Super Tuesday III: What’s At Stake in the Mid-Atlantic

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Mid-Atlantic (plus Rhode Island), come on down! You’re the next Super Tuesday! By Grayshi, Roke (Own work, also File:BlankMap-USA-states.PNG) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

This coming Tuesday, April 26th, is the third time during this presidential nomination cycle that a bunch of states rich in delegates will vote on the same Tuesday. There will be one more “super” Tuesday on June 7th, when the big prizes of California and New Jersey (don’t snicker) are up for grabs for both parties’ candidates. What happens in two days will influence the shapes of both races going forward, so let’s go ahead and see what’s likely to happen and what it all means.

First, the region that votes on April 26th is the Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, with Connecticut included depending on who you ask, plus Rhode Island). This region has structural, geographic, and demographic features that favor both parties’ front-runners. Structurally, both parties in all five states are holding primaries. So far, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have done very well in primary elections compared to their performances in caucuses. On the Democratic side, the fact that these are closed primaries – meaning only registered party members can vote – leans even more heavily in Clinton’s favor. Clinton has been dominating with people who tend to be registered Democrats, which kind of belies the “no enthusiasm for Clinton” trope, at least among the Party’s base, but that’s a subject for a different post.

Geographically, the region favors Trump because of its ties to New York City and the dread “New York values” so reviled by Texan Ted Cruz. Republican evangelical voters in these states may give Cruz some support, but overall his brand is toxic in the Mid-Atlantic. Cruz’s doubling down on support for North Carolina’s discriminatory LGBT law and past arguments that sellers and users of sex toys are criminals are unlikely to make his brand less toxic there. Increasingly desperate #NeverTrumpers may strategically vote for Cruz or with their conscience for John Kasich, but with Trump poised to win at least a plurality in each state, let’s predict he wins a majority or better of the delegates at stake, with a “big but” explained in the next paragraph.

One more structural note on the Republican side. Amazingly, most delegates Pennsylvanians send to the convention will be directly elected, but without voters knowing which nominee those delegates prefer. This is nuts and favors the much more organized Cruz campaign. Trump is guaranteed 17 delegates if he’s the overall winner, but 54 delegates will not be bound to any nominee. If Trump and his supporters think the process is rigged now, wait until they get a load of Pennsylvania. With such an undemocratic process that is by no means guaranteed to correlate with actual Pennsylvanians’ preferences, Trump may not get as big of a delegate haul as he deserves.

On the Democratic side, Clinton enjoys a big demographic advantage in addition to her structural ones in the region. Bernie Sanders has not done well in states with denser and/or more diverse populations. His most recent victory was in Wisconsin, which is 86% white. This Tuesday’s whitest state, Pennsylvania, is 82% white; meanwhile Maryland, the most diverse of the five states, is 58% white. Maybe the demographics don’t doom Sanders in all five states, but given Clinton’s polling leads and the cultural affinities with New York where she just won big, let’s predict Clinton goes five-for-five.

Now, the math behind the delegate counts is what ultimately gives these analyses and predictions any meaning. Let’s start with the Republican contest (thanks FiveThirtyEight), where a candidate needs to reach 1,237 delegates for a majority. So far, 1,712 of the total 2,472 delegates have been awarded to specific candidates. It’s estimated that almost 200 of the delegates could officially be “unbound” for the first ballot at the convention, which confuses the analysis and is going to be a subject of ongoing intrigue. For our purposes, let’s take FiveThirtyEight‘s numbers at face value and run the numbers:

  • Donald Trump has won 846 delegates, which is 47.1% of the total so far. He needs 391 more delegates for a majority, which is 58% of remaining delegates up for grabs, 172 of which are at stake on Tuesday.
  • Ted Cruz has won 544 delegates, which is 30% of the total so far. He needs 693 more delegates for a majority, which is 102.8% of remaining delegates.
  • John Kasich has won 149 delegates so far, which remarkably is both still behind Marco “Not Even in the Race Anymore” Rubio’s delegate count and means if he won every single delegate remaining (674), he’d still be behind Trump!

The last time we did this analysis, Trump needed a 59% pace to win an outright majority on the first ballot. He’s more or less in the same position he was a month ago, but with less margin for error now with fewer delegates remaining. Cruz joins the Kasich Club in being mathematically eliminated from winning an outright majority on the first ballot at the convention. That’s unless he convinces most of the unbound delegates to commit to him AND he does much better in the remaining races than he’s done to date, neither of which are likely. I’d say Trump is likely to get 58% or better of the delegates on Tuesday, but again, Pennsylvania’s rules really confuse the situation.

