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It’s been an exciting day of live blogging the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary. It’s also been a long one! We’re going to close up shop now, but you can read up on anything you missed by starting from the bottom of this page. How did Hillary Clinton win Nevada? What does Donald Trump’s South Carolina victory mean for the GOP race? We covered it all — click here to relive it from the beginning, and check back in with FiveThirtyEight tomorrow (and throughout the week) to read about what comes next.
I wouldn’t count Cruz out yet. As I spoke to Evangelical voters today in South Carolina, many said there was a split over who is the anti-Trump. And one person I spoke with, Kim Nickel, even persuaded a likely Democrat to vote for Cruz to try to stop Trump. That’s not insignificant.
I basically agree, although my inner contrarian is trying to make a case for Cruz. Here’s one: Trump seems to do worse when turnout is lower, and it’s likely to be lower on Super Tuesday than it was in South Carolina. Still, it’s one thing for Cruz to have a shot at winning some states and delegates, and another for him to have a real chance at the nomination.
I’m not saying he’s out. I’m saying it’s Trump vs. Rubio regardless of what Cruz does.
But Dave, that’s a longterm thing. I don’t think Cruz is going anywhere until at least mid March. Or at least through Super Tuesday.
Dave, what would force Cruz out?
Agree or disagree? South Carolina likely just set up an epic final for the GOP nomination: Donald Trump vs. Marco Rubio. I’d say so.
Make no mistake: Rubio is the only hope of the party actors. With Bush dropping out and Rubio coming out well ahead of Kasich, there’s no other candidate who most governors or members of Congress will get behind. Most of Cruz’s colleagues hate him, and Trump is Trump. I’d expect the flow of endorsements to continue, as it has since the beginning of the month. We’ll have to see if endorsements make a difference in the year of the outsider, of course. But keep in mind that Rubio is going to end up with around 22 percent of the vote in South Carolina when he was only at 13 percent at the beginning of the month. That is, he finished strongly.
Earlier today, I spoke with Donald Trump voter Allan Woodbury, a 53 year-old small business owner. Woodbury voted for the primary winner because, as he puts it, “I wanted the economy to get back on track.” He didn’t go to the rally yesterday in Charleston, but did go to a previous one and said that, “You get to hear a lot more from him at the rally than you do at the debates because everyone’s fighting for a soundbite on TV, arguing and everything like that. But in his rallies, he was able to come up with a lot more points that made sense to me and resonated with me.”
Today I spoke to some voters who made their choice based on which candidate best matched their ideology. Others tried to handicap the race and figure out who might win or drop out. They wanted to pick a winner. Woodbury felt he got both by voting for Trump. “I’m going to vote for whichever Republican wins at the end,” he said emphatically. “But right now, I’m voting for who I want to win. I’m hoping Trump wins, but if not, I’ll vote for Rubio or Cruz or Kasich or any of those over the Democratic Party.” Notably, he didn’t mention Bush’s name.
As I type this, Marco Rubio leads Ted Cruz for second place in South Carolina by about half a percentage point, 22.4 percent to 21.8 percent. It looks as though the remaining areas to report are slightly more favorable for Rubio than Cruz, but it’s liable to be very close.
But while we’ll be here watching the results, I’m not sure how much it matters. As I wrote at the start of the night, the margins matter more than the order of finish. The implications for Rubio and Cruz would not be materially different if they’d flipped positions. True, Rubio will get a nice talking point if he finishes in second, and he’ll get more shade thrown at him from political pundits if he finishes in third. But Republican voters and party elites have more important things to consider than whether a candidate got 22.4 percent of the vote or 21.8 percent instead.
If you want an example of how narratives based on the order of the finish don’t hold up that well, take a look at Jeb Bush, who just dropped out of the race. Because he finished in fourth place in New Hampshire, a fraction of a percentage point ahead of Rubio, there was a media narrative that Bush had “beaten expectations” despite having won just 11 percent of the vote. A lot of good that “momentum” did for Jeb.
Donald Trump is on track for a 50-delegate sweep of South Carolina, shutting out all other candidates. He probably came closest to losing the First Congressional district in the Low Country, which would have given its three delegates to someone else. But his margin in suburban Berkeley County probably preserves the shutout for him. In other news, Marco Rubio is beginning to pull away from Ted Cruz for second place, in part because of his surprisingly strong performance in Greenville County, home of many well-educated, white-collar Republicans and Bob Jones University.
I met Professor Sharon Gile as she exited a North Charleston polling place. She said she voted for Jeb Bush because, in her words, “There’s no one to vote for. He’s the lesser of the evils there. He’s not so uber-conservative that he scares me.” Gile had forgotten she registered as a Republican, and now, she says, she’s more interested in Bernie Sanders than anyone else.
A professor at Claflin University and also a debate coach, she believes she has to vote in part because she encourages her students to. “I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I try to visit as many candidates as I can,” she says, but said she didn’t think Bush would win. (He didn’t, and he dropped out earlier tonight.)
“Most of my students are not voting Republican anyway. I mostly hear comments about Trump, and they get the impression he’s a racist which I don’t disagree with to be honest. A lot of them are interested in Bernie Sanders, but they don’t know anything about him. And the ones who are interested in Clinton don’t know much about her except through her husband,” she said.
I’m in South Carolina tonight, where Trump seems to have done well with the state’s evangelical voters. The evangelical Christians I spoke to in Charleston tended to be from wealthy enclaves like Mt. Pleasant, where Trump’s populist messages may not have seemed as urgent. Rather, the evangelical voters I spoke with said that Trump’s rhetoric clashed with their beliefs, but that doesn’t seem to hold true across the state. Charleston, of course, offers only one of many perspectives in the state.
Right now, Ted Cruz leads Marco Rubio by about 200 votes in the AP count, but that doesn’t include tallies from Greenville County, where, surprisingly, Rubio leads Cruz by about 900 votes. If that lead holds, it bodes very well for Rubio.
I think we published that prediction that Bush would drop out of the race published exactly five seconds before he actually did so.
But the writing’s been on the wall for a long time, at least according to us here at FiveThirtyEight. Even before this election cycle got so … Trumpian, we had big questions about whether Jeb was too moderate to win the nomination, and how he could position himself as a superior alternative than Marco Rubio when he’s arguably neither more conservative than Rubio nor more “electable.” You can say he ran a bad campaign, but there were big, fundamental problems with Bush from the start.
