Trump Loves the “Poorly Educated” and the “Poorly Educated” Love Him

Ron Brownstein at the Atlantic has written extensively about how those without a college degree back Trump and those with a college degree oppose him. The “poorly educated” as the GOP frontrunner affectionately (maybe) calls them. This split has been consistent in the exit polls. This divide also comes through looking at individual counties. Virginia has 133 cities and counties. A strong correlation exists (-.81) between Trump vote share and the percentage of people (25 year old and older) in the city/county with at least an Associates Degree.


A positive correlation (+.855) occurs between the share of Kasich and Rubio support and attaining a degree.


Trump picked the right demographic group to build a durable base on. Ted Cruz staked his on religiosity and ideology. That’s good to win Iowa and a few other states, but when the race moves to the northeast, west coast, or Rust Belt, the deeply religious and conservative simply don’t exist in the same numbers. People without a college degree though, make up significant shares of the electorate everywhere. It’s how Trump can win in Alabama and Massachusetts, especially with multiple candidates dividing up support of college graduates.

How Can Cruz & Rubio Beat Trump If They Are Losing to Him in Red and Blue Counties?

Republicans have come to vote in 1,061 counties over 13 states (Minnesota and Alaska have not reported by county). More than half have taken place in deep red counties where Obama got less than 35% in 2012.

2012 Obama Vote Number of Counties Share of the Total Vote
35% or less 553 41.3%
35% – 40% 110 9.3%
40% – 45% 98 12.0%
45% – 50% 80 9.9%
50% – 55% 53 7.3%
55% – 60% 65 10.4%
60% – 65% 42 6.0%
65%+ 60 3.8%

Trump has won in both strong Obama counties, strong Romney candidates, and everywhere in between. Ted Cruz does best in the deep red counties but still loses to Trump. He does worse where Obama did better.


Rubio does worst in the deep red counties. He does better than Cruz in the counties Obama won but still doesn’t beat Trump.


Kasich also does better in places Obama won.


Only the combination of Kasich and Rubio beats Trump, but only in the strong Obama counties. Trump beats them in the Romney counties. Good thing for Trump, Kasich plans to stay in the race so he and Rubio can divide support and Trump can win with support in the low 30s like he did in Virginia.


Any other candidate with the support Trump has in all parts of the country would be declared the nominee and the party would rally around him. Instead we get Willard Romney attacking him.

Best. Campaign. Ever.




Painting the GOP Primary Map

The GOP has held 15 contests to pick a nominee for President so far. They have taken place in all parts of the country and in more than 1,100 counties. The following shows the winner in each county that has reported (this leaves off Alaska and Minnesota which have not released county caucus results).

County Winner – GOP Primaries and Caucuses (as of 3/2/16)

R Graphics Output

Whether you go by geographic size, or by statewide or delegate count. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have dominated this race. Donald Trump has won nearly every county east of Arkansas. Ted Cruz has dominated in Texas, Oklahoma, and central Iowa. Other than the Minnesota caucuses and in the Northern Virginia suburbs, Marco Rubio has hardly won anywhere. This hasn’t stopped him from a giving a “no one believed in us” speech after coming in third in Iowa or declaring future victory after losing 10 contests last night:

The pundits say we’re underdogs. I’ll accept that. We’ve all been underdogs. This is a community of underdogs. This is a state of underdogs. This is a country of underdogs. But we will win.

He was right that he is an underdog. Looking at the map of who came in second place in each country, you won’t find much green.

County 2nd Choice – GOP Primaries and Caucuses (as of 3/2/16)

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Trump and Cruz have come in first or second in 803 of the 1,061 counties I have data far. He did OK in Virginia, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Charleston, and a few other scattered areas. John Kasich is the consensus second choice in most of New England.

“Tonight is supposed to be Ted Cruz’s night. It’s not going to go as well for him as he had planned.” – Marco Rubio, 3/1/16

The night didn’t go well for Rubio either. GOP voters have pretty much said they want to choose between Trump and Cruz. The career politicians, lobbyists, and media talking heads in Washington DC will have to find someone else to get behind in 2020.

Republicans Still Not Raising Hard Money

Once the GOP gets over its collective freakout about the impending nomination of Donald Trump, they might want to look at their inability to raise hard campaign money. When looking at fundraising in the odd year before the primaries (since 1999), and adjusting for inflation, the Republican candidates this year have come nowhere near what successful presidential campaigns have raised.


Dr. Ben Carson has raised the most, clocking in at around a third what George W. Bush collected in 2003 for his re-election. 20 candidates raised more money than Marco Rubio, the “establishment” choice at the moment. Rubio has collected less than Ron Paul and John Edwards in 2007, Bill Bradley in 1999, and Rudy Giuliani in 2007, other candidates who failed to win a primary or caucus (and who didn’t have the shamelessness to declare “victory” after finishing 3rd in Iowa). Donald Trump is cruising to victory despite raising less than 28 other candidates, a small illustration at how awful the GOP “deep bench” is.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have raised money like successful presidential campaigns. Hillary Clinton, despite taking in about $15 million less than she did in 2007, has raised a similar amount as Barack Obama did in his inaugural run and more than George W. Bush did in his. Bernie Sanders has raised 40% more than Ben Carson and 160% more than Rubio.

