Biden Clinches

Some other places that count delegates had him there a day or two earlier, but by our count, the Virgin Islands put Biden over the top with Biden getting all 7 delegates there in today's update to the Election Graphs delegate race charts.

Sorry New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Delaware, and Guam…  your 780 delegates don't make any difference this year.

This seems like a good time to look at how the graph of "% of remaining delegates needed to win" ended up, and compare it to some of the previous cycles. So here goes:

The little loop in the graph there is from when New York gave all their delegates to Biden, but then there was a court battle and the delegates went back to TBD pending the New York primaries which now won't be until June 23rd.

Biden clinched with almost exactly 80% of the delegates determined.

Of the five contested races in both parties since 2008 when I started tracking these, three took longer than this (in terms of % of delegates, not calendar date) and two took less.

Looking at the charts, first the three that took longer to clinch:

Obama in 2008:

Trump in 2016:

Clinton in 2016:

Then the two that clinched faster:

Romney in 2012:

McCain in 2008:

And of course, lacking any competitive challengers, Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2020 both clinched at the 50% mark.

Our count of the totals on the day Biden clinched are as follows:

This will of course continue to change as those last 780 delegates get determined. And there may even still be some shifts in the 3199 already allocated as delegate selection plans wrap up before the convention.

As a simple example of this, when the initial count was over back in February, the delegate count in Iowa was:

  • Buttigieg 14
  • Sanders 12
  • Warren 8
  • Biden 6
  • Klobuchar 1

But when candidates dropped out and were no longer vying for delegates in the later parts of the delegate selection process, statewide delegates from the candidates who dropped out were reassigned to Biden. As of today, Iowa looks like this:

  • Biden 14
  • Sanders 12
  • Buttigieg 9
  • Warren 5
  • Klobuchar 1

So after all this, Biden wins Iowa after all.

And of course, since they can't make a difference to the outcome, the superdelegates will get to vote on the first ballot too. So any full delegate count coming from the convention (virtual or otherwise) will be a bit different than what we have here, which just counted pledged delegates.

As more updates come in, we'll add them as updates to the end of this post.

We declared things "almost done" on March 11th, and "over" on March 18th, but now we are really "done done" absent something catastrophic that causes Biden to leave the race prematurely.

So there we are.

71.0 days until the Democratic National Convention.

78.0 days until the Republican National Convention.

Update 2020-06-08 04:16 UTC: Results from Guam today: Biden 5, Sanders 2. Also an update from PA: One delegate moves from Sanders to Biden. New totals: Biden 1997, Sanders 1063, Others 146.

Update 2020-06-09 04:16 UTC: Update from Arkansas: Bloomberg loses two delegates to Biden. New totals: Biden 1999, Sanders 1063, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-10 04:01 UTC: Today we have the results from Georgia and West Virginia. It looks like Biden will get all 133 delegates. New totals: Biden 2132, Sanders 1063, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-11 15:51 UTC: Not a delegate update, but a quick correction. Above I said, "And of course, since they can't make a difference to the outcome, the superdelegates will get to vote on the first ballot too.". This is slightly premature. For the superdelegates to vote on the first ballot, Biden has to have enough pledged delegates to have a majority of ALL delegates, which would be 2378 pledged delegates out of 4753 total delegates (rather than 1991 pledged delegates out of 3979 pledged delegates). So he is still 246 delegates short of that threshold, although he will probably get there before the end. For more details on this, see this FHQ post.

Update 2020-06-24 07:08 UTC: Today we have initial results from Kentucky and New York. Biden 250, Sanders 57. There are 21 delegates TBD in Kentucky which may end up officially uncommitted. New totals: Biden 2382, Sanders 1120, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-25 05:28 UTC: Today we have updates from Kentucky and New York. Biden gains 4 delegates, Sanders loses 3. New totals: Biden 2386, Sanders 1117, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-26 16:21 UTC: Today we have another update from Kentucky. Biden gains 8 more delegates, Sanders gains 2. Looks like 10 delegates will be officially uncommitted.  New totals: Biden 2394, Sanders 1119, Others 144.

