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  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Bounce by Geoffrey Skelley

    The convention bounce is a long-established pattern in presidential election cycles. Much has been written about it, so we won’t rehash it too much. The main point is that conventions almost always generate an increase in a nominee’s polling numbers during and after his or her convention, but often times the bounce is short-lived. Still, some of that jump in the polls can be maintained; in this environment, a poll bounce will probably signal increased party unity. This is what is important for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: The former needs to get his support among Republicans up to and beyond 90% in the polls (he’s currently in the 80%-85% range) and the latter needs Sanders supporters, many of whom self-identify as independents, to more firmly back her (most surveys have shown a sizable chunk of Sanders voters still outside Clinton’s camp).

  • Venus vs. Mars: A Record-Setting Gender Gap? By Geoffrey Skelley

    With four months to go in the 2016 general election campaign, national polls suggest that it’s quite possible that the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump clash may well set a new record for partisan differences between the sexes.

  • A Tale of Two Elections: Clinton’s 2016 Primary Performance Versus 2008 By Geoffrey Skelley

    One striking aspect of the Democratic primary race was the stark role-reversal in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance compared with her narrow loss to Barack Obama in 2008’s Democratic nomination battle. Whereas she ran against Obama in 2008, she positioned herself as his successor at every turn during her race against insurgent Bernie Sanders in 2016. It’s very easy to see the effect of this in a county-level map of the change in her performance from eight years ago to this cycle, as shown by the coloring in Map 1 below (a choropleth map). (We recommend clicking on the map for a much larger version.)

  • Republicans 2016: From South Carolina to the Ides of March By Geoffrey Skelley

    After months and months of endless fascination with Iowa and New Hampshire, the bulk of the primary season will be contested over just the course of a single month. Between Feb. 20 and March 5, a whopping 37 states and territories will hold at least one party’s nominating contest, many both. In order to prepare our readers for this flood of primaries and caucuses, we wanted to take a look at each one and try to assess what their electorates are like and what history tells us about whom they might be inclined to support. This week, we sketch out the Republican calendar from Feb. 20 through March 15. Next week, we’ll tackle the Democrats.

  • The Modern History of the Republican Presidential Primary, 1976-2012 By Geoffrey Skelley

    The presidential nomination process has a history of being fuzzy. For much of the nation’s political existence, starting in the 1830s, national party conventions selected nominees for the highest office in the land. At these events, the oft-used term “smoke-filled rooms” described the sometimes behind-the-scenes activity that led to the final selection of a nominee. Sometimes this person was an obvious, well-known national figure; other times, an unexpected, relative unknown captured the nomination.

  • Republicans 2016: White Evangelicals Dominate the Early Calendar By Geoffrey Skelley

    Based on the election calendar, white evangelical Christians are going to receive ample attention early in the 2016 Republican primary. Using exit poll data from the 2012 and 2008 GOP primaries, as well as data from the Census Bureau and the Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Atlas to help estimate numbers for states with no exit polls, we found that about two-thirds (64%) of the total delegates in states with contests on or before March 8 will come from states with electorates that may be at least 50% white evangelical.

  • Democrats 2016: The Primary Map Still Favors Clinton By Geoffrey Skelley

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been under siege for months as additional revelations and developments regarding her use of a private email account continue to drip out. Last week, the Crystal Ball explored what might happen should Clinton drop out of the Democratic primary or, as the rumors swirl about the possibility, if Vice President Joe Biden enters the race.

    But if Clinton is scarred but undeterred by the email scandal heading into the Iowa caucuses, what we know so far about the primary and caucus schedule suggests that Clinton should still be a favorite, even if Biden does get into the race, though that development would undoubtedly muddy the waters.

  • Democrats 2016: Sanders Now Clinton's Chief Rival By Geoffrey Skelley

    “Inevitable.” That’s the word often used to describe Hillary Clinton and the 2016 Democratic nomination. Can anyone beat her? Anything’s possible, but the odds appear quite low. Still, her most threatening intraparty opposition could prove to be a man who isn’t even technically a Democrat (yet, anyway): independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-identified “democratic socialist.” We see him as a potential thorn in Clinton’s side, and to reflect that, we are moving Sanders to the top of the non-Clinton tier in our presidential rankings for Democrats.

  • Coattails and Correlation By Geoffrey Skelley

    Few political observers will be surprised that the correlation between presidential and Senate results has been increasing over the last few presidential election cycles. That is, during a presidential election year, the Senate race in state A has increasingly tended to have a similar outcome to the presidential result in state A . Other analysts have noted the growing relationship between the two variables, such as National Journal , which produced a great infographic examining the 2000 to 2012 elections.

  • The Era of Competition: How 2016 Could Set a Presidential Record By Geoffrey Skelley

    The United States is in the midst of an era of great competitiveness in presidential contests. Not once in the last seven presidential elections has a party won more than 55% or less than 45% of the two-party vote. In a recent article for Politico Magazine , the Crystal Ball team argued that fundamentals, recent history, and the nation’s marked political polarization portend a highly competitive 2016 tilt. If the indicators for 2016 play out close to expectations and induce a tight open-seat battle, it may become the eighth consecutive contest where neither major party garners more than 55% of the two-party vote, a new record.