Yeah. Done Here. Over.

Arizona, Florida, and Illinois add to the delegate totals as a result of primaries on March 17th. Although initially scheduled for the same day, Ohio's governor and health department delayed that state's election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even without Ohio, there was a nice haul of 441 delegates for the evening.

Going into the evening, Biden needed at least 223 of those delegates (50.52%), to be on a winning pace. By contrast, Sanders needed 255 delegates (57.78%).

We had discussed after the March 10th states how this was an almost unreachable bar for Sanders. That winning at that level would require a seismic change in the state of the race.

No such massive realignment happened. Although exact delegate totals will continue to shift as counts become final, as of election night, the March 17th results look like:

  • Biden 294 (66.7%)
  • Sanders 147 (33.3%)

Biden significantly exceeded the marks he needed. Sanders came nowhere near where he would have had to have been.

Everybody else other than Biden and Sanders has now been mathematically eliminated.

Looking at the "% of Remaining Delegates Needed" chart, you can see that Biden's curve heads downward, while Sanders's is clearly on a dramatic upswing.

At this point, Sanders would need 64.19% of the remaining delegates to catch up and win.  Absent scenarios where Biden drops out for health reasons, or something just as catastrophic, there is no reasonable scenario where Sanders wins the remaining races by an average 64% to 36% margin.

We'll keep tracking things, just in case something extraordinary does happen. Because after all, given how 2020 is going, you never know.

But really, the Democratic race is over now. It was a stretch not to say that a week ago. But now, it is undeniably over.

Biden will be the Democratic nominee.

Oh. And look at this…

Although Weld did earn a single solitary delegate along the way (who may or may not make it to the convention floor), Trump clinched the Republican nomination with the March 17th results.

So we're looking at Biden vs. Trump for the general election.

As of the morning of March 18th, that race looks like this:

117.3 days until the Democratic National Convention.

159.3 days until the Republican National Convention.

230.5 days until polls start to close on Election Night 2020.

The real race is just beginning. Get ready.

Update 2020-03-19 00:51 UTC: Today Bloomberg gives up 2 California delegates to Biden. New totals: Biden 1215, Sanders 912, Others 171. Biden needs 46.16% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.19%.

Update 2020-03-20 02:39 UTC: Today Biden gives up 1 California delegate to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1214, Sanders 913, Others 171. Biden needs 46.22% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.13%.

Update 2020-03-23 00:19 UTC: Today Warren gives up 1 Utah delegate to Sanders. New Totals: Biden 1214, Sanders 914, Others 170. Biden needs 46.22% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.07%.

Update 2020-03-24 00:20 UTC: Today Warren and Bloomberg give up 2 delegates each in Utah. Of those Sanders gets 3 and Biden gets 1. New totals: Biden 1215, Sanders 917, Others 166. Biden needs 46.16% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.89%.

Update 2020-03-25 00:42 UTC: Today we have results from Democrats Abroad: Sanders 9, Biden 4. In addition some revisions to Maine, North Carolina, Utah, and Washington netting: Bloomberg +3, Biden +1, Sanders -1, Warren -3. New totals: Biden 1220, Sanders 925, Others 166. Biden needs 46.22% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.91%.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

And Then There Were Two

Since the last post about the general election a week ago on March 9th, there have been new polls in Arizona (x4), Michigan (x4), Pennsylvania (x2), Wisconsin (x3), North Dakota, Florida, Washington, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas.

For the moment, although Sanders's chances are dim, there are still two candidates, so let's run through our usual charts, looking at just the two of them, and how things have changed since last week.

Let's start with the categorization view where we just see what the results would be if each candidate wins precisely the list of states where they lead in our poll averages.

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden +124 +166 +42
Sanders +124 +144 +20

Both Democrats improve, but they no longer have identical maps. Since last week, both candidates flipped Wisconsin into the blue zone, but Biden also flipped Arizona.

What does that look like when you move to the more complicated probabilistic model?

The following shows the median case (half the time the Democrats do better than this, half the time Trump does better than this):

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden +116 +116 Flat
Sanders +66 +64 -2

Both candidates improved when you just give everybody the states they lead. But when you take into account all of the poll movements, the median cases in the simulation barely change. Biden is flat; Sanders declines a bit.

Why? Because even though Biden and Sanders improved and pushed a couple of states over the centerline, other close states moved in the opposite direction, without changing their broad category.

Understanding this situation is the advantage of the probabilistic model. A 1% lead in a state is not the same as a 2% lead, is not the same as a 3% lead, even though they all fit into the "weak lead" category.

