U.S. Presidential Primaries - MH Prognostics

Retrospection & Comments on individual Primaries
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>> Note: Comments on primaries after "Big Tuesday" due to lack of time in German only <<

Iowa [Comment 2016-02-02]

When a clear favorite of the "establishment" is facing an "outsider" candidate, ahead of the first primaries there is always the great unknown if the mobilizing power of the "Outsider" can keep up anywhere near with that of the favorite. Regarding Iowa I underestimated the ground game of Sanders a bit.
But her close win should make Clinton wonder, why she has such a hard time in Iowa, although (or because?) Iowans know her inside out since the 2008 primaries which she could not win then, and this year she could barely eke out a win against a 74 year old left-wing outsider.
If Sanders regarding Iowa Delegates will come out on par or fall two delegates short is secondary. Alone the fact that he finished neck-on-neck with Clinton, should give him vital momentum - at least until New Hampshire.

As I expected Cruz came out on top ahead of Trump (who will probably in general do less well in caucuses than primaries). I also expected the strong third place for Rubio, because he was catching up in the last few days. Because Carson, who was in decline over the past several weeks, could keep his hardcore base slightly better than I expected, Cruz' ceiling was lower than 30%, as he had to share the potential voters of the RTT (Reactionary Theocratic TeaParty) wing with Carson.

New Hampshire [Comment 2016-02-10]

This year's Democratic primary in New Hampshire broke several records: It had a record turnout, there was a record winning margin, and the result was a record as well: In the past decades no Democrat managed to win New Hampshire by such a big margin as Mr. Sanders pulled it off yesterday. And never any Democrat got as many primary votes in New Hampshire as Bernie Sanders in 2016. Sanders' victory - even his big margin - was not that much of a surprise. But as in New Hampshire there sometimes happened some hard to explain differences concerning the voting method (see paper vs. machines in 2004), or surprising differences from last polls (see 2008), I scaled down my expectations for Mr. Sanders by about 5%. But this time Mrs. Clinton (unlike 2008) did not surprisingly "overperform", hence my precautionary move of scaling down Mr. Sanders forecast turned out to be not necessary. Therefore I overestimated Mrs. Clinton's voting share by four percent, likewise I underestimated Mr. Sanders share by about four percent as well.

As New Hampshire - at least for U.S. conditions - is a quite secular state, ultra-conservative Theocrat Ted Cruz - as expected - did not have much of a chance; Carson (as second contender of the RTT wing of the GOP) was nearly non existent.
As I projected John Kasich - probably the most moderate candidate in the Republican field - took the second place, while Rubio - after his dismal performance in the last TV debate - collapsed faster than I expected.
Trump seemed to be able to tap his full potential this time, as I underestimated his voting share a bit.
Both Bush and Christie met my (low) expectations. As they did not manage to score a Top3 result, they will have a very tough road ahead. If a serious candidate can finish in the Top 3 neither in Iowa nor in New Hampshire, he traditionally has only very low chances to win the nomination.


Democrats [Comment 2016-02-21]
As the Nevada caucus traditionally is very hard to predict, I was afraid that my projections could turn out to be far off. For me every outcome between a close Sanders win to a clear Clinton win seemed quite reasonable. The fact that my forecast was very close to the final result, was also quite a big chunk of luck this time.

Republicans [Comment 2016-02-24]
Although my forecast was by and large quite accurate, I made some easy-to-avoid error, because I forgot to consider one major factor: Candidates who poll in single digits traditionally fare significantly worse in a caucus than in a primary, because supporters of candidates recieving (initially) less than a certain threshold (e.g. 10 to 15%) would lose their votes unless they did not switch their preference to their second choice. Therefore it is highly likely that these special caucus circumstances cost Kasich (and probably Carson as well) a few percentage points.
Preview for Super Tuesday: Trump clearly could expand his frontrunner status yesterday. Rubio (as a proponent of the CWE wing) was not able to profit decisively of Bush's withdrawal, therefore his chances - as well as Cruz' - diminished to clear outsider status. Rubio desperately needs his first victory, otherwise his path to the nomination will soon be gone.
If Cruz can't win on Super Tuesday anywhere outside his home state of Texas, his chances will be minimal. As long as Carson (as second proponent of the RTT wing) still refuses to quit the race, Cruz' path to the nomination becomes even more difficult, because Carson's name on the ballot will cost Cruz again a few crucial points, which Cruz could desperately need on Tuesday.
If Trump manages to win 9 or even 10 of Tuesday's 11 contests, it would be nearly impossible for the GOP to deny him the nomination.

