s easy to see why you’d think he’s got limits. But remember. He got well over 40% of the vote in 2016. Seventy percent of Democrats like him. We know he does best with the youngest voters and worst with the oldest. Some of the oldest 2016 primary voters are no longer with us. But the kids aged 14 to 17 in 2016 can participate now. And millions of voters who were old enough but didn’t bother are registered this time.

No, he’s not going to magically get a majority of twenty-somethings to participate in the primary. But these new voters are very much in his wheelhouse. Take the 43% he got last time, make the demographic adjustments for 2020, and voila, he’s damn close to 50%. And it won’t take 50% for him to get a majority of delegates. Continue reading “How Low is Bernie’s Ceiling?”

Debatable Choices

Not everyone who wants to participate in a presidential debate can. I probably shouldn’t be included, and not just because I haven’t filed my paperwork as a candidate yet. The Democratic National Committee exists in part to help officiate this sort of thing. No matter what they do, somebody loses out. Somebody will have a solid complaint. It’s not fun to play referee. That said, the current situation is ridiculous.

Just over 48 hours ahead of the next debate, five candidates have qualified. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. These were the top five finishers in varying order in each of the first two states. All have earned at least one convention delegate. As such, they qualify regardless of poll numbers. Nobody will reasonably question their inclusion. The problem is who is missing.

You’re thinking first about Mike Bloomberg. Logically so. Prediction markets have him as the second most likely nominee. FiveThirtyEight thinks he’s the third most likely to get a delegate majority before the convention, with an additional shot at having a plurality of delegates. He’s in third place in the Real Clear Politics national average. He leads in the most recent Florida poll. That’s ignoring the $300 million plus he’s dropped on the campaign so far, the high share of media attention he’s getting, or that he’s the regular subject of attacks by his opponents. Continue reading “Debatable Choices”

Measuring for Nevada

As we figured, it’s going to take some alchemy to turn the limited poll numbers (we have one current survey at the moment) in to any sort of Nevada prediction. But we’re now less than a week from Caucus Day, and early caucusing began yesterday, so damn the consequences of guessing. It’s time to start reaching a few preliminary conclusions.

The survey says:

Sanders 25%

Biden 18%

Warren 13%

Steyer 11%

Buttigieg 10%

Klobuchar 10%

Another 13% are either undecided or would have supported Andrew Yang. While I really wish we had more data, and didn’t need to treat this one survey as our only basis, we can see what’s going on in some other states, mostly post-New Hampshire (Texas was before), as a bit of a benchmark. Keep in mind, these surveys, unlike Nevada, usually include Mike Bloomberg. So not apples to apples, but even an orange will help. Continue reading “Measuring for Nevada”

Andrew Yang and the End of Rules

Andrew Yang is gone from the presidential race. But not forgotten. His competitors were very quick to praise and eulogize his campaign, recognizing his endorsement would be one of the few non-Obama ones of value. How did we get here? How did someone who wasn’t famous, wasn’t crazy wealthy, and didn’t have traditional credentials wind up being a thing?

Also he wore well. That’s even more remarkable. When Yang began, most voters had no opinion, and those who did were more skeptical than not. By the time he bailed, Yang had higher favorability ratings with Democrats than all but the top few candidates and the lowest negatives.

Anecdotally (because there’s limited data), he’s more popular with Republicans than most/all of his fellow contestants. He’s the guy where people say “I don’t agree with a lot of his ideas, but I really like him.” He singlehandedly made Universal Basic Income more of a thing than any time since Richard Nixon formally proposed it five decades ago. I judged at a high school debate competition a couple weeks ago, and UBI was the topic du jour. Continue reading “Andrew Yang and the End of Rules”

Nevada Prospectus

Iowa and New Hampshire have mattered for generations. Nevada is new. And more important this time than ever. There’s a ton to unpack here, so lets begin!

How this caucus works: Remember Iowa? Nevada has already decided to ditch the App of Doom, and should be able to announce results before 2028. Otherwise, this one will make the Hawkeye House of Horrors look simple.

About 15% of Iowan participants this year had never caucused before. Even if Nevada turnout is lowish, this percentage will be much higher. There’s more population turnover, more voters who became eligible after 2016. And just not many who have done this before. That goes for the administrating side too. At most, a precinct captain has participated twice (2008, 2016.)

Some of the precincts are enormous. They set up a few at the casinos. There will be several jam packed school auditoriums. Doing head counts and such was difficult in 2016. With only two choices. Oh, did I mention, they’re doing early voting at about a quarter of the precincts this time. From 2/15 to 2/18. It’s not a bad system, just an extra variable. Voters will list their top five choices, in order. When the regular caucus happens on the 22nd, any early caucuser whose first choice didn’t reach viability gets moved to their second choice, and so on, until they land with someone who qualifies.