So what about the odds?

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden 98.3% 98.3% Flat
Sanders 87.9% 87.0% -0.9%

Like the median case, Biden is flat; Sanders is down a little.

Similarly, Biden has always had a better position against Trump than Sanders, but both of them are relatively strong.

Dem 9 Mar 16 Mar 𝚫
Biden +2.8% +2.8% Flat
Sanders +1.5% +1.4 -0.1%

Let's end with the tipping point though. The odds view is "if the election is held today". The tipping point shows how much polls need to shift to change the outcome.

Biden is the stronger of the two candidates against Trump. We have him at a 98.3% chance of winning if the election was today. But the tipping point is only a 2.8% Biden lead.

2.8% is a very small lead.

2.8% can easily be erased with a week of bad news.

98.3% now does not mean 98.3% in November.

But that is where things are today.

232.7 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of the Electoral College. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for current interactive versions of the chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of updates. For those interested in individual poll updates, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter for all the polls as I add them. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

Almost Done Here

So Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota got to add their delegates to the totals. The vote counting for last night, and for that matter, Super Tuesday, continues, so the delegate numbers will still be adjusted over the next few days, but we have a pretty good idea h0w things went.

As of the update at the end of yesterday's post, Biden needed 184 of last night's 352 delegates to be on track to win the nomination, while Sanders would need 196 of those delegates.

So how did that go? As of right now, the delegates awarded last night split like this:

  • Biden 211
  • Sanders 137
  • Bloomberg 2
  • Warren 1
  • 1 still TBD

Biden easily hit his mark. Sanders came nowhere near where he needed to be.

So what do our "% of Remaining Delegates Needed" lines look like?

Remember on this chart, heading down is good, heading up is bad. If you hit 100%, you are mathematically eliminated; if you hit 0%, you clinch the nomination.

Biden is down nicely, dropping from 52.14% to 50.82%.

Meanwhile, Sanders increased from 55.40% to 58.10%.

All the other candidates are racing rapidly toward mathematical elimination.

The 55.40% number was already a very high bar for Sanders.

Given the two-person race and the current state of polling, it was hard to imagine Sanders consistently winning the rest of the primary season by a 55% to 45% margin. That is now bumped up to a 58% to 42% margin.

Is this mathematically impossible? No. Of course not. We're not at the point where Sanders would be mathematically eliminated.

So are there realistic situations we can imagine where this might happen?

Yes.

You can still imagine situations where this would happen. But given current polling in upcoming states and nationwide, the scenarios that result in a Sanders comeback are increasingly extreme.

At this point, you can't get there through "normal" changes and fluctuations; you need an extreme massive change.

Of course, before completely dismissing that possibility, one has to note that exactly that sort of extreme massive change has happened before. Folks may have to strain their memories, the last time this happened was, uh… two weeks ago.

After the Nevada caucuses on February 22nd, Biden was plummeting in the polls, and things looked incredibly bleak for him. People were talking about how it would take a miracle to revive his campaign.

Then a post-Nevada anti-Sanders backlash began.

Then Biden crushed South Carolina.

Then Super Tuesday.

And now the March 10th contests.

This has widely been noted as among the most dramatic reversals in polling trends anybody has ever seen. That kind of change is very very rare.

For Sanders to change this picture, that same sort of dramatic reversal would have to happen AGAIN.

What kinds of things might produce that sort of change?

Almost certainly there is nothing that Sanders himself could do to bring it about. You would need a collapse from the Biden side.

Perhaps an actual physical collapse could do it. With the coronavirus scare in full swing, if Biden were to catch it and be disabled by it, that might do it. Maybe a debate performance that was not just bad, but embarrassingly horribly bad could do it too. Something like Bloomberg's disastrous debate. But worse. Maybe.

But you really do have to stretch the imagination to conjure up scenarios where Sanders goes from collecting 40.76% of the delegates so far, to suddenly consistently getting over 58.10% of the remaining delegates, even though his polling doesn't even remotely approach those numbers.

In our summary right after Super Tuesday, we listed the worst positions candidates over the last few cycles had been in prior to going on to win. In terms of the % of remaining delegates needed to win, it looked like this:

  • 50.02% – Clinton's worst spot in 2016
  • 50.29% – Romney's worst spot in 2012
  • 51.84% – McCain's worst spot in 2008
  • 53.02% – Obama's worst spot in 2008
  • 57.41% – Trump's worst spot in 2016

Sanders is now at 58.10%. That is worse off than any eventually winning candidate has been since we started doing delegate tracking in 2008. The only one even close was Trump in 2016, but he had the advantage of the Republican winner-take-all states. The Democrats do not do winner-takes-all.