South Carolina

Democrats [Comment 2016-02-28]
This time I - as well as many polls - have been clearly far off. Such a big margin for Clinton was not in the cards for me, there is no way to sugarcoat this miss.
Preview for Super Tuesday: Clinton is now the clear favorite (again), especially for Super Tuesday. If she wins more than eight of Tuesday's eleven contests, the nomination will be hers to lose. Sanders will have to win at least three states on Tuesday to stay in the race. His best-case scenario would probably be winning five of eleven contest. That way he could demonstrate that nobody should write him off prematurely.

Republicans [Comment 2016-02-21]
Trump wins the traditionally most important Republican primary, Rubio can eke out a second place barely ahead of Cruz. All other candidates lag far behind. My forecast was by and large quite good this time. I slightly underestimated Rubio, he probably took some votes within the CWE wing from Bush and Kasich, as many people probably have already written off both of those candidates. Bush and Carson are finished now. For Kasich at least there are some minimal chances left, if he gets a respectable finish in Nevada and somehow survives past Super Tuesday. The favorite from now on is clearly Trump. Remaining candidates with some outsider chances seem to be limited to Rubio and Cruz (both already suffering from a distinct delegate gap to Trump).

Super Tuesday [Comment 2016-03-03]

My forecast for Super Tuesday turned out to be quite correct, at least for the Democratic side, as none of my winner forecast was wrong. In fact I even expected Clinton to be a slight favorite in Massachussetts, as well as Sanders in Minnesota. But my calculations were so close, that I lacked the courage to project a winner in both of those states, therefore my "too close to call" forecast. That turned out to be correct in MA, where Clinton secured a very close win, whereas Sanders' victory in Minnesota was far more decisive than I expected. This could probably be a sign that the caucus system suits Sanders better than Clinton, and he will in general do better in caucuses than in primaries. All in all Super Tuesday was quite a big win for Clinton, as she could score some big wins in several Southern states, and could considerably expand her pledged delegate lead.

As Sanders managed to win at least four of eleven state, including one Southern state (Oklahoma), Clinton is "not there yet". But if she wins decisively on "Big Tuesday" (March 15), it would probably be the Knock-Out for Sanders. Therefore Sanders will have to win at least one or two of the five contests on Big Tuesday (Currently he is the outsider in all of those states, only in Missouri he could considerably close the gap up to now). That means he needs some strong tailwind to avoid cratering on Big Tuesday.
He probably can only get that crucial momentum by winning next Tuesday in Michigan (which currently is quite unlikely as well). But to keep his "mini-chance" for Michigan alive, he will need a strong showing on Super Saturday Weekend. At least that seems to be possible: If my pre-prognosis holds (I will publish my final forecast - as usual - on election day), he would win three out of four contests on Super Saturday Weekend. Therefore for Sanders nearly every contest is a "grand final": He urgently needs victories to stay in the race and to build some momentum. Any (decisive) loss could mean the end of his candidacy.

My Forecasts for the Republican Primaries on Super Tuesday - with eight of eleven winners projected correctly - were quite reasonable, but not as good as my Forecasts for the Democratic Primaries.
After his clear victories in South Carolina and Nevada I overestimated Trump this time a bit: Instead of up to ten of eleven he could "only" score seven of eleven victories.
While Trump cemented his frontrunner status, he probably did not succeed in knocking his toughest opponents directly out of the race, because Cruz managed to win besides his home state of Texas also neighboring Oklahoma (here I projected Trump a slight favorite) and the caucus in Alaska. Here I also favored Trump slightly, because he had the official support of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, but obviously that was not enough for him.
Rubio meanwhile finally scored his first win, but for him it could already be "too little, to late".
For Carson there was no silver lining on Super Tuesday. Why he - meanwhile absolutely without any chance - still continues his presidential bid, remains a mystery for me. Because as a proponent of the RTT wing he is pulling votes primarily from Cruz, therefore his continued bid - for now - in the end of the day gives profit primarily to Trump. Is that his intention? Or does he suffer from severe loss of reality (is said to be not uncommon among RTT-wing Republicans) and is really believing that God will create a huge miracle to put him on a winning streak very soon?

