Folks keep telling me that Bernie has an overwhelming advantage over Clinton when it comes to Millennials. This is true, but it’s not as relevant as Berners seem to wish it were.
If Hillary gets the nomination, then some Millennials will stay home (presumably in ritualistic disgust)… but by definition, the Millennials that stay home will be the Millennials that were already least likely to vote anyway.
The Millennials that were most likely to vote… will be the Millennials that have a solid party affiliation (either R or D). The drop-off in “likely voterhood” in the under 35 crowd is enormous.
Hillary, on the other hand, polls much better than Bernie among minorities, particularly Hispanics and African Americans. It’s not even close. White folks on Facebook or Twitter who support Bernie have been more or less ignoring that very large elephant in the room. When they don’t, in cringe-inducing circumstances, they are sometimes whitesplaining how dumb minority voters must be, which is really… ugh. Go look at Twitter if you want to see it, it’s a train wreck and I’m not linking to any of it.
Allow me to put on my ruthless public voting analysis hat.
74% of African Americans support Clinton, compared to 14% for Bernie. Overall, Hillary has a 67% to 28% advantage over Bernie with non-white voters.
That’s enormous. Huge.
To put this in the proper perspective, in 2024 it would be a no-brainer on the national election stage.
By 2028 people will be laughing at you if you put forth a candidate that polls well among younger voters but has a weakness with minorities (this does not bode well for the Grand Ol’ Party’s long term health, for certain).
It’s possible that 2016, maybe, maybe… this year might be the last year that betting big on the younger voter over other considerations regarding minorities (who are soon to not be minorities any more; they really aren’t already in many places, but I digress) pays off.
That’s not where the smart money goes, though. Granted, the smart money is only slightly smart, at this stage of the game, because one primary characteristic of polling folks is that folks do not have a predictably rational response to longitudinal polling. Folks who – at this stage of the game – say that they’ll support Sanders over every GOP candidate may change their mind when it is Sanders versus only one particular GOP candidate if they decide that they don’t really like that candidate that much. Remember how many folks, who were reliable GOP voters, who voted for Obama in 2008 because of McCain’s pick of Palin? It happens.
The $64,000 question is… “how predictable are likely voters at this stage of the game?”, and granted, the answer is “not very”. But it’s still probably better than a coin toss…
If Bernie gets the nomination, a number of non-white minority voters will stay home (again, presumably in ritualistic disgust), but again by definition those who stay home will be those who were least likely to vote anyway. The ones who are most likely to vote will be those with a strong party affiliation (again, either R or D).
But unlike Millennials, who are primarily defined by their age, which is heavily linked to voter likelihood, minorities are of all ages… and winning the minority vote is much more highly correlated with winning the electoral votes when it comes to the battleground states (spoiler: particularly one of ’em…).
A reminder: the national election is pretty much a story of the battleground states.
Nobody cares what California thinks about the election this year because we don’t matter. Ball up our electoral votes and put them in a bag and hand them to whoever is holding up the blue flag. That’s how we roll. (You could stay home in disgust if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, or vote for the Peace and Freedom candidate or the Green Party or the Libertarians for that matter and you’re not going to change that outcome.)
Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida. They are very probably going to pick the President in 2016.
Ohio is the real battleground in 2016. The GOP has an edge against both Sanders and Clinton; Hillary has a better chance against some of the candidates and Bernie has a better chance against others. Call it probably GOP (Ohio is worth 18); maybe Dem… but granted again, that probably isn’t a big probably. 270towin’s public poll reporting method is not as gently massaged as the folks over at FiveThirtyEight.
In Colorado, Bernie polls much better than Clinton, but probably not by enough to make the difference. Colorado probably goes team Red. (Colorado is worth 9).
Sanders has an advantage over Clinton in Iowa. (Iowa is worth 6). Iowa is probably red but not certain. More probably than Ohio, certainly.
