Election Coverage: Electability by the Numbers

So, I’m hoping to avoid too much election coverage in this blog, but when Survey USA released general election polling results for all 50 states, I decided I had to dig into the data a bit deeper. In particular, I wanted to understand the claim that winning a primary implies that a candidate will do better in the general election in that state. For example, Senator Clinton might claim that her strong showing in Ohio suggest she’s more likely to win the state in the general election. The question is: Does this argument hold any water? For example, a strong showing in a primary might suggest that a candidate is highly favored by the base, but has little crossover appeal, and thus would be negatively correlated with general election polls. On the other hand, strong performance (especially in a primary rather than a caucus, more on that later) might mean that a candidate has a lot of support among independents, and thus would be likely to do well in pre-election polls. So, we begin the analysis with no particular conclusion in mind, with perhaps a slight bias towards the 2nd if for no other reason than that is is the argument most commonly made.