Update 2020-06-27 16:45 UTC: Today we have an update from New York. Biden loses one delegate to Sanders. New Totals: Biden 2393, Sanders 1120, Others 144, TBD 322.

Update 2020-06-29 03:46 UTC: Today an update from Kentucky. Biden gains one more delegate. New Totals: Biden 2394, Sanders 1120, Others 144, TBD 321.

Update 2020-07-01 02:35 UTC: An update from Kentucky today. Biden gains 9 delegates, Sanders loses 2. New totals: Biden 2403, Sanders 1118, Others 144, TBD 314.

Update 2020-07-07 05:45 UTC: An update from New York. Biden pulls one delegate from Sanders. New totals: Biden 2404, Sanders 1117, Others 144, TBD 314.

Update 2020-07-08 06:41 UTC: Initial results from New Jersey and Delaware have Biden getting all 147 delegates from the two states. New totals: Biden 2551, Sanders 1117, Others 144, TBD 167.

Update 2020-07-12 15:33 UTC: Initial results are in from Louisiana, and it looks like Biden will be getting all 54 delegates. New totals: Biden 2605, Sanders 1117, Others 144, TBD 113.

Update 2020-07-13 04:52 UTC: Initial results are in from Puerto Rico: Biden 44, Sanders 4, Bloomberg 3. New totals: Biden 2649, Sanders 1121, Others 147, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-07-17 18:20 UTC: Logged an update from Rhode Island where a delegate moved from Sanders to Biden, and an update from Puerto Rico where a delegate moved from Biden to Sanders. No net change: Biden 2649, Sanders 1121, Others 147, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-07-22 23:10 UTC: One delegate in Puerto Rico moves from Bloomberg to Biden. New totals: Biden 2650, Sanders 1121, Others 146, TBD 62.

Update 2020-08-03 04:17: Logged updates today from New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Net change, Biden lost 11 delegates, 3 went to Sanders, and 8 went to… Bloomberg. New totals: Biden 2639, Sanders 1124, Others 154, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-08-06 23:30: Update from Puerto Rico today. 8 delegates move from Bloomberg to Biden. New totals: Biden 2647, Sanders, 1124, Others 146, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

Update 2020-08-08 20:20: Today's delegate estimate update is from New Jersey. Two delegates shift from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 2645, Sanders 1126, Others 146, TBD 62. Only Connecticut left. And 2 uncommitted delegates from Kentucky.

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.

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%.

Update 2020-03-29 04:35 UTC: Updates today from California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Net change: Biden +3, Warren -1, Bloomberg -2. New totals: Biden 1223, Sanders 925, Others 163. Biden needs 46.04% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.91%.

Update 2020-03-30 09:18 UTC: Updates today from Virginia and Florida. Net Change: Biden +1, Warren +1, Sanders -2. New totals: Biden 1224, Sanders 923, Others 164. Biden needs 45.98% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.03%.

Update 2020-04-01 02:27 UTC: One delegate in Massachusetts moves from Warren to Sanders in today's update to the estimate. New totals: Biden 1224, Sanders 924, Others 163. Biden needs 45.98% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.97%.

Update 2020-04-02 00:20 UTC: In today's update to our estimates, one delegate in Virginia moves from Warren to Biden. New totals: Biden 1225, Sanders 924, Others 162. Biden needs 45.92% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 63.97%.

Update 2020-04-13 03:51 UTC: Today we added results from Alaska. Biden won 8 delegates, Sanders won 7. Also an update from Texas, with Sanders giving up 3 delegates, 2 to Biden, 1 to Bloomberg. New totals: Biden 1235, Sanders 928, Others 163. Biden needs 45.74% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 64.31%.

Update 2020-04-14 17:32 UTC: Today we added results from Wisconsin. Biden won 57 delegates, Sanders won 27. New totals: Biden 1292, Sanders 955, Others 163. Biden needs 44.55% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 66.03%. Sanders also officially dropped out since yesterday's update.

