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Our Final Forecast For Today’s Primaries

With six states headed to the ballot box today,1 it’s once again time for FiveThirtyEight to freeze its forecast to see where things stand.

Today’s contests are divided between those that former Vice President Joe Biden will almost certainly win (99 percent chance) and those where Sen. Bernie Sanders has a clearer chance. As the table below shows, Biden is a strong favorite to win four of the seven contests, including three of the four biggest delegate hauls: Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi, as well as North Dakota. But Biden is also a more modest favorite over Sanders in the other three contests — Washington, Idaho and Democrats Abroad — and there’s plenty of room for an upset victory from Sanders. (Especially Democrats Abroad, which has not been polled and is especially hard to model.)

Biden is favored everywhere on March 10

Percent chance each top Democratic presidential candidate has of winning each contest, according to the FiveThirtyEight primary forecast as of 9 a.m. Eastern on March 10

State Pledged delegates Biden Sanders
Michigan 125 99% 1%
Washington 89 60 40
Missouri 68 99 1
Mississippi 36 99 1
Idaho 20 81 19
North Dakota 14 93 7
Democrats Abroad* 13 65 35

*Democrats Abroad started voting on March 3, but voting ends today.

Many of these states were competitive for Sanders in 2016, too. He won Michigan as part of a shocking victory, came super close to winning Missouri and won Idaho and Washington by large margins.2 This time, though, polls and demographic trends point to Biden’s advantage across the map.

There wasn’t a polling shortage heading into today either: We have almost 30 state and national polls conducted since Super Tuesday with most coming from Michigan, which makes sense given that it is Tuesday’s delegate prize. Of the 10 polls we have of Michigan, all show Biden in the lead — but his lead ranges anywhere from 8 to 41 points over Sanders, with most polls putting Biden ahead by at least 20 points. Here are those Michigan surveys we have in order of release:

  • Swayable released a final batch of polls covering the six states voting today, and its Michigan survey found Biden up by 34 points over Sanders, 62 percent to 28 percent. After adjusting for Swayable’s house effect or its tendency to consistently poll better or worse for a candidate, the model treated this more like a 36-point edge for Biden given Swayable’s tendency to give fairly rosy numbers for Sanders.
  • ROI Rocket had a more favorable poll for Sanders, finding Biden ahead by only 10 points in Michigan. After we adjusted this survey for house effects and the national trend, Biden led by 14 points.
  • AtlasIntel gave Sanders his best numbers in the Wolverine State, finding Biden up by only 8 points, 48 percent to 40 percent. AtlasIntel’s surveys have been pretty friendly to Sanders, however, so after accounting for house effects, this is treated as a 12-point advantage for Biden.
  • Data for Progress’s last poll painted a prettier picture for Biden, finding him ahead of Sanders by 21 points, 59 percent to 38 percent. Biden’s lead is essentially unchanged after adjusting for house effects.
  • A Yahoo News/YouGov survey found Biden leading by only 12 points, or 54 percent to 42 percent, while Monmouth University found Biden ahead of Sanders by a similar margin of 15 points, or 51 percent to 36 percent. Neither the Yahoo News/YouGov survey nor the Monmouth poll changed much after accounting for house effects. For YouGov this marked a pronounced shift from its last look at Michigan from mid-February, when it found Sanders leading by 9 points over Biden amid a crowded field.
  • On the other hand, Target Insyght gave Biden his largest lead of 41 points, up over Sanders 65 percent to 24 percent. Our model viewed that more like a 37-point lead for Biden after adjusting for house effects, however.
  • On behalf of The Welcome Party, Concord Public Opinion Partners’ poll found Biden leading Sanders by 30 points, 53 percent to 23 percent. Biden’s margin barely moved after considering house effects.
  • A Detroit Free Press/EPIC-MRA survey of the Michigan primary also found Biden out in front by a big margin of 24 points, 51 percent to 27 percent. Again, there was no change in Biden’s margin after adjusting for house effects.
  • Another poll from Mitchell Research & Communications showed Biden ahead 21 points, 54 percent to 33 percent. And Biden’s edge expanded slightly to 23 points after we accounted for house effects and the national trend.

There have also been a handful of post-Super Tuesday polls in the other states voting today:

What about the state of the overall race? The overall picture has become pretty clear. Our forecast views Biden as an overwhelming favorite with a 99 in 100 shot (more than a 99 percent chance) of winning a majority of pledged delegates. By contrast, Sanders is now an underdog with less than a 1 in 100 shot (0.1 percent chance) of winning a delegate majority, thanks to Biden’s strong performance on Super Tuesday and his lead in the polls. The scenario where no one wins a majority of pledged delegates has also fallen and now has just a 1 in 100 (0.8 percent) chance of occurring.

We have five new national surveys since last Tuesday, and each found Biden with a double-digit lead over Sanders. The two most recent live-caller polls were bullish for Biden, as CNN/SSRS found Biden ahead of Sanders by 16 points and Quinnipiac University found an even larger margin of 19 points. Two online pollsters that conducted surveys after Super Tuesday also found Biden leading by similar margins: Morning Consult found him up 18 points over Sanders and a new poll from Reuters/Ipsos showed Biden up 17 points against Sanders (another Reuters/Ipsos survey released right after Super Tuesday found Biden up 10 points head-to-head with Sanders). Biden now leads our national polling average by about 19 points after trailing Sanders by 11 points before Super Tuesday.

Biden’s ascent was sudden, but signs now point to this being clearly his race to lose. Of course, we said this about Sanders not so long ago, so the race can still change, but Sanders is running out of time to make a comeback, and he needs to pull off some upset victories today to stay in contention as the primary marches on.

Footnotes

  1. Democrats Abroad also ends its primary today but we don’t expect results until later this month.

  2. Importantly, Idaho and Washington have switched to primaries this year instead of using caucuses like in 2016.

Geoffrey Skelley is an elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.

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