Cruz may be more competitive in Indiana with its 57 delegates at stake on May 3rd, but he’s drawing dead. The best he can hope to do is deny Trump a pre-convention majority while convincing unbound delegates to withhold the boost Trump would need to get to 1,237. Trump appears very likely to be within striking distance of 1,237 with the help of unbound delegates should he fall short of a majority.

If we take it as a given that legitimacy is important for whomever becomes the Republican nominee, I don’t see how the Republican Establishment denies Trump the nomination if it happens he’s the clear delegate winner but just shy of a majority. During the modern nomination era, it’s a singular occurrence that two candidates who are ALREADY non-viable in terms of reaching a majority are even still in the race. Usually, once candidates reach this loser milestone (if not before), they drop out and rally behind their preferred remaining candidate, or in the case of only one left standing, they throw their support behind that person for the sake of party unity. The situation really shows the notable degree to which a large proportion of the Republican Party loathes Trump. Tuesday’s contests should only exacerbate this problem.

Relying on FiveThirtyEight again, how do things look on the Democratic side? Like last time, let’s ignore the superdelegates since it’s unlikely they will go against the candidate who wins a majority of elected delegates. Please refer to that previous piece if you want to know my stance on superdelegates; long story short, get rid of them. Without superdelegates, there are 4,051 elected delegates, which means a candidate needs to win 2,026 in order to claim democratic legitimacy.

  • Hillary Clinton has won 1,443 elected delegates, which is 54.4% of delegates awarded so far. She needs to win 583 more for a majority, which is 41.6% of  the remaining 1,400 delegates.
  • Bernie Sanders has won 1,208 elected delegates, which is 45.6% of delegates awarded so far. He needs to win 818 more for a majority, which is 58.4% of the remaining delegates.

Sanders, in spite of his string of victories in the seven contests before he lost big in New York, has gained no ground on Clinton over the past month. That doesn’t mean he should drop out. In fact, he’s much more viable at the moment than any of his Republican counterparts. The problem for Sanders is the math and the likely outcomes in remaining states. Let’s look at the following scenario.

Let’s be generous and suppose that Sanders takes half of the 384 delegates at stake on Tuesday (Clinton is likely to do better than 50%, but for the sake of argument). If he does, that increases his delegate count to 1,400, but reduces remaining delegates from 1,400 to 1,016. Sanders would need 626 of the remaining delegates to reach a majority, which then would be 61.6% of remaining delegates. Even under this rosy scenario where Sanders ties in the Mid-Atlantic, he goes from needing 58.4% of remaining delegates beforehand to needing 61.6% in future contests.

This problem for Sanders is nicely illustrated by the updates in FiveThrityEight‘s delegate targets for each state for each candidate. Based on state profiles, the targets are numbers for each remaining state that the candidates have to hit in order to get on track for a majority of elected delegates, given they hit their targets in all other future contests. They’re reasonable numbers based on the current state of the race; for example, Sanders could have used a landslide in New York where his FiveThirtyEight target was 125, or 50.6%, of the total 247 delegates at stake. With no polling indicating a Sanders landslide in New York, they arrived at the more modest majority target. Sanders ended up only getting 108 delegates in New York, or 43.7%, which now means his targets in upcoming states have to go up. With polls showing consistent Clinton leads in California, do we really think he’s going to hit the target of 239 (50.3%) out of 475 delegates? And that assumes he gets 189 (49.2%) of 384 delegates on Tuesday. I’d say 173, or 45%, is the most he’s going to get in the Mid-Atlantic.

This is why a contest that so far has been 54% Clinton to 46% Sanders is pretty much out of reach for Sanders. That 8% difference doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you factor in how states are likely to vote and the delegates remaining, it’s nearly impossible for Sanders to make it up.  He’s not finished and I hope he keeps going, but if I were in his campaign, I’d get to work on a strategy for influence within a Hillary Clinton general election campaign and presidency, based on delivering votes for the Democratic Party in November.

