Nevada Democratic Caucuses and South Carolina Republican Primaries: The New State of the Race

Yesterday, 735,000 Republicans in South Carolina and about 80,000 Democrats in Nevada1 headed to the polls and voted or caucused in the third day of voting in this year’s primary cycle. Here, we break down what exactly happened yesterday and what it means going forward.
 
South Carolina Republican Primary

Coming out of New Hampshire, Donald Trump had won big, John Kasich pulled out a surprising second place finish, Jeb Bush was riding high on beating Marco Rubio, who was suffering after an embarrassing debate performance, and Ted Cruz still confident after his win in Iowa. New Hampshire and Iowa had served to narrow the field a bit, forcing Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie out. In South Carolina, Trump looked poised to pull off another large victory, leaving Cruz and Rubio vying for third and Bush just not wanting to finish too far behind them. Kasich had absolutely no expectations going in and Ben Carson is somehow still running. And, as expected, Donald Trump ended up the big winner of the night.

Candidates Pct. Delegates
D. Trump 32.5%
50
M. Rubio 22.5%
0
T. Cruz 22.3%
0
J. Bush 7.8%
0
J. Kasich 7.6%
0
B. Carson 7.2%
0

Trump won all of the delegates from yesterday’s contest, giving him a big lead heading into the Nevada Republican Caucuses and Super Tuesday. Rubio and Cruz ended up pretty much tied, but more importantly, Rubio showed that he has mostly recovered from his poor debate performance and is once again the conventional wisdom establishment-backed candidate. More unfortunately for Cruz, South Carolina is an example of why the delegate math is going to be challenging for him; Ted Cruz is expected to do best in many Southern states going forward, a large chunk of which are winner-take-all in each congressional district, meaning that a close second may not mean much in terms of actually winning him delegates.

But the biggest news coming out of South Carolina on the Republican side is that Jeb Bush has announced he is suspending his campaign. This is significant for two reasons. Although there are myriad think pieces dissecting why the Bush campaign failed, I will a chart which contains just one more reason.

Jeb Bush's Advertising

This chart adds together all of the advertising minutes from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina of TV ads from both the Bush campaign and Right To Rise, Bush’s primarily supporting SuperPAC. The biggest take away is that the campaign failed to really advertise until Bush had largely slipped in the polls and had little chance of recovery. It poured money into the first three states, but only right before they were to vote, meaning that they could only sway late-breaking voters. While there certainly are many late-breaking voters, they tend to vote strategically, meaning that if their primary focus is say, stopping Trump, they are more likely to vote for someone like Rubio than Bush. Bush’s advertising campaign simply came too late to substantially change public perception of him as a viable candidate.

Bush’s dropping out is significant for both electoral and monetary reasons. On the electoral side, it frees up the “establishment lane” of the GOP. With Bush and Christie now both out, more moderate, establishment-minded Republican voters really only have a choice between Kasich and Rubio. Taking a look at polling2, we can see specifically that this helps Rubio the most.

Jeb Bush Supporters Second Choice

We can then take the 6.3% of support that Bush had in the latest HuffPost Pollster average and split it up to the different candidates.

Polling with Bush support split up.

Clearly, Rubio is the biggest beneficiary to Bush dropping out, but that 6.3% being split multiple ways means that it honestly does not have a huge difference on pure polling numbers.

The second effect of Bush dropping out, freeing up big donors, is much more significant. Although Bush never got very far off the ground enticing voters, he was very successful in enticing donors. However, with him out of the race, many of these donors will be able to move their money around freely. And the general thinking is that many will move their money over to Rubio who can then use it to execute the same kind of attack-ad heavy campaign that allowed Romney to knock out his rivals in 2012.

Ultimately, the general thinking is that Bush’s dropping out leaves more room for Rubio to win over establishment support and use that support to win the nomination. However, with Trump and Cruz still putting up strong performance, even if Cruz cannot win many winner-take-all states, it seems increasingly likely that this race will drag on well past Super Tuesday.

 
Nevada Democratic Caucuses

On the Democratic side, yesterday brought more of a return to status quo than any substantial change. Although Bernie Sanders did better than expected in Iowa against Hillary Clinton and followed it up with a demanding victory in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton has steadily been a strong favorite to win the nomination. Going into Nevada, it seemed as if some nebulous “momentum” might be on the side of Sanders, although little was certain because of a dearth of polling in the state. However, Hillary Clinton pulled off a convincing win over Sanders.

