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HUFFPOLLSTER: Bernie Sanders Wins Big In Caucuses, But Faces A Tough Road Ahead

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 28/03/2016 Natalie Jackson

Bernie Sanders won Saturday’s western state caucuses by incredible margins. He’s also polling better than Clinton against Republicans. And Donald Trump’s best primary performances are in typically blue states, but he can’t count on that for the general election. This is HuffPollster for Monday, March 28, 2016.

SANDERS WINS BIG IN SOME OF THE LAST REMAINING CAUCUS STATES - Harry Enten: "Bernie Sanders won a trifecta of states on Saturday. He put up big victories in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, after carrying Idaho and Utah earlier in the week. Sanders beat his delegate targets by a solid margin in all five of these states and closed Hillary Clinton’s pledged delegate lead to just north of 225. In doing so, Sanders highlighted an ongoing Clinton weakness: caucuses. All five of Sanders’s wins this week came in caucuses. The problem for the Sanders campaign is that...Wyoming (April 9) and North Dakota (June 7) are the only remaining stateside caucuses. The rest of the stateside races are primaries. Sanders has exceeded his delegate targets in just three stateside primaries. He’s matched them in three and underperformed in 15. Given that Sanders is still so far behind in the delegate count, he needs to outperform his delegate targets by a lot." [ 538 ]

A win isn't yet mathematically impossible - Sam Wang: "Sanders needs to win the popular vote 56 percent - 44 percent in the remaining elections....On the last day of voting on June 7th, nearly 17 percent of all delegates will be determined…. As long as Sanders stays above 39.1 percent of pledged delegates, he can still say, technically speaking, that a last-minute win in June can put him over the top. Considering that he entered this race to get a message out, that’s probably what he will do." [ Princeton ]

SANDERS FARES BETTER THAN CLINTON IN GENERAL ELECTION POLLS - As Sanders has repeatedly noted, polls show he’d defeat Republicans in November by larger margins than Clinton. HuffPost Pollster, which include all publicly available polling, shows Clinton leading Donald Trump by 10 points, with Sanders leading by 13 points. That’s not because people are switching over to Trump when Clinton is on the ticket -- he’s averaging 40 percent against both Democrats -- but more voters are undecided when Clinton is the Democrat on the ballot. That’s partly because Clinton has an established reputation with the electorate, including a lot of baggage and negative opinions. Her favorability ratings are underwater nationally, with an average of 54 percent who view her unfavorably and 41 percent favorably. Negative feelings toward Clinton could push some voters to choose undecided rather than pick between two disliked candidates.

But general election polls aren’t yet predictive - According to analysis from political scientists Christopher Wlezien and Robert Erickson, general election polls’ predictive power drastically improves once we know who the likely nominees are. That’s usually settled for at least one major party by April, but this year both parties are likely to have a protracted selection process. We almost certainly won’t know the Republican nominee until June, and possibly not until the convention. The Democratic side is a bit clearer, but still competitive -- and likely to remain so until June. Without presumed nominees, general election matchups are still completely hypothetical.

AMERICANS DON'T REALLY TRUST ANY CANDIDATES TO HANDLE AN INTERNATIONAL CRISIS - HuffPollster: "Americans are worried about the state of the world and uneasy about the presidential candidates’ ability to handle international crises, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in the aftermath of Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels….Donald Trump’s nativist sentiments appear to best position him to capitalize on those renewed fears in the Republican primary. By a narrow margin, the Republicans surveyed see him as the best primary candidate to deal with an international crisis….It’s less clear how well Trump’s appeal will translate outside of the GOP, where anti-Islam sentiment is less widespread...When polled about individual candidates, 62 percent of Americans as a whole said they’re uneasy about Trump’s ability to deal wisely with an international crisis. In contrast, 51 percent are uneasy about Hillary Clinton, 50 about Cruz and 40 percent about Kasich." [ HuffPost ]

BLUE STATE VOTERS ARE CONTRIBUTING TO TRUMP'S SUCCESS - Nate Cohn: "[T]his year, blue-state Republicans have abandoned the establishment for Donald J. Trump . So far, Mr. Trump has won every non-caucus contest in a state carried by Barack Obama in 2012, with the exception of John Kasich’s home state, Ohio…. If he eventually gets a majority of delegates to the Republican convention, it will be because of the 15 or so most reliably Democratic states…. His appeal in historically Democratic areas is a reflection of strength among new Republicans — whether they be white Southerners or white Roman Catholics and working-class voters in the North who would have had no place in the Republican Party a half-century ago. Mr. Trump’s strength among those voters, who decades ago represented the base of the Democratic Party, helps explain the resilience of his candidacy." [ NYT ]

But it doesn't mean he could win blue states in a general election - Nate Silver: "Trump’s strengths and weaknesses are easier to understand if you consider how many Democrats and Republicans turned out in each primary. Republican voters are a small minority of the overall electorate in states like Massachusetts and Hawaii, so their support for Trump isn’t a good indication of how those states might behave in November. Take Massachusetts, for example. Trump’s 49 percent — his highest fraction in any state to date — was on light turnout: Only about 630,000 voters participated in the Republican primary, compared with 1.2 million for the Democratic one. Thus, Trump won only about 17 percent of the overall vote among Bay Staters who turned out that day...Trump’s strengths are mostly in the South….New England looks like a poor region for Trump, by contrast." [ 538 ]

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MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Americans are thinking more about the 2016 election, but enjoying it less. [ Gallup ]

-David Wasserman describes what a two-front war to keep Donald Trump from the nomination could look like. [ 538 ]

-Republicans see Trump and Ted Cruz as equally dishonest. [ HuffPost ]  

-Trump and Cruz are running nearly even in a poll of the California GOP primary. [ LA Times ]

Sixty-two percent of Americans say there's a problem with substance abuse in their community. [ AP-NORC ]

-Inside Jersey profiles Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray. [ ]

-Michael Robbins says international surveys are mostly trustworthy. [ WashPost ]

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