Update 2020-04-18 02:03 UTC: An update from Idaho today. Biden takes another delegate from Sanders. New totals: Biden 1293, Sanders 954, Others 163. Biden needs 44.49% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 66.09%.

Update 2020-04-20 16:08 UTC: Today we add the results from Wyoming. Biden won 10 delegates, Sanders won 4. New totals: Biden 1302, Sanders 958, Others 163. Biden needs 44.24% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 66.43%.

Update 2020-04-28 03:11 UTC: Today New York canceled their primary since all but one candidate has dropped out. They gave all 274 delegates to Biden. In addition, an update to the Arizona totals, moving one delegate from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1576, Sanders 959, Others 163. Biden needs 32.40% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 80.56%.

Update 2020-04-29 15:57 UTC: Adding in the results from Ohio: Biden 155, Sanders 21. In addition, one delegate moves from Warren to Sanders in California. New totals: Biden 1691, Sanders 981, Others 162. Biden needs 26.20% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 88.21%.

Update 2020-05-04 03:04 UTC: Today we get the results for Kansas: Biden 29, Sanders 10. New totals: Biden 1720, Sanders 991, Others 162. Biden needs 24.50% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 90.42%.

Update 2020-05-06 15:47 UTC: In today's update, a court ruled that NY's decision to cancel their primary and give all the delegates to Biden was invalid and a primary should happen after all. So Biden loses 274 delegates. New totals: Biden 1446, Sanders 991, Others 162. Biden needs 39.49% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 72.46%.

Update 2020-05-13 05:11 UTC: Today we have results for Nebraska. 29 delegates for Biden. New totals: Biden 1475, Sanders 991, Others 162. Biden needs 38.19% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 74.02%.

Update 2020-05-15 04:05 UTC: Today an update in Wisconsin moving one delegate from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1474, Sanders 992, Others 162. Biden needs 38.27% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 73.95%.

Update 2020-05-18 01:06 UTC: Today Massachusetts moves 8 delegates from Warren to Biden. New totals: Biden 1482, Sanders, 992, Others 154. Biden needs 37.68% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 73.95%.

Update 2020-05-20 16:20 UTC: Today we have results from Oregon: Biden 47, Sanders 14. New totals: Biden 1529, Sanders 1006, Others 154. Biden needs 35.81% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 76.36%.

Update 2020-05-21 02:44 UTC: Update from Oregon. One delegate moves from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1528, Sanders 1007, Others 154.  Biden needs 35.89% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 76.28%.

Update 2020-05-24 19:18 UTC: Today we have results from Hawaii: Biden 16, Sanders 8. New totals: Biden 1544, Sanders 1015, Others 154. Biden needs 35.31% of the remaining delegates to win. Sanders needs 77.09%.

Update 2020-06-03 19:08 UTC: Today we have updates from DC, IN, MD, MT, NM, PA, RI, and SD: Biden 424, Sanders 55. New totals: Biden 1968, Sanders 1070, Others 154. With that Sanders is mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination absent other candidates losing delegates. Biden still needs 2.92% of the remaining delegates to clinch though.

Update 2020-06-05 04:53 UTC: Updates from Indiana and New Mexico today. Net change, one delegate moves from Biden to Sanders. New totals: Biden 1967, Sanders 1071, Others 154. All other candidates have been mathematically eliminated, but Biden still needs 3.05% of the remaining delegates to clinch.

Update 2020-06-06 16:18 UTC: Updates from IA, IN, PA, and RI today. Net Change: Biden +17, Warren -3, Buttigieg -5, Sanders -9. New Totals: Biden 1984, Sanders 1062, Others 146. Some places already have Biden over the magic number, but in our count, he still needs 7 more delegates.

Update 2020-06-07 17:42 UTC: Some places had him there yesterday, but by our count, the Virgin Islands puts Biden over the top today as he gets all 7 delegates there. New totals: Biden 1991, Sanders 1062, Others 146.

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.

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.

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.

 

The Post-Nevada Sanders Lead

It took a couple of days, but as of Monday afternoon, the Nevada results were final. It was clear from the moment returns started coming in that Sanders was going to win handily, but the extent of that lead in terms of the delegate estimate moved around a bit as the returns slowly came in.

