Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Michigan and Mississippi

Primary voting today occurs in two states with very significant demographic and voting differences.  Both Democrats and Republicans are voting in Michigan; only Democrats are casting primary ballots in Mississippi.  We’ll start with Mississippi, which is the easier of the two to predict.  

Mississippi’s  Democratic voters have a significantly large and influential African American block and Clinton’s well-established strength with these voters will play out as expected.  Score Mississippi for Hillary Clinton.

And now we’ve landed in with the Michiganders.  Michigan is a state with a large blue collar labor force, many of whom are the type of voters who are known as Reagan Democrats; blue collar labor workers who supported Reagan in 1980 and have continued to lean Republican despite the fact that the party is not known for its pro-labor policies.  That demographic group is going to matter on both sides of the primary.   For Democrats, the labor constituency will divide between Sanders and Clinton, with a slim majority of them in Sanders’ corner.  However, I think that Clinton will prevail in the state  because she will pick up African American voters by a wide majority.  Though Sanders has begun to close the gap, Clinton will take Michigan by a narrow margin.

The Republican contest in the Great Lakes state is a more complicated situation.  Trump’s populism is likely to gain traction among many of the Republican voters, especially the Reagan Democrat core.  Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio will split what remains and though their totals may exceed the Donald, I think that Trump will take home a victory tonight, with final numbers in the mid 30s.

Kasich will come in second, with a final voter tally in the mid-20s and Cruz just behind him.  The big news of the night will be that Rubio rolls in fourth, with support below 20%.  Rubio's campaign will still hold on for the Florida contest on March 15 but with each day that passes, that contest is more and more a do-or-die event for little Marco.

Wednesday morning update:  I failed to include Idaho and Hawaii in my predictions; moreover, I missed the fact that Mississippi Republicans were also voting yesterday.  I'm not sure why I made these errors, but perhaps it has to do with the fact that my predictions for Tuesday were off?

By a narrow margin, Sanders took Michigan, not Clinton.  That's an interesting development and makes next Tuesday's contests even more important for the Democrats.  Trump won Michigan and Mississippi.  Cruz came in second, just 1 point over Kasich.  Rubio was fourth.  In Idaho, Cruz pulled out a victory.  Two things about this are notable: First, the Trump alternative seems to be Cruz, which must horrify establishment Republicans.  Second, Rubio is looking more and more like a candidate on life support.

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