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February 20, 2016


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It looks like Cruz is taking a lesser hit as well.

"Winning" and "winning by a lot" are very different things, and 76% chance of success still means a 24% chance of failure.

I think those odds are about correct here.

Whelp. Looks like CNN is calling Trump for SC.

Will the establishment put pressure on Kasich and Bush to exit? If their votes would have transferred to Rubio, he'd have taken SC over Trump. At least this early in the returns.

Bush is OUT!

At this writing (early AM EST), Trump is set to claim either 47 or all 50 of the SC delegates. He has won a plurality in the stae (29 delegates) and has won 6 of 7 of the Congressional districts and is on track to win the 7th. (3 delegates each -> either 18 or 21)

It's a very solid win.

Minor odd additional wrinkle: unlike many states, SC delegates are pledged for the first ballot only. (Most other states require delegates to be pledged for two or three ballots.) It's never ever made a difference, but... noted.

Doug M.

Trump snagged it.

This means others will need to be bribed, cajoled or forced out for the establishment to beat back Trump.

The worry I have is they won't and Clinton might flub the election. Whether against Sanders or against Trump.

I wonder if enough Republicans would hate Trump enough to cross over in the general...

The final percentage for Trump looks smack dab in the middle of that clump of recent polls. Another victory for poll averaging.

Will: given the Nevada caucus results, I do not think you need to worry about a Sanders nomination.

More interesting is whether Republicans will cross over. My suspicion is that most will still vote GOP in the fall. In fact, given Doug's point about record turnout in the GOP primaries, I'm not even sure that many Republicans will stay home.

Is it correct to assume that Trump is disadvantaged in the general compared to, say, Marco Rubio?

Carlos: great point. Are fancy models like Fivethirtyeight worth the effort?

There is some evidence for a gender gap among Trump voters that does not exist among Rubio or Cruz voters.

I think it's a weakness, and it's one that Clinton should be able to take special advantage of.

I am not particularly concerned about low turnout this Democratic primary season.

sorry, a little late with the earlier reply, and I didn't refresh.

I really don't like 538's opaque proprietary models. Much too much secret sauce, and I get the sense they're tweaked to product headline bait.

I liked Drew Linzer's work -- open source, I suppose you'd call it -- combining a simple political science model (modified Abramowitz) with polling data. Doesn't seem like he's updated it for 2016, though.

If one distrusts models entirely, and I think a case can be made for that, then poll averaging is the best method. (Prediction markets have actually become worse with time.)

My main concern is not Sanders will be elected to the President or not, but whether or not Clinton chokes.

A Trump Presidency worries me.

Actually, a Sanders Presidency concerns me from the POV almost everything he'd propose to Congress would get shot down and make the gridlock worse.

Serious question: how much money has been spent on anti-Trump ads? It seems to have been rather small so far, since most Republicans, like most political watchers of any political affiliation, were convinced that he would flame out or commit some campaign-killing gaffe or get bored with the process.

Is he a genuinely strong candidate, able to survive directed fire, or is he the survivor of a circular firing squad, like Claudius, or Russ Feingold's first victory? I can see arguments either way, but I'd like more data.

I think he's something of a survivor of the circle squirt, but! I also think he's found a way to tap into the general anger and dissatisfaction GOP voters tend to have: older and angry with the limits they feel they have placed on them. They've hit the 'fsck em' stage now and Trump speaks to the angry jerk in people, IMO.

Cruz went after Trump pretty hard, but I'm not sure how much play it had. Nor am I sure whether modern ad blitzes are as effective as in the past. A threefer of rising voter cynicism smaller TV ratings, and Trump's specific teflon may have blunted their effect.

Or not. I'm with Carlos: is there data? Maybe nobody has really tried. That's what Fivethirtyeight often claims.

Politico has some numbers, way below the fold: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/donald-trump-megadonors-219690

"according to a POLITICO analysis of FEC filings. It found that only 4 percent of the $238 million in advertising aired by big-money groups so far has targeted Trump."

