Tag Archives: New York Primary

Who Won The New York Democratic Primary, and Why?

I don’t know yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll post that below.

With 98.5% of the delegates counted, Clinton won 57.9% of the vote, Sanders 42.1%. This puts Clinton at 139 delegates, very close to my prediction of 137.

Clinton closing in on 57%, or about 140 delegates.
Clinton closing in on 57%, or about 140 delegates.

If that holds, this is pretty much of a shellacking for Sanders. Sanders out spent Clinton on ad buys, has campaigned heavily, and has set the expectations as a definitive win. This is Sanders home state (of birth, not representation). Yet he seems to have definitively lost. This will put Sanders even more behind in the delegate count.

Sen. Hillary Rodham ClintonThe bigger the loss for Sanders, the bigger the steaming pile of bull substance will be put forth by that presumably-tiny-and-hillary-has-them-too-yadayada Sanders supporters, with claims that the election was unfair, stolen, etc. And that will probably turn off even more people undecided between the candidate, and Sanders will do even worse in future contests. I’ve predicted that he will win in California, and I’ll stick to that story until my own analysis suggests otherwise, but it won’t be enough to offset his current deep-second position, Clinton’s increasing lead, and all that.

You know what they say. It ain’t over until the big green lady with the torch sings.

And she just did.


Meanwhile, some background on a key aspect of today’s Democratic primary in New York.

This is a closed primary in a state where you have to be registered in a political party by some time in October in order to participate.

See this for more information about how that sort of thing varies across the states.

I have projected that Clinton will win this primary, and my estimate for the delegate take is 137 for Clinton and 110 for Sanders. See this for a detailed breakdown of this and other projections for the rest of the race.

But, is this what will happen? Clinton does better than Sanders in southern states, and New York is not a southern state. In fact, Clinton tends to win all of the southern states, and while Sanders wins more non-southern states than Clinton, he certainly does not win all of them. See this for more details on the southern effect.

New York is a big state, and Clinton tends to do better in big states, as shown here.

There have been nine closed caucus states, and Sanders has won seven of them, with a tie in one. There have been three open caucus contests, and Sanders has won in three of them. There have been 7 closed primary contests and Sanders has won in one of them, with a tie in one. There have been 13 open primaries, and Sanders has won three. So, he does better in caucus states, but tends to lose in primary states, and possibly least well in closed primary states, which is what New York has.

Now, here is the interesting thing, recently pointed out by Rachel Maddow. Sanders, and the Sanders campaign, is not making any attempt at all to control expectations in New York. Clinton has a better claim to favorite daughter status. New York is relatively diverse, and Clinton does better in diverse states. Clinton tends to win closed primaries. The polls show Clinton ahead. My own projection, not based on polls, has Clinton winning. But Sanders keeps up with the “we will win here” mantra, which is not the advisable approach if you are not going to win. You can win and lose at the same time by setting up the expectation that you will lose by, say, 15% and then you go ahead and lose by only 9%. That’s a win(ish) in the primary process. But Sanders is not doing that.

Here’s Maddow’s thing:

Sanders’ evidence is that he tends to come from behind, and over perform. And in my own modeling, that has tended to happen. All those times I was right about the outcome of a contest and the great FiveThirtyEight was wrong, it was a Sanders over performance, pretty much.

But, for all the reasons stated above, I don’t expect this to happen in New York. If it does, that will be very significant, and we may have to rethink the whole primary process this year!

Anyway, just for fun and because I thought you might find it interesting, I rand some numbers. I simply took the last several polls in several states, and recalculated the percentage for Clinton and Sanders such that the percents attributed add up to 100%, and then added to the top of the list the actual performance in the contest. From this I made a graph, with the moment of winning on the left side. If Sanders tends to jump up and win the contest, this will be seen by a line tracking (backwards) along below 50% then suddenly, for the actual voting, jump above 50%.

I did not do this for all the contests because there simply isn’t enough poling data. Indeed, Sanders tends to win in open and/or caucus states, and pollster don’t even bother polling in those states because they are so crazy. And, he tends to win in small states, and pollsters tend to not poll in small states. Which, if you think about it, should give you pause in considering Sanders’ claim. He does better than expected when the expectation is based on nearly zero or otherwise crappy data.

Anyway, I non-systematically picked a bunch of states and made a bunch of graphs and shoved them all onto one graphic:

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 10.43.30 AM

Sanders did the Bernie Blast to the top in Minnesota, but we had almost no info in Minnesota. He seemed to do it in Michigan, but if you look at the polling over time, it was not utterly unexpected. He might have done it a little, but not enough to win, in Arizona, but note that this is the state that had all that voter repression.

I indicated on each graph the nominal category of contest so you can gaze at these results and draw your own conclusions.

As I’ve said numerous times, each contest is a test of a particular hypothesis or model about how the primary season is going. If Clinton wins New York and wins it by about 10-15%, the NY primary does not change the fact that she will win the race, but come in just under the required number of pledged delegates to lock without super delegates. If she does way better, that changes our expectations for the rest of the primary season.

If, on the other hand, Sanders wins, that will be huge and require a major revision of our thinking.

