Tag Archives: Biden

How close will the 2024 election be?

In 2020, Joseph Biden beat Donald Trump by 4.54%. For perspective, that is within the margin of error of most polls. In other words, it was kinda close.

But how close was it? Very. Because, in a small number of battleground states, Joe Biden won by only 0.2% of the electorate.

The margin of popular vote win over the last 17 elections, so going back to Eisenhower, has ranged from a half a percent (George W. Bush’s win in 2000) to the highs of 22 to 23% (Johnson and Nixon). Biden’s win was close to the 2012 Obama victory and the 1992 Clinton victory. So close, but not out of line in comparison with many other races. Biden beat Trump by more than double the margin with which Trump beat Clinton. It was a good, solid run.

On the other hand, the decision for this race was made in a very small number of states, included some of the states that gave Trump his victory of Secretary Clinton. If we look at the closest states that ended up in the D column, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, the total margin was 0.2% (two tenths of a percent). If we assume most of the other states are set to go for either Biden or Trump in 2024, and that these are the battleground states, that is a very very close race.

It would only be fair to look at the states that were very close but happen to go red in 2020. North Carolina went for Trump by 1.35%. That is close enough to pull that state over to the sane side and claim those electoral votes. The problem is, after that, all the near-miss red states were not near misses. The next two close calls were Florida (3.36%) and Texas (5.58%). These states are unreachable.

Here’s the bottom line. The total number of electoral votes is 538. 17.66% of those votes are distributed among the seven closest states (those mentioned above that went for Biden, plus North Carolina), which individually range from 0.24% to 2.83% of the popular vote. This would be like the entire European conflict of World War II being fought in Germany, France, Poland and Spain. (I guess that’s why they call them battleground states.)

What does this mean if you don’t want Trump, the obvious nominee* for the GOP, to win? This means you need to do three things.

1) Fight for Biden in your own state, to the degree that your state is close. Under no circumstances vote for a third party candidate, because that is just embarrassing for you,even if your state is not close.

2) Give some money to the Biden campaign, so they can use it where they see fit.

3) If you are in one of the battle ground states, then see #1 and #2 above, and just keep doing that as much as you can. Meanwhile, fight for and do not undermine local and state level democrats. Vote for them will percolate up.

4) If you are not in one of the battleground states, look for opportunities to help both Biden and various close-race Senate and House candidates wherever they may be (including your own neighborhood).

All the signs indicate that the MAGA extremists are strong, just as strong now as last cycle. But the signs also indicate that this year is their high water mark, if we stick together and kick their assess. So don’t stray, don’t weaken, and do not be cute about this**

*We should have a plan for if that not ends up being the case.

** By cute I mean voting for a third party candidate, or splitting your ticket.

Election Season Starts Friday!

As we begin primary voting in Minnesota (early voting here starts Friday, January 17th) we are reminded that the actual election season, not just the never ending campaigning season, is upon us.

One thing you should know before discussing the primary process, there are new rules for how delegates are to be awarded.

The total number of delegates in play on the first vote will be 3,768. To gain the nomination, a candidate will have to get a majority of this this number, or 1884 plus one or more, on the first vote. There are the usual “pledged” delegate vs. “unpledged” (the latter sometimes called “superdelegates”) but with fewer of the latter than in previous years, and they will not be voting on the first ballot. If no candidate meets the 1884+ threshold on the first ballot, all the delegates are released from prior pledges, and superdelegates are thrown into the mix. Then, 4,532 delegates are in play, and a majority, or over 2266, will be required to win.

That is something of an oversimplification. If a single candidate goes into the convention with something like 2,267 pledged delegates, then superdelegates will be allowed to vote. Notice how close the supermajority of pledged and the 50% threshold of all, are. It feels like astrology, but I digress.

Among the pledged delegates, there is a 15% threshold rule per state in allocating delegates. If a candidate gets 15% or more of the vote/caucus delegates, they are in the running for allotted delegates. Then, among those who pass 15%, the delegates are allotted proportionately. If no one gets 15%, then the threshold shifts to one half of whatever the front runner got. So, if the leading candidates gets 12%, then the new threshold is 6%.

Here are two of many possible examples of what could happen in a given state.

The Iowa Caucuses are on February 3rd. In polls, Biden and Sanders are about even, with Buttigieg and Warren competing for third place and all seem to be at or above the threshold. However, the difference between public opinion polls and outcomes is potentially large in a caucus state, because the variation affected by “ground game” is directly reflected in polls when there is a primary, but not in a caucus. In Iowa, keep an eye on Klobuchar, who claims to have a wining or at least result-surprising ground game in the Corn State. That is not a false claim. In other words, anything can happen in Iowa. Iowa will be deciding the commitments for some 41 pledged delegates.

