[guest post by JVW]
With the first primary behind us now, let’s pause a moment and outline some of the interesting things that have come up:
Bernard Sanders is clearly the candidate with the most dedicated and passionate following. But there are some ominous stormclouds brewing for him. Though he eked out an official win last night it was by a far more narrow margin than pre-primary polls had suggested, and he comes out of New Hampshire with no more pledged delegates than Pete Buttigieg received. Imagine this: though he won last night, FiveThirtyEight.com has actually lowered the probability that he will amass a majority of delegates for the Democrats’ convention, from 46% yesterday to 36% today. Conversely, Joe Biden was largely assumed to have had a horrible night last night yet saw his probably of winning a majority of delegates by convention time increase from last night’s 14% to today’s 17%.
So what gives? Clearly the numbers guys were expecting Senator Stalin to win by a much bigger margin than his piddly point-and-a-half. After all, four years ago he beat Hillary Clinton by a massive 60% to 38% score. So it seems the smart money is waking up to the fact that Comrade Bernard is not running against an immensely unlikeable candidate this time, and he will thus have a much harder time attracting an “anyone but” crowd. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar just don’t engender the enmity in people that Her Clintonic Majesty did. And Soviet Sanders, for all of his talk about bringing new people into politics, still has an amen chorus made up mostly of callow young kids and hardened old lefties, though the voting share of the kiddie cohort in New Hampshire dropped precipitously from four years ago, another bad sign for the eldery Marxist.
The assumption seems to be that Joe Lyin’ Dog-Faced Pony Soldier Biden can still right the ship with a win in South Carolina, and that Southern states with large black populations will get him back in the running. By leaving New Hampshire early and heading not to Nevada but straight to South Carolina, the Vigilante Lifeguard is placing a very big bet on winning a sizable chunk of delegates two weeks from Saturday. If he fails and only wins, say, a quarter of them, it’s hard to see how he stays in the race.
For the impressive showing that Pete Buttigieg had last night, he remains at 5% probability of winning a pre-convention majority, unchanged from his pre-New Hampshire standing. Elizabeth Warren has dropped to 3%, and Amy Klobuchar still does not register. Michael Bloomberg, who still has not officially contested a caucus or primary and won’t until Super Tuesday, sits at 4% because of white male privilege or something. FiveThirtyEight.com has upped the odds of the Democrats going into their convention with no candidate holding a majority of delegates from the pre-New Hampshire 27% to a post-New Hampshire 36%.
Our host has a good post up about the coming Nevada caucus, questioning whether it might be as much of a cluster-you-know-what as the Iowa caucus was last week. It sure is going to be fun to watch; at least the Dems know how to make their contests entertaining.