"It did find that the attacks on Trump by conservative groups had increased somewhat since he began cementing his status as the GOP frontrunner in November. Before then, the only groups reporting spending money primarily to oppose Trump were the Club for Growth and a pair of liberal super PACs (both of which support Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton).
Overall, super PACs and other outside groups have spent $9.5 million opposing Trump, according to the filings."

"That makes him the most-targeted presidential candidate, ahead of his GOP rival Marco Rubio (who was targeted by $8.1 million in spending) and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton ($7.6 million), according to POLITICO’s analysis of FEC filings. They detail individual advertisements and other so-called independent expenditures by super PACs and other outside groups supporting or opposing candidates."

"Some major donors have expressed frustration at the relatively paltry spending on Trump attacks by the super PACs created to boost Trump’s Republican rivals. They had raised a combined $320 million through the end of January, but have spent only $2.1 million on ads that primarily target Trump, according to the analysis."

So slightly more than against Rubio (now in an ineffectual second place), but qualitatively, some of the least impressive attack ads ever aired, in good part because the content of the ads could not break institutional Republican orthodoxy.

Ezra Klein presented an argument against Carlos's thesis: http://www.vox.com/2016/2/24/11103704/the-republican-party-is-broken

Short version: Even if there had been more spending on attack ads, it wouldn't have worked, because the electorate likes Trump and hates the "establishment."


There's a rumor floating around there's something up with Trump tax returns.

Given some of the folks bringing it up, my eyebrow got raised.

That's a very weak article, unfortunately -- and equally unfortunately, it's weak in a way I have come to associate with Vox. This is not a new anti-establisment wave. Why were the GOP's signals effective in 2012, and not in 2016? The word "Romney" isn't even in the article.

I think it was Newt Gingrich, of all people, who recently put into the mainstream the idea that Trump has had who knows how many billions of dollars of "free media" for a very long time -- something people have been discussing in the corners, of course, but not made front and center until just now. Not only has negative ad spending against Trump been barely larger than that against other candidates, it's been dwarfed by the positive media of the last decade.

There aren't any really rigorous models of the effects of advertising out there, but one of the most used postulates a delta between positive and negative claims. For the people who are in the market to buy what Trump is selling, that's a high barrier, given his past positive publicity. Was it insurmountable? I dunno.

A very different audience in the general, of course. I expect Clinton to go full Fury Road on Trump -- and Paul Begala has hinted as much. First she has to be magnanimous in victory against Sanders, of course.

NBC with SMG Delta has been tracking ad buys for each candidate, but the data is not organized (as far as I can tell) and only available piecemeal. The problem with data-driven journalism, sigh.

Carlos: what did you think of tonight's debate? Rubio hit pretty hard. Not as hard as I would have, but my calibration on these things is not the right one.

And support for the Carlos argument:


Read the link. And then repeat, "Holy shit. No oppo! WTF??"

If that report is right, the Democrats will make mincemeat of this guy with the weird hair, the Queens accent, and the body language of a Puerto Rican nurse from Long Island.

I saw another story on the lack of opposition research. They must have assumed Trump was a low stamina vanity candidate with little popular appeal -- you know, like Bloomberg -- and allocated their resources accordingly.

Why they didn't do a rush job as the primary season started to begin, that's another question.

Rubio had the right idea, but it's shutting the barn door, and he didn't follow through. The body language in the second half of the debate between the two was very much the older alpha brushing off the younger beta -- this was not helped by Rubio's boyish looks or by the difference in height between the two men (Trump was visibly much taller).

If this had been January, maybe. The tax return stuff was an own goal, but does the Trump supporter care? They really don't seem to be "good government" types.

And Trump cornered Cruz, even if what Trump said was incoherent. Cruz has been vilified for so long that he reacts very weirdly to personal attacks. I've seen similar body language on the traveling evangelists who used to call students "whores and whoremongers" on campus. It's an attitude of martyrdom, when what Cruz should have shown is, "can you believe this BS?" Or maybe they're the same thing for him.

But then, they all should have been doing that for weeks.

Welp, Christie just endorsed Trump.

Not sure what that gives him other than make me despise Christie more.

Are you kidding me???


One last comment on this thread: looks like Nate Silver is going to strip out the "special sauce" from the 538 model if Trump wins the nomination. https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/703321897283493888

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