Q: How likely is it that candidates like Bush and Kasich drop out? I was under the impression that they would hold on because of funding (Bush) or in hopes of a brokered convention resulting in their selection. — commenter Katie Duval
A: Jeb Bush is toast. “Establishment” candidates tend to quit the race when they 1) run out of money or 2) they really and truly have no chance at the nomination and 3) can’t claim to have momentum. Jeb has no shot at the nomination, has no momentum and while his Super PAC may have money, it’s not clear how much the campaign has. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t drop out of the race soon. Then again, it’s been a surprising election cycle.
If I’m Rubio, man alive do I wish I did better in New Hampshire. It’s not just because it would have given Rubio some more momentum, but it’s also because Rubio’s poor finish emboldened Kasich. Kasich is managing only 8 percent in South Carolina right now and won’t exit the race any time soon. Why? Because he got second place in New Hampshire. If Rubio had gotten second in New Hampshire, he would have knocked Kasich out. Instead, he has Kasich hanging on in the race earning 8 percent of non-Trump support tonight.
As I spoke about earlier, Trump has about equal support among all the traditional ideological classifications such as moderates versus conservatives. I think we get a much better idea of where voters are coming from by looking at whether voters want a candidate who has political experience or one who is outside the establishment. In New Hampshire, Trump won 62 percent of the vote among voters who wanted a candidate outside the political establishment. In South Carolina, he won 61 percent. In New Hampshire, Trump took just 6 percent among those who wanted a candidate with experience in politics. He took 4 percent of that group in South Carolina. The good news for the other Republicans is that about 50 percent of voters want an outsider, while 50 percent want an establishment figure. Once the race narrows to a few candidates, this indicates that future states will have closer results.
I pointed out some good news/bad news for Marco Rubio a few minutes ago, so let’s do the same thing with Ted Cruz. The good news: Cruz is beating Rubio widely and consistently in rural South Carolina counties (for example, he leads Rubio in Darlington County 31 percent to 12 percent), and at this point, I have to say that makes him the slight favorite to win second place. The bad news: Cruz isn’t really beating Donald Trump anywhere, so he’s on track to get totally shut out in the delegate count.
Your question presumes that Trump is the favorite, but that’s not obvious according to betting markets. As I type this, Betfair has Trump with about a 45-50 percent chance to win the nomination, 35-40 percent for Rubio and 10-15 percent for the field. That seems basically reasonable IMO, although I’m reserving my right to change my mind after seeing exactly what the final percentages are tonight and what happens over the next few days (dropouts, endorsements).
How big of a favorite is Trump to win the nomination now?
Chad, if Iowa was a great night for early Trump skeptics and New Hampshire was a terrible one, South Carolina looks about halfway in between. Trump skeptics can point out he didn’t improve on his performance from New Hampshire despite several candidates dropping out, which suggests he may indeed have a ceiling. They can also say that Marco Rubio has moved pretty clearly ahead in the “establishment lane” primary, giving Trump a major rival down the road.
Meanwhile, Trump optimists can point to the scoreboard — two wins in three states — including one where he’s going to win a lot of delegates tonight. They can ask how soon Kasich and Bush are really going to drop out. They could say their guy is likely to win a three-way race with Rubio and Cruz both still in, even if a one-on-one race might be a problem for him. So there’s something for everyone tonight.
Nate, how does tonight’s Trump win fit in with/defy your original Trump skepticism?
Beaufort, South Carolina just provided Marco Rubio with good news and bad news. The good news is that he’s beating Ted Cruz there 27 percent to 13 percent, a margin that just propelled him into second place statewide, if only by a hair. The bad news: Donald Trump is leading in Beaufort with 31 percent, meaning it’s unlikely Rubio will win the 1st congressional district and its three delegates. At this point, Trump could very well win all 50 of South Carolina’s delegates.
If the storyline coming out of tonight is that Rubio finished well in South Carolina — and especially if Bush drops out — expect the red line below to get much steeper:
While it’s still unclear exactly how much of the vote Trump will end with, it’ll be around one-third of the total. That generally matches his vote percentage in New Hampshire, despite the states being very different in their ideologies. This is good news for Trump because it suggests his support isn’t limited to one region. But he still hasn’t proven that he can get beyond a third of the vote in a Republican primary.
To preview the debate you’ll be seeing among political analysts for the next several days: The reason that some people (us included) think second and third place finishes can be “good news” for Marco Rubio is because there’s lots of evidence from polls and other data that Rubio will gain support as other candidates drop out.
If other candidates, particularly Jeb Bush and John Kasich, don’t drop out relatively soon, that could be a big problem for Rubio. And perhaps voters’ hypothetical second choices in polls won’t match their actual choices as the field winnows.
But it’s not a complicated, “underwear gnomes” theory. It’s a simple theory. If the bulk of the Bush/Kasich vote eventually goes to Rubio — that’s about 18 percent of the vote based on the results so far tonight — he’ll run very competitively with Trump and start winning states.
Micah, yes and no. Looking at the exit polls, Trump is doing about as well with conservatives as moderates. In New Hampshire, he did 5 percentage points worse with moderates than he did with conservatives. But that’s a relatively small difference. Cruz is doing 20 percentage points worse among moderates than he is among conservatives.
More generally, Trump is doing well in South Carolina despite the state having way more Christian conservatives voting than New Hampshire.
Does Trump’s coalition in South Carolina look the same as it did in New Hampshire?
If I had to bet on second place, I’d put a very slight bet on Rubio over Cruz at the moment. Very early returns in Charleston County show him leading Cruz there 2-to-1, and very early returns in Greenville County show a virtual three-way tie between Trump, Rubio, and Cruz.
I think if you’re Rubio you want Cruz out ASAP. Rubio is far more conservative than Trump, so if Cruz’s best group is very conservative voters then Rubio will be in a better position than Trump to pick up their support once Cruz is out. Polls generally confirm this as well.
So it’s looking like Rubio and Cruz will finish second and third, in some order. Does Rubio, the great establishment hope, want a one-on-one with Trump? Or does it help Rubio to have Cruz stay in the race as long as possible?
Our ABC News colleagues have called South Carolina for Donald Trump, as has the Associated Press and at least one other network. It seems like a quick-ish call, but Trump had a lead in pre-election polls, a narrower lead in the exit polls, and he has a lead in votes reported thus far. Decision desks are more willing to make a call like that when the consensus of the evidence points in the same direction.
It’s extremely early, but the first precinct results look very good for a Donald Trump victory. In Iowa, Trump certainly underperformed the initial exit polls. If anything, the first real votes show him over-performing them in multiple locations across the state. If these are pre-election day votes, though, that could change things.
As Harry said, tonight could be reasonably good for Rubio if the exit polls are about right (Trump 31, Cruz 27, Rubio 23) and Jeb Bush is compelled to drop out of the race. But such a result would also suggest Rubio could hit 20 percent delegate thresholds on Super Tuesday. These were his two most important objectives heading into the evening.
