While I fully understand and embrace the hype surrounding presidential elections, even as a bit of a political junkie, I will admit that the primary process wears me out. I’m already at the point where I wish the two candidates were nominated so we could all focus our attention on the race that matters: The general election in November.
Well, thankfully we’re getting closer and closer to that point. With Iowa and New Hampshire long behind us, primary elections and caucuses are going to start picking up steam and we should all find out who the real “frontrunners” are within the next two or three weeks.
Being that Iowa and New Hampshire have never really proven to be indicators of future success for either party, when we get to states like Nevada, and especially South Carolina, we’re going to start seeing what’s hype and what’s actually real. Especially considering that since 1980, all but two candidates who’ve won the South Carolina primary (Newt Gingrich in 2012 and John Edwards in 2004) went on to become the party’s nominee. History tells us that our next president will probably be one of the two winners of the South Carolina primary (Democrats in South Carolina vote on February 27).
That being said, I thought I’d make a few predictions for what I expect to happen this evening.
Let’s get Democrats out of the way first since there are only two candidates.
Since polling in Nevada is extremely difficult, the state has remained a fairly big mystery to most. As of writing this, Nate Silver (who accurately predicted the winners for Iowa and New Hampshire) gives Clinton a 72 percent chance of winning. Though he’s more than upfront in telling everyone that Nevada is incredibly difficult to predict so he might not be accurate. As it stands now, his polls-plus forecast has Clinton winning by seven points.
My gut tells me Sanders wins here. While I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Clinton get the victory (again, polling data from the state has a reputation for not being accurate), Republicans have been dumping a lot of money into Nevada aimed at hurting Clinton because they know it’s a state in which she should win, but could still easily lose.
If Sanders gets the win, that will be huge for his campaign. Being that he’s likely heading for a drubbing over the next few weeks (South Carolina/Super Tuesday), he really needs a somewhat unexpected win here to help him build more momentum heading into a difficult couple of weeks for his campaign. However, if he happens to lose by 5-7 points, while I’m sure he’ll spin that as a “victory” considering how much he was down a few months ago, that would be a rather large blow for his campaign moving forward.
All that said, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him win by a percentage point or two in Nevada.
Now on to the Republicans in South Carolina.
Trump’s up big in almost all the recent polls so it would be a rather big upset if he lost. Though I don’t see him winning by quite as large of a margin as some of the polls have indicated. I’m thinking Trump wins South Carolina, but only by 3-4 points, not by double digits. Here’s how I see the candidates finishing:
I picked Ted Cruz over Marco Rubio because the senator from Texas seems to have more steam heading into today. Now when it comes to John Kasich and Jeb Bush, they may ultimately switch spots from what I’ve predicted, but it’s really not going to matter much. I think if Kasich finishes ahead of Bush he stays in the race but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drop out if he finishes fifth. As for Carson, he should have dropped out after Iowa. Unless there are people urging him to stay in the race to siphon some of the evangelical vote away from Cruz for Rubio, I really don’t know how you justify him still being in this race.
I also think this is it for Jeb. Once the results are in, I look for him to either drop out Saturday night or sometime Sunday or Monday. If a Bush can’t do well in South Carolina, a state that’s always been good to the family, he’s not going to do well anywhere. You know you’ve reached a low point when you’re dragging your 90-year-old mother around with you on your campaign. Heck, according to polls (granted the newest ones are a month old), he’s in fourth place in Florida – his home state. So unless he somehow manages a top three finish in South Carolina (which would shock basically everyone), I look for this to be Jeb’s last stand in the 2016 race.
Alright folks, that’ll do it. Remember, the next big dates are February 23rd for Republicans in Nevada and February 27th for Democrats in South Carolina.