Skip to main content

What's going on in the IL primary?

It's been a crazy few days here in Illinois. There was the chaos of the Trump rally/protest on Friday. (He leads Cruz by a few points.) And you could be forgiven if you looked at the polling results that came out on the Democratic side over the weekend and scratched your head. A few weeks ago, Hillary was up by about 40 points. Now, the polling average is Hillary by 11 with a range of Bernie by 2 to Hillary by 37.

So what's going on?

To start, a number of polling companies looked at what they got wrong in Michigan and altered their data to reflect the turnout there. More young people, less of a lead for Hillary among African-Americans. One theory in the Chicago area is that Bernie distancing himself from the mayor has helped. Early voting in Illinois is setting a turnout record...a good sign for Sanders? Maybe. Illinois definitely has a more progressive streak than the other primary states tomorrow. So if Bernie is going to do well anywhere it would probably be here.

Adding to the confusion is that Pollster, for whatever reason, has Bernie up in their aggregate by 4%. I asked them if this was a mistake on Twitter but haven't gotten an immediate reply. When you look at the trend, Sanders has been behind in nearly every poll so it's nearly impossible for him to be leading on average unless they're cooking with a special sauce...one that I'd question.

FiveThirtyEight has Clinton by 12. And has her at about a 95% chance to win the state regardless of polls-only or with unseen advantages baked into the formula. My gut guess is that she actually is ahead by 5-15%. She's not leading by 40, but Bernie probably isn't leading either.

But what if Sanders is leading? Currently, Sanders is the underdog in all states voting tomorrow. Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois may be close, but North Carolina and Florida are not expected to be. We're at the point in the election cycle, however, where we throw our hands in the air and wait to see what comes in. The polls have been very, very accurate this election cycle. Unless they're not. For every poll that's been dead-on accurate we've had a few that have been so far off to throw the whole thing into question. Which is what's also giving Bernie fans that annoying level of hope they can still pull it out.

Is there some un-measured level of sea change out there that may give Bernie Sanders a shot at the nomination? If it's going to happen, we'll see it tomorrow with a sweep of Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri...and maybe a decent showing in one of the southern states. Probability says Clinton will probably win every state...but we'll see. Keep in mind Sanders needs to win multiple states by double digits from here forward.

Tomorrow is make or break for Sanders. Either he wins a few states and shows signs of life, or Clinton really is the nominee we think she is.

Update: 11:00am 3/14/16 Pollster fixed the error in their average for IL. Hillary leads by 8. Sanders has been upgraded to a 10% chance of winning IL in the latest FiveThirtyEight forecast.

Comments