Absent really outlandish scenarios, Sanders is done here.

To be generous, lots of folks are saying that maybe Biden needs one more set of states… Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Arizona on March 17th… before we can really say Sanders is done and Biden has won this thing. And it won't be mathematically over until even later.

But really, we're already almost done here.

124.2 days until the Democratic National Convention.

166.2 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-12 01:51 UTC: Delegate updates from CA, CO, MI, and ND today. Sanders gains 9 delegates, 8 from Bloomberg, 1 that was previously TBD. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders drops from 58.10% to 57.71%. Which is still very high.

Update 2020-03-13 01:11 UTC: Delegate estimate updates from CA and WA today. Biden gains 4 delegates, 2 from Warren, 1 from Sanders, and 1 from Bloomberg. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders rises from 57.71% to 57.75%.

Update 2020-03-14 02:11 UTC: Delegate estimate updates from CA, CO, MI, and WA today. Sanders loses 7 delegates, giving 4 to Warren and 3 to Bloomberg. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders rises from 57.75% to 58.08%.

Update 2020-03-15 01:43 UTC: Delegate estimate update today from CA: Bloomberg gives 2 delegates to Biden, and Sanders gives 1 delegate to Warren. In addition, we have results from the Northern Marianas: Sanders 4, Biden 2. So the new overall totals are: Biden 917, Sanders 758, Warren 91, Bloomberg 56, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders rises from 58.08% to 58.11%.

Update 2020-03-16 02:56 UTC: Delegate update today from WA: Biden loses 3 delegates, 2 to Warren, 1 to Sanders. New overall totals are Biden 914, Sanders 759, Warren 93, Bloomberg 56, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. The percentage of remaining delegates needed by Sanders drops from 58.11% to 58.06%.

Update 2020-03-17 00:51 UTC: Delegate update from CA: Warren loses 1 delegate to Biden. New overall totals are Biden 915, Sanders 759, Warren 92, Bloomberg 56, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Sanders still needs 58.06% of the remaining delegates. Biden only needs 50.71%.

Update 2020-03-18 00:36 UTC: Today California continues to count votes, while Colorado reallocates the statewide delegates that had been assigned to candidates who have dropped out. Net Change: Sanders +6, Biden +4, Bloomberg -5, Warren -5. New overall totals are Biden 919, Sanders 765, Warren 87, Bloomberg 51, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Sanders now needs 57.78% of the remaining delegates. Biden only needs 50.52%. March 17th primary results incoming momentarily. Further updates will be on that post.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

Super Tuesday Delegate Update

On March 4th, we posted an initial delegate status after Super Tuesday, but we noted that results were preliminary and would continue to shift and change as the votes got counted. That process is ongoing. It will be quite some time yet before those results are final.

But since in just a few hours we'll be in the thick of reporting delegate results for a new set of states, it seems like a good time to review how things have changed since the immediate election night results.

Bottom line, as the counting continued, Bloomberg lost lots of delegates to Biden, Sanders, and Warren.

Here is a quick before and after for the total delegates so far:

Dem 4 Mar 𝚫 9 Mar
Biden 667 +26 693
Sanders 581 +35 616
Bloomberg 140 -70 70
Warren 76 +9 85
Buttigieg 26 0 26
Klobuchar 7 0 7
Gabbard 2 0 2

So while Bloomberg did comparatively well in the vote that came in and was counted on election night, as later ballots came in, his delegate haul was cut in half.

Of those delegates, a full half ended up redistributed to Sanders, followed by Biden, then Warren.

I usually prefer looking at the charts of "% of delegates remaining needed to win," using "% of delegates allocated so far" on the x-axis. Still, in this case, it is useful to look at a chart showing delegate totals with the date on the x-axis:

You can see the spike up for Bloomberg on election night, followed by those delegates draining away over the next few days, with Bloomberg eventually falling below Warren in the delegate totals, while both Biden and Sanders benefit from Bloomberg's losses.

Since Sanders got the lion's share of the delegates Bloomberg gave up, he closed the gap between himself and Biden from 86 delegates to 77 delegates.

But the raw number of delegates doesn't matter here. It is time to think once again about the percentage of the remaining delegates they need to win. And what that means for the 352 delegates allocated on March 10th.

With the election night estimate, Biden needed 53.39% of the remaining delegates to win (188 of the 352 on March 10th), while Sanders needed 56.85% of them (201 of the 352 on March 10th).