I currently predict, and this is a pure thumb suck estimate, that the four current front runners (Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren) will roughly split Iowa’s 41 pledged delegates, with Sanders taking the largest share, and Warren the smallest share.

Then comes the famous New Hampshire Primary, on February 11th. New Hampshire has 24 pledged delegates, a very small number, but the Granite State is famous for being a tail wagging the giant sausage making political dog of democracy. There is a good chance that New Hampshire will break in a very similar way as Iowa, with Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg all reaching the threshold and sharing delegates with Biden and Sanders getting equal numbers at the top, Warren third, and Buttigieg fourth. But, either Warren or Buttigieg, or both, could fail to meet the 15% threshold. The latest Boston Herald poll has Buttigieg way below that number and Warren near it. Other recent polls have both below it. New Hampshire may well be the make or break moment for Buttigieg.

Then comes the Nevada Caucus on February 22nd. As usual, Nevada has less polling than other states, but there is enough to identify Biden, Sanders and Warren as, once again, the top tier, but with Warren repeatedly polling at just below the threshold. Buttigieg hovers just below them, and not looking like he’d get the 15% threshold. There is a good chance Biden and Sanders will split Nevada’s 36 pledged delegates roughly evenly. This could be a make or break caucus for Warren. But, maybe not.

Then, on Feb 29th, we have the South Carolina primary. The first two events are mainly white semi-rural or rural people deciding who should be president. Nevada Democrats have significant diversity but mainly Hispanic, and a strong labor component. But elections are won or lost on the basis of African American support in this country, and South Carolina is the first event with significant African American participation. Here, Biden is way ahead of everyone else, with Sanders and Warren sharing a distant second place, and hugging that 15% threshold a little too closely for comfort. It is possible that Biden will walk away with all of South Carolina’s 54 pledged delegates. Recent polling has shown Steyer as a factor in this state, and if that is correct, it could be Biden and Steyer splitting those delegates at about a 2:1 ratio. That all depends on if we believe Steyer is for real. I, personally, am not sure.

At this point, what we know now will still be true: Biden and Sanders are front runners. Warren is a factor, likely Butigieg is a factor. If nothing unusual happens, we will be entering Super Tuesday with a Biden-Sanders fight. However, Warren could outperform and pop, or Butigieg could take the threshold in three of these four states, or Steyer could buy his way in, er, I mean, well, whatever, you know what I mean. The point is this: We are watching a horse race with two odds-on horses, both old white guys but one progressive and one centrist, and one of them likely to win. But, there are these two or three other horses in the race that could woosh by either or both of them in these first four furlongs.

But then, Super Tuesday comes along. Sixteen entities, mostly states, vote on Super Tuesday, for a total of 1357 pledged delegates. Using information from polling, or if no polling exists, the thumb-suck-estimate method, assuming that no candidate has an unexpected break-through event in early states (or otherwise), and assuming that Biden, Warren, and Sanders are the only candidates likely to be viable for most of the primaries (Klobuchar will take a good number of Minnesota votes), the following shows a reasonable estimate of the outcome of Super Tuesday. Remember, this is based only on polls (this is not a predictive model) and polls are sparse in many of these states.

This is, in my view, the “null model” of what is going to happen between now and the day after Super Tuesday. It is a model to be defied by individual candidates, broken by the voters, altered by circumstances, manipulated by the Russians, etc. There is more uncertainty in this season’s Democratic primary than seen in the recent past, especially with a couple of billionaires showing up at the last second to buy the presidency, and according to the polling, making a dent.

The Story of the Democratic Candidates: Final Chapter

Final chapter for now…

I made a very special graphic, have a look:

Following in part on the procedure discussed here, this analysis combines data from several time-overlapping polls to produce a neater and cleaner depiction of each of the top four candidates march towards the presidency … or not.

It turns out that polls come in clusters. There will be several days in a row with a bunch of polls coming out, and then there will be a few days with no polls at all. There are reasons for this I won’t go into now. And, these polls, in the clusters, tend to overlap in time. For this reason, it is easy to take a bunch of polls in such a cluster and average out the results to give a better than average snapshot of a candidate’s status for a given period of time, usually about a week. Then, these withing cluster estimates are somewhat independent from the other clusters because there is no overlap in time, for the most part. The power of each estimate is very high, the trends depicted across the estimates are very likely.

That’s what the graphic above shows for Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris. Trends I noted in the previous several blog posts are apparent, but more cleanly depicted.

Here is what this graphic, based on 38 national polls, shows:

1) Biden has had a steady decline, and the rate of that decline may have increased after the first and so far only debate, but he is still number one.

2) Sanders has had consistent, immutable, results the whole time, never changing. It is like there is a certain number of people who support him, and they are not budging, nor are they gaining allies.