Polls close at 9:00 PM Eastern in New York. If urban and NYC districts are counted early, and upstate later, because they use clay pots and send the results in by pony or something, then we should see Clinton surge then Sanders slowly slog towards catching up (or not).

Stay tuned.

Can Donald Trump Lock the Nomination?



There is almost no way that Donald trump will get to the Republican National Convention with anything less than a fairly strong majority of pledged delegates. But can he get there with the 1237 delegates needed to lock the nomination on the first ballot?

I made a list of upcoming contests and initially estimated Trump’s delegate take using the oversimplified method of multiplying the percentage of available delegates with Trump’s percentage according to the most recent available polls. This slightly underestimates the number of delegates since the actual percentages are broken down to the exclusion of “undecided” and minor candidates who were in the polls but not the context, etc. However, it can be more inaccurate because many of these contests are not exactly proportional but kind of.

Some states don’t have usable polling data, so I put Trump’s percentage at 40, which is the average for all the cases where there are polling data.

Five upcoming states are winner take all. Given the fact that Trump seems to win a lot, and will campaign his New York Vallues Ass off in those states, I assume he will win in every case (this might be wildly wrong, but he is generally ahead, so I’m sticking to that story). So in those states he earns 100% of the available delegates.

When I add this all up, and add in the delegates already assigned, Trump ends up with 1198 pledged delegates, or 39 short of a lock.

That is a shade over 5% of the remaining delegates. If Cruz or Kasich do better than expected, this would clearly put Trump too far away from the 1237 number, but if either stumbles and/or Trump does really great things, I mean, great things, and believe me he can do those great things, he’s always doing great things, in some of the upcoming deals, I mean, primaries, he can probably close that gap.

My money is on him not maybe closing the gap…

Who Will Win The New York Democratic Primary?

As you know, I’ve been applying a model to predict the outcome of each of the Democratic Primary contests, and have done pretty well at predicting results.

All of the future contests are primaries, not caucuses. It turns out that the two modes have very different patterns. Many have suggested that this has to do with how the process works, and somehow caucuses, or open contests, favor Sanders, who has won several. However, it also turns out that caucusing is a northern thing (and Sanders does somewhat better in the north, or more accurately perhaps, rarely wins in the south). Caucusing is also a white thing, apparently. Caucuses happen in non-southern mostly white states, and these are states that Sanders can (but does not always) win.

Since the remainder of the contests are primaries, I used my simple ethnic-based model, which predicts the outcome of the various contests based on the estimated percentage of African American voters. I used only data from previous primaries to develop a simple linear model. This model applied to all of the future contests, starting with New York, tells us that Clinton will win in New York.

After that, Sanders wins in several smaller and mostly norther states, but also, California . Clinton wins in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which are relatively large. If this plays out as predicted, between now and the end of the primary season, Hillary Clinton will pick up about 795 delegates and Sanders will pick up about 778 delegates.

How many delegates does each candidate have so far? Clinton has approximately 1310 and Sanders approximately 1094. (This is approximate because in some states it is actually a little hard to count because of the nature of the system.)

Here is a table showing all of my projections from here on out. I’ll probably redo the model a few more times, especially if anything unexpected happens, so stay tuned.


Democratic Primary and Size of State

When either candidate wins a state, that candidate’s supporters celebrate and underscore the significance of that win. The other candidate’s supporters generally proceed to explain how it was not a significant win, or in some cases, come up with conspiracy theories about how the election was stolen.

So, here is an interesting question: Does one candidate or another, between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, tend to win bigger states more, or smaller states more? This is important because next Tuesday is the New York Primary, and New York is huge. Of course, state size is not the only factor, and indeed, state size is probably related to a lot of other factors that may be more directly related. Still, it may be interesting to see what this all means.

Some of the largest states are in the future (New York, Pennsylvania, and California). The largest states, on average, are ahead with a very sightly higher median, and a more impressively larger mean. Here are the stats:

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 9.46.40 AM

And here is a histogram, showing the size distribution of states (delegate count) so far and not yet voting in this primary season:

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 9.39.43 AM

Large states matter more, numerically. If a candidate has a very small bias towards winning big states, but the two candidates otherwise split the wins, the candidate with the bias wins. More concretely, imagine each candidate wins or loses by 10%, and the distribution of wins and losses is exactly even for both candidates, but one candidate wins the largest three states and the other candidate wins the smallest three states, then a very substantial gap will result between the candidates. In a winner take all scenario, in this race, with Clinton winning the largest states and Sanders winning the smaller states, this would result in a final pledged delegate count of about 1406 for Sanders and 2306 for Clinton!

So, does one candidate win more in large states? Yes. Here is state size (as number of pledged delegates) against the percent difference between the candidates with Clinton upward on the graph, Sanders downward on the graph.


Clinton won, so far, the four biggest states and the fifth biggest state was a near tie. (Clinton also won more small states, but the effect of large states is greater, as noted).

Does this, by itself, mean that Clinton is going to win New York and California? No, of course not. This is just one factor, and as noted, probably relates or correlates to other factors such as diversity, various kinds of activism, overall political gestalt in the state, and so on.