Super Saturday Weekend [Comment 2016-03-07]

This time my forecast were quite exact, only in Kansas I underestimated the winning margin of Sanders. With three decisive victories of four states this weekend, Sanders finally got the tailwind which he desperately needs, in order to make Michigan a close race again. Will it be enough to win Michigan? Probably not: An outright win for Sanders in Michigan seems rather unlikely, because he trails Clinton by substantial margins in all polls, but I think after Super Saturday Weekend he could be able to close the gap considerably in Michigan in the final hours.
For Clinton these results are a bump in the road, but no serious hurdle on her path to the nomination - at least not yet. She would only get into serious trouble, if she surprisingly were to lose Michigan, and then fails to finish Sanders chances on Big Tuesday, because in those five weeks after Big Tuesday, there comes a series of states which seem to be a lot more favorable to Sanders where he could start a winning streak.

On the Republican side my forecast were also predominantly correct (although I overestimated Trump's lead a bit). I was wrong only in Maine, where Cruz managed to pull of a real surprise win. But thanks to Carson's (late) drop out from now on Cruz will probably have the support of the RTT-wing of the GOP more or less nearly completely on his side. This may have been proven to be enough for Maine, but not enough for other states. Especially the close losses in the Southern states of Kentucky and Louisiana will hurt Cruz for some time to come. Where else will Cruz be able to win, if he even cannot win states in the ultra conservative "bible belt"? A few scattered wins in a handful of conservative western caucus states will definitely not be enough for Cruz to endanger Trump's path to the nomination.
Trump undoubtely remains the frontrunner, but Cruz now seems to grow into the role of his main challenger. But maybe this is already too late to stop Trump.

Primaries of March 8 (Michigan etc.) [Comment 2016-03-09]

My forecast regarding Mississippi was quite right. Regarding the final results of the "Democrats abroad" primary - if current trends hold true - Sanders will probably exceed the winning margin I predicted. In Michigan I - like all others - failed to predict the right winner, but my forecast was considerably closer than most polls, because:
Michigan yesterday delivered the first REAL sensation of this ongoing primary season: Although Sanders was trailing Clinton by more than 20(!) percentage points in Michigan, he nevertheless managed to pull a surprise of epic proportions and won the state (albeit closely). Although I saw Sanders closing the gap quite fast, I honestly did not expect him to be able to overcome his polling deficit and win this state. With my final forecast of a close Clinton win (with a margin of less than 5%) at least my forecast was considerably closer than nearly all polls, which saw him losing the state by about 20%.
So why did I see a considerably closer race than most other observers?
a) The contamination of drinking water (mainly due to fracking) and the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs abroad on a massive scale (substantially facilitated by certain free trade agreements) have been major issues in Michigan. In both of these issues Sanders' positions were much more clear than Clinton's.
b) Primaries in Michigan were open primaries, i.e. Independents (as well as some Republicans who skipped their "own" primary") could participate in the Democratic primary. As especially Independents consistently favor Sanders considerably more than Clinton, he - as expected - could profit a lot more of a surging Independent vote.
c) Some Clinton supporters who erroneously thought after Super Tuesday, that Clinton has it "in the bag", probably decided to vote on the Republican side, to score a vote against Trump (or some to vote explicitly for him, thinking he would be easier to beat in November).