Candidates Pct. Delegates
H. Clinton 52.7%
22
B. Sanders 47.2%
16

Although her victory was not the 20+ point lead that was seen in the polling last fall, reflecting the overall growth of Sanders as a competitor to Clinton, it likely effectively stopped any momentum that Sanders had coming out of New Hampshire and Iowa. And heading into South Carolina, it will likely prevent the downward trend in Clinton’s polling there that she has experienced since December. Nevada also showed that Clinton’s lead among Latino voters is not as commanding as it was eight years ago3 and South Carolina will let us know if her lead over Sanders among Black voters is as strong as it is assumed to be.

All in all, the Nevada caucuses did very little to change the Democratic race drastically; rather, it restored it back to the conventional wisdom that Clinton will win the nomination. South Carolina will be another test of this hypothesis. If Clinton is able to come away there with a commanding lead, she will have the momentum, and demographics, behind her.

Footnotes   [ + ]

Iowa Preview: Playing the Expectations Game

After months of speculation about who will run, many debates, and discussion of candidates’ chances, tomorrow, February 1st, we get to learn the first results of the election cycle as Iowa heads to the caucuses tomorrow evening. Although we will be providing rolling analysis as results come in tomorrow, we have also put together this article to help you know what to watch for tomorrow.

Arguably the most important thing to watch for tomorrow is how the candidates do relative to expectations. The first way to track expectations is by looking at win probabilities; if a candidate who is given a small chance of winning the caucuses wins, that win will mean much more than an expected win. FiveThirtyEight has put together what they call a “polls-plus” model1 to assign a probability of winning Iowa to each candidate. PredictWise uses betting market data to derive a similar probability for each candidate.
Win Probabilities for Iowa: Republicans
Win Probabilities for Iowa: Democrats
These two methods produce fairly similar results, but both are worth noting. FiveThirtyEight’s probabilities represent what the polls are showing may happen, so those who follow polling closely will build their expectations to be similar to that model’s. On the other hand, PredictWise uses betting markets, so those probabilities more closely represent the “common wisdom” of what will happen. Because the “common wisdom” is affected so much by media portrayals and how the media spins Iowa will be crucial, it is especially worth paying attention to.

So, what do these probabilities actually tell us? Well, on the Republican side they tell us mainly that Donald Trump is a favorite to win the caucuses. That means that Trump needs to win Iowa or else his campaign will be seen as falling apart. Similarly, despite close polling between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to win Iowa. However, because she has only a small lead in the polls, a loss by Clinton would probably not affect her as much as a loss by Trump would affect him.

In addition to looking at the probabilities of winning, another key part of playing the expectations game is how a candidate does relative to their polling. To understand this effect, we looked at all candidates in the last three cycles (2004, 2008, 2012) and averaged the three Iowa polls released closest to the Iowa caucuses. We then compared these to actual results of Iowa result to get an “Iowa Result against Expectation.”2 We did a similar three poll average of New Hampshire polls prior to Iowa held their caucuses and a three poll average of New Hampshire for the days after Iowa held their caucuses. This allows us to detect a change in New Hampshire’s polling which can, in part, be attributed to the results in Iowa3. Using this data4, we created the following chart. In this chart, the dot size indicates the actual share of Iowa vote that each candidate won.
Iowa: The Expectations Game
While not incredibly strong, there is clearly a positive correlation between Iowa results against expectation and changes in New Hampshire polls. By looking in the upper left quadrant, it is also very clear that candidates who beat expectations significantly and win a fairly large share of the vote tend to get the strongest boost in New Hampshire. However, to quantify this relationship a bit more, we can run a linear regression through this data.
Iowa: The Expectations Game
By running this linear regression, we find that a candidate who beats expectations by 1 percentage point in Iowa can expect, on average, to improve their standing in New Hampshire by 0.583 percentage points5. So, the effect is not huge, but it is distinct. Certainly, Trump’s and Sanders’ leads in New Hampshire polling are large enough that it seems unlikely for this boost from Iowa to propel anyone ahead of them. However, in the Republican race, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie are all so tightly packed that a stronger than expected showing in Iowa (or a weaker than expected one) could change the race significantly.

