The Democratic primary is becoming more of a competitive race as Bernie Sanders continues accumulating delegates and claiming some upsets, like when he won Michigan last week against the odds and against the polling. There are five states voting on Tuesday, March 15th, and the polls show several toss-up races around the country.
First in the mix, Ohio has tightened significantly in recent days. Hillary Clinton holds a 6 point lead on average, but that’s down from double-digits just weeks ago. Ohio shares a lot of the demographic makeup of Michigan, so the state may be an area where Sanders could hope for an upset against the current polling trend.
The next stop is Illinois, which only shows Clinton with a two point lead on average. This state is a big toss-up and could easily give either candidate a victory.
Finally, the state of Missouri, where the most recent poll shows Sanders with a 1 point lead. This is another state that could go either way but with Sanders showing movement in recent days, clearly he’s in a good position to capture another Midwest state.
Florida and North Carolina are also voting, though both states are currently polling with a double-digit lead for Clinton. It would be unlikely for Sanders to pull the upset in either of these states.
What it does mean is that three out of five contests on the Democratic side are competitive, meaning that Bernie Sanders has the potential to win the most states on Tuesday. On the other hand, I see perhaps the most likely scenario is that he takes Illinois and Missouri, perhaps losing marginally in Ohio since he seems to be over-performing some of his recent poll numbers. The other scenario is that Hillary Clinton runs the table and wins all five, which also can’t be ruled out, but seems unlikely given the trends and voting we’ve seen in recent weeks.
As far as delegates go, when these states split marginally, it’s almost an even split of delegates since all the Democratic races are awarded proportionally. This is different from the Republican primary, in which several states kick into the “winner take all” status this week. With proportional delegates, and competitive states over the next few weeks, the Democratic race could continue on well into May. Tuesday voting will begin to shape the coming weeks.