A new poll of the Wisconsin primaries shows Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders ahead. Sanders’ delegate deficit, though, looks nearly impossible to overcome. And early electoral college projections suggest Hillary Clinton would easily win against Donald Trump. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, March 31, 2016.
TED CRUZ LEADS DONALD TRUMP BY 10 POINTS IN NEW WISCONSIN POLL - HuffPollster: "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is 10 points ahead of professional entertainer Donald Trump, with 40 percent of likely Republican voters, compared with Trump’s 30 percent [in a Marquette University poll]. Cruz has more than doubled his support since the February Marquette poll, which showed Trump leading Cruz 30 percent to 19 percent….For Cruz, Wisconsin will be a litmus test to evaluate whether the anti-Trump movement has made progress toward the goal of a contested convention in July….Republicans will award 42 delegates, including 24 at the district level, 15 statewide and three to the overall state winner." [HuffPost]
The new poll jumped Cruz ahead of Trump in the aggregate - HuffPost Pollster, which includes all publicly available surveys, now gives Cruz a 4-point lead over Trump, although there’s little live-caller polling available in the state besides Marquette.
Trump viewed unfavorably in Wisconsin - Steven Shepard: “Trump isn’t just struggling to expand his coalition in the primary — he’s also deeply unpopular with the broader electorate. Only 22 percent of all registered voters surveyed have a favorable opinion of Trump, compared to a resounding 70 percent who view him unfavorably. And 56 percent of all Wisconsin voters say they would be ‘very uncomfortable’ with Trump as president — more than say the same thing about Clinton (42 percent), Sanders (31 percent), Cruz (32 percent) or Kasich (12 percent).” [Politico]
SANDERS LEADS NARROWLY IN WISCONSIN POLL, BARELY TRAILS IN AVERAGE - HuffPollster: "[Bernie] Sanders has widened the gap with Clinton by 3 points from one month ago [in a new Marquette University poll]. A Marquette poll conducted in February found Sanders and [Hillary] Clinton neck-and-neck, 44 percent to 43 percent….For Sanders, it’s an opportunity to dampen Clinton’s delegate lead and pick up momentum before the New York primary two weeks later….Wisconsin holds 86 delegates for Democrats that will be allocated proportionally, in addition to 10 superdelegates." [HuffPost]
Clinton still leads in the average, but by less than a percentage point - The HuffPost Pollster average still shows Clinton with a very slight lead since she had been ahead in most polls conducted earlier in the year. The last two Marquette polls have shown Sanders ahead, though, so the gap has narrowed to under 1 percent.
Wisconsin might be one of Bernie’s best states left - Steve Benen: “At this point in the race, analysts are able to start drawing up demographic models, predicting where candidates will do well based on the electorate’s makeup. The New York Times’ modeling, for example, considers Wisconsin ‘one of Bernie’s best remaining primaries,’ projecting a five-point advantage for the Vermont senator. That’s due in part to the fact that the state’s African-American population is below 7 percent, and Clinton has fared far less well in states with fewer black voters.” [MSNBC]
But catching up to Clinton's delegate count will be difficult for Sanders - HuffPollster: "While it’s clear that [Bernie] Sanders’ message is catching on with more and more Democrats, he remains far behind Clinton in what really matters: the delegate count….Clinton is leading, with 1,243 pledged delegates to Sanders’ . Adding in the 'superdelegates' — those who get to vote for the nominee but aren’t bound by a state’s contest — Clinton surges to 1,712 delegates to Sanders’ [1,011]….Clinton is leading by 263 pledged delegates, which would be difficult for Sanders to overcome unless he can move a huge number of superdelegates over to his camp. This is where his national standing might come into play: Superdelegates could consider national polls when deciding which candidate to support — and although Sanders clearly has momentum, he still trails. And Clinton is likely to rack up an even bigger delegate lead before he can close the gap." [HuffPost]
A very implausible path to 2,383 - Nate Silver: "If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might look at the map and see some states — Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Montana and so forth — that look pretty good for Sanders... But those states have relatively few delegates. Instead, about 65 percent of the remaining delegates are in California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland — all states where Sanders trails Clinton in the polls and sometimes trails her by a lot….To reach a pledged delegate majority, Sanders will have to win most of the delegates from those big states. A major loss in any of them could be fatal to his chances.... Sanders will also need to gain ground on Clinton in a series of medium-sized states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky and New Mexico….None of this is all that likely. Frankly, none of it is at all likely. If the remaining states vote based on the same demographic patterns established by the previous ones, Clinton will probably gain further ground on Sanders. But things can change, and polls can be wrong." 
ELECTORAL COLLEGE PROJECTIONS FAVOR CLINTON IN NOVEMBER - Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley: “We’re now at the point in the nominating process where it is, er, crystal clear that Hillary Clinton will end up being the Democratic candidate, and Donald Trump, while not at all the certain winner, is the leading candidate to become the Republican nominee. So it’s time to adjust our 2016 electoral map for the first time since we rolled out our initial ratings last May….Our new map is one that will evolve, maybe substantially, after the conventions. Remember that independent and/or third-party candidates could change the calculus. Nonetheless, here is our extra-early, ridiculously premature projection of the Electoral College map in a possible Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup…. Election analysts prefer close elections, but there was nothing we could do to make this one close. Clinton’s total is 347 electoral votes, which includes 190 safe, 57 likely, and 100 that lean in her direction. Trump has a total of 191 (142 safe, 48 likely, and 1 leans)." [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]
THE PUBLIC WANTS MORE DATA, BUT DOESN’T WANT TO PROVIDE IT TO POLLSTERS - Rob Santos: "As Americans started sharing less data about themselves, they also started demanding more. We are a data-rich, data-driven society….Just as we expect that Google Maps will immediately give us accurate directions to the nearest Starbucks, we expect pollsters to provide accurate election predictions whenever we care to search for them….Meanwhile, pollsters’ ability to predict likely voters has declined. Traditionally, pollsters rely on the adage: 'The best predictor of future performance is past performance.' But advances in technology and their associated changes in population behavior — including how social media influences candidate choice and motivation to vote — can’t be readily baked into the conventional statistical methods used to figure out who will or will not show up on election day." [HuffPost]
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THURSDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data.
-Political betting markets predict there's a 61 percent chance of a contested Republican convention. [HuffPost]
-Nate Silver evaluates how Donald Trump "hacked" the media. 
-Mark Mellman (D) argues that political pollsters face a test unlike other pollsters. [The Hill]
-Sixty-three percent of Americans say torturing suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. [HuffPost]
-Pew Research highlights 10 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world. [Pew]
-The rich minority is choosing to live in urban areas while the rest of America is choosing suburban life. [Vox]