Nevada and South Carolina Predictions (Updated)
While I’ve been spectacularly wrong on the Democratic results in New Hampshire and the Republican results in Michigan, I’ll nonetheless keep issuing these predictions for my own amusement, if nothing else.
Today’s Republican primary in South Carolina will get most of the media attention but the voters in Nevada participate today in non-binding caucus that actually awards more delegates, so I’ll predict the outcomes of both.
Nevada Caucus – Democrats
Clinton – 42
Obama – 38
Edwards – 15
It wouldn’t shock me if Obama pulled it out. The support of the Culinary Workers union is big in a caucus, which depends more on organization that a primary. Still, I’m going to go with the polls and add in a few points to Clinton and Obama for late-deciders and take a couple points away from Edwards on the “let’s not waste my vote” theory.
Nevada Caucus – Republicans
- Romney – 27
McCain – 22
Huckabee – 12
Giuliani – 10
The polls are all over the map here but average out to a five point Romney win. He’s putting his energy there by campaigning in person while McCain is going all out in South Carolina, so I think the preferences will translate to action. I’ve upped his numbers and McCain’s slightly to factor in late deciders and docked the those low in the polls slightly as above.
South Carolina Primary – Republicans
- McCain – 30
Huckabee – 27
Romney – 15
Thompson – 15
Paul – 4
McCain’s holding on to a narrow lead in the polls and has been consistently gaining while Huckabee has been falling. The only outlier — and it’s a big one — is yesterday’s American Research Group poll showing a 7 point Huckabee win. My guess is that a handful of Thompson supporters ultimately vote McCain to keep Huckabee from winning.
This one’s likely to be a nail biter and it could very well derail the campaign of the second place finisher. Delegates are awarded on a winner-take-all basis. More importantly, though, it’ll set the stage for Florida (Jan. 29) and the Super Duper Tuesday free-for-all (Feb. 5).
If McCain wins, he’ll likely gain the momentum to win Florida and run on to the nomination; Huckabee will be all but finished. While losing to Huckabee in the Deep South wouldn’t kill McCain, it would be a huge boost for Giuliani going into Florida and renew speculation that McCain can’t appeal to the Southern conservative base.
UPDATE: Dave Schuler
I’d summarize my speculations on the Nevada and South Carolina races as too close to call but there are a couple of points I’d like to make in amplification or contradiction of what James has noted above. First, I think that immigration is a pretty big issue for South Carolina Republicans and the prevailing position there cuts against John McCain. I think that Huckabee may well win South Carolina, that Thompson may do a little better than James is predicting, and Romney and McCain a little worse.
In Nevada I think that Ron Paul, although the wind has been taken from his sails a bit by his showing in the primaries so far, may break into double digits again. Traditionally the West has had quite a few libertarians. However, Nevada Republicans have tended to be regular Republicans and I’ve always felt that Romney was the regular Republican candidate which means that Nevada will break rather narrowly for Romney.
South Carolina’s Democratic primary will be held next Saturday. I expect a very narrow Obama victory.