Q: So Rubio will “win” by finishing in third place? — commenter Daniel Song
A: I think Rubio “wins” if Bush leaves the race, which seems plausible based on the preliminary exit polls. Yes, Bush isn’t getting a ton of votes, but any new votes for Rubio helps. More importantly, Rubio is likely to pick up Bush’s resources, such as donors and party support.
I’m going to note a parallel, without coming to any conclusions about it. It’s something you should treat as “fun” more than “predictive.”
In Iowa, initial entrance poll estimates showed a tighter-than-expected race, but with Donald Trump still ahead. Trump, of course, lost to Ted Cruz and almost finished third to Marco Rubio.
We see pretty much the same thing tonight in South Carolina. The exit poll currently has the race Trump 31, Cruz 27, Rubio 23. That’s closer than pre-election polls. Trump’s still ahead, but not by much.
The first exit poll results have Bush at only around 7 percent. If that is anything close to right, there’s going to be pressure on Bush to exit the race. It’s possible he finishes dead last behind Carson and Kasich.
If polls are accurate, Donald Trump is headed for a victory tonight in South Carolina. But the more meaningful question may be whether any other candidate wins any of the Palmetto State’s delegates. Under RNC rules, South Carolina is the only state voting before March 15th permitted to allocate its 50 convention delegates on any kind of winner-take-all basis. The statewide winner tonight will claim 29 delegates, while the top vote-getter in each of seven congressional districts will claim three delegates.
If Trump wins the state by more than 10 points, the odds are that he’ll be carrying all seven congressional districts, and therefore all 50 delegates — his best possible outcome. However, if the margin is closer, there is a chance that either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz could “steal” a district from Trump, claiming three delegates. That would be an important Southern sign of life for either of them, even if they come in second and third place.
Rubio’s best opportunity for a “steal” is probably the Low Country 1st congressional district, the only district Mitt Romney carried in 2012. The 1st CD takes in mostly white suburbs of Charleston and stretches south to Beaufort and Hilton Head Island, home to many northern transplants and less socially conservative Republicans. It’s by far the best-educated district in the state — 45 percent of residents over the age of 25 hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 34 percent statewide.
Meanwhile, Cruz could conceivably make a play for the Upstate 4th or 5th CDs, where there are higher proportions of evangelical protestants and where Rick Santorum posted his best percentages in 2012. The 4th CD is anchored by Greenville and Spartanburg, and is home to Bob Jones University. If Cruz can’t win a single delegate in South Carolina, however, it will prompt the question: Where can he win delegates and overcome his huge math problem in the delegate chase?
From our colleagues at ABC News: “We cannot project a winner in the South Carolina Republican primary but based on the exit poll it looks like a three person race between Trump, Cruz and Rubio.” Other networks are making similar characterizations based on exit polls.
Resolved: The post-election spin tends to focus too much on the order of finish and not enough on the margins of victory or defeat.
To take one example, a final South Carolina result of Trump 30, Rubio 29, Cruz 28, with Cruz finishing in third place, would be much better news for Cruz than a result of Trump 41, Cruz 13, Rubio 11, with Cruz in second.
There are limits to this — as the number of candidates dwindles, the nomination becomes more of a zero-sum game. And once we get into winner-take-all states, winning by even a single vote is a huge deal. The margins are probably more important than the place order for now, however.
You’re undoubtedly hearing a lot of speculation about how high turnout will be in South Carolina and which candidate that might help. My experience is that the guessing game often winds up being wrong — high turnout in Iowa was supposed to help Donald Trump, but Ted Cruz won instead.
One reason the speculation can be off is because it usually considers turnout on a relative basis: Did turnout beat expectations? Did more voters turn out than four years ago?
The more important question is probably how high turnout is in an absolute sense. That varies a great deal from state to state. In the 2012 Republican nomination race, 5.3 percent of the voting-eligible population in Iowa participated in the Republican caucuses there, according to data from Michael McDonald. By contrast, 24.9 percent of New Hampshire’s voting-eligible population voted in the Republicans primaries there, roughly a fivefold increase from Iowa. In South Carolina, turnout was 17.6 percent, somewhere in between the first two states.
This year, Republican turnout was 8.2 percent in Iowa and 27.4 percent in New Hampshire, still an enormous gap. Even if South Carolina turnout is higher than expected, it will probably be a bit lower than New Hampshire’s. And even if it’s lower than expected, it will probably be a lot higher than Iowa’s.
To piggyback off of Nate, I think the early exit polls showing Trump doing poorly among late deciders could be worrisome for him. Per Fox News, Trump is only winning 16 percent of late deciders in South Carolina. In New Hampshire, he won 24 percent of them (he won 35 percent of the vote overall). If the gap between late deciders and the overall vote looks anything in South Carolina like it did in New Hampshire, then Trump would only end up with a vote percentage in the high 20s (which still could be enough for him to win).
Hillary Clinton took the stage here at a Caesars Palace victory event to a cheering crowd, and accompanied by former President Bill Clinton, who’s been doing his thing around this state for the past couple of days.
“Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other,” Hillary Clinton said.
After thanking her supporters, Clinton quickly landed on a line that says pretty much everything about the way she’s been attacking Sanders as an unrealistic choice for a general election. “The truth is, we aren’t a single-issue country,” Clinton said. “We need more than a plan for the big banks.”
And on the primary train rolls, towards Super Tuesday. “I’m on my way to Texas, Bill is on to Colorado,” Clinton shouted into the mike as she closed. She was soon drowned out by the cheering crowd.
Ben Carson has talked a big game in South Carolina, and if Facebook likes are any indication he’s going to dominate the primary. (He won’t.)
We mapped every candidate’s likes across the United States and the neurosurgeon ran away with the state, leading in 43 counties. Carson took 35 percent of all candidate likes – beating his national support by nine percentage points – while Trump was second with 25 percent:
One tier down, Ted Cruz was the third GOP choice in 45 counties; Marco Rubio took the prize in Bamberg County. Rubio beat his national numbers by three percentage points, the second-best improvement behind Carson:
At the bottom of the pack are Jeb Bush and John Kasich, two governors who have made zero headway:
Is this Facebook data going to end up being predictive? For Carson, probably not. For Bush and Kasich, we’ll see! Explore the other states.
Exit polls suggest that Donald Trump performed poorly among late-deciding voters in South Carolina. According to one version of the exit polls which appeared on Fox News, Trump won just 16 percent of late-deciders as compared with 30 percent for Marco Rubio and 28 percent for Ted Cruz.