During this time, the estimated number of Sanders delegates in Nevada ranged from 22 to 28, Biden ranged from 7 to 11, Buttigieg ranged from 0 to 6, and Warren ranged from 0 to 1. But once we knew the final count, these were the results from Nevada:

  • Sanders 24
  • Biden 9
  • Buttigieg 3

Sanders needed to get 19 or more of the Nevada delegates to improve his overall position in terms of the % of remaining delegates needed to win. He did that handily. The updated chart of that metric looks like this:

Remember, for this chart down is positive and up is negative. When you get down to 0%, you clinch the nomination. If a candidate goes up to 100%, they become mathematically eliminated.

Sanders has made a turn downward. He is not only in the lead, but Nevada put him on a winning pace.

Now, the general talk is about how absent a significant change, Sanders may be in an uncatchable position after Super Tuesday. That isn't based simply on today's delegate totals, but also on his polling in South Carolina, the Super Tuesday states, and nationwide, and a bit of knowledge of how a small popular vote lead translates into a massive delegate lead.

For instance, in Nevada, Sanders got about 33% of the popular vote, but that translated into 67% of the delegates. This kind of magnification for the winner is intentional in the delegate allocation rules. The 15% delegate threshold in one cause. The fact that the results in individual congressional districts determine many of the delegates is another.

Rather than look at the prognostications of how future states might go, instead, let's look at how you would expect the % of remaining delegates needed to win chart to change as this progresses. That will help us know how we will identify if it seems like Sanders is on track to a clear win, if we are heading towards a contested convention, or if someone else still has a chance to win.

To illustrate, we'll look at some graphs from previous cycles to compare to where things are now.

Let's look at the contested races in both parties since 2008 when we did the first Election Graphs delegate tracking. We'll look at them in order of how quickly the nominee was pretty clear in each contest.

Which means we will start with the Democrats in 2016:

This chart shows what it looks like when we have a runaway victory that is clear from the beginning.

Sorry, Sanders folks. 2020 is going differently, but in 2016, because of the courting of superdelegates long before Iowa even happened, Clinton built up a delegate lead starting from the very beginning.

From the 0% starting line, Clinton improved her position with every contest, and Sanders's situation got worse. The only exception was a slight bump around the 58% mark when Sanders had one outstanding day. But the overall trend was clear from the very beginning. Clinton was on the road to an outright victory, and Sanders never managed to slow that progress.

Next up, the Republicans in 2008:

It took slightly longer for this one to become apparent. Romney took an early lead, but his line stayed flat, hovering around the 50% line. McCain was heading upward along with the also-rans. But at about the 5% mark, McCain started hitting his mark and improving his position with every contest. He pulled ahead of Romney at about the 10% mark, then when Super Tuesday jumped the race over 40% every other candidate was at the point where they needed 60%+ of the remaining delegates to catch up and win. That was, of course, unrealistic. Except for one short jog just past the 50% mark, McCain kept improving his position in every race.

Unlike Clinton in 2016, McCain had some issues before Super Tuesday but hit his pace quickly, and Super Tuesday made things inevitable.

Next up, Republicans in 2012:

This chart shows an example of a slower burn. Romney was in the lead from the very beginning, but his "% of remaining delegates needed to win" basically stayed flat right around the 50% mark for a long time.

This pattern means that he was accumulating delegates much faster than anybody else, and it was clear the other candidates were not going to win outright. But the other candidates were continuing to take enough delegates to keep a contested convention an active possibility for awhile.

That changed around the 43% mark though. Winner-take-all states on the Republican side undoubtedly helped with this. But also once it is clear that candidates can't win, it becomes tough for them to actively continue a campaign based on the idea of forcing a contested convention where maybe they will be picked, but probably not. So one by one, the other candidates drop out, and then the candidate in the lead starts rolling up the remaining delegates.

So this race had a clear leader way ahead of the rest virtually from the 0% mark, but Romney didn't start hitting a winning pace consistently until 43%.

