As many of you already know (and may also be guilty of), I follow fivethirtyeight fervently. Nate Silver and Co have a fantastic record of not only being unbiased in their data, but also right in their assessments. However, in many ways, they have fallen prey to what I see every major media outlet in America has been doing for months by spending almost their entire time talking about the complete circus that is the Republican Party meltdown.
Fortunately, despite their lack of discussion on the Democratic race (other than the often vague, yet true, Hillary is the front runner until she is not), they have created quite a few interactive tools to allow their readers to follow the action as it unfolds, rather than waiting for someone to write about it. This is exactly what I have been doing for the last few weeks with their Delegate Tracker.
Fivethirtyeight’s delegate tracker was created to draw attention to one MAJOR fact in the current primary season: A lead is not always a lead. Now I know that sounds like some “second place optimistic mumbo-jumbo”, but it’s true. Based on demographics and voting order, EVEN IF Bernie was in line to win the nomination at this point, Hillary should still have a lead. That is because all of her best states voted first. Now, a very important thing to note is that her lead goes beyond that, but that still doesn’t mean her entire 300 (prior to 3/26) pledged delegate lead is weighted the same. In fact, going into yesterday’s primaries, Hillary was expected to have a 65 pledged delegate lead when the two are tied nationally. That means almost 25% of her lead is based solely on convenience of order, and not on her actually having a demanding lead.
So how does one measure a fluctuating lead that has a built-in similarly fluctuating handicap? Well, like I said before. I made a chart.
Attached is said chart that shows the cumulative percentage of pledged delegates compared to the goal amounts for both Hillary and Bernie over the course of the primary season so far. As you can see, in every single election (except by 1 delegate in Northern Marianas) since South Carolina on February 27th, Bernie has actually been INCREASING his proportional delegate lead faster than Hillary. Even when he lost. Even on Super-Tuesday. Even when votes are suppressed, stations are closed early, and independents are denied the ability to vote. That means for the last month, despite anything else you may have been reading, BERNIE IS CONSISTENTLY GAINING ON HILLARY.
Now this doesn’t mean it is clear sailing for Bernie. He has a number of obstacles still in his path (I’m looking at you Wisconsin), but can we all do the democratic process a favor and cool it with the “Why hasn’t Bernie dropped?” or the “Hillary already won!” statements? There are 22 elections over 12 voting days left, and I think we owe it to the rest of the country to hear what they have to say before we call this one. There are still THOUSANDS of unallocated delegates, and over two months until the last primary, and this chart shows the direction that things are headed, despite what you might be hearing elsewhere.
(Source: http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/…/delegate-t…/democrats/) (Numbers for 3/26 primaries are based on rough estimates and may have minor adjustments)
EDIT 1:10pm CDT 3/27: Well slightly even better news! I noticed that my graph had mixed the numbers for Bernie/Hillary in Alaska, giving Hillary a roughly .5% boost. This is the newest updated draft.
EDIT 3:43pm CDT 3/37: Based on discussion below, I added another graph to show what the new estimated win margins are for Bernie to not only meet his original targets, but to exceed them by the 10 or so percent he needs to to catch up. As you can see, it is not an easy road, but based on some recent wins, not necessarily impossible either.
(This story was originally posted on March 27th, 2016, on Facebook)