So, tomorrow when the results start to come in, while everyone will be watching mainly to see who wins, make sure to pay attention to how the candidates perform relative to current polling in order to see how New Hampshire and the rest of the race may shake up. And, of course, join us for our liveblog!

Footnotes   [ + ]

Simplifying the Crowded Republican Field

After five Republican debates and what has seemed like endless weeks of campaigning, many news organizations are giving increased coverage to the primary race. It seems like every single day a new poll is released, and each new poll is met with analysis about what it means for each individual candidate. While this sort of analysis fills up time for our 24 hour news media, it also ignores a simple truth about the Republican race: with nine candidates still competitive, the field remains too crowded for any one candidate to become dominant. Sure, Trump is considered the “frontrunner” by polls and the news media, but that doesn’t mean he enjoys majority support among Republican primary voters. The actual breakdown of results for the top nine candidates invited to the last debate looks like this:

Admittedly, the data still shows that Trump is maintaining a commanding lead over other candidates. However, Trump’s 38% support in the polls hardly guarantees him victory, as he would need over 50% of the delegates to secure the nomination.1 Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, it seems like his support has more or less maxed out at its current levels. We here at Electoral Statistics have already explained how Trump sees little to no bump in support when poll respondents are asked to choose between candidates in a smaller GOP primary field, even though he has a commanding lead in the current polls. Support for more traditional candidates is currently split among the wide crowd, but is likely to coalesce behind one or two more traditional candidates when the field inevitably starts to winnow down. This means that Trump is likely to face increased competition in the future as other candidates approach him in the polls. 38% support gives one a commanding lead in the polls when there are nine competitive candidates left in the race, but doesn’t look as dominant once the field narrows to two or three candidates. Worse, even as a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed him in the lead by a whopping 23% margin, it also showed that only 29% of registered voters in the general populace would be very or even somewhat comfortable with a Trump presidency.

A better way to look at the polls is to split the candidates between the outsider candidates and the more mainstream candidates. This more accurately represents how the field will look at a later stage in the race, once the field has narrowed down to a clear establishment favorite. Treating Trump and Ben Carson as the “outsiders” and everyone else as the more traditional candidates, we find an almost perfect split within the Republican Party, with the two main outsider candidates receiving 48.0% support in recent polls and the mainstream candidates receiving 42.4% of the support.2

This approximately half and half split is a telltale sign of the internal rift currently present within the Republican Party. Establishment candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio would likely have trounced outsider candidates like Trump or Carson in years past. However, the anti-establishment push that we first saw in 2012 with Republican voters giving brief surges in popularity to a whole slew of candidates before finally settling on Mitt Romney has grown stronger in the last four years. The result is that, with outsider candidates polling at near 50%, Republican leadership has been forced to consider scenarios in which their nominee is not an establishment favorite.

Of course, there is no fine line between outsider candidate and establishment candidate, and the perfect example of why that is true is the sudden polling rise of Ted Cruz. As a U.S. senator, Cruz is hardly a political outsider, and yet many members of the Republican leadership have shown open dislike for Cruz. A loner within the Republican Party, but also a high profile senator, Ted Cruz seems to have a foot in each camp. Because of Cruz’s ability to play to both outsider and insider support, many pundits have forecast that he would start to see a surge in the polls, and his increase from 6% to 13% support in the last two months means that those prognostications are becoming true.

The presence of firebrand Ted Cruz, who has equal standing both as an insider and outsider, means that the most effective way to split up the current long list of candidates is not to use the simple insider v. outsider approach, but rather to include a third option just for Ted Cruz. Breaking the race up into three categories creates a breakdown of support that looks like this.

Outsiders (Trump and Carson) – 48%

Cruz – 13%

Insiders (Rubio, Bush, Christie, Kasich, etc.) – 29.4%

While Trump and Carson enjoy the lead right now, our previous analysis shows that they will have a hard time keeping their numbers up and an even harder time acquiring new supporters. Carson’s support has been falling recently, and many of his evangelical voters have been turning to the Cruz camp. This means that even though the “outsider” category has the highest percent support here, they are not by any means in the strongest position. In addition to receiving defecting Carson supporters, Cruz also benefits from his ideological position between the outsider and insider camps. This means that if current supporters of insider or outsider candidates have doubts about their chosen camp or simply change their mind before the primaries and caucuses begin, they are more likely to switch to the Cruz camp than make the leap from insider to outsider or vice-versa. This means that even though Cruz has the lowest support of the triad, he is not necessarily in the worst position long-term.