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Wisconsin Primaries Recap

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Remember when this guy was thought to be a formidable candidate for president and then he found himself responding to Trump by wondering if we need to build a wall between the U.S. and Canada? Well, he got his revenge yesterday. By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The results from yesterday’s primary elections in Wisconsin for both parties are clear, but their ramifications not so much. Ted Cruz won the Republican contest, coming just shy of a majority of the vote. The Wisconsin conservative movement mustered a nearly unified front against Donald Trump on behalf of Cruz, and it worked.

New Yorkers vote in two weeks and Trump looks strong in his home state. He’ll have to clean up there to get back within reaching distance of the pace he needs in order to win an outright majority of delegates.

Conventional wisdom about the race has shifted; savvy election watchers now give the combination of Cruz and the field better odds of emerging victorious at the convention than they give Trump. I agree with Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall that using Cruz to deny Trump the nomination, and then turning around and denying Cruz the nomination, is unlikely to work out well for the Republican establishment. How does the Republican Party snub 70%-plus of its electorate, and if they manage it, how do they mobilize a winning coalition for the general election?

There is a scenario that, while unlikely, worries me a great deal since I prefer the Democratic Party. It goes something like this: the Republican Party nominates Cruz, or even better for the GOP establishment someone like John Kasich, Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney. While this would burn the 45% or more of the electorate that had voted for Trump, the Party goes to the country at large and makes this argument: the Republican Party showed it is now a responsible governing party by vetoing the nomination of a man that alienates an overwhelming majority of Americans and would put World War III on the table through his sheer ignorance of history and foreign affairs. By November, Trump voters reconcile themselves to holding their noses and voting against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The fresh face of CruzKasichRyanRomney leads enough moderate and independent voters to say hey, Republicans aren’t so bad anymore, and we don’t trust Clinton and Sanders is a communist so let’s roll the dice because we have no memory of George W. Bush. Republicans come to power with unified control of the government and proceed to govern in exactly the way modern Republicans govern, which a majority of voters actually disagrees with but has difficulty recognizing this reality. When it comes to policy, Kasich and would-be presidents Ryan and Romney share nearly all of Trump’s agenda, and Cruz is even worse! They are simply moderate fronts for a reactionary conservative agenda.

Now, I think it’s more likely the Republican Party melts down this election year than it is the above scenario comes to fruition, but I wouldn’t bet the rent money on it.

On the Democratic side, Sanders notched a solid victory but Clinton remains the overwhelming favorite. As FiveThirtyEight‘s analysts explain, Sanders overperformed compared to the polls but still didn’t achieve the margin he needs to get on pace for a majority of elected delegates. While Wyoming Democrats caucus on April 9th and this is likely friendly terrain for Sanders, the real test arrives on April 19th when New York’s 247 delegates are at stake. Since this is Clinton’s adopted home and has demographic features that lean in her favor, Clinton could spring back into prohibitive favorite position by doing well there.

By that time, Clinton may have lost seven out of the eight previous contests, and she’ll need to combat the narrative that her campaign is reeling. On April 26th, a bunch of mid-Atlantic states that also have friendly Clinton electorates vote, and if she ties or better overall in those contests after winning in New York the math becomes all but impossible for Sanders.

However, Sanders does have momentum, and if that means anything and he can capitalize on it maybe he continues to surprise. I definitely don’t count him out at this point. Now, we’ll have to wait and see what polling of the upcoming states shows. Maybe the ground is shifting, and Clinton really is in trouble. It’s doubtful, but most of us doubted Sanders would even be within striking distance at this point.

Election Numbers Crunching: Republican Edition

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The ghost of Marco Rubio could haunt the campaign trail all the way to the Republican Convention in Cleveland this July. By DonkeyHotey (Marco Rubio – Caricature) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The process through which we Americans nominate candidates for president is extraordinarily complicated, as 2016’s election is making excruciatingly clear. Comprehensive, readable results can be found at Real Clear Politics“Election Central: 2016” page. I’ve put their delegate tables into an Excel spreadsheet in order to analyze the current state of both parties’ contests. Following are the results, which include Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses.