Now Democrats in 2008:

This graph shows a real two-person race. Both Obama and Clinton maintained flat lines for a long long time. Clinton was even improving a little. But not very much. Obama was getting enough delegates to keep her from hitting the marks she needed to improve the "% of remaining delegates needed to win" number significantly.

Clinton still had the advantage for more than the first half of the campaign delegate wise. Around the 50% mark, though, Obama started consistently hitting the percentages needed to improve his position while Clinton fell further and further behind. For a long time, though, the situation was dynamic. Clinton didn't get mathematically eliminated until around the 96% mark!

Finally, the Republicans in 2016:

This graph shows the closest we have gotten to a contested convention since I started tracking delegates in 2008. The other Republican candidates kept Trump over 50% of delegates needed until more than 70% of the delegates were allocated; around the same time, Cruz became mathematically eliminated. Although there were a couple of ups and downs along the way, Trump didn't start consistently improving his numbers until about the 67% mark. Until then, while Trump was way ahead, the possibility of a contested convention was kept open. But just like 2012, once it was clear that other candidates did not have a realistic path, and they started to drop away, the leader was able to take all or almost all of the remaining delegates, and wrap things up.

This year after South Carolina, we will be at 3.9% of the delegates allocated.

After Super Tuesday, we will be at 38.0%.

We'll hit 50% on March 17th  after Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.

We'll hit 67% on April 4th  after Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Wyoming.

As we pass each of these milestones, the question is, does 2020 look like one of these past patterns? Or something else entirely?

If Sanders (or any other candidate) is under 50% of remaining delegates needed, and the number goes down after each contest, then we are on track for that candidate running away to an outright win with no significant obstacles to that result. (This is like the Democrats in 2016, or the Republicans in 2008.)

If all of the candidates except one are racing up to 100%, but the leader is kept flat around 50%, it means that while one candidate has a chance of winning outright, the other candidates are combining at a level that keeps the possibility of a contested convention open. The tendency in this situation is that once all the opposing candidates are mathematically eliminated, they will drop out, and the leader will be able to at that point hit the marks they need to get to a majority. (This is like the Republicans in 2012 or 2016.)

If two candidates are managing to keep their lines relatively flat, you have a two-person race, with both really still in contention. Until the point where one person's line goes up consistently, and the other person's line goes down, you have a real race. Unless the two candidates are closer together than the sum of the other candidates' delegate totals though, one of the two will end up winning. The only question is how close to the end you get before the winner becomes clear. (This is like the Democrats in 2008.)

So what pattern would we see if we are actually on a path to a contested convention?

If after each contest ALL the candidates' numbers for "% of remaining needed to win" go up, time after time, and every candidate is heading up toward 100%, and no candidate is curving down toward 0%, then we are actually on a path to a contested convention.

Be aware, though, until EVERY candidate has gone over 100%, someone can still win. If every candidate other than the leader drops out and stops collecting delegates, allowing the remaining candidate to claim 100% of the remaining delegates, that remaining candidate can still manage to get the delegates they need to win outright.

A contested convention scenario requires multiple candidates who know they are not on pace to get a delegate majority to keep running and accumulating delegates anyway.

That is a pretty tricky path to follow, especially for the candidates who rely on fundraising to keep going.

So far, Sanders is ahead, but it is hard to classify which of these patterns will hold. The situation is even more apparent if you rescale the 2020 Democratic chart to show the entire race:

We have just barely started. Current polling in South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states is driving the current predictions of how this race will turn out. If those polls are correct, then the projections of Sanders winning outright or having a contested convention where Sanders has a significant plurality are probably right.

But we don't know for sure quite yet.

So after South Carolina, and especially after Super Tuesday, come back here and see which ways these lines are all moving, and we'll know a lot better which kind of pattern 2020 is going to follow.

Depending on what we see, this thing may be mostly over, or we'll have indications it will go on awhile.

It will be a fun week. Keep watching Election Graphs!

138.6 days until the Democratic National Convention.

180.6 days until the Republican National Convention.

