Down Country Roads

[ Posted Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 – 15:01 UTC ]

As we await the primary results from West Virginia, we have to note we've reached a milestone in the "predict the primaries" contest. With the exit of Ted Cruz and John Kasich from the Republican race, Donald Trump now stands alone, as he's the last Republican still in the race. Since he is now the presumptive nominee, we will not be calling any future Republican primaries (starting tonight, by ignoring the West Virginia and Nebraska GOP results). This is because calling a race with only one candidate is so easy it counts (in our rules, at least) as cheating -- pumping the score up by calling contests that are foregone conclusions. So what this all means is that I've now got a final score for my 2016 Republican primary picks.

Last Tuesday, Indiana voted. The results were shocking. Not so much the results of the vote, but rather the aftermath which soon followed. First Ted Cruz then John Kasich formally threw in the towel. I have to admit, I didn't expect either to do so, in fact last week I wrote (after correctly predicting Trump would win big in Indiana):

In normal times, I would even anticipate either Cruz or Kasich (or both) announcing tonight that their campaign is over. However, these are not normal times, so both will probably push on until the bitter end. But after tonight, Trump will be the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

The other shocker from Indiana was Bernie Sanders beating his poll numbers, and handily winning the state. Bernie just refuses to become an afterthought. Throughout the entire primary season, each time his campaign has been pronounced dead in the water, Bernie proves his popularity by winning primaries he wasn't expected to win. Indiana was in fact just the most recent of these. I certainly didn't see it coming, I have to admit, as I confidently predicted Hillary would take the Hoosier State.

So, with one right and one wrong from last week (oh, and apologies to Democrats in Guam, as I neglected to predict their contest over the weekend), here are my new stats:

Total correct 2016 Democratic picks: 33 for 43 -- 77%
Total correct 2016 Republican picks: 37 for 47 -- 79%
Total overall correct picks: 70 for 90 -- 78%.

As I mentioned, this will be the final score on the Republican side, as the number won't change from this point onward. So I'm not even going to bother predicting the outcome in the Republican contests in Nebraska and West Virginia tonight. Trump technically still has some delegates to win before he officially becomes the nominee, but with nobody else in the race, the fat lady has already sung her aria.

I have to say, this is the best I've ever done in predicting Republican primaries. The first time I played this game was in 2008, when I guessed 37 right out of a total of 50 GOP contests, or 74 percent. I did worse in 2012, but then it was a slightly more complex race. For 2012, my final score was 41 correct out of 60 total, for a score of only 68 percent -- less than 7 in 10 correct. This year, I managed to hit 78.7 percent right (or 79 percent, rounded off). Perhaps in 2016 I can even hit 8 out of 10 correct, who knows?

In any case, I've always believed that political reporters should show their hit/miss ratio in the same fashion as those who make a living predicting sporting contests on television. How else is the public to know whom to trust? In fact, this is the whole idea that launched this column series, eight years ago. This year, at least two out of every 10 columns I write on the election will likely be proven to be complete balderdash -- now there's some accountability in reporting!


West Virginia (Democrats)

Even after West Virginia votes today, there are still 11 Democratic primary contests left. Eight states have still not voted (Kentucky and Oregon next Tuesday, and then California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota on June 7), as well as three territories (Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.). Hillary Clinton, at this point, is all but guaranteed to be the nominee, although she still needs delegates to reach that goal. But in the meantime, Bernie Sanders could pick up some more wins, much to the consternation of Team Clinton. Oregon, in particular, looks like Bernie country. California, of course, is the big prize at the end. Which is why we're still paying attention to each state race as it happens (at least, for now).

West Virginia looks like it is going to follow Indiana in refusing to get on the Clinton bandwagon. Not many polls exist for the state, and only two of them are recent. One shows Sanders up eight points (45/37) and one shows him up only four points (47/43).

I think West Virginia is going to go for Bernie, and also that it might do so by a large margin. Hillary Clinton personally offended the entire coal industry with a comment she made earlier this year, about how "we" would be not just gleefully shutting down coal mines, but also putting lots of coal miners out of work. Her personalization of the subject resonated in coal country, even though Bernie's position is not all that different on the issue (both believe green energy is the future, essentially). The importance of Hillary's gaffe is going to become apparent tonight, when the West Virginia returns start coming in.

We'll all be subconsciously humming along with John Denver this evening ("Take me home, down country roads, to the place I belong, West Virginia...") as we await to see how big a victory Trump can manage when there's nobody else running, and how close the Democratic contest will be. I'm picking Bernie for a strong finish, perhaps beating Hillary by double digits tonight. If you think I'm way off base, please share your own thoughts down in the comments, as usual.


[UPDATE: This article has been updated. When I originally wrote it, I wasn't aware Nebraska Republicans were also voting today. This doesn't change any of my predictions, but the article has been corrected.]


[Previous states' picks:]

[AK (D)] [AK (R)] [AL] [AR] [AZ] [CO (D)] [CT] [DE] [FL] [GA] [HI (D)] [HI (R)] [IA] [ID (D)] [ID (R)] [IL] [IN] [KS] [KY (R)] [LA] [MA] [MD] [ME] [MI] [MN] [MO] [MS] [NC] [NE (D)] [NH] [NV (D)] [NV (R)] [NY] [OH] [OK] [PA] [RI] [SC (D)] [SC (R)] [TN] [TX] [UT] [VA] [VT] [WA (D)] [WI] [WY (D)] [American Samoa (D)] [American Samoa (R)] [Puerto Rico (R)] [Democrats Abroad (D)]

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


12 Comments on “Down Country Roads”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Apparently, WV polls close at an odd hour, so the networks have already (duh!) called the state for Trump.

    Zero returns reported yet, though.

    While I sit here awaiting returns, I'm going to make a serious effort to go back and answer comments from about the past week or so....


  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Hillary and Bernie neck-and-neck in earliest results. But we're not even at 1 percent reported yet, so this is essentially meaningless for now.


  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    NBC just called WV for Bernie. Feel the Bern!


  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Hmmm.. nobody else seems wiling to go out on a limb yet...


  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, finished answering comments for yesterday's column. I'm going to jump back into last week now...


  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Bernie up by over 3K votes, with 11% in. NBC still seems to be alone in calling race -- nobody else has called it yet...


  7. [7] 
    Paula wrote:

    Is there actual suspense? I thought it was in the bag for Bernie. Probably will be in the end...

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Sanders up 5K with 17% in.

    Nebraska called for Trump. Cruz was still on ballot and favored, but (as I said) the fat lady has sung...


  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Paula -

    I'd have to agree, it certainly looks like Bernie's running away with it. He's up by 7K and the gap keeps getting wider. Still, nobody seems to have called it but NBC...


  10. [10] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, CBS just called it for Bernie. Now I believe it...


  11. [11] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    looks like huff po too...

  12. [12] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Paula -

    Check your mail.


    [Everyone else: you'll understand all this coyness within the next week, promise!]


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