Nate Silver is at it again.
The single pollster and analyst that correctly predicted the outcome of the 2012 elections has charted the outcomes of every presidential primary this year, and as usual, has connected the dots to make a prediction or two. For all the jabbering on the internet about feeling the Bern, making America great, standing with Hill or Cruzing to victory, Silver has some much simpler projections, and his predictions are likely to upset the fringe.
Predicting Democratic primary outcomes
Let’s start with the Democrats: at present Hillary Clinton leads with 1266 pledged delegates to Bernie Sanders’s 1036. That seems closer than it should. The superdelegate system could easily overturn a narrow victory of pledged delegates for either candidate. Superdelegates, after all, can vote for whichever candidate they like, regardless of the winner of a state primary or caucass–something Bernie’s supporters don’t seem to understand, and that Hillary’s supporters groused about in 2008.
More than likely, however, the superdelegates will not determine which candidate gets to run in the fall. Silver points out that Secretary Clinton is actually doing far better than his earlier projections suggested, and, at present, she’s only about 1200 votes from taking the nomination. When superdelegates figure into the equation, that narrows her need-to-win to just shy of 700. That’s bad news for Sanders: given the proportional delegate system of the Democratic primaries, barring a series of enormous landslides, he and Hillary would likely split the remaining pledged delegates, each coming out with about 870 of them. In other words, the nomination will go to Hillary Clinton.
Downward Onward Trump
The math is even more intriguing on the GOP side. With only 1237 delegates needed to cinch the nomination, Donald J. Trump leads with 752 delegates. His closest rival, Ted Cruz, by contrast only has 463. The winner-take-all system in some of the GOP state primaries complicates matters: 539 of the remaining delegates are winner-take-all, meaning that the best Cruz could hope to do would be to block Trump from getting to the “magic number.” The remaining delegates are all proportional, for Cruz to get to the magic number himself, he would have to take every winner-take-all state and more than 90% of the proportional delegates. That’s unlikely to happen, even with the rotten week Trump has had.
More likely, should Trump not sew up the nomination, the GOP convention will be contested, at which point a line of Bad News Bear candidates will vie for the nomination. Still, Trump needs to win five of the take-all states, and about 50% of the proportional votes. If the GOP leaders really do fear a Trump candidacy, then their plans for sabotage might have arrived too late.
In short then, Trump and Clinton remain the odds-on, if not mathematically assured candidates for their respective parties. Given the harsh criticisms leveled against both candidates from within their own parties, however, they’d both better have a plan for reconstruction.