On Elections

How people elect parliaments

US primaries: Polls deflate claims of Sanders’ surge

A report today (26 January) in the prominent progressive political news and comment service Daily Kos is offering aggregate polling estimates of the race for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

The report by MattTX estimates public support for each of the two lead candidates, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders – poor Martin O’Malley is entirely overlooked – in every US state.

Despite widespread reports that Senator Sanders is surging, that’s not what the polls show. Whilst it’s a respectable contest, the polls show a clear lead for Clinton in more than half the states.

Moreover, Senator Sanders is only leading in states with small or at best medium populations:

US 2016 - Sanders lead states.png

States where Senator Sanders leads are shown in strong colour; states where the candidates are within 2% of each other in pale colour.

The geographical concentration of Sanders’ popularity is striking. His supportive regions include none of the high-population areas of the United States.

In the race for the Democratic Party nomination, Convention delegates (who choose the nominee) are awarded to the candidates in proportion to their votes in the state-based primaries and caucuses.

The first-up states of Iowa (Feb 1) and New Hampshire (Feb 9) are within Bernie Sanders’ zone of popularity, so his campaign may well appear to get off to a good start. But unless he can defy the polling, that won’t last. The primaries in the next two states of Nevada (Feb 20) and South Carolina (Feb 27) should see Hillary Clinton move in front.

If the actual voting in the weeks ahead follows the Daily Kos poll summary, Clinton will quickly take the lead in the accumulation of the all-important Convention delegates, and her lead will progressively widen. The following graph applies these poll results to the state-by-state delegate awards as they will unfold over the next few months:

Graph - Sanders states Jan 26 - 1.pngIt’s actually worse for the Senator, because Hillary Clinton is widely assumed to have a base of around 330 Convention delegate votes among the non-elected delegates. So her lead actually starts out already well established, and its pathway would look more like this:

Graph - Sanders states Jan 26 - 2.png

There is a lot of media excitement about a Sanders surge, but on current polling he needs to make up a lot of ground. Specifically, he needs to increase his appeal outside of New England, the Mountain states and the Pacific Northwest.

The contest begins with the Iowa caucuses, next Monday 1 February.


26 January 2016

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2016 by in Current issues, United States, US presidential primaries.
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