Updated with several additional days of vote counting, Biden needs 52.34% of the remaining delegates to win (185 of the 352 on March 10th), while Sanders needs 55.44% of them (196 of the 352 on March 10th).

While the numbers change a little bit, the overall picture remains the same.

Although mathematically still possible, the chances for a contested convention have almost disappeared. We will probably end up with a winner on the first ballot. With the current numbers, that is a lot easier for Biden than it will be for Sanders.

If you consider not just the pure mathematics of the current position described above, but also the current polling, the picture gets even more dire for Sanders.

So as returns come in from the March 10th contests, ignore who wins what states, and look at the total delegate numbers. Does either Biden or Sanders meet the marks listed above? Do both "% of remaining needed" lines continue to go up? Or does one swing down? If one goes up, does it go up high enough that a comeback is ridiculously unlikely?

We will do a blog post here once the election night results have stabilized. If you want hourly updates of the delegate counts, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter as well.

We'll know in just a few hours if Biden has wrapped this thing up, or if Sanders manages to keep the contest going.

125.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

167.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-11 00:31 UTC – Of course, me posting about it does not stop the vote counting. Since the above, Bloomberg loses 8 more delegates. Of those 5 go to Biden, 2 go to Warren, and 1 goes to Sanders. Biden now needs 52.14% (184 of tonight's 352 delegates) to be on pace for a majority. Sanders now needs 55.40% (196 of tonight's 352 delegates) to be on pace for a majority.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

The Field Is Winnowed

Since the last general election update on February 29th, there have been new state-level polls in Texas (x3), North Carolina (x3), Colorado, Florida, California (x2), Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Maine, Arizona, Utah, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Although, as always, not all the polls individually go the same direction, in aggregate, this was a very good set of polling for the Democrats. Or to be more precise, the new results tended to be better for the Democrats than the older polls they displaced from the Election Graphs averages.

In this time frame, quite a few Democrats dropped out as well.

I would typically just go ahead and remove them from the charts and graphs I present here and leave us showing only Biden and Sanders. But some notable things happened in this last batch of polls for some of the others. So I will include them one last time.

In the next update, they will be gone.

But for now, here we go. This time lets start with the old fashioned chart of just how we would end up if every candidate won every state where they lead the Election Graphs averages:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden +178 +124 -54
Sanders +66 +124 +58
Bloomberg +58 +88 +30
Buttigieg -40 TIE +40
Warren -8 -8 Flat

First of all, Biden moved from just barely winning Georgia (16 EV) and Arizona (11 EV) to losing them, while Sanders went from just barely losing Florida (29 EV) to winning it.

With these changes, Biden and Sanders end up winning the same states and end up with the same 124 electoral vote margin over Trump.

Either way, the Democrat gets 331 electoral votes, and Trump gets 207.

Now, their margins in the close states are different, which will impact all of the other metrics we track here at Election Graphs, including the odds of winning. Every other metric still shows Biden in a stronger position than Sanders.

Nevertheless, it is striking that in terms of who leads states, you have the two leading Democrats with identical maps. At least for the moment.

Now, I could have left out the other candidates and still noted the above.

But there was also a comeback for Buttigieg in the weeks before he dropped out of the race.

On February 21st, the "Expected Case" showed Buttigieg losing by 84 electoral votes.

On February 22nd, the average for Nevada (6 EV) flipped, and he was only down by 72 electoral votes.

On February 23rd, the average for Michigan (16 EV) flipped and he was only down by 40 electoral votes.

On March 7th, the average for Pennsylvania (20 EV) flipped and he was now TIED with Trump in the Electoral College.

That's right, an exact 269 to 269 tie in the Electoral College.

If that were to happen, the election would go to the House, voting by state delegations, and Trump would almost certainly win.

But still, that was a big movement in this metric in a short time, resulting in the all so exciting and rarely seen tie scenario.

This showed him performing better than Warren against Trump as well.

But Buttigieg and Warren are both out now, so that doesn't matter anymore. Bloomberg's improvement doesn't either.

Now the tipping point metric:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden +2.6% +2.8% +0.2%
Bloomberg +0.7% +2.4% +1.7%
Sanders +0.8% +1.5% +0.7%
Warren -0.5% -0.5% Flat
Buttigieg -2.1% -1.4% +0.7%

The tipping point is how much polls have to move uniformly to flip the outcome. In other words, you can look at it as a measure of how easy it would be to change the outcome.

By this measure, every Democrat except Warren improved.

Despite being at a tie, to actually WIN Buttigieg would still need polls to move another 1.4%.

