Democratic Polls for Feb. 12: State of the Race in Nevada & South Carolina

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at Thursday’s Democratic debate. (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betting markets, meanwhile, still favor Hillary across the board, though a lack of recent data could be giving an outdated picture there, too.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: New Poll Shows a Tie

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Hillary Clinton, here at Thursday’s debate, is tied with Sanders in Nevada according to the latest poll. (Getty)

The Polls

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

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


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


RealClearPolitics Averages
Hillary Clinton 47.5%
Bernie Sanders 36%

The Forecasts

Election forecaster FiveThirtyEight weights polls according to methodological rigor and past accuracy. Their weighted polling track is currently very favorable to Clinton, but they’ve held off on forecasting due to a lack of recent polling data:

FiveThirtyEight Weighted Pollint Track
Hillary Clinton 50.3%
Bernie Sanders 28.1%

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 62%
Bernie Sanders 38%


South Carolina: Hillary Leads Pending Important Information

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Bernie Sanders is down in South Carolina, according to the latest data. (Getty)

The Polls

The most recent polls for South Carolina were released in late January, making the information more current than what we have in Iowa but still missing crucial details like the results of the first two contests. What we know as of late January is that Hillary was well in the lead:

NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Released January 28
Hillary Clinton 64%
Bernie Sanders 27%


CBS News/YouGov Released January 24
Hillary Clinton 60%
Bernie Sanders 38%


RealClearPolitics Averages
Hillary Clinton 62%
Bernie Sanders 32.5%

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, keeping in mind that the polls are still slightly out of date:

FiveThirtyEight Polls-Plus Forecast
Hillary Clinton 95%
Bernie Sanders 5%

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 93%
Bernie Sanders 7%

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 86%
Bernie Sanders 14%


The Rest of the Country

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Congressman and former civil rights activist John Lewis claimed he “never saw” Bernie Sanders during demonstrations at the time. (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 82%
Bernie Sanders 18%

News of the Day

  • Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia), a former civil rights activist, said he “never saw” Bernie Sanders in 1960s demonstrations, but that the Clintons had attended events.
  • DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz dismissed the idea of a future Democratic debate hosted by Fox News in an interview with Bret Baier.

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