Outlook on "Big Tuesday": Now Sanders has REAL "Momentum", strong tailwinds, and Clinton seems to be shaking a bit - for the first time in this primary season. But Sanders needs to use his current momentum to score some wins on "Big Tuesday", otherwise his tailwind will stop quite fast.
Of those five states voting on Big Tuesday, Clinton is a very clear favorite in North Carolina and especially Florida: Sanders can only hope to cut his losses to a respectably margin in those states. In the remaining three states it could get really interesting: According to recent polling Sanders should be neck-on-neck in Missouri. After his sensational win in Michigan, I would give him a fair shot to have at least a decent chance to score a very close win Illinois as well, whereas in Ohio it will be much more difficult for him to win, as Clinton already won that state 2008 against Obama.
In my view the most realistic scenario would be that Sanders could win one or two of the five states on Big Tuesday. If Sanders were to win 3 of 5, it would spell the next big sensation. In that case Clinton's chances would really be in significant danger, because then Sanders - with a lot of momentum - could start a winning streak holding for several weeks, and then Clinton even would have to fight tooth and nail to not lose her home state of New York (which elected her two times in the U.S. Senate).
But if Sanders on the contrary were to lose all five states on Big Tuesday, a further successful comeback would be much harder or nearly impossible.

Although Cruz won the Idaho Caucus, Trump won three of four states (including Michigan). My forecast was wrong regarding Hawaii, but quite right in the other states.
Preview on "Big Tuesday": His home state of Ohio is THE last chance for Kasich for finally scoring his first victory. But even if he wins Ohio, he will remain a distant outsider. Rubio desperately needs a win in his home state of Florida, or his nomination will be finished. Cruz should score at least one or two victories, or else it will get much harder for him to keep at Trump's heels. Trump remains the clear favorite. In Florida he could finish off Rubio with a win (probability: likely), if he also were to win Ohio (rather unlikely), this would also spell Kasich's end. In the remaining three states (IL, MO, NC) he has to fend off Cruz. If he can manage that in at least two of them (likely), he will stay on track for the Republican nomination.

Big Tuesday [Comment 2016-03-16]

This time my forecast were a bit too optimistic for Sanders (except for North Carolina, where he was able to cut his losses to a decent margin). Although he definitely had momentum in the past few days, it still was not enough to beat Clinton. Whereas he failed to win Florida by several miles, in Illionois he came very close to pull of a "second Michigan". But a close loss still is a loss. In the end he fell short only by a bit more then one percentage point, regarding delegates he might even score a draw, what would be a surprising success for him. The situation is similiar for Missouri: Here the race is so tight, that we still don't know who won the state; although Clinton also seems to have a slight edge there. Ohio was a disappointment for Sanders: here Clinton could score one more clear win.
Therefore Clinton with four (or even five?) wins out of five states is the clear winner of Big Tuesday. Sanders has managed to survive his toughest period (nearly all Southern states already have voted by now, whereas in all other regions a substantial majority of Delegates still is up for grabs). Nevertheless it will be very tough for him, to close the gap regarding pledged delegates, which recently widened once more because of Clinton's clear wins in the big states of Florida and Ohio.
Under normal circumstances Sanders would be finished by now. But Sanders has proven time and again that we should not count him out prematurely. Because of his neck-in-neck results in Illinois and Missouri he is not knocked out yet, but in my forecast his chances for winning the nomination fell below the 20% mark for the first time since January.
Sanders only remaining hope would be to score a winning streak, starting next week in the states voting in the "Western Week" which would have to continue for several weeks until mid-April. Only then he would keep his chances alive to fight for a real showdown in the New York primary on April 19th.

My forecast regarding Republicans turned out to hold very good this time. Only in Missouri - where I predicted a close Cruz win - Trump might also win that state in the end of the day, but Missouri is - similar to the Democratic side - still "too close to call". But whatever Missouri's final result will be: There is a clear winner on Big Tuesday, and his name is Trump. Kasich finally scored his first win in his home state of Ohio, but one win out of nearly 30 contests by far won't be enough to make Trump sweat. In my updated forecast Trump's chances of winning the GOP nomination for the first time soared to 70%, as Cruz meanwhile is unlikely to be able to win the necessary number of delegates (for Kasich a majority of delegates is only fantasy), which means the following: Both - Cruz and Kasich - effectively can only hope that Trump will implode by himself in time, or that Trump only wins a plurality, but not a majority of delegates. Then they might be able to turn everything upside down at the Republican Convention, what still would be both uncommon and a long shot, but not completely impossible.