But as I have pointed out before, the main thing to note with the tipping point is that all of these numbers are small. The largest is Biden at 2.8%, and that is TINY. Polls can move 3% or even 5% in a week or two easily. They can also have systematic errors that cause them off by that much.

The shift from Buttigieg losing by substantial margins to rally back to a tie in a matter of weeks is a perfect example of this, and another reason to note these other candidates one last time.

The structure of the Electoral College means small changes in the polls can result in a massive change to the Electoral College margin.

The small tipping point is the warning flag that whatever the Electoral College margins look like, either in the simplistic categorization model or in the probabilistic model we'll look at shortly, that it is still a close race, and things could change very very quickly.

Now the median margins in the probabilistic simulation:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden +100 +116 +16
Sanders +50 +66 +16
Bloomberg +8 +50 +42
Buttigieg -40 TIE +40
Warren -10 -18 -8

In this view, all of the Democrats except Warren improve. In addition to the Buttigieg surge, there was a Bloomberg surge here too. But both Biden and Sanders improve nicely as well.

Notably, since the median case and the earlier expected case usually don't match, Buttigieg still ends up in a tie in this view too.

I guess that is a fine way for him to close things out.

Finally, let's look at the odds:

Dem 29 Feb 9 Mar 𝚫
Biden 97.7% 98.3% +0.6%
Sanders 82.0% 87.9% +5.9%
Bloomberg 54.1% 83.6% +29.5%
Buttigieg 15.9% 46.2% +30.3%
Warren 40.9% 34.4% -6.6%

Again, both Buttigieg and Bloomberg made huge gains.

Sanders and Biden gained too, but the higher up you are, the harder it is to make further gains.

And Warren slipped a bit further, ending out her run at only about a one-in-three shot at beating Trump.

That would have required winning the nomination though.

But Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Warren have all dropped out of the presidential race.

So now there are two.

239.7 days until polls start to close.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs Electoral College 2020 page. Election Graphs tracks a poll-based estimate of the Electoral College. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for current interactive versions of the chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of updates. For those interested in individual poll updates, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter for all the polls as I add them. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

Coming Up Biden

The delegate counts will continue to shift for days, perhaps weeks, as counts are finalized, especially in California, which is notorious for how slow it is at counting the vote, but as of the morning after Super Tuesday, we have a good idea of how Super Tuesday went.

There were 1357 delegates on my list for Super Tuesday. We have results for all of that except the 13 for Democrats Abroad, for which I guess we will have to wait a little while longer. Of the 1344 other delegates, the distribution as of right now is:

  • Biden 613
  • Sanders 521
  • Bloomberg 140
  • Warren 68
  • Gabbard 2

If there are minor changes to these totals as vote counting continues, I'll add updates to the bottom of this post on a daily basis. If there are changes that are big enough to change the overall picture, I'll make a new post.

In the meantime, forget what states the various delegates come from. That doesn't really matter. Only the delegate totals matter.

Obviously the big news is Biden.

Even though Biden was surging out of South Carolina, the expectation was still that Sanders would get the most delegates out of Super Tuesday, and quite probably amass a significant lead over Biden in the total delegate count.

Nope. It didn't happen.

Instead, Biden had a huge night.

Looking back at my post-South Carolina post, I had done some math and pointed at a milestone to watch for in terms of the Sanders delegate haul. That number was 686 Super Tuesday delegates. Correcting for not having Democrats Abroad, that shifts to 679 delegates.

I had laid out possibilities for where things looked to be headed if the Sanders total was way above, near, or way below that number.

Sanders fell significantly below that number.

Which pointed toward this possibility being in play:

"All lines heading upward: By gosh, a contested convention may be a real possibility!"

So are all lines heading upward?

So that would be a yes. While Sanders came nowhere near the 676 delegates he needed to be on track for 1991 delegates, Biden would have needed 681, and although Biden came closer, he didn't hit that milestone either.

No candidate has been on pace yet to get to 1991.

But does that mean we will have no candidate with a majority by the end of the primary season?

No. Not at all.

Time to look back at my post-Nevada update where I looked at the 2008 to 2016 races as a comparison.

We're only at the 37.67% mark in this race.

Looking at when the winner's lines started making the big turn down toward a clear victory in previous years:

  • 0% for the Democrats in 2016
  • 5% for the Republicans in 2008
  • 43% for the Republicans in 2012
  • 50% for the Democrats in 2008
  • 67% for the Republicans in 2016

Sure, we are past the turning point for the Dems in 2016 and Republicans in 2008, but those were the two races where things were clear the soonest.