Continue reading “Nevada Prospectus”

Schrödinger’s Biden

I’m not going to claim I truly understand the concept behind Schrödinger’s cat. There’s a cat, a box, some poison, and a Geiger counter. The cat is in the box, the Geiger counter is waiting to identify radiation, and at such point, the glass around the poison is shattered, killing the cat. But from the outside, you don’t know if the cat is still alive or not. So near as you can tell (with apologies to Schrodinger because I’m murdering this explanation–no need for later examining), the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Eventually, when the box is opened, that’s no longer true.

This is the Biden candidacy. After Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s on the verge of being completely poisoned. Another drop in support, the glass breaks, and he’s done. But we don’t know that’s happened yet. He’s in the box. Until South Carolina votes, we don’t know. His campaign is simultaneously alive and dead.

As badly as things have gone for Uncle Joe, he’s still polling in second place nationally. Mike Bloomberg is on his heels and it may be that he surpasses him once more post-New Hampshire survey data is out, but he won’t have a big lead on him. Biden isn’t leading in recent polls of southern Super Tuesday states. Bernie Sanders is up in a North Carolina survey, Bloomberg in Arkansas. Continue reading “Schrödinger’s Biden”

New Hampshire Recap: Klobucharge

Finishing third isn’t normally exciting. Candidates talk about there being three tickets out of Iowa or New Hampshire, but those saying that are usually deluding themselves or hoping to chisel some final donations before it’s too late. John Kasich finished second in the 2016 New Hampshire GOP contest and managed to parlay that into Dead Candidate Running all the way until May. He wound up winning his home state of Ohio and nothing else.

Four years prior, it was Jon Huntsman’s turn to pretend finishing third with 17% of the vote was worthy of continuing. South Carolina soon cured him of that misapprehension. Both “ticket holders” were relative moderates, who relied on the independent voters of New Hampshire to nudge them ahead of enough other candidates to claim moral victory.

It’s tempting to throw Amy Klobuchar in with these two afterthoughts. Like them, she’s at or near the bottom of national surveys. With Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet dropping out, Deval Patrick likely to pull the chute in a few hours, and Tulsi Gabbard not viable, only Tom Steyer is keeping her from running last. There are five candidates in double digits. She’s at 4%. If Kasich and Huntsman didn’t get a solid New Hampshire bounce, why should Klobuchar? Continue reading “New Hampshire Recap: Klobucharge”

New Hampshire Preview: Final Predictions

The time has come. By the time you read this, they’ll have already begun voting in Dixville Notch, NH. As they continue reviewing precincts in Iowa, we’re almost guaranteed to know who won New Hampshire before there’s an undisputed winner of the Iowa State Delegate Equivalents (SDEs.) Nevada is fixing to have a lot of the same problems Iowa did, so enjoy this one opportunity for a clean election night, and the usual fun of watching the results roll in without delay, as is the norm since the telegraph was invented.

For Reference:

Real Clear Politics New Hampshire Poll Averages

FiveThirtyEight New Hampshire Poll Averages

FiveThirtyEight New Hampshire Odds

Betting Markets New Hampshire Odds

As usual, I figure I know best. Here’s what’s really going to happen: Continue reading “New Hampshire Preview: Final Predictions”

Candidate Heat Check: Pre-New Hampshire Edition

When we last checked temperatures, Pete Buttigieg was chilly. His poll numbers indicated he wasn’t going to get a win in Iowa. At worst, he got a draw, so he’ll measure much warmer this time. Going the other way, Joe Biden’s nomination chances have iced significantly. We have our first “on-fire” designation, awarded to Bernie Sanders. He sorta won Iowa, is leading polls in New Hampshire and has the best odds to win the nomination.

On to the fun:

On Fire: Bernie Sanders (up from Hot)

He’s not quite 50/50 to win the nomination yet, but close. The most recent survey from each pollster to take the pulse of New Hampshire this week has him leading. Iowa went well. You can even argue Sanders is better off with Buttigieg being able to claim some form of victory. There are some upscale, educated voters who toggle between Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren, and Buttigieg’s current viability is making it easier for Bernie to distance himself from his progressive alternative.

Nevada is shaping up well. His toughest competition there, Biden, is clearly wounded. The moderate/center-left/more centrist opposition is fragmented between Buttigieg, Biden, Mike Bloomberg, and if she can finish strongly enough in New Hampshire, Amy Klobuchar. Meanwhile, the threat of Andrew Yang siphoning off some younger potential Sanders supporters is dissipating.

Bernie had a plenty strong enough debate on Friday, and his opponents were more preoccupied with Buttigieg than the guy who’s leading the next state to vote. Until something changes, Sanders can follow the Trump 2016 nomination formula. Have a dedicated base of roughly a quarter of the electorate. Watch your opponents savage each other and divide the opposition vote. Rinse, wash, repeat. Continue reading “Candidate Heat Check: Pre-New Hampshire Edition”