Monday, February 24, 2020
According to the FiveThirtyEight primary forecast, the single most likely outcome of the Democratic presidential primary is that no one wins a majority of pledged delegates (there is a 2 in 5, or 41 percent, chance of this). However, it is almost equally likely that Sen. Bernie Sanders will bag a majority (a 2 in 5 chance, or 37 percent). And a recent avalanche of national polls has been particularly good for Sanders.
In a few short hours, Nevada Democrats will start caucusing, so it’s time for FiveThirtyEight to freeze its forecast to get a final look at where things stand prior to Nevada’s vote. That means no new information will be added and that candidates’ odds won’t update until after the caucus results are available — hopefully tonight, if another Iowa-esque disaster can be avoided.
The Sen. Bernie Sanders rally that I attended on the evening before the New Hampshire primary drew a reported 7,500 people — about twice as many as his actual 3,867-vote margin of victory in the primary the next day. I say that not to endorse crowd sizes as an alternative to the polls. (Despite the large crowds, Sanders slightly underperformed his polls in New Hampshire, in fact.) Nor do I mean to imply that Sanders won in New Hampshire because of the rally. (It was held before a largely student audience at the University of New Hampshire — people who were already likely to vote for Sanders.) But it does go to show how razor-thin the margins have been so far in the primaries. The voters who pushed Sanders past former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in New Hampshire might only halfway fill a college hockey rink.
On Wednesday, I was working on a story about how our primary forecast was handling former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg when other things got in the way. Truth be told, I’m glad I got distracted, because a mildly bearish case on Bloomberg — roughly how I’d describe our model’s current position on him — is a lot easier to explain after Bloomberg’s difficult debate performance last night.
Three days after the New Hampshire primary, we are finally getting some polls that reflect the new state of the race — including a poll in Nevada, the next state in the voting sequence, for the first time in a full month! And overall, they’re not showing that any candidate has grabbed a ton of momentum out of Iowa or New Hampshire. That’s probably good news for former Vice President Joe Biden, whose firewall in Southern states appears weakened but still standing. But mostly it’s a recipe for a long, drawn-out nominating contest. In fact, our national primary forecast currently says that the single most likely outcome of the primary season is that no candidate gets a majority of pledged delegates.
It’s been a good 24 hours for Michael Bloomberg. Early this morning, on the brink of the deadline to do so, the former New York City mayor qualified for Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate thanks to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College poll that gave him 19 percent of the national primary vote. He’s up to 16.3 percent in our national polling average — essentially tying him with former Vice President Joe Biden for the first time. However, he’s still 9 points behind front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders, and — by Bloomberg’s own design — it will be a couple weeks before we know how much actual voter support Bloomberg has.
Welcome to a special edition of FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
Earlier this year, I noticed something curious: four Craigslist ads, selling the same brand of mattress, using nearly the same text, at the same location, but illustrated with different photographs. Let’s just say it doesn’t take a crack journalistic mind to suspect something odd was happening.