2016 Presidential Primaries Predictions: Early States

So this Presidential season I’ve been trying my hand at the predictions game, with mixed results.  I’ve been posting them on Facebook and I’m reposting them here, along with the actual results and, below them, both the commentary I provided at the time of the contests and some new commentary looking back now.

 

February 1 2016: Iowa

 

Democratic Party

RealClearPolitics Polling Average Predictions Results
Hillary Clinton: 48 percent Hillary Clinton: 50 percent Hillary Clinton: 49.84 percent
Bernie Sanders: 44 percent Bernie Sanders: 49 percent Bernie Sanders: 49.59 percent
Martin O’Malley: 4 percent Martin O’Malley: 1 percent Martin O’Malley: 0.54 percent
All others: 4 percent All others: 0 percent All others: 0.03 percent
I REALLY hope I’m wrong and Sanders finishes in first! I think most of O’Malley’s supporters will side with Sanders. Not bad, huh?  Looks like I actually overestimated O’Malley’s performance, but I don’t give predictions in non-whole numbers.  Pre-caucus polling showed that Clinton was polling ahead of Sanders by an average of 4 points, but I figured that the greater passion among Sanders supporters and O’Malley supporters defecting to Sanders where O’Malley was not viable would give Sanders some extra points, but not enough to overtake Clinton.

 

Republican Party

RealClearPolitics Polling Average Predictions Results
Donald Trump: 29 percent Donald Trump: 30 percent Ted Cruz: 28 percent
Ted Cruz: 24 percent Ted Cruz: 28 percent Donald Trump: 24 percent
Marco Rubio: 17 percent Marco Rubio: 18 percent Marco Rubio: 23 percent
All others: 28 percent All others: 22 percent All others: 25 percent
I haven’t seen much of a ground game for Trump so if he does win, it won’t be by much. There’s been a late surge in Iowa for Rubio and I think he’ll pick up the plurality of support from the also-rans. I got Cruz’s percentage right!  But unfortunately, not the order.  I predicted Cruz would have an excellent ground game and Trump a lousy one (or a non-existent one, it appears), but I didn’t think it would be enough to switch their order, as Trump went into the caucuses with a 5-point lead in the polls.  Interestingly, for Rubio I predicted he’d get 23 percent before I learned that the Republican caucus, unlike the Democratic one, doesn’t have a viability threshold rule.  After learning that, I figured the “All others” candidates would keep more of their supporters and I lowered Rubio’s number accordingly.  Guess not.

 

February 9 2016: New Hampshire

 

Democratic Party

RealClearPolitics Polling Average Predictions Results
Bernie Sanders: 55 percent Bernie Sanders: 57 percent Bernie Sanders: 60 percent
Hillary Clinton: 41 percent Hillary Clinton: 43 percent Hillary Clinton: 38 percent
All others: 4 percent All others: 0 percent All others: 2 percent
As with last week, I REALLY hope I’m wrong and Sanders finishes with a much greater lead than this. A 20-point Sanders victory would be my dream. I’m very happy to have been wrong in this case, and my dream came true!

 

Republican Party

RealClearPolitics Polling Average Predictions Results
Donald Trump: 31 percent Donald Trump: 29 percent Donald Trump: 35 percent
Marco Rubio: 14 percent John Kasich: 17 percent John Kasich: 16 percent
John Kasich: 13.5 percent Marco Rubio: 13 percent Ted Cruz: 11.7 percent
Ted Cruz: 11.8 percent Jeb Bush: 13 percent Jeb Bush: 11.0 percent
Jeb Bush: 11.5 percent Ted Cruz: 12 percent Marco Rubio: 10.6 percent
Chris Christie: 6 percent Chris Christie: 11 percent Chris Christie: 7 percent
Carly Fiorina: 5 percent Carly Fiorina: 3 percent Carly Fiorina: 4 percent
Ben Carson: 3 percent Ben Carson: 2 percent Ben Carson: 2 percent
Jim Gilmore: 0 percent Jim Gilmore: 0 percent Jim Gilmore: 0 percent
All others: 4.2 percent All others: 0 percent All others: 2.4 percent
Yes, the middle tier is a mess, but Kasich has seen a surge, and I think a lot of the establishment-supporting voters will gravitate toward him at the expense of Rubio. Bush and Christie are also moving up and I almost had them tieing or passing Rubio and Cruz, respectively, but in the end I decided that would be too optimistic for them, especially for Christie. Rubio will edge out Bush by less than 1 percent. Trump’s general incompetence at running a campaign will cause him to underperform the polls, though not as drastically as he did in Iowa. Well, looks like Trump can run a campaign after all, at least when it’s not a competitive caucus.  I knew Rubio was falling hard after his disastrous New Hampshire debate performance but I didn’t think he’d sink all the way to fifth place!  I also slightly overestimated Bush, so while I got Cruz’s percentage right, I got his order wrong because I thought Rubio and Bush would place higher (kinda like my predictions for Cruz and Trump in Iowa…).  I also thought Christie would do better than he ended up doing after his brilliant takedown of Rubio at the debate, but unfortunately for him, the result of his takedown was all anti-Rubio rather than pro-Christie.