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.

New Hampshire Tie Leaves Buttigieg Ahead

So, New Hampshire went much more smoothly than Iowa, so a few hours after polls closed, the delegates are already locked in.

A lot of coverage has talked about popular vote totals in both Iowa and New Hampshire. This is a mistake. That should be ignored. Just like winning the popular vote did not make Hillary Clinton president, winning the popular vote means nothing in the nomination process. What matters is delegates, and only delegates.

In New Hampshire, the delegate breakdown is:

  • 9 for Buttigieg
  • 9 for Sanders
  • 6 for Klobuchar

It was a tie.

No matter what happened with the popular vote.

Now, what does that mean for the race overall?

Time to look at the "% of remaining delegates needed to win" graph:

Remember, on this graph, down is good, up is bad. When a candidate gets down to 0%, they have won the nomination. If they go up to 100%, they have been mathematically eliminated.

Everybody is still going up!

This reflects the fact that nobody is even getting a majority of the delegates in contests yet, let alone performing at the (currently slightly higher) levels they would need to in order to actually start bringing these lines down.

There are clear differences between the candidates of course. We have two groupings at the moment.

The leaders are Buttigieg and Sanders, because they are going up more slowly than the others.

Buttigieg is doing the best, but Sanders is just behind him.

Sanders is also disputing some results in Iowa. If Sanders gets the best result he can hope for from those disputes, Sanders gains a delegate and Buttigieg loses a delegate, which would move Sanders and Buttigieg into an overall tie. (If that is resolved before Nevada anyway.)

Then there is a gap, followed by Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden (in that order) in the second tier, grouped pretty closely together.

The only actual change in the ordering caused by New Hampshire was Klobuchar overtaking Biden. This puts Biden in 5th place, which is clearly not where he wanted to be at this point.

Lots of people are making prognostications on how the rest of the race will play out based on these two contests. And it certainly does look like Biden's standing in future states has been hurt by his poor performance so far. But it is important to remember that only 1.63% of the delegates have been allocated so far.

All of the candidates still only need between 50% and 51% of the remaining delegates in order to be on pace to win. That is better than any of them have done so far of course, but that is not an outrageous or impossible number.

There is a long way to go. A lot can happen. And we haven't even gotten to the states where Bloomberg has been dumping money yet.

OK, especially at this stage, it may also be helpful to look at the chart in some more familiar ways before we close up.

Here are the results so far in terms of total delegate count :

And in terms of percentage of the delegates so far:

Or for those who prefer tables:

And broken down by state:

Bottom lines:

Buttigieg is the leader, with Sanders nipping at his heels.

Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden are behind, but it is so early, all three of them, and also candidates with no delegates yet for that matter, still have plenty of time to catch up… if they can get ahead of the rapidly growing narrative that the first 1.63% of the delegates have already determined their destinies.

152.5 days until the Democratic National Convention

194.5 days until the Republican National Convention

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 to go to a page with 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.

Iowa! (Finally)

I'm sure anyone reading blog posts on Election Graphs already knows about all the drama about getting results from the Iowa caucuses. So suffice it to say that they had some issues.

The 2020 Delegate Race page has been updating whenever new results have become available over the last few days. For the most part, we use the excellent delegate breakdowns at The Green Papers as our definitive source for this information. You can find their current detailed status of the Democratic results in Iowa here. Note that they present a more conservative estimate at the top of the page, but a more aggressive estimate (using more provisional data) at the bottom of the page. Election Graphs uses the second estimate.

The delegate estimates here represent the best estimates for national delegates at the point the Iowa Democrats reported 100% of the vote counted. These may change slightly if there are corrections or recanvasses based on some of the irregularities that were found. And they almost certainly will be adjusted months down the line when national delegates are actually selected at the Iowa Democratic Convention in June.