That leaves the tired-and-true insider camp. They might be behind the outsiders right now, but it is also important to note that we have already seen a pivot to the establishment candidate after outsiders gained great traction early on just in the last election cycle, when Republican voters seemed to play a game of “anyone but Mitt Romney” before finally choosing Romney as the candidate. Additionally, endorsements from influential figures have often been much more predictive of final primary outcomes than early polling data, and establishment candidates have dominated both the outsiders and Ted Cruz in getting influential endorsements.

It’s still too early to determine which of these three camps will ultimately win out. History tells us the more moderate, establishment candidates are favored in the long run, but we’ve also not seen a campaign with such anti-establishment fervor in recent history. Regardless, narrowing the crowded field down to three groups serves as a useful analytical tool, and can help us make more accurate predictions as the race progresses.

Footnotes   [ + ]

When Numbers Lie: Looking Beyond the Current Polling Data

The presidential primary race isn’t about receiving the most media attention or donor dollars, or even about winning early primaries and caucuses that are so often declared to be crucial by the news media. This is especially true in light of the large fields that have contested Republican primaries in recent election cycles. For all the attention over swings in the polls and debate performances, it’s important to remember that polling numbers now, still early in the election cycle, are not indicative of eventual primary success. Case in point, the polling averages in the 2012 Republican primary showed eight different lead changes between five different candidates, and eventual winner Mitt Romney did not even solidify his lead in the polls until March, well after the primaries had already started.

For as much media attention as the first states receive, they simply aren’t that indicative of who will eventually win the national primary race. Mitt Romney didn’t win the Iowa caucuses in 2012. McCain got 4th in Iowa in 2008. Going back all the way to 1980, only two winners of the Republican Iowa caucuses in contested primaries have actually gone on to win the primary: Bob Dole in 1996 and George Bush in 2000.

Early wins are important to demonstrate the legitimacy of one’s campaign, as is early media attention, but organization, money and party support mean a lot more. Following that logic, even though many polls and the shifting leads they show are highlighted in the news at this time of the election season, it’s important to look beyond the fluctuating polling data and instead focus on longer-term fundamentals when making election predictions.

One way to compare current polls with long-term expectations is by examining the prediction markets. Polls show how people would vote if the race were held today, but online prediction markets allow people to bet on who they expect to ultimately triumph in the primaries. PredictWise takes market data from PredictIt, Betfair and bookie data, aggregates it and derives a likelihood of winning from that data. While not a perfect predictor of a candidate’s probability of winning, a side by side look at current polling data versus the PredictWise probabilities demonstrates the effects of long-term thinking in primary analysis.

The difference between the current polling data and prediction markets is obvious. Outsider candidates like Trump and Carson may enjoy high polling support now, but their long term path to electoral success is rockier than more established candidates, like Bush and Rubio, who see large increases in their prediction market percentages compared to their current polling data.

Another key thing to point out is that the “leads” that candidates like Carson and Trump have had in recent polling are not even close to majorities. These candidates currently appeal to larger percentages of the electorate than anyone else, but that’s also because the many establishment candidates still in the race are splitting the vote. Hypothetical head-to-head polls show that even though more establishment candidates are behind Carson and Trump in the polls right now, they will benefit once the field starts narrowing. For example, even though Trump is still well ahead of candidates like Rubio and Fiorina when all candidates are included in the polls, he loses to them in head-to-head matchups.

Carson is high in the polls and making a great deal of money through fundraising, but his use of campaign funds so far has called into question his campaign’s ability to handle money. Carson has achieved his high fundraising totals largely because he has been spending large sums of his current campaign cache to acquire more campaign funds – a whopping 54% of funds he has raised have been poured right back into fundraising efforts. The result of this oddly cyclical spending is that the Carson campaign has spent a great deal of its war chest to get to where he currently is.

This might not be a bad strategy, if Carson had unlimited funds, but the most recent filing of PAC and Super PAC funds shows that Carson lacks the critical support needed from outside groups to raise large amounts of campaign dollars. Compared to other major candidates (ignoring Trump, who has refused support from Super PACs but also has the personal wealth to finance his own campaign), Carson’s PAC support barely even registers.

