Monday, April 11, 2016

Bernie's Odds - Another Quantitative Analysis


We've seen some of the breakdowns on CNN and other news sources about how steep an uphill climb it might be for Bernie Sanders going forward. But now some voices are crying for a contested convention, and are saying that if the super delegates are fair, they will see that Bernie is the better candidate, and give him the nomination over Hillary if the final vote between them is close. Is that a viable argument?

Once again, I've crunched the numbers on my spreadsheet to make you, my seven loyalists, the smartest people in the room in any conversation about this. Assuming Hillary wins in New York (and all the polls say she will), Bernie will lose ground to the point where he has to win 60% of all remaining delegates to catch up. But can he catch up enough to make the argument that he's the better candidate in spite of the delegate count? I don't think so. Here's why.

Projecting the remaining primaries and caucuses is a bit tricky. Some states, like Rhode Island, Indiana and the Dakotas, have no polling data whatsoever. For states like these, I've given Hillary and Bernie a 50-50 tie, just to see how it will shake out. Otherwise, I've proportioned the votes based on any polling data that is current enough to be latter-March or early-April. Here's what I found.

No matter which way one slices it, it doesn't look like Hillary can wrap up the nomination before California, even if she wins everything else going forward outright. To do that, she would have to have a huge string of commanding wins, and even then won't have the nomination sewn up until mid-May at the earliest. So she will finally win, but not until California, and Bernie will be fighting her all the way, even if he's fallen farther behind.

But let's say that Bernie doesn't. Let's give Bernie some commanding wins in states like Indiana, where there's no polling data but demographics have previously favored him because it is similar to Michigan and Wisconsin. Next let's give him the Dakotas as well as West Virginia. Does he have a chance to catch up a little?

Not really. Even if we give Bernie a big upset in a major state like Pennsylvania, the best he can do is keep Hillary shy of the overall pledge delegate vote total of 2383. Now, she will have way more than that due to super delegates. But suppose she doesn't have enough pledge delegates to put her above 2383. That's entirely possible. How far short will she be?

My analysis shows, not short by enough. If we give Bernie the best case scenario, excepting a huge upset in New York, the best that Bernie can hope for is Hillary falling shy by only about 100 pledge delegates. If we give Bernie and Hillary the respective wins based on current polling data, and make all unknown outcomes an even split between the two, Hillary will fall short by only 50 pledge delegates. And if we give Bernie an insane amount of wins, even in big states like Pennsylvania and New York. Hell, let's even give him California by a narrow margin, the most Hillary will fall short by is 150 pledge delegates. Now, there are 719 super delegates in total. If we give Bernie 79% of all super delegates, he will still lose the nomination to Hillary, because she will, worst-case scenario only need 21% of those super delegates to win!

Yeah. THAT'S how far behind Bernie is!

Why? Because Hillary would have won 1) the popular vote and 2) the pledge delegate vote. Fair and square, no rigged voting, and 3) the super delegates won't even matter, even if they overwhelmingly favor Bernie's side (which, get real, ain't gonna happen!).

Yes, I know, I know. Bernie is on a winning streak of seven straight states. Exciting, right? You're feeling the Bern, right? But those states are all some of the smallest ones in our union. The smallest states by population, smallest to largest, are Wyoming, Vermont, and Alaska. Bernie has won all three, and two of those three recently (the exception being Vermont), but all three put together do not even make up 1% of our nation's overall population! His other recent wins include Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, Wisconsin and Washington State. Of those five, only the latter two are decent sized states. The other five of Bernie's wins are barely 1.5% of the nation's overall population size. Bernie has a winning streak - in the minor leagues.

So, no matter which way you slice it, Bernie's chances are pretty slim. You may still believe he's got a shot, and he just barely does, but if you're hoping a contested convention is your way out, or if you think persuading the super delegates is somehow going to save Bernie at the end, all I can say is one thing:

Dream on!


Eric

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