Clinton beats all the GOP likely contenders in Nevada by a lot (surprising, isn’t *that*, for West Coast liberals who think Nevada is all the Bundy ranch?) Sanders hasn’t been polled. (Nevada is worth 6)
Sanders beats the snot out of the entire GOP field in New Hampshire (that’s not surprising at all)… but Clinton also cleans the slate, so the fact that he wins “by a gazillion” and she wins “by a lot” doesn’t matter one whit for Hamp’s EC count. (New Hamp is 4). It’s blue, either way.
Virginia’s polls show the same, inverted. State goes blue either way. (Virginia is 13).
Now here’s the rub. Get ready for the sadhorns.
Sanders likely loses Florida to Rubio, Cruz, or Trump. Clinton loses to Trump by a smaller margin (within the polling error), but is in a dead heat with Marco (and it’s been getting better, not worse, showing that Rubio actually isn’t a strong with minority voters in Florida as one might expect), and Clinton burns Cruz to the ground there. (Florida is the 900 lb gorilla of the battleground states, it is worth 29.)
Tally that all up, Virginia’s 13 and Hamp’s 4 (total of 17) go to blue whoever is the nominee. Florida’s 29 are much more likely to go blue if Hillary is the nominee and not Bernie. Nevada’s 6 is in the probable bag for Hillary, no data for Bernie. Colorado’s 9 are more likely to go red than blue. Ohio’s 18 are more likely to go red than blue, but could go either way.
Obama won all of the above except Iowa and got 332 EC votes in 2012.
So if Hillary is the nominee, assuming no other major changes in voting patterns (which is possible!) she would predictably (right now) get 305, maybe as many as 323, maybe as few as 276 EC votes.
Bernie on the other hand gets probably 276, maybe as many as 294.
Either one has a far better than even chance of winning against the GOP field, as you only need 270… but given that Ohio’s 18 and Colorado’s 9 are more likely red than blue this year, from a voting analysis standpoint it’s all about the best chance in Florida.
Again, the 900 lb gorilla.
And Hillary is the best chance in Florida. She is also handily beating Bernie there, in the primary polls.
Now, granted, Bernie’s apparent deficit against Clinton could be a function of familiarity, or something else. It might not be as stark as the numbers currently indicate. All early polls are of dubious predictive value. There’s a lot of caveats and provisos here. But you can’t counter that with “the youth will rise up!”, though. Not seriously. Because the youth have a chance to rise up every year and they somehow manage to not do it. Sure, it will change some day. All voting patterns are patterns until they aren’t any more. But if the youth were really going to rise up and vote, en masse, this year, you may be seeing something resembling evidence that this was more likely than not. Like, voting drives. Young folks walking around with packets of registration forms. Organized “get out the vote” movements everywhere.
I have to say, if I’m a dark, smoke-filled room Democratic insider who is trying to ensure that my party has the best possible chance to win in November (not that I endorse dark smoke filled rooms or the folks who sit in them), I would err on the side of predicting that the candidate that polls 35 points better among minorities has a much, much better chance of winning in the general election than the candidate that polls 50 points higher among people under 35.
Because betting on the youth vote is something you do when you don’t have any other choice, and when you’re stuck with it you’ve already got the ground game working to make it happen. You’ve got MTV showing “RocktheVote” commercials, etc. Celebrities making “register to vote!” YouTube videos which are getting play in social media.
The 900 lb gorilla can probably be taken down, and it can more probably be taken down by Clinton, making the rest of the conversation about which states are battlegrounds a whole heck of a lot more moot.
I know, kinda frustrating that our system of politics produces a situation where 1% of Florida’s population is more likely to make the call as to who wins the Presidency than the other 300 million or so folks in the country.
Hey, that’s America for you. It’s in the Constitution and everything. You want to change that, you’ve got a whole ‘nuther problem to tackle.
To win, it’s nice to have broad support. When you have two candidates that have more support among different groups who support the party, the one that is more likely to win in November is the one who gets more support from the bigger group.
(Not to mention that white folks insisting that their youth are more likely to matter than persons of color strikes me as problematic to say the least, for a lot of reasons, but it’s particularly weird coming from the left.)