If the exit polls are accurate — big caveat — this is bad news for Trump. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll lose South Carolina. Trump also did relatively poorly among late-deciders in New Hampshire but still won the state easily. His poor performance with late-deciders did cost him a win in Iowa — but he enters South Carolina with more of a cushion in the polls than he had in the Hawkeye State.
Still, this is not a great trend for Trump. Trump has a loyal base, and used it to win early-deciders by huge margins in both Iowa and New Hampshire. But voters who are shopping around tend not to wind up in his column. That’s consistent with the hypothesis that Trump has a relatively low ceiling on his support, whereas Rubio and perhaps Cruz could pick up more support as other candidates drop out of the race.
South Carolina holds its Republican primary today and its Democratic primary a week from today. But much more than a week separates the two votes. The state has one of the most polarized electorates in the country, in terms of the how far apart Democrats and Republicans are on one particular issue: the job performance of President Obama.
Some 84 percent of South Carolina Democratic registered voters approve of the Democratic president, compared to just 15 percent of the state’s Republicans. That’s according to estimates by the online polling and media firm Morning Consult and based on 186,405 interviews conducted nationally since the middle of 2014. That’s the ninth-biggest gap in the country. Nevada is around average (78 percent approval among Democrats, 16 percent among Republicans).
South Carolina’s Democrats are unusual in approving of Obama so heavily. Obama has relatively low approval ratings among Democrats in most other Southern states. Southern Democrats have long differed from their counterparts elsewhere in the country — but South Carolina is an exception. Only in Washington, Utah and the District of Columbia do more Democrats approve of Obama, according to Morning Consult.
For all the legitimate reasons to worry about the accuracy of the polling in Nevada, it looks like the polls may have done a pretty good job. Clinton was favored by 4 percentage points in our “polls-only” forecast of Nevada, close to what is likely to be her eventual winning margin of about 6 percentage points. Our “polls-plus” forecast, which projected Clinton to win by 6, may be slightly closer still.
While there are arguments over who won the Hispanic vote in Nevada, there is little question about African-Americans: Clinton won very easily. The entrance poll crosstab on black voters gave her a 54 percentage-point margin. Moreover, it’s clear from majority African-American precincts that Clinton did very well. If Clinton wins African-American votes in South Carolina by anywhere near 54 percentage points, she will easily win there. She’ll also do very well in a lot of the March 1 states in the south such as Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
I’ll let Harry and Nate dig into the Nevada entrance polling cross-tabs, but this is also a moment to watch a media narrative emerge in real time. The one the media settles on is likely to be somewhere between “Nevada proves Clinton is inevitable steamroller!” and “Sanders gave Clinton a huge scare in Nevada!” The truth will, of course, be somewhere in the middle.
But you can get a small taste of that narrative-forming in action by looking at verbs different news organizations used in the tweets that called the race. Here they are:
- “Wins” (CBS, CNN, Fox, AP, LAT, WaPO, Vox, ABC)
- “Defeats” (The Hill, Politico)
- “Holds off” (NYT)
- “Held serve” (FiveThirtyEight)
- “It was close” (Buzzfeed)
- “Edges” (NBC)
- “Narrow win” (Politico2016)
While Clinton has won the first two caucuses in the Democratic race — while losing New Hampshire, the only primary — it’s possible that Bernie Sanders will win every state caucus from here on out.
Here’s why I say that. The remaining Democratic states to hold caucuses are: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Washington and Wyoming. Other than Hawaii — where I’m not going to pretend we have any earthly idea what’s going to happen — those are a bunch of really white states that otherwise look favorable for Sanders and which he could win even if he slightly trails Clinton nationally.
Clinton is probably favored in the territorial caucuses in American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands, however, as territorial caucuses tend to heavily favor “establishment” candidates.
Our colleagues at ABC News have called Nevada for Hillary Clinton.
By my math, Hillary Clinton is on track to win between 18 and 20 of Nevada’s 35 pledged delegates, and Bernie Sanders is on track to win between 15 and 17. That’s not good news for Sanders, who needed roughly 19 Nevada delegates to be “on track” for the nomination, according to the Cook Political Report scorecard.
Clinton looks like she’ll win Nevada, but expanding on Nate’s question on how Latinos voted, I have to wonder whether the entrance polls that show Sanders doing so well with Latinos are actually right. Polling Latinos is quite tough, and there was a real question over whether exit polls nationally in 2004 correctly registered Hispanic support for John Kerry. If you look at the map, as the New York Times’ Nate Cohn has, Clinton seems to be doing well in Latino neighborhoods around Las Vegas. Indeed, the map of support overall from 2016 looks a lot like the map from 2008, when entrance polls showed Clinton winning Latinos handily.
What if Clinton winds up winning Nevada by 5 to 6 percentage points, as an extrapolation of the county-by-county results suggest she might? (At least two networks, Fox News and MSNBC, have already called the state for Clinton, in fact.)
To be honest, it’s not much of a game-changer either way. Based on demographics and other factors, we’d have expected Clinton to win Nevada by about 3 percentage points in a race that was tied nationally. She seems poised to do just slightly better than that, which implies that the national vote still favors her (although perhaps only narrowly indeed).
Still, maintaining the status quo is basically good news for Clinton. She seems to have a slight advantage nationally over Sanders, and if that drifts into being more of a tie, she’d probably have an advantage over Sanders because of superdelegates.
Obviously, there’s also a lot we don’t know. Exit polls suggest that Sanders did well with Hispanic voters, although precinct-by-precinct results from heavily Hispanic areas call that finding into question. If Sanders did well with Hispanics, however, that means Clinton did pretty well with white Nevadans.
Occam’s razor: Clinton held serve and remains the favorite in the Democratic race, but Sanders is likely to keep her on her toes for some time to come.
A: It’s definitely wider than it was in 2008. Take Nevada, for example. Back in 2008, Obama won 18-29 year-olds in Nevada 59 percent to 33 percent. This year, they went 84 percent Sanders to 11 percent Clinton. In 2008, 60+ year-olds went 60 percent for Clinton and 31 percent for Obama. This year, 65+ year-olds voted 71 percent for Clinton and 26 percent for Sanders.
I rigged up a really simple model, which extrapolates out the eventual Nevada result based on the results in each county so far. If you assume that turnout is proportional to what it was in 2008, Clinton would win statewide by 5 to 6 percentage points once all votes are counted, based mostly on her lead in Clark County.
There are obviously some major assumptions in there, however, including that the precincts to have reported so far in each county are representative of the whole county. If we uncover evidence that either Clinton or Sanders are overperforming in large, slow-to-count precincts, that could turn a modest Clinton win into a pretty big Clinton win — or into a Sanders win instead.
