A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: 2/20 Recap

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Yeah, I know I never did New Hampshire, but I’m going to pick it up with the Nevada Democratic results and the South Carolina Republican Results from yesterday.

Republican South Carolina Primary Results

1. Trump – 32.5%

2. Rubio – 22.5%

3. Cruz – 22.3%

4. Bush – 7.8%

5. Kasich – 7.6%

6. Carson – 7.2%

There are three important things that will be discussed stemming from this race: Bush dropping out, whether Rubio is rebounding, and is Trump inevitable now?

Bush dropping out is pretty amazing. He still had lots of money left to spend and he only placed 4th here. Now granted no one expects him to make a comeback which is remarkable in and of itself given how a year ago everyone had penciled him in as the Republican nominee. It’s tough to put a finger on what happened, but I know many graduate level theses will be written on it. The fact that one establishment candidate has dropped out likely means good things for the other establishment pick which brings us to…

Rubio did quite poorly in New Hampshire. You may remember this particular blog had Rubio picked to win New Hampshire, but then came in 5th with only 10.6% of the vote, so how did he do he double his numbers in just a couple weeks? The soundbite of him at the New Hampshire debate where Christie really hurt Rubio might have only been watched by New Hampshire or it could be the establishment is really starting to solidify behind Rubio. Between New Hampshire and South Carolina he’s the only one who had their percent of the vote rise and with Bush out, I expect Rubio to pick up the majority of his backers. I’m still predicting Rubio to be the Republican nominee which would be in direct opposition to…

Trump being inevitable. Every Republican candidate who has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina has gone on to be the nominee, so why do I think the Trump can be stumped? Trump has won, but without ever getting more than 35% of the vote. That might be a plurality, but it’s a long way off from a majority. For the first time in the campaign, Trump is about to have an actual rival. Now if Trump handles Rubio like Christie did, then it still might not be over. I maintain Trump may have a high floor, but a low ceiling in terms of his voters.

One example of this is how he does with late deciding voters. Donald Trump Only got 16% of them in South Carolina compared with Cruz’s 28% and Rubio’s 30%[1] This also mirrors his Iowa performance with just 15% of voters who decided that day, 13% in the last few days, and 13% sometime last week.[2] You can’t win the nomination with 35% of the vote and Trump isn’t adding anyone knew. He has to count on voters coming to him as other candidates drop out and I have a hard time seeing that happen from Bush, Carson, or Kasich.

Democratic Nevada Primary Results

1. Clinton – 52.7%

2. Sanders – 47.2%

There was a New York times piece this week that noted, “We’re living in an era when blacks have essentially played kingmaker in the most important elections in the nation,” [3] Quite the interesting line, and it really proved itself to be true in Nevada. I’ve mentioned in the past that Sanders has an issue when it comes to the minority vote. Let’s look at the exit poll breakdowns by sorted by race.[4]

White(59% of vote) – Sanders 49% Clinton 47%

Hispanic(19% of vote) – Sanders 53% Clinton 45%

Black(13% of vote) – Clinton 76% Sanders 22%


It isn’t hard to figure out why Clinton won in Nevada. If Sanders can’t find a way to narrow that 54 point gap he is going to be absolutely crushed in South Carolina where in 2008 black voters made up 55% of primary goers.[5] Now it’s possible that’s not a point in favor of Clinton because she lost with black voters 78%-19% to Obama, but she’s not being listed as an over 99% favorite to win South Carolina by some groups for nothing.[6]

As always, questions, comments, and criticisms are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.


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