But when the turn happened is not the only thing to look at here. The other is what the maximum "% of remaining needed to win" each winning candidate hit.

Right now Biden needs 53.39% of the remaining delegates to win. How does this compare to the worst situation each winning candidate was in before actually managing to win?

  • 50.02% – Clinton's worst spot in 2016
  • 50.29% – Romney's worst spot in 2012
  • 51.84% – McCain's worst spot in 2008
  • 53.02% – Obama's worst spot in 2008
  • 57.41% – Trump's worst spot in 2016

At the closest equivalent time in the cycle to where we are now (when the 2016 Republicans had allocated 36.45% of their delegates), Trump needed 53.85% of the remaining delegates to win.

That was worse off than Biden is today. But he ended up with a majority of the delegates. We did not have a battle at the 2016 Republican convention.

What happened? Let's look at the chart for the 2016 Republicans again:

At this point in 2016, Trump was at 53.85%. His closest competition was Cruz, who was at 59.39%.

Cruz stayed in the race for quite a bit past this point. He kept competing. He kept collecting delegates.

Those Cruz delegates, as well as the delegates from some of the others, managed to keep Trump from consistently hitting the delegate pace he needed. But sometimes he did, so he basically managed to keep his line flat. The Trump line never was rushing rapidly up toward 100%.

But meanwhile, Cruz (and the others) only hit the needed pace on a couple of isolated occasions. For the most part, every time there were delegates allocated, they fell further and further behind Trump.

Eventually, once it became clear that there was no way to win, one by one all the other Republicans dropped out. The last hold outs were Cruz and Kasich.

But it just wasn't feasible for them to continue on with no chance of a majority, only an increasingly desperate "stop Trump" narrative in the face of Trump winning victory after victory.

Now, a quick look at 2020 on the same scale:

The one thing that is immediately obvious is that Sanders is closer to Biden than Cruz was to Trump.

In 2016 Trump was at 53.85% while Cruz was at 59.39% for a 5.54% gap.

Right now Biden is at 53.39% while Sanders is at 56.85% for a 3.46% gap.

This means that the path for Sanders to actually hit marks to catch up isn't quite as bad as it was for Cruz in 2016.

But 56.85% is still a pretty high mark to need to hit.

To get to a contested convention scenario, you need BOTH Biden and Sanders to miss their delegate targets more often than they hit them.

And it would certainly help if someone else continues to accumulate at least a few delegates as well, even though they clearly can't win.

But as of the writing of this post, Buttigieg and Klobuchar were already out, news has just broken that Bloomberg is dropping out, and Warren is considering her options. Absent a massive surge for Warren or Gabbard, it looks like we now have a true two-person race. Which makes it harder to get to a contested convention.

Although it is still possible that we get there, now that we only have two serious candidates, the scenario where the leader (currently Biden) just builds on their momentum and starts getting what they need for a majority seems more and more likely.

The next primary date is March 10th when Michigan (125 delegates), Washington (89 delegates), Missouri (68 delegates), Mississippi (36 delegates), Idaho (20 delegates), and North Dakota (14 delegates) have their say. That adds up to 352 delegates.

To be on track for 1991:

  • Biden needs at least 188 of the 352 delegates
  • Sanders needs at least 201 of the 352 delegates

These are difficult numbers, but not impossible numbers. Especially now that we only have two serious candidates left.

If one of them hits their number, we may well be on the path for an actual direct winner.

If both of them fail to hit those marks, then the chances of a contested convention stay alive a little while longer.

Basically, assuming no additional delegate accumulation by anybody else, the gap between the top two has to remain less than the total number of delegates held by the also-rans. If they both keep winning states, and those victories are pretty narrow, then that is still possible.

But honestly, it seems like as usual, the chances of a contested convention are slipping away… and it looks like things are coming up Biden.

131.1 days until the Democratic National Convention.