The margin does matter. Iowa was a virtual tie, but if we’re heading for a 6 to 8 percentage point Clinton win, that can’t really be spun as a tie. The delegate margin matters too. In 2008, Obama lost the Nevada caucuses but won more delegates because of his strong performance in rural counties. It’s unlikely Sanders can win more delegates than Clinton if he’s only winning narrowly outside of Clark County, but we’ll see.
I think it does matter a little bit if Sanders can do better than people expected him to do with Latino voters. That’s been hanging in the air around his campaign, whether or not his message actually translates into broader swathes of the Democratic electorate.
It’s looking like Clinton may eke out a win here, though it’s too early to know for sure. But to get ahead of ourselves for a second, does the margin matter?
So far, so good for Hillary Clinton. She’s beating Bernie Sanders 55 percent to 45 percent in Las Vegas’s Clark County, and only 16 percent of precincts are reporting there. The rest of the state is favoring Sanders, but 51 percent of those precincts have already reported.
The results are slowly coming in (24 percent of the vote in), and Clinton holds a 52 percent to 48 percent lead. Again though, a lot of Clark County (home to Las Vegas) has not reported. As Nate just pointed out, Clark is a big county in terms of population, so it’s possible that the results from the precincts reporting differ from those that haven’t. Still, if Clinton’s 8 percentage point lead in those reporting caucuses holds as more precincts report from Clark, then Clinton’s lead may expand.
An important benchmark: In 2008, 71 percent of the Nevada Democratic caucus vote was in Las Vegas’s Clark County. As of 4:30 p.m. Eastern, however, only 42 percent of the votes reported were from Clark County. That bodes well for Hillary Clinton, who is winning Clark County by 9 percentage points so far.
As we await more results from today’s Nevada caucuses, I’d argue Bernie Sanders needs a win more than Hillary Clinton. According to Nate’s “Bernie Benchmarks,” if the race is tied nationally, Clinton should be winning Nevada by 3 percentage points. However, so far Sanders has fallen 6 to 7 points short of those benchmarks in both Iowa and New Hampshire, so he needs to prove he can meet or exceed them in other states — a Nevada victory, even a razor-thin one, would do that.
Using another rubric, the Cook Political Report’s Democratic delegate scorecard, Sanders would need to win roughly 19 of Nevada’s 35 pledged delegates to be “on track” to win the nomination by the barest possible delegate majority. Unlike the vote benchmarks, the delegate scorecard takes into account Clinton’s pre-existing 449-19 lead in superdelegates. If those superdelegates remain committed to their candidate of choice, Sanders would need to beat Clinton by an average of 11 points in primaries and caucuses just to erase such a deficit.
Real results are starting to come in, and it’s 49 percent for Clinton and 50 percent for Sanders. Keep in mind, however, that a lot of northern Nevada is already reporting. Counties like Lander and Humboldt have already reported over 50 percent of their precincts. These are places Sanders is winning by a large margin. Only 6 percent of Clark County (home to Las Vegas), where Clinton is winning, has reported.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the Nevada caucuses because of a big advantage in Las Vegas’s Clark County, which she won by 10 percentage points. Barack Obama won more delegates in Nevada, however, because he carried most of the state outside of Las Vegas, and those areas were slightly overrepresented in how the state awards its delegates.
Few votes have been officially reported in Nevada so far this year, but we’re getting some anecdotal accounts of Clinton having performed well in Las Vegas again. She won the large caucus at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, for instance.
As you look at these accounts, make sure to keep track of where they’re coming from. Reporters and networks are more likely to be stationed in Las Vegas than in other parts of the state.
Micah, it would be HUGE deal if Sanders wins among Latino voters, IF he does. But the number of actual interviews with Hispanics in the entrance polls so far is so small, and it will be re-weighted as actual results come in. I’d wait for actual results.
The fact that Sanders is currently winning among Latino voters in entrance polls is getting a ton of attention. Obviously, if he wins Latinos in Nevada that’s a big deal, but is that Latino crosstab in the entrance poll at all meaningful?
CHARLESTON, S.C. — I’m still running around trying to hit different types of polling places in different parts of the greater Charleston area in South Carolina. Like many major metropolitan areas, Charleston has pockets of extreme wealth, pockets of extreme poverty and everything in-between. The state is 28 percent black, but most of those voters will be turning out next weekend in the Democratic primary. It’s also 5 percent Latino, well below the national average.
With voting occurring on a Saturday, there’s not the typical before-and-after work crush at the polls. But a poll worker I spoke with, who didn’t want to go on the record, also said it’s been a slow day overall — something that seems true anecdotally from my experience. With dozens of polling places in this area alone, however, I make no claims as to having the big picture on turnout. Polls close at 7 p.m. so there’s still plenty of time for people to vote.
Nonetheless, I’m seeing some definite trends in one perspective: the criteria for how voters are making their choices. Overwhelmingly, voters are saying that they are choosing the most viable candidate, even if another one has ideological positions they like more. For example, I spoke with Debra Hurst in North Charleston. She voted for Marco Rubio, even though she said she liked Ben Carson more. She just thought Carson wasn’t able to win. “I just think he makes more sense on his plans on the issues, including the border,” Hurst said of Rubio. When I asked if she was attracted to Donald Trump’s stance on the border, she said, “I actually like Donald Trump and I contemplated voting for him. We need somebody extreme to do something, somebody who’s actually going to do what they say. And I’m hoping that Rubio is going to do that. He’s young and I’m hoping he’s going to bring about some change that’s going to be good.”
Another Rubio voter I spoke with at a different polling place was Karolea Lucas.
She said, “I like the fact that he understands that immigrants have a place in this nation.” He speaks about “not just the top 1 percent, and not just the bottom 10 percent, but everyone.” When I asked Lucas what she thought of the rhetoric on immigration and border issues, she said, “It has been very difficult because we have so many candidates and so many of them are so boisterous and so insistent that their voices be heard that they are trying to drown out the more moderate individuals.”
Our endorsement tracker suggests Republican Party officials are beginning to coalesce around Rubio, and my very anecdotal interviews seem to indicate Rubio is getting support both from people who chose him first, and others who see him as a strong fallback when their top choice isn’t doing well.
One challenge to holding a caucus in Nevada is that workers in the leisure and hospitality industry work long and sometimes unusual hours. According to the American Time Use Survey, 51 percent of leisure and hospitality workers are on the clock at 11 a.m. (This counts only days when they work for at least part of the day.) That’s actually lower than the nationwide average for all industries, 69 percent. Still, it disenfranchises a lot of voters.
Holding a caucus at night wouldn’t be a whole lot better, however. Some 37 percent of leisure and hospitality workers are still on the clock at 7 p.m., much higher than the national average of 15 percent.
