The Maryland Democratic Primary is next Tuesday, and Hillary Clinton looks like she is getting ready for a big win. A new poll has her with a resounding, although technically not insurmountable, 25 point lead. She came in with 58% of the support among the 492 likely voters surveyed, far ahead of US Senator Bernie Sanders’s 33% support. 9% of voters identified as “undecided.”
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, also known just as PPP. PPP is given a “B-” rating by the analysts at Five Thirty Eight, indicating an average to leaning above average level of accuracy on the part of PPP’s polls.
The margin of error for this poll is 4.4 points. This number indicates the scope of the potential difference between the reported results and the actual results. Taking just this number into account, the gap could be about 16 points, as opposed to 25.
This gap, of course, is still dramatic. Going into the primary in question in only one week, it is increasingly unlikely that Sanders can overcome his deficit. He did so in Michigan back in March, to be sure, but in that case the pre-election polling turned out to be seriously wrong. No similar errors have surfaced since then.
Taking into account the number of undecided voters identified in the poll, the gap could be even smaller. Sanders historically does extremely well with late deciders, but in Maryland it does not look like they can save him. Even if Sanders garnered the support of every single undecided voter, the gap would still turn out to be about 5-7 points.
This gap is similar to margins of Clinton wins in many other states similar to Maryland. In Ohio, the gap was 14%; in North Carolina, it was also just about 14%. Both states were Clinton wins. In New York last night, Clinton won by 15%.
The commonality that the above states share with Maryland lies in demographics and electoral process, and such similarity looks promising for Clinton’s ability to maintain her lead.
For one, Clinton does extremely well in closed primaries, which Maryland has. Sanders often wins, as mentioned, with late deciders, but these people are often so on the fringe that they are not registered appropriately or in time. In New York for instance, the deadline to change party registration was 6 months ago — when Sanders was far less known than he is now.
The voting registration deadline in Maryland was only 2 weeks ago, but the same rule still holds. Most late deciders make up their mind in the final few days before the election. In Maryland’s case, this is next week. So, Sanders, who normally gets his winning margins by swaying late deciders — many from outside the Democratic Party — has to instead focus on the registered party base.
Clinton, in addition, has the expressed endorsement of the entire Maryland US Congressional delegation. One of these congressmen, US Representative Elijah Cummings, underscores another important base of Clinton’s lead — the African American vote. Cummings, along with the rest of the Maryland African American community, make up 40% of the Maryland Democratic voting population. In state after state, Clinton wins by landslides among this demographic.