173.1 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-05 01:01 UTC: The votes continue to be counted, and so the delegate estimates change. I'll be updating here no more than once a day. Since the post above was written, Bloomberg has lost 27 delegates. 16 of those went to Sanders, 9 to Biden, 1 to Warren, and one to Buttigieg. This makes the totals for Super Tuesday: Biden 622, Sanders 537, Bloomberg 113, Warren 69, Gabbard 2, Buttigieg 1. And the overall totals: Biden 676, Sanders 597, Bloomberg 113, Warren 77, Buttigieg 27, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. This makes Biden's new magic number 53.02% (187 delegates on March 10th), and Sanders's number 56.21% (198 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-06 01:18 UTC: Bloomberg continues to bleed delegates as vote counting continues. Since yesterday's update, Bloomberg lost 35 more delegates. 19 went to Sanders, 11 went to Biden, and 5 went to Warren. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 633, Sanders 556, Bloomberg 78, Warren 74, Gabbard 2, Buttigieg 1. And the overall totals: Biden 687, Sanders 616, Warren 82, Bloomberg 78, Buttigieg 27, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. So Biden's new magic number is 52.58% (186 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's number is now 55.44% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-07 01:24 UTC: In today's update Warren loses 10 delegates and Sanders loses 3. They go 12 to Biden, 1 to Bloomberg. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 645, Sanders 553, Bloomberg 79, Warren 64, Gabbard 2, Buttigieg 1. New overall totals: Biden 699, Sanders 613, Bloomberg 79, Warren 72, Buttigieg 27, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Biden's new magic number is 52.10% (184 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's new magic number is 55.56% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-08 01:57 UTC: Today Warren gains back 12 delegates, taking 6 from Biden, 5 from Sanders, and 1 from Buttigieg. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 639, Sanders 553, Warren 76, Bloomberg 74, Gabbard 2. New overall totals: Biden 683, Sanders 613, Warren 84, Bloomberg 74, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. So Biden's new magic number is 52.34% (185 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's magic number remains 55.56% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-09 01:48 UTC: Today Bloomberg loses 3 delegates. 2 go to Sanders, 1 goes to Warren. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 639, Sanders 555, Warren 77, Bloomberg 71, Gabbard 2. New overall totals: Biden 693, Sanders 615, Warren 85, Bloomberg 71, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. So Biden's magic number is still 52.34% (185 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's magic number is now 55.48% (196 delegates on March 10th).

Update 2020-03-10 01:35 UTC: Today Bloomberg gives 1 delegate to Sanders. That's it. New Super Tuesday totals: Biden 639, Sanders 556, Warren 77, Bloomberg 70, Gabbard 2. New overall totals: Biden 693, Sanders 616, Warren 85, Bloomberg 70, Buttigieg 26, Klobuchar 7, Gabbard 2. Biden's magic number is still 52.34% (185 delegates on March 10th). Sanders's number is now 55.44% (196 delegates on March 10th).

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.

Biden's South Carolina Boom

Welp, results came in pretty quickly for South Carolina. It was clear from the moment that polls closed that Biden had won, and pretty substantially so. The exact delegate totals took longer but settled in a few hours.

Note 2020-03-01 19:38 UTC: Or maybe it wasn't fully settled after all. See the updates at the end of this post.

South Carolina broke down like this:

  • Biden 39 (72.2%)
  • Sanders 15 (27.8%)

Given where we were before South Carolina, Biden only needed 50.95% of today's delegates, that would be 28 delegates, to improve his "% of remaining delegates needed to win" number. He did that easily, and the chart reflects that:

Biden's line curves down, meaning that at least in this contest, he collected delegates at the pace he needed to be on track to get the 1,991 delegates required to win the nomination.

Everybody else's position got a bit worse.

But to be clear, Sanders is still in the best position coming out of South Carolina. He now needs 50.50% of the remaining delegates to win, where Biden needs 50.65%.

Those numbers are still very close to each other. And even candidates with no delegates at all yet, like Bloomberg, only need 52.07%.

From a purely mathematical point of view, the race is still completely wide open. But we do not have a clean slate. We know how candidates are doing in the polls, so have some idea what is coming.

In just three days, we have Super Tuesday, when the results will allocate 1,357 delegates. Right now, Sanders leads in polling averages in many of those states, including some of the biggest ones. Biden leads in a few states as well. Klobuchar even leads in her home state. And Bloomberg is right up there in quite a few as well.

If there is a big enough "Biden bump" coming out of South Carolina, that picture may change. There may not be enough time for polling to measure such a thing if it does indeed happen. So we think we know where things stand from a polling point of view, but there is room for surprise.

Absent that sort of surprise though, nobody seems to expect a big enough Biden bump that Biden could win a majority of delegates on Super Tuesday. So the main question seems to be if all the non-Sanders candidates do well enough to put us on a path where a contested convention is a live possibility? Or will we be on a road where one of them is close enough that catching up is still a live possibility? Or is Sanders going to run away with this thing?

Well, let's quantify that.

As we said earlier, Sanders needs 50.50% of the delegates to be on a path to an outright win. With 1,357 delegates at stake, that means he needs to win at least 686 delegates for the day. As you start seeing delegate estimates come in, that is the magic number to watch.

