Bernie Sanders has an outside chance of winning Iowa and is well ahead in New Hampshire. His devoted followers believe that if he can manage to win both states, the momentum gained will propel him to eventual victory. However, momentum, in order to be effective, must be maintained. Have ever watched a sporting event when one team appears to have all of the momentum and then – bang! – in only one play the momentum changes sides and the other team ends up victorious. Politics is no different.
It’s strange that Iowa’s caucus and New Hampshire’s primary are the first states to test Presidential candidates because they are so atypical of our country as a whole – Iowa because of the strange rules used to pick the winners and New Hampshire because it is arguably the most libertarian state in the nation.
While Bernie could possibly win both Iowa and New Hampshire, any momentum he gains will be quickly be blunted because the next states in line are dramatically different and he is way behind in them. So let’s explore what Bernie can gain in the first caucus and the first primary and why his campaign is very likely to travel in reverse thereafter:
First of before even Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary starts out with a big lead in super delegates: Hillary – 344, Sanders – 12, O’Malley – 3 = Hillary +332. Super delegates are Democratic Distinguished party leaders, Governors, Senators, Representatives, and DNC members who have committed to a candidate. Currently 354 Super delegates remain uncommitted, but more are committing to Hillary every week.
Now let’s look at the poll results for the early state caucuses and primaries:
First come Iowa and New Hampshire with a total of 85 delegates
Iowa (2/1) – average of 7 most recent polls – Hillary +3.3
New Hampshire (2/9) – average of 7 most recent poles – Sanders +14.3
Then right behind are Nevada and South Carolina with a total 96 delegates
Nevada (2/20) – average of 2 most recent polls – Hillary +19.5
South Carolina (2/27) – average of 2 most recent polls – Hillary +29.5
Then almost immediately comes the what is often called “Southeastern Conference primaries” (All 3/1)
Alabama (58 delegates) – no recent polls, expected to be like other southern states
American Samoa (10 delegates) – no recent polls
Arkansas (37 delegates) – no recent polls, expected to be like other southern states
Colorado (77 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +28
Georgia (112 delegates) – poll in October – Hillary +57
Massachusetts (121 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +25
Minnesota (94 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +35
Oklahoma (42 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +35
Tennessee (77 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +20
Texas (237 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +31
Vermont (23 delegates) – no recent polls
Virginia (112 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +36
As you can see many are Southern states with large minority populations, a situation which is expected to help Clinton. Looking at the polling results for the SEC primaries states, while for some states the poll results are getting a bit old for my comfort, it is going to be very difficult for Sanders to make up for those kinds of big negative numbers.
Only Vermont and American Somoa appear to be winnable for Bernie and we don’t even have polls for those areas which total only 33 delegates. If Bernie wins both Iowa and New Hampshire (a feat that is by no means guaranteed) plus Vermont and American Soma he will have victories in four “states” with 118 delegates. He would also have 12 super delegates. If Hillary wins the other caucuses and primaries as expected, by March 2nd she will have won victories in states having 1,063 delegates along with 332 super delegates. At that point the Sanders campaign could well be hanging on by a thread.
If you are a Sanders fan and you are hoping for help in the remaining caucuses and primaries, there is really no good news. There are current polls for only a few of the remaining states, and here are the results of those state polls. They don’t look very encouraging for Bernie:
Ohio (3/15 – 121 delegates) – 2 recent polls – Hillary +29
Arizona (3/22 – 75 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +28
Utah (3/22 – 28 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +10
Alaska (3/25 – 28 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +3
Wisconsin (4/5 – 89 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +2
Maryland (4/26 -105 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +13
Connecticut (4/26 – 65 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +19
Pennsylvania (4/26 – 181 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +17
West Virginia (5/10 – 35 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +17
California (6/7 – 476 delegates) – poll in January – Hillary +11
Montana (6/7 – 22 delegates) – poll in November – Hillary +39
New Jersey (6/7 – 126 delegates) – 2 polls in November – Hillary +35
At the Democratic convention there will be 3,636 pledged delegates and 713 unpledged super delegates for a total of 4349 delegates. It takes a plurality of 2175 delegates to win. The bottom line for Sanders supporters – don’t expect Bernie Sanders be raising his hands in victory at the national convention.