Thursday, March 3, 2016

Super Tuesday post mortem: The GOP

If I haven't admitted it before, I don't put much stock in polls being able to predict races in the primaries. Compared to the general election, where the number of polls is much higher and the predictive value much greater, numbers from primary polls are nearly useless because of two factors, small sample size of polls and a phenomenon I call Voter Churn. By the time November rolls around, the vast majority of people have made up their minds and big swings away from the mean or median polls are damned rare. But in primary season, a lot of people voting only started paying attention a few weeks before and voter loyalty is much lower. For that reason, I'm going to ignore the predictive value of the polls last night and instead look at the averages of the candidates' state averages. I do this because just taking the total votes cast overstates the strength of Ted "The Snake" Cruz due to his big win in the biggest state of Super Tuesday, Texas.  So here is the average of all states with primaries. (I ignore caucus states and so should you, as they are awful predictors of future success.)

Average of state percentages
Trump 36.4%
Cruz 23.6%
Rubio 22.0%
Kasich 9.8% 
Carson 5.9%
Others 2.3%

Here are my top lukewarm takes from these numbers.

1. Kasich can be proud of finally passing Carson before Carson finally quits.  The national polls still had Carson in fourth, and that's only because they poll people who really are paying attention yet.

2. Kasich should hold his head high and fade into oblivion, throwing his support to Rubio. Seriously, I do not understand why he hasn't quit yet. He had his alleged moment in the sun and he didn't get any warmer.

3. Where will the support for Carson go? I honestly have no idea. My guess is it helps Cruz first, Trump second and Rubio third, but this just a guess, and I hate guessing with no real numbers to back me up. It could easily be Trump first and Cruz second.

4. The Republican establishment are buying liquor in bulk. The old schoolers in the GOP hate Cruz more than Trump, but both of them are terrifying to the cocktail party crowd in the nicer suburbs of our dysfunctional capitol. Those two guys got 60% of the total vote and the GOP establishment is now making up its collective mind about which one they hate the least.

5. Cruz is worse for the GOP than Trump. On the East Coast, Cruz got beat like a red-headed stepchild. There are plenty of Republicans who will to use the power of the Senate to block aid to stricken areas, but Cruz does it the most. For a Democrat, running against Cruz is a dream.

6. Rubio isn't looking any better right now. There are a lot more caucuses than primaries over the next week or so, which means more chance for surprises, but in the primaries soon to come, Rubio only looks kinda sorta good in Puerto Rico. Watch Trump make fun of that win if it comes.

Tomorrow: a quick look at the Democrats on Super Tuesday.

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