3) Warren started to rise in the polls well before the debates. This seems to have corresponded with intensification of her campaign, and her issue oriented displays of knowing things and having plans. Most experienced candidates and campaigners will tell you that is a bad approach. For Elizabeth Warren, it may have moved her into second place.

4) Harris was steady in her just barely 10% status — remarkably flat in fact — until the debate, when she suddenly rose almost meteorically, but not beyond the first cluster.

Is Warren’s rise more stable and issues and candidate based, therefore long lived, while Harris’s rise is a temporary bump from going after Biden in the debates? Is Biden’s downward trend going to continue at its newly accelerated rate or will it flatten out a bit, as hinted in these numbers?

To find out the answers to these and other questions, stay tuned!

But seriously, the next cluster of polls will be available in less than a week from now, most likely. The current pattern requires that the average for Biden be 35% or lower. Warren needs to be a strong second with over 25%. Sanders, while looking very flat, is actually down at his lowest rate in this sequence at present. Sanders should drop below 20%. Harris is likely to stabilize at around 20 or drop back to below 20. Or, she will rise to the mid 20s at the expense of Biden, mostly.

In evaluating these projections, remember how they are calculate. The poll numbers you see will all be lower than those mentioned here because of this. I don’t have full confidence in these projections, but when I say it all out loud, it seems right.

Pre Debate Dem Prognosis

Right now there are only three candidates in the race. Biden is in first place, and Warren and Sanders share second place. Biden’s numbers have been steadily dropping, but I suspect he will experience a more dramatic drop over the next polling cycle or two. Sanders’ have been slowly dropping, and Warren’s numbers are going up at a somewhat faster rate than Sanders have been going down. In the chart below you can see them close to convergence in about 20 days now, given current trends.

Of course, the debate will shake all this up and possibly add or remove individuals from this top three spot.

Warming up to certain candidates

Good work, mateys! Joe Biden’s new climate plan is pretty much in line with the Green New Deal. Way to pressure!

This moves Biden from bottom to middle tier for me, which makes me feel better about the fact that he is crushing everyone else in early polls.

California Convention. Since California a) has more electoral votes and more national party delegates than any other state, and b) is a Super Tuesday state now, all of the sudden for the first time in memory, the California Convention received additional special attention outside of California.

And, candidates were sorted. Have a look:

Yay Warren! Yay Sanders! Yay Buttigieg! Yay Harris! Boo Hefferlooper, Boo that other guy!

Perhaps California Democrats are not the same as other Democrats, but in fact, they aren’t different. The outliers in the Party of Kennedy and Wellstone are the right wingers found here and there in Old Dixie or or the High Plains, and a few machine cities or country states in Appalachia or the south. I think we saw some of the herd thinned out in California.

Head to heads. In a recent Quinnipiac poll held in Texas, Biden beat Trump in the head to head, but Trump beat all the other tested candidates. In Michigan, Biden and Sanders trounced trump in the head to head, and Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg did fine. Who cares. Trump was going to win Texas anyway, since Texas is populated with so many god fearing evangelicals who love them their transgressors.

Warren. Warren remains a weak third, but consistent in that spot. In the frontline primary states (New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina) it is typically Biden and Sanders in first (strong) and second place. In the latest North Carolina poll (which is not South Carolina, but still, has a lot of African American voters and it is near South Carolina) that held true, but Warren pulled a very strong third (39-22-15). But generally, Warren, while usually in third place, does not break single digits and is statistically in the same bed as Harris and Buttigieg.

Yang, Gabbard, Ryan and Inslee are number one candidates. And by that, I mean, if you round up their numbers, the get to 1%. I don’t see a way up for them, even though this is very early in the race. Klobuchar, Booker, and Castro are consistently in the wings, the one digit 1-3 point wings, and there are things about them that might make them factors later on. They seem to be keeping their powder dry. O’Rourke and Buttigieg could possibly be described as candidates that peaked but then sort of guttered. They are still in the race, but at the moment they were supposed to ride into town on their dark horse, the horse was doing something else that day.

Until proven otherwise, it feels like a race between Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris, with Warren and Harris ready to move ahead at any moment, though the Buttigieg-O’Rourke-Booker faction looms small in the background.

In other words, I have no faith in the idea that it is a totally open race. It is a race between twenty-whatever people in which a maximum of five are for real, and we know who the top two or three are and the next two or three will come from a small set of the remainders.

I also have no faith in the order of the leaders. Biden has a history of guttering. I don’t see Sander support moving because of Sanders, but rather, because he absorbs support from other candidates. If ever there was a primary season where an early adoption of a veep is tempting, it is this one. A wavering Biden could be surpassed by a suddenly formed team of two of the top non-front runners, as long as one of them is Sanders. I hasten to add this piece of classic advice about vice presidents: Don’t do that. No talk about the vice president until the convention.

(Hickenlooper and Delaney need new campaign managers. Or just don’t bother.)