The mystery model: 2016 is not 2008

Previously: 1 2 3.

I expected that the mystery model would apply to the 2008 primary, but it doesn’t.

Mississippi 37.3% Obama
Louisiana 32.4% Obama
Georgia 31.4% Obama
Maryland 30.1% Obama
South Carolina 28.5% Obama
Alabama 26.4% Obama
North Carolina 21.6% Obama
Delaware 20.1% Obama
Virginia 19.9% Obama
Tennessee 16.8% Clinton
Florida 15.9% N/A
Arkansas 15.8% Clinton
New York 15.2% Clinton
Illinois 14.9% Obama
New Jersey 14.5% Clinton
Michigan 14.2% N/A
Ohio 12.0% Clinton
Texas 11.9% Clinton
Missouri 11.5% Obama
Pennsylvania 10.8% Clinton
Connecticut 10.3% Obama
Indiana 9.1% Clinton
Nevada 9.0% Clinton
Kentucky 8.2% Clinton
Massachusetts 8.1% Clinton
Oklahoma 8.0% Clinton
Rhode Island 7.5% Clinton
California 6.7% Clinton
Kansas 6.2% Obama
Wisconsin 6.1% Obama
Minnesota 4.6% Obama
Nebraska 4.5% Obama
Colorado 4.3% Obama
Alaska 4.3% Obama
Arizona 4.2% Clinton
Washington 3.7% Obama
West Virginia 3.6% Clinton
Hawaii 3.1% Obama
New Mexico 3.0% Clinton
Iowa 2.7% Obama
Oregon 2.0% Obama
Wyoming 1.3% Obama
Utah 1.3% Obama
New Hampshire 1.2% Clinton
South Dakota 1.1% Clinton
North Dakota 1.1% Obama
Maine 1.0% Obama
Idaho 1.0% Obama
Vermont 0.9% Obama
Montana 0.7% Obama

To recap: there’s one statistic that almost perfectly predicts the results of the 2016 Democratic primary. States that come in at above 8.00% (Oklahoma is rounded up) go to Clinton, with two exceptions, Michigan and Indiana, out of 24; states that come in below 8.00% go to Sanders, with two exceptions, Arizona and Iowa, out of 20. In my original post on this model, I called New Jersey, California, New Mexico, and Kentucky for Clinton, and West Virginia, Oregon, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana for Sanders. The West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oregon primaries have since been held. Clinton won Kentucky and Sanders won West Virginia and Oregon.

In 2008, of the 23 eligible states above the 8.00% cutoff, Clinton won eleven and Obama won twelve; and of the 25 states below the 8.00% cutoff, Clinton won eight and Obama won 17.

Has any election in recent history other than the 2016 Democratic primary been decided by a single statistic like this? Eyeballing the maps of both parties’ primaries back to 1980, it doesn’t look like it.

The closest precedent that I know of is the general election in 1968.

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7 responses to “The mystery model: 2016 is not 2008

  1. Jefferson May 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Are you sure that this is causal and not just a random correlation?

    • nydwracu May 22, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      What are the odds of it being random?

      If I code a Clinton victory as 1 and a Sanders victory as 0 and type the data into this thing, I get R = 0.67 and a p-value < 0.00001.

      If I use Clinton's vote percentage (which isn't perfect, since there are other candidates besides Clinton and Sanders, but whatever), I get R = 0.83 and a p-value < 0.00001. And that understates it, because I used Nebraska's non-binding primary, which Clinton won, rather than the caucus, which Sanders won.

      There's always the possibility that I typed something in wrong (the data is here; I really ought to make a spreadsheet), but then there’s still the table. It’s probably not chance.

      If you put 24 coins in one pile and 20 coins in another pile and flip them, what are the odds of all but two of the coins in the first pile coming up heads and all but two of the coins in the second pile coming up tails?

  2. Pingback: The mystery model: 2016 is not 2008 | Reaction Times

  3. ЦарьПугачёвГро́зный​ (@vandeRede) May 24, 2016 at 3:24 am

    My guess: this model is an iceberg, beneath the surface there’s actually two separate factors correlated with it, call them B and Y. Obama was able to win in 2008 because he could simultaneously campaign as a B and a Y, where B is dominant at the top of this table and Y is dominant at the bottom. In contrast, in 2016 the mantel of Yness falls upon Sanders, and for some reason it’s Clinton who’s inherited Bness.
    Also, I just realised I can comment on blogposts

  4. KK May 24, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Here’s the mystery factor expressed in search-term form, courtesy of Princeton Election Consortium.

    We have Nicki Minaj & Smackdown on the other side and a hilarious amount of SWPL (even the blog author calls it this) cooking on the other.

  5. KK May 24, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    The mystery factor expressed as Google search terms, courtesy of the modestly named Princeton Election Consortium blog.

    On the other side you have Nicki Minaj, wrestling and pink hoverboards. On the other you have a hilariously extensive list of SWPL (even the blog author calls it that) cooking.

    As for the 2008 results, at the top of your list are the states where affirmative action beneficiaries are too strong and at the bottom where they’re too weak. Both have their own reasons to go for the Educated Black Man.

  6. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2016/05/29) - Social Matter

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