On the Republican side, a candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win an outright majority on the first ballot at the convention. There are 2,472 delegates available; 1,633 delegates have been awarded in contests so far, though one of the millions of reasons this is so complicated is that not all of those are bound to a particular candidate. There are 839 delegates remaining for allocation, which is 34% of the total number of delegates. Now, let’s break down each candidate with significant delegate totals:

  • Donald Trump has won 739 delegates and needs 498 more for a majority, which is 59% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Trump has won 45% of delegates awarded, so he’s actually pretty far off the pace needed to win a majority.
  • Ted Cruz has won 465 delegates and needs 772 more for a majority, which is 92% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Cruz has won 28% of delegates awarded, so he’s way off the pace.
  • John Kasich has won 143 delegates and needs 1,094 more for a majority, which is 130% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Kasich has won 9% of delegates awarded, and he literally cannot achieve a majority on the first ballot at the convention.
  • Marco Rubio has won 166 delegates, which is 10% of the total delegates awarded. He dropped out of the race, but many of his delegates can become unbound depending on the rules of each state. This could be very important, and you can read the details here.

If we assume that Rubio supporters in remaining states will mostly go to Cruz or Kasich, members of the Republican Establishment who want to deny Trump the nomination can spin the above numbers as good news. Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio delegates amount to 47% of the total awarded. If this pace continues, that would be enough to deny Trump a majority. And if that happens, you can talk me into anything happening at the convention: unbound Rubio delegates voting for Trump to push him over the top in order to stop a potential Republican civil war, Cruz and Kasich making a deal to win on the second ballot with Cruz at the top of the ticket, Trump’s campaign manager assaulting and sexually harassing delegates on the convention floor – really, anything.

Now, to rain on the Republican Establishment’s parade for a moment, many of the remaining contests are winner-take-all, which means Trump can get on pace for a majority by taking delegate-rich, winner-take-all states like Wisconsin (42 delegates), Pennsylvania (71 delegates), and California (172 delegates). Trump leads in the most recent polls conducted in each state, but those polls include Rubio and some even include Ben Carson. So, they’re outdated, and the whole thing is such a mess I won’t even hazard a guess about which way those electorates are leaning right now.

Just for fun though, let’s add New York to the mix, which awards 95 delegates proportionally. If Cruz and Kasich don’t break the 20% vote threshold there, they will not win any delegates, meaning Trump could grab all 95 and he’s currently way ahead in the New York polls. If we give Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, and New York to Trump, that’s 380 delegates. That would leave him 118 delegates shy of the majority threshold, which is only 26% of delegates in the other remaining states!

Trump still has a viable path to an outright majority. It may be time for the Republican Party to repay its “nonsense debt” – a phrase coined by Josh Marshall in this piece that explains what’s happening to the Republican Party. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Stay tuned tomorrow for crunching the Democratic Party’s nomination contest numbers.

Is Moderate John Kasich a Moderate if His Proposals are Indistinguishable from Those of Trump and Cruz? An Investigation

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If you rearrange the letters in “moderate” you can get “moat deer” and “dream toe.” By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s hear from the man himself. Speaking last month at my alma mater, the University of Virginia, and as noted by The New Yorker‘s Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Ohio Governor John Kasich and candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for president had this to say: “…of course I’m not a moderate, I’ve been a conservative all my life…”

Surely a man who has fewer delegates at the moment than Marco Rubio has got is not worth writing about, one could argue. This is a fair point. Rubio’s campaign perished in the Florida swamps last week, yet he still has the same mathematical chance of achieving a majority of delegates as does Kasich: zero percent, goose egg, nada, the ol’ donut. Hell, you and I have the same chance as Kasich, unless you happen to be Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

Kasich is the last establishment man standing, and as such, his “plan” is to go to the Republican Party’s convention in Cleveland this July and hope that the party decides to self-immolate and hand its nomination to a guy who finished a distant third in delegates. This “plan” can only work if Cruz and Kasich succeed in denying Trump a majority, and it’s far from clear they can do any such thing. If they somehow manage it, AND one of them proceeds to capture the nomination, what are the chances of Trumpolini telling his blackshirts to stand down? The man has already passively aggressively threatened riots if this happens. Since he would need Trump’s voters to win the general election, Kasich almost certainly has no path to the presidency if he acquires the nomination through a brokered convention.

Kasich is worth thinking about, though, because he appeals to voters in a way that would make him a formidable candidate in a general election – again, if he were able to get there without precipitating a Republican civil war. He talks about civility and pragmatism, and claims to be running a campaign on behalf of all Americans. This works in American politics, and it’s scary because it masks an agenda that is indistinguishable from those of his rivals. If we blindfolded a voter, and Trump, Cruz, and Kasich’s platforms were soft drinks poured into three different cups, the voter would be unlikely to tell the difference after tasting each one.

