Hillary Clinton just lost New Hampshire. Don’t assume she’ll win the next state, either.
By Aaron Blake February 9 at 8:13 PM Follow @aaronblake
Update: The Clinton campaign conceded at 8 p.m. Eastern time, as the last polls in New Hampshire were closing. The below post had been updated.There is a quirk in the Democratic presidential nominating calendar.
Nevada, which is generally thought to be the fourth of the four early states, will actually be the third to vote. Its caucuses are next on the nominating calendar and will take place Feb. 20 — the same day Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina. South Carolina Democrats go to the polls a week later, on Feb. 27.
And if you’re Hillary Clinton, that’s not ideal.
There is this perception that New Hampshire, which Bernie Sanders won Tuesday, is too white and too close to Sanders’s home state of Vermont for Clinton to win. After New Hampshire, though, the states get significantly more diverse; basically every one of the next couple dozen states to vote is less white than Iowa and New Hampshire.
We’ve called this Clinton’s “nonwhite firewall.” Basically: More-diverse electorates start voting, and Clinton has a better chance of putting together a series of wins and ending Bernie Sanders once and for all.
But while Clinton might indeed be a shoo-in in South Carolina, that isn’t so clearly the case in Nevada. Witness this tweet Monday from chief Nevada political analyst Jon Ralston:
Hillary has an advantage. But it will be closer than people think, and she’s not a lock. #wematter https://t.co/yvE5yG0fcG
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) February 8, 2016
Technically, Nevada is actually the more-diverse state of the two. Non-Hispanic whites comprise just 51.5 percent of the population in Nevada, compared to 64 percent in South Carolina. Nevada has many Hispanics, while South Carolina has a large black population.
But to assume that both play to Clinton’s strengths in similar ways is to miss the point. For a few reasons:
1. While Nevada is even more diverse than South Carolina, its caucuses have been much whiter.
According to 2008 entrance polls, just 15 percent of Democratic caucus-goers were Latinos, even as they were 24 percent of the population of the state.
This has plenty to do with the fact that, while about a quarter of the state was Hispanic, just 12 percent of eligible voters in Nevada were Hispanic, thanks to huge populations of young and undocumented Latinos. In fact, in 2008, black voters actually comprised the same portion of the caucus electorate as Hispanics — 15 percent — despite being less than 10 percent of the state’s population.
That black turnout likely had at least something to do with the potential first black president being on the ballot — something that will not be true in this year’s caucuses. Thus, even as the state’s Hispanic population has climbed from 24 percent to 28 percent over the last eight years, we could very well see an electorate that is no more diverse than it was in 2008.
And it wasn’t a very diverse electorate. In fact, it was nearly two-thirds white — compared to 43 percent in South Carolina that year.
2. Latinos are less overwhelmingly for Clinton
An automated Public Policy Polling national survey last week showed Clinton leading Sanders by 74 points among black voters, but by just 12 points among Hispanics.
That’s one survey, but it’s clear that Sanders’s problem is much more acute among black voters, who are a much bigger presence in South Carolina than in Nevada.
3. Nevada is a caucus state
This is a format that requires a time investment and rewards impassioned supporters, who are more numerous on the Sanders side of the 2016 primary, all signs indicate. Clinton will certainly have a formidable operation on the ground in Nevada, but as we saw in Iowa, intensity can make up for a lot.
So could Sanders actually win Nevada? It’s very difficult to say with any certainty, given the dearth of quality public polling. The last high-quality survey from CNN-ORC in October showed Clinton leading Sanders by 22 points (58-36) in a race without Joe Biden and with Martin O’Malley. Of course, back then, CNN’s polling showed Clinton ahead in Iowa by 18 points. A lot could have changed in Nevada, too.
But the atmospherics are there for a competitive state — one that could extend Clinton’s misery for just a little while longer or at least be a headache, before her campaign can fall back on the much more solid portions of her firewall.
Nevada Democratic Caucus Polls 2016: Hillary Ahead, but That Could Change
ernie Sanders won New Hampshire by a large margin, but Hillary Clinton could to rebound well as the race turns to the Nevada caucus on February 20. Clinton leads in Nevada polling by a wide margin, though the most recent polls aren’t up to date. Clinton also holds the lead according to weighted polling averages by FiveThirtyEight and betting markets aggregated by PredictWise.
Here’s a look at the state of the Nevada race:
The most recent polls in Nevada are from October and December. CNN/ORC reported a 16-point lead for Clinton in October, 50 percent to 34 percent, with Clinton also taking top marks on every issue polled (the economy, foreign policy, health care, climate change, and race relations). A Gravis poll from December went even further, giving Clinton a 23-point, 50-27 lead, with then-active candidate Martin O’Malley taking 1 percent. The two polls combine for a RealClearPolitics average of 50 to 30.5 percent, a 19.5-point gap in Hillary’s favor.
- Hillary Clinton: 50%
- Bernie Sanders: 30.5%
It’s important to note that more than a month is a long time in polling; polls didn’t show the surge that led Sanders to a virtual dead heat in Iowa until 20 days before the election; the Gravis poll was released 54 days from the Nevada caucus.
FiveThirtyEight compiles two projections: a “polls-plus” forecast that takes into account factors like national poll impact, endorsements, and previous state results to formulate a more complete picture than the polling snapshot can provide, and a polls-only format that weights and averages the polls according to methodology and past accuracy. The lack of recent polling prevents them from doing a polls-plus forecast, but their polls-only forecast gives Clinton a 22.2-point advantage at 50.3 percent to 28.1 percent for Sanders.
FiveThirtyEight Polls-Only Forecast
- Hillary Clinton: 50.3%
- Bernie Sanders: 28.1%
The Betting Markets
The betting markets, as aggregated by PredictWise, show that Hillary is favored by Nevada caucus bettors 67 to 33 percent. This is below her 80 percent chances for the overall nomination, which FiveThirtyEight calls a bad indicator in the case of polls, but remains a substantial lead.