Four Factors That Make Clinton’s Margin in Florida Too Tough to Call

As every other poll, poll aggregator, or armchair prognosticator of any interest has forecast, Hillary Clinton will beat Bernie Sanders in Florida tomorrow, almost certainly by a margin large enough for the networks to call immediately at poll closing.

Four factors, however, make the actual margin of victory too difficult for me to make a reasonable prediction. The final days of polling have seen five pollsters cluster in the 25-28 point range, and this is certainly a reasonable possibility, but the polls on the Democratic side of been wildly horrible at spotting important demographic outliers and late breaking trends in contests from South Carolina (and even Nevada) through to Michigan. Here are the four factors:

1) Age and the Facebook Primary – I have been using FiveThirtyEight’s Facebook Primary numbers adjusted to UPSD to forecast election results with reasonable accuracy even where other forecasting models, including scientific polling, are wildly off base. If accurate, the Facebook Primary would suggest that the 25-28 point range, if anything, is too favorable to Bernie Sanders, with a 30-40 point loss quite conceivable. I do not, however, think comparing Florida’s mostly elderly population to Facebook usage across the United States is likely to yield significantly accurate results the way it has in other circumstances.

2) Age and Millennial Turnout – While pollsters are well aware of Florida’s over fifty population regularly making up three-quarters or more of the electorate, it is not clear that they get the phenomenon that is making the percentage of millennial voters much higher state by state that 2008 in virtually every contest to date. Of course, Obama versus Clinton inspired new and young voters in record numbers, numbers which are not necessarily bested by Sanders versus Clinton in raw format. That said, the overall turnout for Democratic primary voters is down by around 30-35% in nearly every state so far, meaning that 18-29 year old voters, especially, are making up a much greater percentage share of the vote.

3) Latina and Latino Vote – Numbers about how Florida’s substantial Latinx voting population will go are perhaps harder to predict that anything else ranging, in reputable polling, from a 60 point margin in favor of Clinton to a basically even race with a slight edge for Clinton. How many Hispanic voters turn out, especially millennials, and how they vote could make a very substantial difference in how many delegates each candidate winds up with.

4) Jewish Vote – Isn’t it at least possible that the first serious Jewish candidate for a major party could pull unexpectedly high numbers from the approximately 10% of Jewish voters who will turn out tomorrow in Florida? Has anyone seriously entertained this question?

Again, more in my final posting forecasting tomorrow’s results (but I won’t give an exact percentage for Florida, most likely).


One comment

  1. Rachel Corey Katz · March 15, 2016

    Is it only me – and the 20 mayors in Florida who demanded that both debates include positions on climate change, pointing out that the land mass of Florida is rapidly being taken over by the sea- who thinks that the candidates answers and records on Climate Change is going to contribute to the results as well?


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