You will also want to observe how the other candidates are doing. For a contested convention scenario to be realistic, at least three candidates must be collecting substantial numbers of delegates, and be able to continue to compete even once it is clear they won't reach a majority. Otherwise, it may take a while, but you will eventually end up with an outright winner.

I won't repeat all of the comparisons with previous cycles from the last post. Still, the key thing we'll want to try to distinguish after Super Tuesday using our "% of remaining delegates needed to win" graph is which of several paths we are on:

  1. All lines heading upward: By gosh, a contested convention may be a real possibility!
  2. Two mostly flat lines: We're looking at a real two-person race, but one of the candidates is likely to win eventually.
  3. One flat line: This person will likely end up winning, but enough others are still collecting delegates to make it difficult for them.
  4. One line diving downward: The person heading down is on a path to an outright victory.

Now, it may be possible that even after Super Tuesday, it isn't 100% clear which of these is happening. But we should have an idea.

If Sanders is right near 686 for the day (or 746 delegates total), we might be on paths 2 or 3.

If Sanders blows away 686 and is just raking in the delegates, it will be looking like path 4.

If Sanders is way below 686 (and nobody else unexpectedly gets more delegates than he does), then we are on path 1, the outcome that all election geeks root for every four years, but never happens.

There are 14 states, American Samoa, and the Democrats Abroad voting on Super Tuesday. But 30.4% of the delegates will be coming from California. And another 16.8% from Texas. Add in another 8.1% from North Carolina, and you've already accounted for 55.3% of the Super Tuesday results.

So those states will matter a LOT. And how the second-tier candidates navigate around the 15% thresholds in all of the contests will also be critical.

Right now, in California, Sanders and Warren are the only candidates over 15% in the RCP Average, and Warren is just barely over. If that holds, Sanders might end up taking a massive supermajority of the California delegates. That alone might be enough to ensure that he hits 686 if he even does respectfully in the other states.

In Texas, RCP shows Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg all over the 15% threshold. Sanders is in the lead, but with the current distribution, all three might get decent numbers of delegates.

In North Carolina, RCP has the same three candidates over 15%, with Biden in the lead, but the other two close behind. This contest is also a state where a relatively even three-way split is possible.

I won't go further down the list. The bottom line is that current polling gives a significant chance that Sanders will rack up a big delegate lead on Super Tuesday.

Unless the Biden bump from South Carolina ends up being huge and upends everything, the question is just how big an advantage Sanders gets, and what that means to the rest of the primary season.

So we'll be watching all those "% of remaining needed to win" lines, and we will see what things look like in a few days.

It will be an exciting evening.

You may even want to tune in to the hourly delegate estimate updates we'll be tweeting over on @ElecCollPolls rather than waiting for the blog post(s) here that we'll post once it looks like the results have stabilized.

2.7 days until the polls close on Super Tuesday.

134.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

176.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-03-01 16:34 UTC: This post was written when 99%+ of precincts were reporting, and three hours had gone by with no changes to the delegate estimates, but those last few votes did indeed make a difference. Biden took back one delegate from Sanders, making the South Carolina total Biden 40, Sanders 14. This shifts the national numbers to Sanders 59, Biden 55, Buttigieg 26, Warren 8, Klobuchar 7. This changes Sanders' "% of remaining needed to win" to 50.52%. That's still 686 delegates for his target level on Super Tuesday though.

Update 2020-03-01 19:34 UTC: And… it looks like there are still some vote total adjustments happening. Sanders took back two delegates from Biden. This makes the South Carolina total Biden 38, Sanders 16. Which makes the national numbers Sanders 61, Biden 53, Buttigieg 26, Warren 8, Klobuchar 7. So the "% of remaining needed to win" is 50.47%, and the number of delegates Sanders needs on Super Tuesday is down to 685.

Update 2020-03-01 20:33 UTC: Clearly I have to wait longer before making my summary post. I keep thinking we are done. But no. One delegate moves from Sanders back to Biden. So the new South Carolina totals are Biden 39, Sanders 15. Which puts everything back to where it was when I originally wrote this post.

For more information:

This post is an update based on the data on the Election Graphs 2020 Delegate Race page. Election Graphs tracks estimates of the convention delegate totals for both parties. The charts, graphs, and maps in the post above are all as of the time of this post. Click through on any image for the current interactive versions of that chart, along with additional details.

Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of new blog posts. For those interested in more granular updates of delegate updates or general election polling, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter. If you find the information in these posts informative or useful, please consider visiting the donation page.