Nevada Preview: Final Predictions

Nevada polling is notoriously shaky. Then there’s the early voters. Did they all tell pollsters the truth about who they picked? How many more will turn out today? Was the 70,000ish early vote half of the total? More? Less? If you think Elizabeth Warren was helped by the debate, this matters. A lot.

Enough temporizing. Here are the predictions: Continue reading “Nevada Preview: Final Predictions”


If you’ve heard Bernie Sanders speak for more than a minute, you know he hates billionaires and plans to implement his political revolution by turning out millions of first-time voters. These newbies will propel him to the Democratic nomination, boost him past Donald Trump, and give Senate candidates a critical push to win Democratic control, ejecting Mitch McConnell, enabling implementation of the Bern Agenda. At least that’s the plan.

If you’re a true believer, this scenario is completely internalized. If you’re a centrist Democrat, it’s scary, but likely preferable to four more years. The voters who will likely decide the nomination are somewhere in between. Open to Bernie’s Revolution. Skeptical he’ll succeed. Not willing to risk the consequences of failure. For the most data-driven among them, it’s helpful to see if Bernie is truly turning out the vote as he goes through the primary and caucus gauntlet.

Naturally, his team will play up the results, and his opponents will minimize them. If Michael Bloomberg or Pete Buttigieg claim Bernie is electoral suicide, we can’t exactly treat them as unbiased analysts. It’s also easy to get distracted by media headlines. Primary turnout is at least somewhat predictive. There were many Trump primary voters who weren’t habitual voters. This presaged his ability to get non-college educated white voters who stayed home in 2012 to do for him what they wouldn’t for Mitt Romney. Continue reading “Turnout!”

Debate Recap: Bloomberg—God’s Gift to Warren

Donald Trump enjoyed this one. Mini Mike Bloomberg was cut down to size early and often. Most frequently by Elizabeth Warren, who let it rip after being cautious in her past couple debate outings. Unfortunately for Warren, 70,000 Nevadans have already caucused. In 2016, a total of 84,000 showed up. Early voting will definitely boost turnout this time, but no matter what, a good 40% of the vote is in, maybe more.

She did what she needed to. Whether you cheered or booed her, it was the right move, delivered in the correct way, with the only tone she could have used to try and get back on track. If this doesn’t work. If she doesn’t reach viability in most caucus precincts and finish at least a strong third, then it was just too late and her candidacy was doomed.

Bernie Sanders has a super strong base, but there are some voters who could go either way between the two of them. We’ve seen these persuadable people move from 80/20 Warren in September, when she was 10 points up on Sanders to 90/10 Bernie now. I’m making these numbers up, but it’s in the ballpark. I think Warren probably moved a few of them back in her direction. Continue reading “Debate Recap: Bloomberg—God’s Gift to Warren”

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”