In fairness, Kasich doesn’t want to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, so a Trump voter might spit his soft drink out. And to be fairer still, Kasich seems to support some kind of limited amnesty program for undocumented immigrants, though I cannot find a detailed proposal anywhere. On the candidate’s own website, for example, immigration is not even one of his issues. That seems like a strange oversight for a man seeking the nomination of a party that represents voters incensed over undocumented immigrants. Certainly a man of high character wouldn’t be hiding his views on the very issue his party’s base is most passionate about, would he?

Kasich is at best not terrible on immigration. The same can’t be said of his other policies. In Ohio, he has made life miserable for thousands of women seeking reproductive healthcare services. He wants to do the same for women on a national level if he becomes president.

His federal tax plan, like the one he’s enacted in Ohio, severely cuts taxes for top earners. In Ohio, he shifted the tax burden to the working class through higher sales taxes. He wants to eliminate the estate tax, just like Trump and Cruz.

On climate change, Kasich displays all the courage of his immigration convictions where he acknowledges a human component in climate change but refuses to do anything about it. In fact, he suspended a renewable energy program in Ohio that had saved Ohio consumers $230 million in six years.

On education, Kasich favors giving money to unaccountable, underperforming charter schools at public schools’ expense.

Finally, Kasich’s budget proposal would pay for his tax cuts for the rich and higher defense spending by drastically cutting just about every federal program in existence and devolving their responsibilities to the states through unaccountable block grants that effectively reduce funding available for welfare programs.

As always, it doesn’t matter what’s in a candidate’s heart. Look at his or her policies and his or her record. Due diligence on Kasich proves we should take his word for one thing, at least: he’s no moderate. Let the man wear his religion on his sleeve if he wants to, but make no mistake, he’s another radical conservative whose policies are designed to prove government doesn’t work by destroying it.

Requiem for a Rubiobot

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Turns out Rubio’s candidacy was the joke. Sad! By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Give Jeb Bush credit for something. He saw the writing on the wall and got the hell out before his home state of Florida could make a fool of him. Another Florida man, Marco Rubio, was not so wise. He and his media enablers blundered on in the vain hope that Rubio’s “accomplishments” and “moderation” might prevail, at least in his home state. Winning in Florida would give Rubio his rationale for staying in the race until the convention where he could try to steal the nomination if Donald Trump hadn’t secured an outright majority of delegates.

Instead, Rubio finished a distant second to Trump. The latter won all of Florida’s delegates with a plurality of the vote since the state’s Republican Party had decided to make it a winner-take-all contest. Now, Rubio has decided to drop out of the race. His campaign will go down as a textbook case of how not to win a major party’s nomination.

Rubio is the second emptiest suit in American politics (Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has a lock on the emptiest suit title). Some have tried to compare him to Barack Obama, another person who ran for president while a first-term senator, claiming that Democrats can’t have it both ways when they point to Rubio’s lack of experience and accomplishments. Maybe that’s fair, but then it’s fair to point out that Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review and Rubio had a 2.1 GPA in high school. I wasn’t the greatest high school student either, but I’m not a big enough idiot to think I’m qualified to be president of the United States.

Rubio’s demise is good news for Democrats and the people whom were burned by Rubio’s rising star. While barely different from any of the other Republicans running for president in policy terms, and worse on some like a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body and foreign policy, Rubio scared Democrats. He seemed poised to take advantage of the same playbook that Karl Rove used to run George W. Bush into the White House. Americans have a vague, not altogether unreasonable sense that the two major parties ought to alternate running the executive branch. Rubio’s empty suit was ready to be filled with the same compassionate conservative, uniter-not-divider nonsense that sold Americans on Bush, who proved to be a budget-destroying warmonger and generally incompetent president. Handing over the keys to Republicans in 2016 would be the same mistake the country made back in 2000.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s elections couldn’t have gone better for Trump. The Los Angeles Times has a readable compilation of the results. Trump won in Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina. Missouri is too close to call at the moment but he’s leading there. Though Trump lost in Ohio, John Kasich’s win there is actually a strategic victory for Trump, as election numbers crunching guru Sam Wang explains at The American Prospect. In fact, as matters stand now, Trump winning three and probably four out of the five contests, Kasich winning the one in Ohio, and Rubio dropping out is the best possible outcome for Trump. The vote-splitting strategy that Mitt Romney and other GOP establishment types have advocated in order to deny Trump an outright majority of delegates suffers greatly from an unviable Rubio candidacy.

