If you don’t typically read my entire analysis, this is the time to read it all. There are many caveats to the below numbers.
Tuesday is effectively the last of the Democratic primaries for 2016 (with the exception of D.C.), and is indeed the last opportunity for the Sanders campaign to close the pledged delegate gap. As we all know, all eyes are on the state of California, which is set to allocate 475 delegates between the two candidates. Bernie Sanders will need a massive majority of these 475 delegates (and, realistically, several large wins elsewhere too) to take the lead before the Democratic convention. Unfortunately for Bernie, my models are not suggesting that a pledged delegate lead is currently possible, despite four projected wins on Tuesday. However, it does look like California will be a very close race, and there is a very real possibility that Sanders could win there after all. Here are my projections:
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Bernie Sanders should do better in California than is currently expected. Though I do believe that the state is leaning towards a Hillary win, there are several reasons why it should be a close race:
- Sanders has 74.0% of Democrat Facebook likes in California. This is similar to Kentucky (73.9%), Oklahoma (75%), and West Virginia (75%). Hillary lost OK and WV, and won KY by 0.4% of the vote.
- California is a semi-closed primary, which Sanders has usually done quite well in. Other semi-closed primaries that Sanders won are New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Semi-closed primaries that Clinton has won are Massachusetts and North Carolina.
- Demographically, California is fair for both candidates. It is indeed a diverse state, but not necessarily to Sanders’ detriment. California has an African American population less than the country average, though it has a significant Hispanic population. Hispanics do tend to prefer Hillary, though my finding is that this effect is not very substantial. More on this effect in New Mexico below.
- Of the twenty-one states that Sanders had a greater proportion of the relative number of campaign contributions, he has lost only five (IA, MA, NC, AZ, KY). Furthermore, he has won four states in which he had a lower number of relative campaign contributions than he has in California (CO, OK, NE, RI).
However, California typically has a large amount of early voting, which has historically been very beneficial to Hillary Clinton. I am admittedly unsure of the exact percentage of Californian likely voters that have chosen to already vote by mail, but it is my personal belief that this number will be around 40-45% after all of the vote comes in. I expect Bernie to capture only about 40% the early vote while Hillary secures 60%, but at the same time I am expecting Bernie to win about 57% of the day-of vote while Hillary trails with about 43% on Tuesday.
With all of that being said, I am very uncertain of what will happen in California. My personal feeling is that Bernie Sanders has a decent chance of winning, but gut feelings aren’t typically based on numbers, so take that with a grain of salt.
Bernie Sanders should clean house in Montana. This is for the following reasons:
- Bernie Sanders has 83.87% of Democrat Facebook likes in Montana. Only in five states does he do better, Vermont, Maine, Idaho, Alaska, and Oregon, and he won all of these states by large margins.
- Only in three states does Bernie have a higher relative number of campaign contributions, in Vermont, Alaska, and Oregon.
- Montana is only 0.4% African American. Sanders does exceedingly well under these circumstances.
We should see a blow out in Montana. Clinton has surprised us all before (Wyoming…), but I would be exceptionally surprised to see a margin of victory of less than 15% here.
Hillary Clinton should win New Jersey with ease due to the following reasons:
- New Jersey is 13.7% African American, which is above the country average. As many of you know, Hillary does very well with African American voters.
- Bernie has only 70.0% of Democrat Facebook likes in New Jersey, and in only ten states is this measure more unfavorable for him.
- Bernie’s relative number of Google searches over the last three days is only 0.68. I do feel like this measure is losing its relevance as the campaign has went on, but regardless, this is the worst of all fifty states. Alabama comes in second with 0.832.
- The only redeeming factor in New Jersey for Bernie Sanders is the fact that it is a semi-closed primary.
I believe that the margin of victory in New Jersey will be anywhere from 5-20%.
New Mexico stands to be one of the most interesting elections on Tuesday. Other outlets are projecting a Hillary blow out here (and I’m not so sure about my projection that I would say that they are definitely wrong), but I am projecting a Sanders win for the following reasons:
- New Mexico is Sanders 12th best state when it comes to the relative number of campaign contributions for him (he has not lost any state where he had a higher number than in this state), and he has won twelve other states in which he had a lower relative number of campaign contributions than in New Mexico.
- Sanders has 79.49% of Democrat Facebook likes in New Mexico. He has not lost any state where he has a higher number than 79.49%, and he has won seven other states in which he had a lower percentage of the Democrat’s Facebook likes (i.e., a number lower than 79.49%).