The solution shouldn’t be hard to figure out: Hold a primary instead of a caucus, open the polls early and keep them open late, and let people vote early or absentee in case they have a very long shift.
As Nate intimated, the sample sizes in these early entrance polls are small. The latest wave for instance only has 627 people in it. The number of voters in any particular demographic subgroup are even smaller. There are probably only about 100 voters for Hispanics, for example. It’s best to wait for actual votes to come in to understand how people actually voted today.
The general manager of Caesars Palace stood up right before the caucus process started and told the room full of union shift workers that even if the caucus isn’t done by 1 p.m., they should still stay until they’re over.
“I will take all the heat from your bosses,” he said.
The room is pretty full now — still appears to be a lot of Clinton supporters — so much so that the dividing wall of the ballroom was opened up. There are 278 eligible caucus attendees at this location, according to an announcement that was just made by the precinct captain.
Reason No. 3 to be careful with those entrance polls: They’ll keep changing as new data is released. The first wave of data showed a very narrow lead for Clinton. But with new interviews included, they show a tiny lead for Sanders instead.
We’d love to be throwing out titillating bits of information from the early Nevada entrance polling — but these numbers just don’t tell us all that much.
One reason is because of the tiny sample sizes — only 379 people were surveyed for the waves of entrance polling that were released at 3 p.m. And the sample sizes for demographic subgroups are even smaller. It might be interesting, for instance, that Clinton leads Sanders among union members, who are about a quarter of the electorate in Nevada. But only about 100 of them were interviewed for the entrance poll, yielding a massive margin of error of plus-or-minus 10 percent.
LAS VEGAS — It’s taking a while to fill the caucus room here at Caesars Palace, given that people have to register before entering, but that means I was able to do a little talking with the many Hillary Clinton supporters sitting in these seats.
Agron Zejhullahu, 45, a food server at the Bellagio is one such Clinton supporter. “She’s smart,” Zejhullahu said. “I like Bernie Sanders, I really like his ideas, but from a practical sense…” He trailed off before continuing. “If Bernie Sanders wins, I’m 100 percent sure we might lose as Democrats.”
Zejhullahu, a native of Kosovo, was at the Caesars Palace caucus site with three friends from the minibar department at the Bellagio. Fatos Kovaci, 36, had very personal reasons for caucusing for Clinton.
“I’ll be honest, because I’m from Kosovo, I’m going to vote because of Bill Clinton,” he said. “I came here as a war refugee, so this is a kind of thanks for what they did for us.”
About those entrance polls: They aren’t likely to be all that reliable. Voters can change their minds at the caucus site. In fact, the entrance polls aren’t really even intended to make projections of the outcome. In Iowa, the early entrance polls incorrectly showed Donald Trump ahead of Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton well ahead of Bernie Sanders when in fact they wound up almost tied.
But we know that other sites are posting the exit poll numbers, and we know that you’re probably looking at them (so are we). So for what it’s worth, the entrance poll as posted on NBC News shows a very close race, with Clinton ahead approximately 50 percent to 47 percent.
The early entrance poll, which we should treat with great caution, indicates Clinton has a slight lead. But what is more interesting to me is that non-white voters are only going for Clinton by a 52 percent to 47 percent margin. There aren’t enough voters in that sample to look at what black and Hispanic voters are doing. Still, Sanders’s fans would likely be thrilled with that result. The good news for Clinton is that she is running even among white voters. That makes this state look a lot more like Iowa than New Hampshire. Of course, these numbers will change — maybe a lot — as more waves of data come in.
As we await the results in Nevada, we’re also keeping an eye on something else: Google searches for the Republican candidates in South Carolina.
Right on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, there was a late spike in Google searches for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who were suddenly being searched for as much as Donald Trump. We weren’t sure what it meant, but Cruz wound up beating his final polling average in Iowa by 4 percentage points, while Rubio bettered his by 7 percentage points.
And in South Carolina? Yep, we’re seeing a search spike. This time it’s Cruz and Rubio again. Since 7 a.m. this morning, when polls opened in South Carolina, Cruz and Rubio have each been searched for just as much as Trump, something that wasn’t true even 24 hours ago. Kasich’s search traffic is up also, although he’s well behind the frontrunners. Jeb Bush’s traffic is moribund, however, as he’s been searched for only one-third as often as the top candidates.
It could be easy to make too much of this — but then again, the interpretation would seem to be fairly straightforward. Late-deciders are seeking out a lot of last-minute information on Cruz and Rubio. Importantly, we’re seeing this pattern only in South Carolina and not in other states, where Trump still dominates in search traffic — it seems to be related to the fact that people are voting there today.
Maybe those South Carolinians will decide they don’t like what they see in Cruz or Rubio after having taken a longer look. But this data lends some credence to the notion that race has tightened over the past few days. It would still be surprising if it’s tightened enough for Trump to lose — even if Trump has a low ceiling on his support, he also has a high floor in the form of loyal base. But you’d certainly rather be Cruz and Rubio looking at these numbers than Bush.
LAS VEGAS — At just about 11:30 a.m. at the at-large Caesars Palace caucus site and a line of voters was queueing up to register to caucus. The number of blue Hillary Clinton T-shirted individuals standing online isn’t insignificant. Julie Arafat, a 38-year-old food server at the Bellagio, said her support for the former secretary of state was pretty simple.
“She supports labor unions, and she supports women,” Arafat said. “I’m excited she’s running.”
A little bit behind her in line was Miguel Amaya, a 23-year-old baggage handler at Caesars Palace who was sweating a little bit in his mandarin collar uniform, having wended his way through the casino to this new-classical corner of conference rooms. He was still on the clock but figured that since today was slow, he’d be OK taking time to caucus.
Amaya is a Bernie Sanders supporter because of the senator’s stance on income inequality. “I was raised lower middle class,” the New Mexico native said. “People here at the casino spend $2,000 on a hand of blackjack. I don’t think that’s fair.”
He wasn’t sure that Sanders was going to win, though.
“I feel like there’s a lot of Bernie support, but it’s a lot of young people and they don’t get out and vote.”
Here’s one way that Nevada is unique: Almost 85 percent of its land is controlled by the U.S. government, the highest share of any state. Time to trot out one of my favorite maps!
The amount of federally owned land in Nevada is exceptional even for a Western state. Alaska has the second-highest share at 69 percent, and Oregon – where federal land ownership recently made headlines thanks to an armed standoff – is just 53 percent government-owned. In one specific respect, Nevadans have a very different relationship with the U.S. government than their peers in New Hampshire (13 percent federal land), South Carolina (3 percent) or Iowa (1 percent).