Final Tuesday [Comment 2016-06-09]

After Clinton has already basically locked up the nomination, Final Tuesday was her day to make her victory mathematically definite. Nachdem Clinton die Nominierung praktisch schon fix in der Tasche hatte, ging es für sie nur mehr darum, am Final Tuesday auch theoretisch alles klar zu machen. After Sanders' remaining chances were alive only theoretically, he probably could not max out his true potential, which could have cost him wins in New Mexico and South Dakota (where Clinton won only with a minimal margin).
While in the past few weeks it sometimes looked like Clinton's win could be a close one in California, in the end of the day she won quite comfortably by a margin of 12%, whereby she could further expand her lead in pledged delegates (but still losing Western Delegates by roughly 47 to 53 percent).

The 2016 Democratic primary season expectably produced a victory for the runaway favourite, albeit by far not an overwhelming one as initially expected by most political spectators.

Clinton wins the Democratic nomination with 55% of pledged delegates and 32 won contests, whereby her winning margin of delegates primarily results of the contests in Southern states (in the remaining states the result was nearly 50-50), while Sanders - who was given credit for being able to win 2 primaries at most (in his home state of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire) - won a respecable decent result winning 23 contests and more than 45% of pledged delegates. Although he was able to make Clinton sweat here and there, in the end of the day it was not enough for him, which became apparent from "Big Tuesday" in Mid-March, but was de facto set in stone not before end of April after the "Eastern Tuesday" primaries.

Trump once more proved, that he is in the mode of uniting a majority of the loyal Republican base behind his candidacy while demoralising his intra-party opponents, by winning Tuesday's primaries with an even larger margin than the previous ones.

The 2016 Republican primary season also has come to a close now. Trump wins 37 contests and with 61% of pledged delegates a clear majority, thus a more decisive victory than Clinton on the Democratic side, while runner-up Cruz won 11 contestes and 23% of pledged delegates.

In general
The end of the primary season also marked the beginning of the General Election Campaign.

Although most consider Mrs. Clinton to be the clear favorite for November, in my view the current favorite is Trump, because of the following two main reasons:

1) Whereas Trump is relatively popular with Independents (only Sanders would be stronger with that electorate), Clinton's favorability with Independents is quite low. Even if nearly all Sanders supporters are ultimately going to vote for Clinton, it will still be very difficult for her to win in November, if she does not manage to turn the tide with Independents. As there have nearly always been more conservative (Republican) than liberal (Democratic) loyal voters at Presidential Elections in the past decades, Democrats only have a shot at winning the White House, if they can win a significant majority (>55%) of ideological moderate and Independent voters. Clinton will probably even have to fight quite hard for keeping New Hampshire (Democratic-leaning swing state with an outstanding percentage of Independent voters) from falling into Trump's column.

2) As electoral majorites in many states are de facto set in stone due to the "first-past-the-post" electoral system, in the last 15 to 20 years in most cases two regions turned out to be decisive swing regions: The MidWest (with 91 Electoral Votes) the Southwest (excl. Utah) from Nevada to Colorado (with 31 EVs), and the states of Pennsylvania (20 EV), Virginia (13 EV) and New Hampshire (4 EV). Democrats could win the Presidency only if the managed to achieve a clear majority of states in those critical regions, i.e. they usually needed at least 62 of the 91 electoral votes in the MidWest, and at least 20 of 31 in the SouthWest, plus Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Especially in critical MidWestern states Clinton seems to falter, as she has a tough road ahead to score points against a protectionist candidate like Trump in the economically challenged "Rust Belt".

Probably in the end of June I will publish my first forecast for the General Election (who - in my judgement - will win which states in November).

Last change of content: 2016-06-09 | © 2016 by MH Prognostics [universalist@gmx.at | 1230 Wien]