With that in mind, let's jump right in and explain the central chart that Election Graphs uses to examine the delegate race. It isn't a straight forward chart of the number of delegates each candidate has accumulated either at the present moment or over time. You can find that kind of chart, and others, on the 2020 Delegate Race page. But the most important chart to watch is actually this one:

Rather than the date on the horizontal axis, we show the percent of available delegates that have been allocated so far. In the case of the Democrats this year, this is only the PLEDGED delegates (no superdelegates) since superdelegates will not be able to vote in the first round at the convention unless it is mathematically impossible for them to change the winner.

Using % allocated rather than date gives us a better idea of how far along we are in the race, given that primary and caucus dates are scattered across the calendar irregularly, and the number of delegates available on different dates varies wildly based on which and how many states are handing out delegates that day.

Even more critically though, the vertical axis is not simply a count of delegates. We do have that graph too. But the headline graph shows something that gives a much better idea of how the race is going.

Namely: The percentage of the remaining delegates each candidate would have to win in order to have a majority of the delegates (and therefore clinch the nomination).

If you support a particular candidate, you want this number to go DOWN. When it reaches 0%, a candidate has clinched the nomination. If it goes above 100%, on the other hand, then a candidate has been mathematically eliminated. (Absent pledged delegates being released from their pledges and voting a different way than they were "supposed" to.)

In practice, a candidate can be in a position where they have not yet been mathematically eliminated, but it becomes harder and harder to envision a scenario where they would win. For instance, if a candidate would need 60% of the remaining vote to win, but their percentage of the vote so far is only 40%, unless you know that they are really heavily favored in the remaining states, their chances are actually very slim.

Candidates who are on a pace to win will see their lines moving down.

Candidates who are not on a winning pace will see their lines moving up.

So, what do we see so far after the preliminary results from Iowa?

Well, everybody is moving up. This is quite simply because nobody got over 50% of the available delegates in this first round, which is where you start when nobody has any delegates yet. To move your line down, you need to collect delegates faster than your current "% of remaining needed". If you don't, your line keeps going up, as it becomes harder and harder to catch up.

This is just like how if you are behind in a race, to win you have to not just go faster than the car that is in the lead, you have to go enough faster to catch up with them before the finish line.

As of this writing, the best estimate of the delegate breakdown is:

  • 14 for Buttigieg
  • 12 for Sanders
  • 8 for Warren
  • 6 for Biden
  • 1 for Klobuchar

This seems like an absolutely huge difference between the top and bottom of this list until you realize that only 41 delegates out of 3979 have been allocated so far. That is only 1.03%.

So the "% of remaining delegates needed" varies from 50.18% for Buttigieg, to 50.51% for Klobuchar. (It would be 50.53% for any candidates who still have zero delegates.) These numbers are still very very close to each other.

The news has been filled with pronouncements of the possibility of Biden being doomed by this result or hyperventilation about the momentum for Buttigieg or Sanders. If such a small percentage of the delegates have been allocated so far, and everybody is still pretty close to each other, why is this?

Well… How candidates do in Iowa impacts their perception in New Hampshire. And New Hampshire impacts their perception in Nevada. Which impacts South Carolina. Which impacts Super Tuesday. And perhaps even more importantly, their performance in each state impacts fundraising and media coverage.

In these early stages, the "narrative" dominates. It does matter. A lot.

But in the end, it is all about the delegates. And so far, there is still not all that much difference between the candidates. Anything can still happen.

In terms of the graph above, look for when one of the curves starts heading down instead of up. That's when someone is really getting some momentum. It means that in every new contest, they don't even have to do as well as they have before in order to win. They can just keep chugging along how they have been, and they will end up winning.

For now, though, things can still get crazy.

Finally, before wrapping up, there was another surprise in Iowa besides Biden doing badly and Buttigieg doing well. The surprise was on the Republican side, where Iowa was actually the third state to allocate delegates (after Hawaii and Kansas).

In the Republican Iowa Caucuses, Bill Weld got 1.29% of the vote. Which was enough to get him one delegate out of the 40 available. So we have a race on the Republican side too!

Yeah, OK. Not really. But hey. Weld got a delegate.

157.4 days until the Democratic National Convention.

199.4 days until the Republican National Convention.

It is going to be a fun ride…

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 to go to a page with 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.