Monday, March 23, 2020

Democratic Primaries "On Wisconsin!"

The Democratic Primary Big Picture, Corona Virus Delays Abound

With the increasingly severe restrictions on public gatherings and movement, the primary season is in question.  Nonetheless, there WILL be a general election, by Constitutional law, in November.  Therefore, there MUST be Democratic and Republican national conventions this summer.  Those are in mid July.

They are almost certainly going to be held remotely, via internet links.  Expect a massive confusion around how to secure voter credentials remotely, etc., but Biden should have the 1991 needed on the first ballot to secure the nomination.  Unfortunately, at pre-coronovirus scheduling, he was on track to have it all done by the NJ primary on June 2.  Now, it will almost certainly have to wait until NY and the others on June 28.

So, the State primaries that are left will need to function in time to bind their delegates to their candidates, if the situation is to proceed smoothly.  Best practice will be to push advance paper ballots as much as possible, as in person voting should be discouraged.

At this time, I am only expecting Wyoming, Alaska, Wisconsin and Hawaii to hold their primaries in April as scheduled.  That pushes the whole process off, leaving Bernie hanging out there to sow discord and weaken Biden.  On the other hand, initial polls show Biden gaining slightly on Trump in national surveys - but after Hillary, who believes those any more?

Why Wisconsin Still Matters Now

Simply put, if Biden loses Wisconsin, he would need to win AZ or NC to win the election.  Both of those are very hard to imagine.

So, the most interesting information we will get in April is now from Wisconsin. Wisconsin (April 7) - has actual elections, not just primaries, on this date, and they probably have to do it by paper rather than leave state and local offices empty throughout the summer.

Why is Wisconsin so interesting?

Last time, Bernie showed strong in Wisconsin against Hillary.  In 2016, Bernie WON Wisconsin with 56.5 % of the Democratic primary voters.   In retrospect we now realize that was a harbinger for serious (fatal) lack of support for Hillary in general.  People didn't all vote "for" Bernie. Many voted "against Hillary" once in the primary, and then again in the general election, swinging the state (and the election) to Trump. All pundits and analysts seem to have missed this subtlety, except for the Trump campaign who responded by scheduling multiple trips to Wisconsin in the final weeks of the campaign, successfully turning a blue state red.  They simply were smarter than anyone else.

This year, Sanders  is polling BEHIND at about 38-39% of Democrats in the Primary, against Biden's 55%.  In broad strokes, that means that about 17% of the voters do NOT prefer Bernie, but voted for him because they didn't want Hillary.  While 38% is stronger than Bernie is getting nationally, so there is more enthusiasm for him there, it is not clear that there is the kind of anti-Biden feeling that there was vs. Hillary.  Conclusion:  If Bernie fails to get 40 or 50 % in Wisconsin, it is a very good sign for Biden in the national contest.

Now let's analyze that conclusion with Trump/Biden.

Where are Biden/Trump in WI polling?

From last summer through January, 2020, in Wisconsin, Biden routinely out-polled Trump by about 5% points, just outside the range of error for most polls.  During that same time period, about 13% were undecided.  But you must remember that Hillary, in November of 2016, polled almost identically, including about 13% still undecided.  Guess where the undecideds went last time?  The "undecided" voter does NOT statistically break according to the percentages of the "decided" voter in polls.  The Bernie victory should have told us that could happen.

So what is happening with those swing voters in Wisconsin this year?

In February, as the Biden campaign crashed in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, the Biden/Trump polls moved along with him.  By the end of February, Trump was beating Biden in all head to head polls by a solid 5% points in Wisconsin.  Then came South Carolina, and the realignment of the Democratic primary in favor of Biden and against Bernie.  Biden is now, once again, polling slightly ahead of Trump and within the margin of error.

Conclusion:  As of now, Biden and Trump are in a statistical tie in Wisconsin with, you guessed it, 10-13% undecided.

Wisconsin will decide who is the next president.  But not just Wisconsin.  Drilling down, Trump won all the Republican Congressional Districts, and Hillary won all the Democratic congressional districts EXCEPT the 3rd.  This is where the President of the United States could be decided.

So What is the Wisconsin 3rd Congretional District.

91% white, 56% Rural, traditionally Republican, but with half of the city voters from MN-St Paul because of Gerrymandering.

Good Luck, Joe.

As of today, it is too close to call, but a swing back to Democrat will depend on how districts like this one view the handling of the Corona Virus Pandemic and its aftermath.

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