Democratic Polls for Feb. 16: State of the Race in Nevada & South Carolina

Hillary Clinton polls, Hillary Clinton Nevada, Hillary Clinton South Carolina

Hillary Clinton, here campaigning in Nevada, in that state’s most recent poll but leads South Carolina polling by a wide margin. (Getty)

After a big win for Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, the focus turns to the next two contests: the Nevada Democratic caucus on February 20 and the South Carolina primary on February 23. Hillary Clinton leads the most recent polls in South Carolina and holds the national lead, but a new Nevada poll shows Sanders pulling even in the state. The FiveThirtyEight forecasts and PredictWise betting markets, meanwhile, still favor Hillary across the board, though a lack of recent data could be giving an outdated picture there, too.

Pledged Delegate Count 2,382 Total Delegates Needed for Victory
Bernie Sanders 36
Hillary Clinton 32

Here’s a look at the state of the race:

Nevada: A Tie in Recent Polls

Bernie Sanders polls, Hillary Clinton polls, Nevada Democratic polls

Sanders and Clinton at the most recent debate. The candidates are statistically tied according to recent Nevada polls. (Getty)

The Polls

A recent poll from TargetPoint shows a tie in Nevada, a reaction to Clinton’s uncomfortably close win in the Iowa caucus and Sanders taking New Hampshire by a landslide.

TargetPoint Released February 12
Hillary Clinton 45%
Bernie Sanders 45%

Before that, the most recent previous poll was conducted in late December:

Gravis Released December 28
Hillary Clinton 50%
Bernie Sanders 27%


RealClearPolitics Averages
Hillary Clinton 47.5%
Bernie Sanders 36%

The Forecasts

Election forecaster FiveThirtyEight released their fist “polls-plus” forecast for Nevada. The forecast takes into account factors like endorsements, previous state results, and national polling trends to give context to the state polls, and declares the Nevada race a dead heat:

FiveThirtyEight Polls-Plus Forecast
Hillary Clinton 50%
Bernie Sanders 50%

The Betting Markets

Political betting markets report the amount and value of bets placed on a political candidate to win a particular race. Unlike polls, they can react to day-to-day events but are more removed from the process due to lack of actual contact with voters. Betting aggregator PredictWise compiles the action in several betting markets to provide probabilities for the race:

PredictWise Nevada Forecast
Hillary Clinton 57%
Bernie Sanders 43%


South Carolina: Hillary Runs Away with Latest Polls

Bernie Sanders polls, Bernie Sanders Nevada, Bernie Sanders South Carolina

A Sanders supporter in Michigan. Even after a decisive New Hampshire win, Sanders has struggled to pick up support in South Carolina.

The Polls

This week’s polls for South Carolina show Hillary well in the lead, even after disappointing results in the first two states:

Public Policy Polling Released February 16
Hillary Clinton 55%
Bernie Sanders 34%


CBS News/YouGov Released February 14
Hillary Clinton 59%
Bernie Sanders 40%


American Research Group Released February 14
Hillary Clinton 65%
Bernie Sanders 27%

RealClearPolitics updated its averages with these new polls, eliminating the out-of-date 2015 surveys:

RealClearPolitics Averages
Hillary Clinton 62%
Bernie Sanders 33.5%

While these averages aren’t far from the results before other states voted (Sanders actually gains a point on the whole), that’s not great news for a candidate who has a lot of ground to make up and has likely already seen his biggest bump from two very favorable states

The Forecasts

FiveThirtyEight’s polls-plus forecast factors in elements like previous primary results, endorsements, and national polling trends to add context to the polling numbers. Their polls-plus forecast for South Carolina is extremely favorable to Clinton:

FiveThirtyEight Polls-Plus Forecast
Hillary Clinton >99%
Bernie Sanders <1%

Their polls-only forecast weighs recent polls according to methodological rigor and past accuracy, and shows a slightly more hopeful picture for Sanders:

FiveThirtyEight Polls-Only Forecast
Hillary Clinton 98%
Bernie Sanders 2%

The Betting Markets

The betting markets for South Carolina, based on day-to-day reactions, are not as sold on Clinton as the pre-Iowa and -New Hampshire polls, but they still heavily favor the former Secretary of State:

PredictWise South Carolina Betting Markets
Hillary Clinton 89%
Bernie Sanders 11%


The Rest of the Country

Austan Goolsbee Sanders, how would Bernie Sanders pay for it, Democratic polls

Austan Goolsbee, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, questioned some Sanders proposals in a New York Times interview. (Getty)

The Polls

There are three national polls from the beginning of February, meaning that we have a better grasp of the national race than either of the states, albeit with two caveats: there’s still no data from after the New Hampshire race, and national polls aren’t always predictive. The close finish in Iowa made some impact on the national polls in favor of Sanders, but the extent is disputed:

Quinnipiac Released February 5
Hillary Clinton 44%
Bernie Sanders 42%


Rasmussen Released February 5
Hillary Clinton 50%
Bernie Sanders 32%


Public Policy Polling Released February 4
Hillary Clinton 53%
Bernie Sanders 32%

The Betting Markets

Hillary Clinton is still a strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination despite close finishes in the first two primary races:

PredictWise Democratic Nomination Betting Markets
Hillary Clinton 84%
Bernie Sanders 16%

News of the Day

Democratic Primary & Debate Schedule

Debate Schedule


Florida: March 9, Univision

Primary Schedule

Nevada: February 20

South Carolina: February 27

Super Tuesday (Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma,
Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia): March 1

Kansas, Louisiana: March 5

Maine: March 6

Michigan, Mississippi, Democrats Abroad: March 8

Northern Mariana Islands: March 12

Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio: March 15

Arizona, Idaho, Utah: March 22

Alaska, Hawaii, Washington: March 26

Wisconsin: April 5

Wyoming: April 9

New York: April 19

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island: April 26

Indiana: May 3

West Virginia: May 10

Kentucky, Oregon: May 17

California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota: June 7

Washington, D.C.: June 14