So yes, Carson has been able to raise a lot of money for his campaign, but his high spending rate and lack of PAC support could make funds tight down the road as the competition heats up. Carson’s campaign would do well to focus on the long term, and perhaps be willing to accept a few less percentage points of support now in exchange for having plenty of campaign money when delegates actually start being awarded a few months from now.

A recent CBS/NYT poll garnered a great deal for showing Carson having passed Trump in national polling. What didn’t make the headlines was that 71% of those sampled in the poll may have a preference for a candidate, but also said they had not yet made up their mind for sure. The message is clear: polls at this stage of the race simply don’t serve as viable predictions of ultimate electoral success.  Even us quants here at Electoral Statistics realize that sometimes you have to toss the polling data aside and look at the fundamentals of the race.  The candidates and news media would be wise to do the same.

Jeb Bush’s Chance at Nomination May Be Overstated

Set aside for a moment the media frenzy surrounding Donald Trump and the recent rise in polling by Ben Carson, Jeb Bush remains seen as the frontrunner in the Republican presidential nomination race. The folks over at FiveThirtyEight subjectively give him the best chance to win the nomination, the prediction markets are giving Bush the best chance to win, and until August, a plurality Republicans thought he was the most likely to win. Despite the recent success of Donald Trump, many still believe that after Trumpmania dies down, Bush will be left standing and will eventually become the inevitable candidate. To be clear, no one is particularly excited about Bush and pretty much everyone realizes that, but many seem to think that Bush will eventually get the nod from the Republican party. However, looking more closely at the numbers tells a completely different story.

This early in the race, polls tell us virtually nothing about the race. Candidates tend to take turns getting caught in a sort of feedback loop: their polling surges a bit, the media begins to talk about them more, leading their polling to surge and so on. Because of that feedback loop, polls months away from the first caucuses and primaries are virtually useless as predictors. Instead, many tend to look towards endorsements from party elites in what is known as the “invisible primary.” However, these endorsements have failed to produce any level of consensus in the Republican party this year. In 2012, Republican elites fairly quickly coalesced around Mitt Romney, so even though his polling fluctuated, he was the favored establishment candidate. This year, Jeb Bush has more endorsements than any other candidate, only barely edging ahead of Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker.

However, while voters may change the candidate they support between now and February, how voters feel about candidates is less volatile. Because of the high level of variability in polls, polls which  When it comes down to it, there are certain metrics that may indicate how well a candidate can expect to do.

The first, most publicized of these metrics is favorability. Polls often ask the public if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of many public figures, including the President, Congressional leaders, certain Cabinet members and political candidates. In our case we are concerned with these opinions as they pertain to the Republican primary candidates. Rather than talk about pure favorable or unfavorable percents though, it is often more useful to look at what is referred to as “net favorability,” which is simply the percent of people who view the person as favorable less those who view the person as unfavorable. For example, 40% of Americans view the Democratic Party as favorable, while 49% view them as unfavorable, resulting a net favorability of -9%. The net favorability for each of the Republican candidates, as aggregated by HuffPost Pollster are in the chart below.

Republican Net Favorability

Bush is very clearly at the bottom of the pack, with a Net Favorability of -28, while Ben Carson sits at the top of the pack with 12. Carson’s result and Carly Fiorina’s 1 are the only net positive favorability ratings of all the candidates. Trump, for his supposed polarizing, sits near the middle of the pack with a -8. The median net favorability is -11, while the mean is -11.33. However, for some of these candidates, their net favorability is not incredibly informative because of a general lack of knowledge surrounding them. To get a feel for name-recognition, we can look towards the same favorability ratings and look at the percent who respond with “Undecided” to each candidate. While not a perfect reflection of name-recognition (some may legitimately be undecided), it gives us a fairly good idea of it. The graph below represents that data for each candidate.

Republican Undecided Favorability

What this tells us is that for certain candidates, net favorability is not very informative since so many respondents of favorability polls simply don’t know enough to form an opinion of the candidate. So Jim Gilmore’s -14 net favorability and George Pataki’s -16 is not incredibly significant in view of the 68% and 51%, respectively, of those asked in polls who simply do not have an opinion of these candidates. However, since only 14% of respondents are undecided on Jeb Bush, his -28 net favorability is incredibly damning. Certainly, many associate Bush with his brother and father and may change their minds as they hear more about Jeb’s life story and policies, but he will be fighting an uphill battle in trying to do so.