Lots of cash has gone to Super PACs and they have little, if anything, to show for it. When the Republicans do another “autopsy” in 2017, besides ending the racist nativism, they might want to look at closing the loopholes opened up by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and figure out how to raise hard money again.

Pretty Clear Trendline in GE Matchups between Hillary and Rubio

When Nevada Democrats entered caucuses this weekend, 18% of them (in the 25 precincts surveyed out of 1700+ total) told pollsters that “ability to win” represented the top trait they seek in a candidate. Hillary Clinton won these voters 80%-15%. These were enough voters to put her over the top in the caucuses. Are these voters correct though?


In hypothetical matchups between Clinton and the Robot Rubio, Hillary led in most polls early in 2015 and has trailed since the fall. Bernie has done much better in recent matchups but the data is sparse. As a Democrat, this concerns me a bit as does Hillary’s overall favorability since she left the State Department.

hillary-fav-02-22Those supporting Hillary Clinton might want to look at different reasons than electability.

Outsider GOP Candidates Stalled Out in South Carolina

A flurry of polls have come out in South Carolina heading into the GOP primary on Saturday. After opening up a large lead, the momentum for the “outsider” candidates (Trump, Cruz, Carson) has stalled out and the “insider” candidates (Robot, Jeb!, Kasich) have moved up. However, the outsiders will likely win as not one poll has shown the outsiders behind.


As far as the individual candidates, looking at the polls released from February 15-17, which represent 4,336 interviews, Trump holds a clear lead. Cruz and #RobotRubio are close, and ahead of Bush and Kasich. Dr. Ben is last. For Rubio to finish second significantly ahead of Cruz, he needs to dig into the 16-20% of the electorate currently sticking with Jeb! and Kasich. If he does, he has a chance to win this mess. If he fails, he’s toast. The opportunity is there though when it didn’t look like it a week ago.


What Changed in New Hampshire Once People Started Voting

The great thing about Presidential nominating contests is they provide new polling and election data every week. For general elections, we pour over mountains of polling data in anticipation of a singular event. Here, we can see trends and help shape our thinking going into the next contests.

Looking at the performance of individual candidates, as opposed to “lanes,” we can see how the vote shifts right at the end and how events at the end can be determinant (or that polls are systematically wrong). For Iowa and New Hampshire, I collapsed all the polls done in the last three days into one estimate and confidence interval. Pollsters published 3,998 interviews in New Hampshire (in 8 polls) and 2,667 in Iowa (in 4 polls). Caveat – collapsing different polls with different methodologies creates biased data. I get that, but can only go with what I can freely get.

In New Hampshire, Trump and Kasich, the top two, overperformed the polls. Rubio severely underperformed as his debate performance was universally panned by humans and robots.

11rubio-web1-master675Interestingly, despite the conventional wisdom that Christie created a “murder-suicide” pact by attacking Rubio so aggressively, he overperformed as well. The only problem was that he was doing terribly to begin with and had no chance at all to either win or break out of the pack. (Below, the black dot and black line represent the poll estimate and the confidence interval where we would expect the result to fall 95 times out of every 100 independently conducted poll of 3,998 voters. The red dot represents the final result.)


In Iowa, the story differed. Trump underperformed while Cruz and Rubio overperformed. How much of that had to do with the debate nonsense from the previous Thursday, where Trump bowed out of a Fox debate and held a competing rally to “raise money” for veterans instead, we can’t say with the data we have. However, it does show how volatile primary elections can be right up until the end.


While the “insider vs. outsider dynamic” has been stable in both places, how each candidate will perform is not. Polls give clues, but are not definitive. That what makes this fun (when you are not polling for the candidates).

New Hampshire Polls Pretty Much Right

At the macro-level, the polls in the New Hampshire GOP primary race were pretty accurate. The outsiders (Trump, Cruz, Carson, and Fiorina) beat the insiders (Jeb!, Kasich, and the Fat Man and Little Robot) 53.5% to 44.7%. A narrow victory but expected. The insiders gained and the regression line picked it up. The outsiders got about a click above projected.


The big question going forward is when do the insiders win. They trail big in South Carolina (only 10 days away) and other than Kasich’s native Ohio, the insiders have no advantage in any other state. Even as the insiders drop out, the remaining need to fundamentally alter the underlying dynamic of the race. If the strategy is to get it to Kasich or Rubio against Trump and Cruz and hope to narrowly prevail (~35-40%) in 3 way contests in the states with “winner take all” delegate rules, good luck.