Michigan and Mississippi primary discussion thread: Epic fail for Rubio--and pollsters

Lots of votes remain to be counted from tonight's primaries, but two losers are already clear.

Republicans are overwhelmingly rejecting Marco Rubio. To my mind, that's a bigger story than Donald Trump winning the two biggest contests. In Mississippi, Trump won nearly half the vote, Ted Cruz won more than a third of the vote, and Rubio is down around 5 percent--in fourth place behind John Kasich. Trump won Michigan with more than a third of the vote, Kasich and Cruz are fighting for second place with about 25 percent each, while Rubio is unlikely to hit the 10 percent cutoff for delegates. As Taniel noted, Rubio missed statewide delegate cutoff thresholds in Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Maine, and Vermont, and barely cleared them in Tennessee and Alaska.

Rubio and his surrogates continue to express confidence about winning the Florida primary a week from today, but the way he's been hemorrhaging support, that scenario seems highly unlikely. Furthermore, Taniel observed, "Michigan & Mississippi (from which Rubio is probably being shut out) have as many delegates combined as Florida. Can't all be about 1 state."

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders trailed by double digits in every recent Michigan poll but is leading by 50 percent to 48 percent with about half the results in. Although Hillary Clinton may be able to win the state narrowly once all the votes from the Detroit area come in, pollsters need to ask themselves some tough questions. For instance, did they underestimate how many independents would vote in the open primary? CNN's exit poll suggests Clinton won Michigan Democrats by double digits but Sanders is ahead by more than 40 percent among independents. Whatever the final results, Sanders will be encouraged going into next week's contests.

Clinton won Mississippi in a rout, with nearly 83 percent to just 16 percent for Sanders, at this writing.

Any comments about the presidential race are welcome in this thread. Trump's victory speech/press conference was one of his most absurd yet--more like an infomercial than a political event.

UPDATE: Referring to the Michigan Democratic primary, Harry Enten pointed out that the difference between winning or losing narrowly means little in terms of delegates awarded to Clinton and Sanders. Psychologically, a win is always better than a loss, though.

SECOND UPDATE: One key factor for Sanders in Michigan was cutting down Clinton's margin with African-American voters. She is still winning the black vote, but "only" by about a 2 to 1 margin. Nate Silver pointed out that Michigan results have confounded pollsters before.

THIRD UPDATE: Shortly after 10:30 pm, the Associated Press called the Michigan primary for Sanders. With a little more than 90 percent of the votes counted, he leads by 50 percent to 48 percent. Clinton is still above 80 percent in Mississippi, which is remarkable, but the Michigan upset is clearly the bigger story on the Democratic side.

Cruz leads in the early returns from the Idaho primary (Democrats didn't vote there today) and has edged in front of Kasich for second place in Michigan.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network,

Here’s a run down of spending in support of each candidate in Michigan as of March 6:

Bernie Sanders, $3.5 million
Hillary Clinton, $2.6 million
Marco Rubio (Conservative Solutions Super PAC), $1.2 million
John Kasich (Kasich campaign, New Day For America Super PAC), $770,353
Donald Trump, $184,636
Ted Cruz, $1,112

Likely final delegate allocation from Michigan: 25 for Trump 25, 17 for Cruz and Kasich, zero for Rubio.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Many people on social media have shared anecdotes about Democrats in Michigan who crossed over to vote for Kasich, thinking (based on polls) Clinton would easily win the Democratic primary. Nate Silver called the Sanders win the biggest upset since Gary Hart winning the New Hampshire primary in 1984. However, Bleeding Heartland user fladem worked on that Hart campaign and showed why Silver is wrong.

Cruz won Idaho's primary with 45.4 percent of the vote, to 28.1 percent for Trump, 15.9 percent for Rubio, and 7.4 percent for Kasich. Trump took the Hawaii caucuses with 42.4 percent, to 32.7 percent for Cruz, 13.1 percent for Rubio, and 10.6 percent for Kasich. Neither Rubio nor Kasich will win any delegates from Idaho or Hawaii.

Former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina endorsed Cruz at a rally in Miami on March 9.

I haven't seen a definitive delegate count yet, but fladem and Taniel have both updated their tables.