Now, the really funny part about this election?
Everyone on the Left is looking at the GOP “Clown Car” and laughing about how the GOP insiders can’t keep the “obviously unqualified and/or disastrous candidate” (either Cruz or Trump or both, depending upon who is writing the Think Piece) out of the race… but at the same time they’re talking about how Hillary’s advantage over Bernie is all with the political establishment and not with Bernie’s populist support. Given New Hampshire’s landslide Bernie vote and probable delegate draw for Clinton this is the current blog-fodder of the week on the Left.
The irony of the inconsistency is not lost upon me.
In my assessment of party politics in the U.S., if the political establishment in a party wants something, it wants it for one reason only: parties in the United States want the Win.
Individual party members want their own policy preferences, sure. Parties will take stances on what their aggregate members call out as matters of justice, absolutely. There are substantive differences between the normative principles espoused by the two parties, yes.
All of that is true, and I’m not denigrating the parties by saying that their organizational structure is designed to produce a particular outcome. Whether or not the Win is more important than Justice probably is a matter of cases more than anything else.
But it is vitally important to recognize that the parties *themselves* are decision-making critters independent of their membership, from an organizational science perspective.
An analogy: a for-profit corporation is aligned, top to bottom, to make money (it might offer all sorts of community goodness, it might be an altruistic organization, etc.)… but structurally speaking, that’s the outcome the organization is evolved/designed to produce.
Political parties are organized, top to bottom, to produce a Win (particularly right now, on the Democratic side, focused far too hard on Presidential Wins at the expense of local and state Wins, but that’s a topic for another day).
If the “political insiders” want an outcome that isn’t reflected by popular opinion polls, it is very often the case that “political insiders” are looking at something that isn’t shown by the headline in popular opinion polls. Political insiders typically know a lot more about their own constituency voting patterns than what is reported in the media reporting of polls.
Political insiders pay very much attention to the most likely voter.
Because that’s what gets their party the Win.
Remember what I said above, how California voters don’t matter as much because we’re team Blue?
The fact that our state hasn’t moved *our* primary to the beginning of the cycle shows that our largely Democratic leadership undoubtedly recognizes that California’s impact on the Democratic primary process can only be a *detriment* to the *party’s* success in the national election.
The DNC certainly recognizes this, they aren’t stupid.
If some well-meaning local California *Democrats* tried to elevate California’s position in the primary cycle so that we could, you know, actually have a contributory outcome on the nomination? Something I see California Democrats reliably gripe about every four years?
I can imagine that the party mechanics would take aside the nice, justice-minded, idealistic, and probably newly minted legislator and inform them nicely that current movement on their proposal will probably be buried forever in committee for eminently practical and justifiable (indeed, necessary!) goals. Whether or not this is a speech that is true or not in a normative sense isn’t really germane.
Because California weighing in early and picking a candidate that doesn’t fly in Florida – even if that candidate *is the objectively better candidate in all ways* would not improve the chance of a Democrat in the Oval Office.
You want to know why highly Democratic California doesn’t participate in the primary process? Because our highly Democratic legislature doesn’t want us to do so. Q.E.D.
In this country, about a quarter of the populace can’t vote, and of the ones that can about half of them aren’t registered, and of the ones that are about half of *them* don’t show up at the polls. The differences are even more stark when you take into account age: 65% of eligible, registered seniors vote, only 35% of eligible, registered folks under 35 do.
That means the national election is decided by under 19% of the population.
Of that 19%, about a third (6%) reliably vote for the Dems, about another third (6%) reliably vote for the Republicans, and the remaining 7% are a pool of less-likely voters who show up depending upon how motivated they are by the election this year. Of that 7%, just under half (3%) are going to swing GOP with about an 80% confidence interval, and just under the other half (3%) are going to swing Democrat with about an 80% confidence interval, and the last 1% are the actual swing voters.
If that 1% were 100 voters, only about 28 of them would be under 35. The other 72 of them aren’t.
(image credit: Flickr user Hjallig, Creative Commons 2.0 license).