 

February 20 2016: Nevada and South Carolina

 

Democratic Party (Nevada)

RealClearPolitics Polling Average Predictions Results
Hillary Clinton: 49 percent Bernie Sanders: 52 percent Hillary Clinton: 53 percent
Bernie Sanders: 46 percent Hillary Clinton: 48 percent Bernie Sanders: 47 percent
All others: 5 percent All others: 0 percent All others: 0 percent
Clinton’s excellent ground game will allow her to keep it close, but it won’t be enough to stop Sanders’s surge. I got the final percentages almost right, but, sadly, in the wrong order.  Clinton’s ground game, which she had been building up for the past 10 months, was TOO good to overcome.  This is the second caucus in a row where Clinton’s lead in the state’s single-most urban and populous county put her over the top. Something about urban caucus-goers and Clinton?  On the bright side for Sanders, he narrowed the gap in the polling considerably and he seems to have been at least competitive with Latinos, if not winning them outright.

 

Republican Party (South Carolina)

RealClearPolitics Polling Average Predictions Results
Donald Trump: 32 percent Donald Trump: 31 percent Donald Trump: 32.5 percent
Marco Rubio: 18.8 percent Marco Rubio: 20 percent Marco Rubio: 22.5 percent
Ted Cruz: 18.5 percent Ted Cruz: 18 percent Ted Cruz: 22.3 percent
Jeb Bush: 11 percent John Kasich: 12 percent Jeb Bush: 7.8 percent
John Kasich: 9 percent Jeb Bush: 11 percent John Kasich: 7.6 percent
Ben Carson: 7 percent Ben Carson: 8 percent Ben Carson: 7.2 percent
All others: 3.7 percent All others: 0 percent All others: 0.1 percent
I’ve been underestimating Trump because he didn’t seem like he knew how to run an actual campaign, but he overperformed the polls in New Hampshire, which makes me wary of underestimating him again. His RCP average right now is at 31.8 so saying he’ll get 31 is a safe bet, accounting for both his popularity and his subpar ground game.

Rubio, amazingly to me, has recovered from his “Let’s dispel with the fiction” autorepeat and somehow erased his laughingstock image. If I were an establishment/”moderate”-type Republican voter Rubio would be the last one of the three establishment lane candidates I choose. But yes, he is surging in South Carolina and will probably finish ahead of Cruz, though Cruz’s ground game will allow him to keep it close.

Kasich is also having a small surge of his own, and I would say he finishes a little ahead of Bush. Bush’s campaign is probably finito after this. Carson will plod on until he decides he’s giving up too much sleep.

I was pretty close with Trump’s percentage, and I got the Rubio/Cruz order right even though I didn’t quite get the percentages (remember, I don’t do decimal points for my predictions).  Clearly Rubio took some support from Bush and Kasich, though I’m not sure where Cruz got his extra percentage points from (also from Bush and Kasich? That can’t be right).  I didn’t get the Bush/Kasich order right, though they were so close it could have gone the other way.  Either way, it wasn’t enough to save Bush’s campaign.

 

February 23 2016: Nevada

 

Republican Party

RealClearPolitics Polling Average* Predictions Results
Donald Trump: 39 percent Donald Trump: 40 percent Donald Trump: 46 percent
Ted Cruz: 23 percent Ted Cruz: 28 percent Marco Rubio: 24 percent
Marco Rubio: 19 percent Marco Rubio: 22 percent Ted Cruz: 21 percent
John Kasich: 9 percent John Kasich: 6 percent Ben Carson: 5 percent
Ben Carson: 5 percent Ben Carson: 4 percent John Kasich: 4 percent
All others: 5 percent All others: 0 percent All others: 0 percent
Trump has been outperforming my expectations of him, but though he’s supposed to have a big advantage in Nevada, this is still a caucus state and I don’t know how good of a ground game he has. Cruz has shown to be excellent at organizing which is why I’m giving him a solid second place. I’m learning from my previous mistakes and not overestimating Kasich and Carson. Wow, I was pretty damn wrong with my predictions.  Trump vacuumed up more support than I expected, and got dangerously close to the 50 percent mark.  He’s becoming more and more acceptable to a broader swath of Republican voters, and he’s winning in multiple categories, not just the crazy segment.  That’s why he’s able to pick up at least some of the supposed “establishment” voters that everyone thinks are going to automatically back Rubio.

Rubio finished ahead of Cruz, despite this being a caucus state.  Interestingly, even so, Rubio failed to actually carry any counties, whereas Cruz took two counties in the eastern desert.  With this and his narrowly beating Cruz in South Carolina, Rubio looks like he’s surpassing Cruz as the Trump alternative with more support.

As if the gods wanted to make sure I was extra wrong with my predictions, Carson managed to somehow finish ahead of Kasich.

 

February 27 2016: South Carolina

 

Democratic Party

RealClearPolitics Polling Average Predictions Results
Hillary Clinton: 58 percent Hillary Clinton: 60 percent Hillary Clinton: 74 percent
Bernie Sanders: 31 percent Bernie Sanders: 40 percent Bernie Sanders: 26 percent
All others: 11 percent All others: 0 percent All others: 0 percent
This makes me sad. This makes me sadder.

 

The larger-than-expected drubbing is the result of Sanders failing to make any inroads among South Carolina African-American voters.  I really don’t understand why African-Americans would so overwhelmingly choose Clinton, the candidate of “superpredators”, mass incarceration, welfare reform, and subtle racism against Barack Obama the last time she was campaigning in South Carolina in 2008.

 

* No RCP average was available, so I put down the results of the most recent poll on RCP instead.

 

MARCH 8 2016 UPDATE: Added in the RCP polling averages and the “All others” category.

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1 thought on “2016 Presidential Primaries Predictions: Early States

  1. Pingback: 2016 Presidential Primaries Predictions: April 5 and 9 | maverickjh

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