It is certainly Trump’s nomination to lose now. Perhaps the only line of attack left to Republicans is to point out that Trump likes his steaks well done.

New Hampshire Recap

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A New Hampshire Trump supporter on his way to vote. By Usien (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Want to know how absurd this 2016 Republican nomination contest has become? Here’s the spokesman for the fourth-place finisher in New Hampshire, whose campaign has spent way more money than any of the other candidates’ campaigns, arguing that the second-place New Hampshire finisher has no viable path to the nomination. That’s right, Jeb Bush’s campaign is trying to stake out ground as establishment frontrunner even as it departs New Hampshire having placed behind John Kasich and Ted Cruz and just barely in front of Marco Rubio. And of course, I’m burying the lede here: Donald Trump placed first in New Hampshire, has outperformed the polls in doing so, and his potentially damaging second-place finish in Iowa is now a distant memory.

Just one week ago, the Republican establishment seemed poised to rally around Rubio and his strong third-place finish in Iowa. One humiliating debate performance and a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire later, and Rubio appears to be dead in the water. It’s not a strong look when your state campaign chairman is caught on camera physically assaulting a “Robot Rubio” protestor. The Rubiobot has indeed malfunctioned.

What do the New Hampshire results mean for the Republican race? Ben Carson (dead last) and Carly Fiorina (second to last) should drop out. Chris Christie’s sixth-place finish and return to New Jersey would indicate that he’s dropping out. He shook up the race by badly exposing Rubio during last Saturday’s debate, but Rubio’s poor performance in New Hampshire did not benefit Christie. The Granite State was everything for Christie’s campaign, but it turns out he is about as well-liked there as he is in New Jersey.

Moving on, the field will effectively consist of five candidates. Here are the five in order of their support in an average of national polls: Trump (29.5%), Cruz (21.0%), Rubio (17.8%), Bush (4.3%) and Kasich (4.0%). Carson has been running fourth nationally at 7.8%, and Christie and Fiorina are tied at 2.5% each. That’s almost 13% of the electorate that needs to find a new candidate.

Now the circus moves to South Carolina, which holds its contests on February 20th. South Carolina polling is badly outdated; we don’t even know the effects of the Iowa contest there and now we have New Hampshire’s results to consider as well. Trump has been running strong in South Carolina, so that probably won’t change. If Trump can break 40% in South Carolina, that would indicate he’s on his way to securing a majority among some voting populations, even in a still crowded field.

Nobody in South Carolina knows who Kasich is, so how does he capitalize on his second-place finish in New Hampshire? For some perspective, let’s remember that Kasich won second place in New Hampshire with about 16% of the vote; it’s a crowded field, sure, but when 84 out of 100 voters are choosing someone else, you’re not exactly crushing it. But this “success” in New Hampshire means Kasich will move on and try to compete in at least one more contest. That leaves him, Bush, and Rubio vying for establishment support. In the wake of Rubio’s face plant last Saturday and disappointing New Hampshire result, maybe Bush, who has been close to Rubio in South Carolina, actually has an opening. I can’t believe I’m writing that.

New Hampshire was a bad result for the Republican establishment. Support for its preferred candidates is extremely fractured. Trump and Cruz go into South Carolina competing for first and second, while the establishment candidates will likely continue to fight among themselves. As long as nobody emerges to lead the establishment, Trump and Cruz will keep this a two-man contest and will rack up valuable delegates in these early states.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has to be disappointed with receiving under 40% of the vote and losing by a bit more than 20%. Bernie Sanders outperformed the polls and received about 60% of the vote. Nevada is going to offer Democrats their first venue that doesn’t skew so white and liberal, so Clinton has reason for optimism. The theory of the race that the Clinton campaign has embraced so far is that Clinton will do well in more diverse states where Democrats are not so liberal. Past polls have backed up this theory. I’m looking forward to seeing new polls out of Nevada and South Carolina to find out if the ground has really started to shift or not in this race.

It’s just hard to say what’s going to happen. Sanders couldn’t have asked for two friendlier states to start the nomination contest, yet he only won one of them. However, if you had told the Sanders campaign seven months ago that they would practically tie in Iowa and dominate in New Hampshire, they would have taken that in a heartbeat. Clinton came out of the first two contests bruised but certainly not broken. She has contests in much friendlier states coming up. However, she got crushed again by younger voters. Is it time for the Democratic establishment to start panicking?