On the Democratic side, Mark Murray calculates that Clinton now leads Sanders by 761 to 547 in pledged delegates and by 1193 to 569 when superdelegates are counted. The overwhelming majority of superdelegates (including in Iowa) have endorsed Clinton.

After the jump I've posted excerpts from three early attempts to explain why Sanders won Michigan.

From Philip Bump's piece in the Washington Post, "The two big warning signs in Hillary Clinton’s shocking Michigan loss":

One thing that happened is that Clinton underperformed with black voters in the state. In Mississippi, which Clinton won easily, nearly two-thirds of the vote was black and it went for Clinton 9-to-1. Preliminary exit polling in Michigan suggests that only about a quarter of the electorate in the state was black -- and that Clinton's margin was closer to 2-to-1. [...]

Part of the problem may be the economic issues central to Michiganders' concerns. We noted a few weeks ago that the state has shed a ton of manufacturing jobs over the last 25 years, thanks in part to free-trade agreements like NAFTA.

In exit polls, nearly six in 10 voters thought trade took away American jobs -- and nearly six in 10 of people who said that, backed Sanders. Those who thought trade created jobs were slightly more likely to back Clinton. [...]

This is an issue that's very important to Michigan -- but also to other Rust Belt states, including Ohio, which votes next week. It gets to the key distinction that Sanders has been hammering for months, that he will address economic insecurity and that Clinton won't. Trade in Michigan is a very specific iteration of that issue. But it's clearly a point of weakness for Clinton. In a recent national poll, the thing people worried about most with Clinton's candidacy was her connection to Wall Street. That probably didn't do her much good in Michigan.

From James Downie's piece in the Washington Post, "Three clear lessons from Sanders’s big Michigan upset":

First, the result should provide a note of caution going forward for those who said Clinton won Sunday’s debate. The New York Times’s Noam Scheiber reported that the powerful United Auto Workers union “worked hard” for Sanders in Michigan in part because of Clinton’s misleading claim that Sanders “opposed the auto bailout.” Exit polls found that Sanders led by seven points among voters who decided less than a week before Election Day, and trailed by three points among voters who decided before then. Together, these suggest that Sanders actually more likely won Sunday’s debate.

Second, Sanders showed that even cutting a little bit into Clinton’s big margin among non-white voters can make a big difference. Clinton still crushed the Vermont senator among black voters, but getting 31 percent of the African American vote, 10 to 20 points higher than what Sanders has scored in other states with significant numbers of black voters, was enough for Sanders to squeak out a victory. (The other recent contest where Sanders won a similar share of black voters? Oklahoma, which he also won.) That number opens the door much wider for him in big upcoming states like Ohio.

Last, but certainly not least, Sanders drew strength again from the young and those concerned about economic inequality and trade policies — voters that Clinton doesn’t have good answers for.

From Yamiche Alcindor's and Patrick Healy's piece for the New York Times, "Trade and Jobs Key to Victory for Bernie Sanders":

“If the people of Michigan want to make a decision about which candidate stood with workers against corporate America and against these disastrous trade agreements, that candidate is Bernie Sanders,” Mr. Sanders said in Traverse City, about 250 miles north of Detroit. [...]

Mr. Sanders pulled off a startling upset in Michigan on Tuesday by traveling to communities far from Detroit and by hammering Mrs. Clinton on an issue that resonated in this still-struggling state: her past support for trade deals that workers here believe robbed them of manufacturing jobs. Almost three-fifths of voters said that trade with other countries was more likely to take away jobs, according to exit polls by Edison Research, and those voters favored Mr. Sanders by a margin of more than 10 points. [...]

Despite Mrs. Clinton’s advantages, including the support of much of the state’s Democratic establishment, the Sanders campaign showed deft organization and strategy: Mr. Sanders crisscrossed the state, speaking to more than 41,000 people, and his campaign opened 13 offices and hired 44 staffers to carry his message. He also visited places that were largely overlooked by the Clinton campaign, including Traverse City and Kalamazoo. [...]

In Grand Traverse County, the home of Traverse City, Mr. Sanders won with about 64 percent of the vote. He also performed especially well in counties that are home to major campuses like the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Western Michigan University.

  • re:

    anecdotally, Rubio seemed to lose support when he waded into the dick jokes. I think the narrative around his lack of winning (even if that's misleading, since he was getting delegates) started to pile up.

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