Darn that reactionary uncertainty being the dominant feature of moderates’ ideology. Despite MSM’s spinning about Sanders and Buttigieg, FiveThirtyEight claims that no momentum was had from the first two primary campaign events.
Three days after the New Hampshire primary, we are finally getting some polls that reflect the new state of the race — including a poll in Nevada, the next state in the voting sequence, for the first time in a full month! And overall, they’re not showing that any candidate has grabbed a ton of momentum out of Iowa or New Hampshire. That’s probably good news for former Vice President Joe Biden, whose firewall in Southern states appears weakened but still standing. But mostly it’s a recipe for a long, drawn-out nominating contest. In fact, our national primary forecast currently says that the single most likely outcome of the primary season is that no candidate gets a majority of pledged delegates.
Let’s start with that Nevada poll, which was conducted Feb. 11-13 (which means some interviews were probably conducted before the results from New Hampshire were known) by WPA Intelligence for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and AARP Nevada. It showed
Sen. Bernie Sanders with 25 percent,
Biden with 18 percent,
Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 13 percent,
businessman Tom Steyer with 11 percent,
former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 10 percent and
Sen. Amy Klobuchar with 10 percent.
Although Biden has topped most Nevada polls we have, this poll didn’t affect the toplines in our Nevada forecast too much because it was right around where it expected the race to have settled post-New Hampshire. Our model currently gives Sanders a 2 in 3 (64 percent) chance of winning the Nevada caucuses, while Biden is given a 1 in 6 (16 percent) chance. Buttigieg (1 in 10, or 10 percent) and Warren (1 in 15, or 7 percent) are also outside shots to win the state.
Taken together, these four state polls show Biden trending in the wrong direction, but paradoxically they are actually good news for his overall chances of winning a majority of pledged delegates, which have ticked up from 1 in 9 (11 percent) on Thursday afternoon to 1 in 8 (13 percent) now.
That’s because the four polls also show that states like South Carolina are still very much open for the taking and that Sanders, Biden’s main competition for the nomination, is not riding a huge wave of momentum. As a consequence, Sanders’s chances of winning a majority of pledged delegates have dipped slightly from 2 in 5 (39 percent) to 1 in 3 (36 percent). And there’s now a 2 in 5 (37 percent) chance that no one will achieve a pledged-delegate majority, which could lead to a contested convention.
Nevada does seem to be the polling nightmare.
Republican polling firm WPA Intelligence conducted the telephone survey on behalf of the Review-Journal and AARP Nevada in the days after the New Hampshire primary, February 11 to 13; the poll has a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points.
It is important to note that this poll, while professionally conducted, should be taken with some caution. The results are certainly in line with recent trends — Sanders has surged in a number of national and state polls, and ahead of the Nevada caucuses, many have noted that he’s made strong investments in the state and has unrivaled support from Latino voters. But, that margin of error means Biden could actually top the field in the state; and broadly, Nevada is a state that is notoriously difficult to poll accurately.
It is so difficult that according to RealClearPolitics’s polling aggregator, there have been only three major Nevada surveys in 2020 (in contrast to more than 20 conducted in advance of the New Hampshire primary).
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