Sunday, February 21, 2016

The national polls and post mortem from R-SC and D-NV

 The Dems: It's a good time to remind folks reading this blog that the national polls are often meaningless in terms of trends. Hillary won Nevada by 5.5%, which means the "outlier" poll by Gravis Marketing was closest to correct. This either means I have misjudged Gravis or we have a  blind pig/acorn situation.

I'm going to go with the second one. I apologized to Gravis on my Twitter feed last night, but now I'm awake and relatively sober, and I still don't trust them.

The graph shows Hillary leading as she has forever, but the trend looks positive for Sanders. I don't think the trend can be trusted. Clinton's next test is South Carolina next weekend, where she is an overwhelming favorite according to a reasonable number of polls. Then comes Super Tuesday nine days from today. I fully expect Sanders to win some contests on Super Tuesday, but the delegate lead from victories by Clinton will become obvious. Barring a miracle, Sanders' chance to win will evaporate before the first day of Spring.

The GOP: The national trend shows Trump well in the lead but wobbling around in the 35-40% range. I think this is fairly accurate. He won South Carolina handily last night and the next race is the Nevada caucus. Not unlike the situation with the Democrats in Nevada, the number of polls is ridiculously low, but Trump has a comfortable lead.

There are now five people left, but all signs point to a three-person race with a lopsided advantage for Trump. After New Hampshire, Rubio the Robot was supposed to be a discontinued model, but now after South Carolina, he's the "establishment" candidate in the running. This has been a very strange year.

Speaking of strange years, we won't have Jeb:( to kick around anymore. I still can't believe he never caught the Completely Sane and Honest Ben Carson in the weekly national polling average even once, because Carson shows every sign of being a complete non-factor in every upcoming race. Then again, Jeb:( was also a non-factor.

In my evaluation of the Democrats, I've already prepared people for Hillary's inevitability, so am I ready to say the same about Trump? I should be, but honestly, the Republican race is a species I've never seen before, so I can't be sure which way things will jump. I'm getting the strong feeling that nothing that comes out of Trump's mouth can kill him with the Republican base right now, unless he turns 180 degrees from his most popular positions, like admitting there won't be a wall on the Mexican border and he has no way of getting Mexico to pay for it.

So what can kill Trump? Well, I'm not completely sure what happens as Kasich and Carson fade away. I don't think Cruz or Rubio have the talent at campaigning to beat the Teflon Donald, but once again, this is a new species of contest to me, which makes me much less confident to say I know which way the numbers are going.

Let me say this for the record. This isn't the Tea Party anymore. This is the Meth and Heroin Party. (Looking online, that combination is called either Methball or Screwball.) These are the white people who are seeing first hand the worsening situation for white folks in the areas of the country where the economy has gone to shit, who are living with the increasing death rates for middle aged whites noted in the paper by Deaton and Case. It's a mistake to think they are unable to see Trump is just making stuff up as he goes along, it's that they want to believe so bad, they make Mulder look like Scully. They also get a daily dose of news and opinion from talk radio and the Internet that is way more toxic than Fox News, people now considered unfit for TV like Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Alex Jones. Every time I hear Jones, I am amazed he has an audience and it is terrifying that people running for president would appear on his show. It's harder for me to explain than the popularity of some of the stranger TV and radio preachers like Dr. Gene Scott or Harold Camping.

In short, this is some fucked up shit and I'm trying to make sense of it. By my own standards, I am not succeeding yet.

So February winds down with two contests that appear to have exactly zero drama, and then it's Super Tuesday. This is going to be a crazy amount to data to collect and I'm not even sure of the best way to present it. Stay tuned to see what clever (or not so clever) method I use to make sense of the least sensible election I have ever seen.

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