On Tuesday, five national Democratic Primary polls were released, all showing one thing – a big Bernie Sanders lead. Despite the fact Sanders is only on 29% per the LeanTossup National Average, he is in the driver’s seat of the primary, forecast for 1816 delegates per the LeanTossup model. And while the model still believes no candidate getting a majority is the likeliest outcome, the chances of chaos are down 10% to 64%. The Sanders surge is intensifying – so, is this primary over?
The case for yes is pretty simple – Sanders is leading in three of the four Nevada polls released this month, he’s clearly the national leader, and the winnowing of the field that will (eventually) come will help him get from 1816 delegates to the 1990 he needs. The Senator isn’t getting attacked much from the other candidates, who are mostly training their fire on Mike Bloomberg, who has risen to co-second in the average with Joe Biden, and the split moderate lane opposition is wasting votes against him. While Klobuchar’s recent rise is good news for her, it’s actually good news for Sanders – an increasing amount of voters are going to a candidate unlikely to be viable in most states and Congressional Districts. And while that’s not hugely important in itself, sometimes it can matter.
Take a look at the model’s current projection in CA-50 – Biden at 13.9%, Bernie at 30.3%, Bloomberg at 14.8%, Steyer at 9.3%, Warren at 10.4%, Klobuchar at 6.5% and Mayor Pete at 10.2%. Now, obviously, it’s incredibly unlikely that Bernie would be the only candidate to get above 15%, and the model’s use of simulations allows an average delegate projection that isn’t extreme as the average projection is. But, with those caveats in mind, if that result was repeated, Bernie would sweep that Congressional District’s delegate allocation. And that fracturing of the moderate lane is a problem, as that “wasted vote” – votes for candidates who don’t get 15% – boosts the candidates who are viable. This might only be worth a delegate every couple of districts, but, that’s a whole lot of delegates when it all adds up.
The case for this not being over for the Vermont Senator comes from the state polls also released Tuesday. Those polls – namely, the Monmouth Virginia Poll and the SurveyUSA North Carolina Poll – do not show the same political environment as the national polls. They show a universe in which Sanders isn’t doing as well, and Bloomberg is doing better than the national polls suggest. While the national polls paint a compelling picture – and the unity they show in trend is interesting – it is still the case that these data points cannot be ignored and dismissed. They should make anyone who believes Sanders is on the long march to the Democratic Nomination scared – if the Bloomberg money machine is working, and it is specifically working better in the states Bloomberg is targeting, then Sanders isn’t actually as close as the model currently believes. A bad performance in Nevada would also be harmful to Sanders’ chances, as a Biden revival in South Carolina (and the South more broadly) at his expense would be.
If you are a #NeverBernie Democrat who doesn’t want the party to be dragged to the left, the events of the last day of polls shouldn’t fill you with much happiness. Sanders is rising, and is clearly the most likely to be the Democratic nominee at this point – although whether he is likelier than the field is open to debate. What is also up for debate is whether we’re on to Milwaukee with a Sanders nomination or whether this weird and wacky primary has a twist (or twelve) left. All we know for sure is this; strap in, we’re in for a wild next two weeks to Super Tuesday.