Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Sanders stuns pollsters, Clinton with upset in Michigan

Nobody saw that coming.

Bernie Sanders pulled off his biggest win of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday, defeating Hillary Clinton in the Michigan primary on a night which also confirmed strong anti-establishment support for Donald Trump in the battle for the Republican nomination.

In an industrial state hit hard by the decline of manufacturing, the Vermont senator’s consistent opposition to free trade deals appears to have been a decisive factor, but he also showed signs of weakening Clinton’s dominance among African American voters.

The shock victory – 49.9%-48.2% with 99.3% reporting – comes despite Sanders trailing the former secretary of state by an average of 21 points in recent opinion polling. -- with the most egg on their faces and registering a much bigger loss than Hillary:

Bernie Sanders made folks like me eat a stack of humble pie on Tuesday night. He won the Michigan primary over Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 48 percent, when not a single poll taken over the last month had Clinton leading by less than 5 percentage points. In fact, many had her lead at 20 percentage points or higher. Sanders’s win in Michigan was one of the greatest upsets in modern political history.

Both the FiveThirtyEight polls-plus and polls-only forecast gave Clinton a greater than 99 percent chance of winning. That’s because polling averages for primaries, while inexact, are usually not 25 percentage points off. ...

The question I am asking myself now is whether this means the polls are off in other Midwest states that are holding open primaries. I’m talking specifically about Illinois and Ohio, both of which vote next Tuesday. The FiveThirtyEight polling average in Illinois gives Clinton a 37 percentage point lead, while the average in Ohio gives her a 20 percentage point lead. If Michigan was just a fluke (which is possible), then tonight will be forgotten soon enough. If, however, pollsters are missing something more fundamental about the electorate, then the Ohio and Illinois primaries could be a lot closer than expected.

The delegate math still favors Clinton.

To be sure, Clinton will emerge from Tuesday’s primaries with the bigger net gain in delegates. Her Mississippi landslide may have been more predictable than Sanders’ nail-biter in Michigan, but it was also more profitable. The latest estimates show that while Sanders will amass 8 to 10 more delegates than Clinton in Michigan, Clinton will scoop up 25 to 28 more delegates than Sanders in Mississippi. And so Clinton’s total delegate lead will only grow once all of Tuesday’s votes are tallied — despite Sanders’ miracle in Michigan. In the end, this is the only measure that matters.

Among the surprises from the Wolverine State is the statistical reveal that Bernie narrowed the gap with the demographic groups that have voted Hillary en masse.

Yet, more tellingly, Sanders also held his own among demographic groups that Clinton dominated in her 2008 battle against Barack Obama — demographic groups that could prove crucial in the contests ahead. He won white women by five points. He won whites without a college degree by 17 points. He won voters who make less than $50,000 a year by five points. He even won union voters (by two points). And he lost the black vote by a much smaller margin than he has in the South.

Wayne County, home to Detroit, was supposed to be her firewall but that theory got Berned, and there are more states like Michigan and fewer states like Mississippi ahead on the primary schedule. He must still begin claiming some Clinton-esque wins.

... Thanks to an 83 percent to 16 percent win in Mississippi, Clinton gained in the overall delegate count on Tuesday and leads Sanders by more than 200 pledged delegates. Her strong performance in Mississippi also put Sanders further behind his FiveThirtyEight delegate targets. That may not be as sexy as the tremendous upset in Michigan, but math is rarely sexy.

Sanders, however, can breathe a deep sigh of relief that all the states in the Deep South have already voted. He can hope that tonight’s Michigan win will help propel him to victory or at least make him more competitive in states with large delegate prizes left like California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. We’ll see if it does.

It might be the start of the political revolution, or it might be just one shining moment.  It could be the start of something yuuge, or it could be a flash in the pan.

On your teevee it's all about Trump. Turn it off.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Even as a flash in the pan, per my Twitter, it's a fun excuse to tell some people to GFY.