Bernie Sanders’ Kasich Problem in Ohio

Bernie Sanders’ narrow path to the nomination has a John Kasich problem. It is simple, measurable from multiple vantage points, and quite worrying if you hope to see Senator Obi-Wan through to the general.

John Kasich is eating Bernie’s lunch with Independents in Ohio.

[This is a first draft and will likely be updated late this afternoon or early this evening.]

Per the larger model I have been using (i.e. including but not limited to Facebook Primary adjusted to UPSD), Sanders could and should do somewhat better in Ohio than in either Illinois or Michigan. NAFTA has long been more openly hated in Ohio than Illinois. Purple states go better for Bernie than Blue states like Illinois. Voting a week later than Michigan gave the Sanders campaign more time to fine tune the anti-trade deals attack. And the overall share of African American voters in Ohio is a bit lower than Illinois or Michigan.

I started noticing a few weeks back, however, that Sanders does not do as well as I would expect in the Facebook Primary in Ohio. It is not that he does particularly worse vis-à-vis Hillary Clinton than expected, just slightly but measurably. Rather his overall share of “likes” in Ohio is much lower than in similarly situated purple states. It appears that Kasich’s understandable dominance in Ohio’s Facebook Primary is attributable to reasonable Republicans and Independents going big for him.

Theoretically, this would hurt Clinton and Sanders equally: Independents who might otherwise vote in the Democratic primary tomorrow will instead vote Republican leaving Sanders and Clinton to compete for a small share of Independents and a larger share of Democratic partisans. But since Independents have gone very heavily for Sanders in prior contests, this could become a major factor Tuesday.

Two polls out yesterday from Marist (NBC/WSJ) and YouGov (CBS) confirm this phenomenon. Sanders is running twelve points worse in Ohio than in Illinois according to Marist and eleven points worse according to YouGov.

I have looked at the county by county data for Ohio now as I did ahead of Michigan and have done a bit already for Illinois. That look suggests an exacerbation of the issue. Sanders appears to be doing just slightly worse with urban, non-black voters in Ohio versus Illinois and Michigan but substantially worse with rural and even mid-sized town voters.

A few notes of caution: as of this writing, FIveThirtyEight has not updated its Facebook Primary since February 29. Even if they had, the data there is massive enough that it cannot move dramatically at this point absent something completely unexpected. We simply cannot know how the final two weeks of Sanders’ anti-trade deal push is playing. Finally, while a nine to twenty point loss in Ohio (per YouGov or Marist respectively) would likely allow Clinton to finally claim an insurmountable lead, I am less sure that it where the numbers actually are than I am about the fact that Sanders will likely do five to ten points or more worse in Ohio than in Illinois.

A bit more on this along with my final predictions for tomorrow morning …

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