The map above was originally published in “Stanford Magazine” in 2008. As of December 2014, 84.9 percent of Nevada land was controlled by the federal government.
Our forecast models show Donald Trump as a fairly heavy favorite in South Carolina (which we’ll turn our attention to in earnest this evening). But our weighted polling average also indicates some late movement away from Trump.
Trump is down to 32.5 percent, on average, from a high of 36.3 percent. Individual pollsters have also shown a last-minute Trump drop. Yesterday, Opinion Savvy found Trump with 27 percent support, down from 36 percent 10 days ago. Today, YouGov, which has generally had favorable results for Trump, released numbers showing that, among recontacted respondents, Trump is down to 36 percent, from 42 percent 10 days ago.
To be clear, our forecasts still favor Trump, but his lead is perhaps a bit more tenuous than it was just a few days ago.
As the county-by-county vote in Nevada starts coming in, it’ll be interesting to compare it to past results. The last competitive Democratic caucus in Nevada was in 2008, when Clinton beat then Sen. Barack Obama, 50.8 percent to 45.1 percent. Here’s how it shook out:
The nurses in their comfortable shoes encountered the man with a handlebar mustache as he came around the garden gate of a single-level home in a modest neighborhood of Las Vegas chomping on a banana.
As luck would have it, the nurses — Kathy Donohue, 60, and Carmen Camacho, 44, who had flown in from California and Pennsylvania respectively — were on a hunt to turn out Bernie Sanders supporters in Nevada, and Julian Rodriguez, a 24-year-old barber, was all for the 74-year-old Vermont senator. “I [was] just never interested until Trump started running for president,” Rodriguez said. “Then I was just like — what? I thought I was dreaming; I thought, this is crazy — like a nightmare.”
Did Rodriguez know where he was caucusing in Nevada’s “first-in-the-west” contest Saturday? Del Sol High School. “That’s the high school I went to,” Rodriguez said. “Horrible high school.”
Around 200 nurses like Donohue and Camacho were brought into Nevada in the days leading up to the caucuses to canvass for Sanders, all members of National Nurses United, the country’s largest nursing union, which runs a super PAC that has dedicated itself to the senator’s run. The out-of-state help is notable because there’s been less overt voter mobilization by local unions this year. Although union households accounted for 29 percent of voters in Nevada’s 2008 Democratic caucuses, this year, the state’s largest labor organization, the Culinary Union, declined to endorse either Hillary Clinton or Sanders. And earlier this week, we learned that the AFL-CIO would decline to endorse a candidate until the primary is over. (In 2008, the Culinary Union endorsed Barack Obama, but union households still broke for Clinton by a one-point margin.)
Given Nevada’s notoriously scarce, problematic polling and a dearth of surveys specific to union households (endorsement abstention means unions aren’t spending money polling here), it’s hard to tell which way a labor vote might go this year. But given the closeness of this year’s race and unions’ ability to turn out a significant chunk of voters in 2008, the state’s first caucuses, labor could swing the balance in Saturday’s election. If Sanders wins Nevada, a state with a high proportion of minorities, that might allay some criticisms that he does not find strong support in non-white demographics.
While Clinton won early and powerful union support this year, Sanders’s steady rise appears to have given some organizations pause, a nod perhaps to rank-and-file member support.
Wes Koontz, a 42-year-old pipe fitter from Las Vegas is a Sanders supporter and a rank and file member of the local chapter of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, whose national leadership endorsed Clinton in September. His chapter has roughly 1,700 members. “I would say the majority of our local will be voting for Sanders,” Koontz said.
The latest polls have shown that Sanders’s support rests with those who are new voters, those more uncertain they will actually caucus — a higher-than-expected turnout in Nevada could be a boon to him, but the process is still new to many in the state, a significant challenge
Walking out of the Friday afternoon sunshine and into the perma-evening of the Bellagio casino, the caucuses seemed a world away. Six at-large caucus locations on the Las Vegas Strip will be operating on Saturday, an effort to allow shift workers to vote in the election. Angela Butere, a 51-year-old cocktail waitress and a member of the Culinary Union, said she wasn’t voting. “I have to work,” she said. “They did tell us that if we want to, they’re not able to cover our shifts.” Who would she caucus for if she could? Sanders.
Earlier this week, we published benchmarks showing what the margin between Clinton and Sanders might look like in each of the 50 states in a race that was tied nationally. Those projections suggest that Nevada should be a slightly Clinton-leaning state: In a race that’s tied nationally, the benchmarks show Clinton winning Nevada by 3 percentage points.
The projections — which are based on a combination of Morning Consult polling, demographics, fundraising and Facebook data — are fairly crude. For instance, they lump black, Hispanic and Asian voters into the same “nonwhite” category instead of treating them separately. And they don’t make any distinction between a primary and a caucus. We’ll almost certainly revisit and refine these projections as we get better data, perhaps several times over the course of the election cycle.
And it’s possible that Nevada is a less favorable state for Clinton than those projections imply. Maybe the high density of union workers helps Sanders, for example, or Hispanic voters (who are plentiful in Nevada) are less of a firewall for Clinton than African-American voters. Maybe holding a caucus as opposed to a primary favors Sanders because low-turnout caucuses tend to attract a more liberal electorate.
It’s also possible that Nevada is more favorable to Clinton than the projections suggest, however. As Nate Cohn points out, Nevada’s voters are fairly old — and no demographic trait has better predicted support for the Democratic candidates than the age of the voter, with younger Democrats flocking overwhelmingly to Sanders and older ones to Clinton. And maybe it’s Clinton who benefits from holding a caucus since Sanders relies on support from first-time voters who may not show up to vote at 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
Either way, if Clinton loses today, she’ll have to explain why she’s the favorite nationally despite having won only one out of the first three states (and having won that one state, Iowa, only barely). In New Hampshire, Clinton had some obvious excuses: The state’s Democratic electorate is really white and really liberal and right next to Vermont.
In the event of a Nevada loss, Clinton’s excuses would be much less persuasive. Maybe she’s lost a lot of support among Hispanics, or among union voters, for instance. That might explain why she lost the state. But it wouldn’t excuse it. There are lots of union workers and Hispanic Democrats in other states, and having lost their support would be an enormous problem for Clinton.