These are the two primary drivers of my New Mexico Sanders win, but there are two major factors that may produce the alternative outcome.
- New Mexico holds a closed primary. As many of you know, Sanders seems to generally do very poorly in this contest format, as he typically has a substantial reliance on independent voters. He has only won one closed primary, in Oregon, and that state was uniquely predisposed to give Sanders a win regardless of contest format type. However, Sanders did just come within a half a percentage point of Hillary Clinton in Kentucky two weeks ago in Kentucky’s closed primary. Sanders has a far greater relative number of campaign contributions in New Mexico than in Kentucky (2.42 versus 1.79), has a far greater percentage of Democratic Facebook likes in New Mexico than in Kentucky (79.49% versus 73.91%), and has a much smaller African American population in New Mexico than in Kentucky (2.1% versus 7.8%). It could be the case that Sanders is increasingly being viewed more favorably among lifelong Democrats, or that Kentucky was a lone anomaly.
- New Mexico has the largest Hispanic population of any state, about 47%. Hispanics do seem to prefer Clinton (hypothetical example, if you were to randomly select 100 Hispanics in Kentucky, instead of voting 46.8% for Hillary as was the state result, these 100 Hispanics would vote 61.0% for Hillary. This effect is based on my analysis of about two hundred randomly selected counties from all over the U.S.), but my finding is that this effect is not so substantial as to produce a Hillary victory in New Mexico as it is fighting against the above factors; abnormally high campaign contributions and Facebook presence.
If Hillary does win New Mexico, a very real possibility, I believe that it will be because of the closed primary format, and not the effect Hispanics have. Hispanics do not seem to vote as “monolithically” as African Americans do according to all of my county level analysis (an analysis performed almost entirely to answer the New Mexico Hispanic question). Perhaps I am totally in left field predicting a Sanders win here, but all of the indicators that I rely on are pointing solidly in that direction.
In case anyone wasn’t able to already predict that Sanders would win North Dakota, I’ll make the case.
- North Dakota is only 1.2% African American, similar to Maine (1.2%), Vermont (1%), and Utah (1.1%). As you all know, Hillary lost these states by margins between 30-67%.
- Sanders has a very high number of relative campaign contributions in North Dakota, among his best states, and not too dissimilar from the aforementioned Montana.
- North Dakota also holds an open caucus, which Sanders does extremely well in (MN: 61.6%, ID: 78.0%, UT: 79.3%, WA: 72.7%). It literally does not get any better for Bernie unless the state is named Vermont.
I expect the margin of victory in North Dakota to be anywhere from 30-50%
South Dakota is highly similar to North Dakota, and for that reason Sanders should probably win by around the same amount.
- South Dakota is also only 1.2% African American, similar to Maine (1.2%), Vermont (1%), and Utah (1.1%).
- Sanders also has a very high number of relative campaign contributions in South Dakota, albeit slightly less than North Dakota. It is still among his best though.
- Bernie has 78.57% of all Democrat Facebook likes in South Dakota, slightly higher than in North Dakota (76.9%). Only in a handful of states does he do better.
- South Dakota, unlike North Dakota, holds a semi-closed primary. As mentioned before, Sanders still does well in semi-closed primaries, but not nearly as well as in open caucuses. This reduces his expected vote share compared to North Dakota, but together with the difference in Facebook presence, the differences are mostly a wash within my model.
Like North Dakota, I expect the margin of victory to be quite large. Though it is of course possible that Hillary will keep South Dakota closer than I estimate, I would be surprised if the margin of victory was less than 15%.
In conclusion, major kudos to both candidates for such a hard fought race. As you all probably could’ve guessed, I am a Bernie supporter, but despite my perceived shortcomings of Hillary, I do believe that she would make a good president. Obviously I would prefer that Bernie win, but with the system we have now (super-delegates), Bernie probably came as close as any seemingly unknown outsider ever could.
Lastly, I want to say THANK YOU to all of you that have consistently tuned in and listened to what I have had to say over this election season. It really means the world to me that hundreds of thousands of people care about and appreciate my work. Also, a special thanks to all of you who have donated to help fund the work that I do here, and have ensured that I have a roof over my head! I am truly blown away at the support I have received, and I’m very excited for all of the upcoming elections later this year. What started as just an experiment to see if Facebook and Google data were useful in predicting elections has blossomed into something much bigger, and, in my opinion, we are witnessing the birth of an entirely new methodology of predicting elections; one that will be more powerful in the future than we could have ever imagined.