The one potential downside to drawing inferences about the primary from net favorability is that net favorability reflects the entire American populace, and the primary only reflects Republicans. However, by many metrics, Bush is not more well liked among Republicans than others. For example, we can look at questions fielded by pollsters which are asking how Republicans would feel about each candidate winning the nomination. Each pollster asks this question in a slightly different way, so it is difficult to aggregate the results or compare them directly, but we can still examine each and draw a conclusion from them collectively. However, because each of the results is from a single sample of around 300-500 Republicans, they have a fairly large margin of error (~3-5%).

The first result comes from a poll fielded by CBS, which asks “Regardless of how you intend to vote in 2016, which one of these Republican presidential candidates would you be most dissatisfied with as the Republican nominee?” and the results are in the following chart.

Republican Dissatisfied

While Bush is not the candidate that the most Republicans would be dissatisfied with, he is second only to Donald Trump. He also is the highest of any of the establishment candidates, a group which includes Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Lindsey Graham.

We can look at another poll released by CNN which asks Republicans if they would be “Enthusiastic”, “Satisfied but not enthusiastic”, “Dissatisfied but not upset” or “Upset” with each candidate if that candidate won the nomination. Looking first at the net result of the negative responses, we notice that almost half of Republicans would be dissatisfied or upset if Jeb Bush were to win the nomination.

Republican Dissatisfied/Upset

Bush leads the other candidates by 15%, outside of the margin of error of the poll (reported to be 4.5%). Similarly, when just looking at the percent of Republican voters who would be “Upset” with Jeb Bush’s nomination, Bush is leading, albeit by a smaller margin and within the margin of error.

Republican Upset

The CBS and CNN poll indicate a high level of dissatisfaction that many Republicans would feel with the nomination of Jeb Bush. Not only would a Bush nomination be disliked by many Republicans, Bush also faces a ceiling in the level of support among Republicans he can gain. A poll by Quinnipiac asked “Are there any of these candidates you would definitely not support for the Republican nomination for president?” yielding the below results.

Republican Would Definitely Not Support

18% of Republicans said they would definitely not support Bush, and while he could win the nomination without 18% of the votes (Mitt Romney won 52% of Republican primary votes), the fact that so many voters are already ruling out supporting Bush this early in the campaign does not bode well for him. A poll by NBC/WSJ asking “For each one, please tell me, yes or no, if you could see yourself supporting that person for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.”, putting Bush more towards the middle of the pack, but still with 40% of Republicans saying they would not support him.

Republican Could Not See Supporting

However, despite his being in the middle of the pack, Bush is still is ahead of all other leading establishment candidates except for Christie. Moreover, of the 11 candidates who will be debating on Wednesday, 5 of them are behind Christie, with Carson and Walker almost half of Bush’s result. Again, this does not by any means indicate that it is impossible for Bush to win, he can easily win with 40% of Republicans not supporting him, but it does severely limit the size of the base from which Bush can draw supporters, making his candidacy very difficult.

While it may seem like many things are going Jeb Bush’s way, from his $114 million war chest to his tentative frontrunner status in the endorsement primary, he is ultimately not that well liked by the general voting population and his own Republican party. Even if Jeb Bush does win the nomination, the lack of enthusiasm around his candidacy and the many Republicans who would never support Bush in the primaries may translate into a lack of excitement in the base during the general election. One of the biggest arguments for Bush is the electability argument, an argument which becomes moot if he fails to turn out Republican voters, let alone swing independents.

Right now, candidates like Carson, Fiorina and Trump are doing fairly well in the polls. However, these candidates are liked for their personality and not any set of substantive policies. As the first caucuses and primaries draw closer, the Republican elites will likely throw most of their weight behind a candidate, and this candidate will likely be an establishment candidate. Essentially, the elites will be choosing from Bush, Walker, Rubio, Christie and Kasich. But while the conventional wisdom seems to indicate they would throw their weight behind Bush, if these elites are looking at the same numbers as the ElectoralStatistics team is, they would do well to first recognize the myriad limitations that Bush faces in his quest to become the Republican nominee for president.