Still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It could be that Clinton takes advantage of the favorable-seeming demographics in Nevada to win by a clearer margin than the polls imply. Since polls usually aren’t very accurate in Nevada, a Clinton win in the high single digits or even the low double digits wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
Some context as we await Nevada results, here are the results from the first two Democratic contests:
LAS VEGAS — I’m reporting live (as live as words on the page can be) from the Milano 4 Ballroom of Caesars Palace, one of six at-large caucus locations on the Vegas Strip being used for today’s caucuses in order to accommodate the shift workers from the city’s numerous hotels and casinos. The Culinary Union, which represents kitchen workers, hotel maids, bellboys and porters, is the state’s largest union, with a massive presence in Las Vegas. The union has chosen not to endorse a candidate in this year’s primary, but with union households making up 29 percent of the 2008 caucuses, they’re a powerful faction to watch.
Right now, the room is filled just with media — chatting cameramen and radio reporters booming their dispatches into microphones — but the Nevada Democratic Party hopes to see these seats occupied by the party faithful in just a few minutes.
Minutiae to watch for? In keeping with the state’s gambling and gaming modus operandi, any ties in today’s caucus will be resolved not with coin flips — the favored tactic in the Iowa contests — but with drawing a single card from a deck. High card wins.
LAS VEGAS — One of Hillary Clinton’s Nevada campaign offices is in a little inlet of shops just off Bonanza Road in the north of Las Vegas where the mountains that ring the city seem that much larger. Yesterday, Chelsea Clinton — the “once-and-future first daughter” as the actress America Ferrera introduced her — was on hand to speak to the faithful as they set off on their last push of phone-banking and canvassing before today’s caucuses.
Ferrera spoke from prepared remarks that she set on top of a stool and joked about wanting to “Netflix and chill” with the former secretary of state, which got me wondering whether Ferrera had read the latest Urban Dictionary definition of that phrase. When Chelsea Clinton took the stage, she sat on the same stool and proceeded to speak, without notes, in fluent stump speech-ese for nearly 25 minutes, covering topics as varied as her mother’s work on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, abortion restrictions, disability rights, the Brady Bill and the intricacies of Supreme Court cases, taking questions from the crowd as well. Which is not to say her words were stilted — on the contrary, they landed with the eager crowd of largely women, peppered as they were with references to her daughter, Charlotte, and the fact that this was the “first presidential election I will vote in as a mom, and I didn’t know I could care any more about politics.”
Hearing Clinton, notoriously mute to the media, speak was a little like hearing Kate Middleton’s voice for the first time — both have been photographed and talked about more than most people on the planet, but remain something of ciphers.
In a close Nevada race, it was hard to imagine a more effective surrogate than the one that sat before the small crowd. “Even in the most optimistic projections, speaking as a card carrying Democrat, the Democrats aren’t likely to take back the House, so we have to have a president who knows how to work and facilitate progress with Republicans and I think my mother has a unique record doing that.”
A man asked her, towards the end of the event, to speculate on how different the country would have been if her mother had won the 2008 Democratic primary against Barack Obama, and gone on to beat John McCain in the general.
A professional to the bitter end, she wouldn’t engage the premise.
“Honestly, sir, I’ve never asked myself that question,” Clinton said.
Nevada marks a first in this year’s Democratic primary calendar: a state with a Democratic electorate that isn’t almost entirely white. In 2008, 15 percent of Democratic caucus-goers in the state were black, and 15 percent were Latino. So one thing we’ll be watching today is how well Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders perform with black and Latino voters.
Nationally, Clinton does much better than Sanders with black voters, and slightly better among Latino voters. According to the latest SurveyMonkey Election Tracking survey this past week of over 5,000 Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters, Clinton leads Sanders among blacks by 52 percentage points and among Latinos by 3 points, but trails among whites by 3 points.
Issues alone — or at least, which issues matter to whom — can’t entirely explain the enormous gulf between black and white Democratic voters. Just 4 percent of black voters name the environment as the issue that matters most to them, compared to 19 percent of white voters — and Sanders is supported by 60 percent of voters who care most about the environment. Meanwhile, 46 percent of black voters care most about jobs and the economy, compared to just 28 percent of white voters, whose advantage in wealth over blacks is enormous and widening. But that issue isn’t as big a winner for Clinton as you’d think: She leads Sanders by just 6 percentage points among economy voters. It seems likely that the black voters focused on the economy overwhelmingly prefer Clinton’s economic policies to Sanders’s, while white voters feel very differently.
We can only learn so much from Nevada’s weak polling, so let’s take a look at some Facebook pages!
Last week we mapped every candidate’s Facebook support across the U.S., finding that Bernie Sanders dominates Hillary Clinton in likes by a three-to-one margin. And Nevada is no exception. Sanders leads Clinton in every county in the Silver State, but sees the most support in Washoe County (home to Reno), where he captures 29 percent of likes and leads all the GOP contenders as well. Clinton is strongest in Clark County (home to Las Vegas) where she has 9 percent of candidate likes. Go explore for yourself.
The Democrats will start caucusing in Nevada in about 20 minutes, but before they do, here are our final polls-only and polls-plus forecasts:
Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s coverage of the Nevada Democratic caucuses and South Carolina Republican primary.
You can find our final forecasts for Nevada here and for South Carolina here. In Nevada, Hillary Clinton is a modest favorite over Bernie Sanders in our forecasts, and also figures to have a slight edge on the basis of Nevada’s demographics. But the lack of polling, coupled with the inherent challenges of polling Nevada for the pollsters that gave it a try, render any forecast as being little better than an educated guess.
In South Carolina, there’s been no absence of polling, and all of it has Donald Trump ahead. However, those polls also show the race tightening, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz having gained several percentage points over the last few days while Donald Trump’s numbers have declined. The whole point of starting out with a large lead is that you can lose some of it and still win, and Trump remains the reasonably clear favorite in South Carolina, with an 76 percent chance of a victory according to our polls-plus forecast and an 82 percent chance according to our polls-only forecast. But things could get interesting — and even if Trump notches a clear win, the placement of the candidates behind him will have big implications for the rest of the Republican race.
It’s going to be a long day, so here’s the run of show. The Nev-AD-a caucuses begin at 2 p.m. Eastern (or 11 a.m. locally). We may begin to see some nuggets of information from entrance polls at that time. But be wary: The networks call these “entrance polls” rather than “exit polls” because voters are asked about their voting intentions on their way into the caucus site — they can change their minds once they’re actually there.
The Nevada caucuses are officially supposed close at 3 p.m. Eastern, although that may vary a bit from precinct to precinct. We’ll begin to see some votes reported at about that time, but if past years are any guide, the vote-counting could be pretty slow.
Fortunately we’ll have something else to keep us entertained: South Carolina, where voting opened at 7 a.m. this morning. We may see some teasers from South Carolina exit polls as early as 5 p.m., but be cautious of reading too much into those; the earliest the networks will call the state is when polls close at 7 p.m.
So stick with us through it all.