The Ides of March

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the titular character has an early encounter with a Soothsayer who warns him to “Beware the ides of March.” In the lead up to the famous assassination scene, Caesar and the Soothsayer again cross paths, with the former mockingly noting to the latter that “The ides of March are come.” The latter’s reply? “Ay, Caesar; but not gone.”

Much of this primary cycle has felt like a drama of Shakespearean proportions, with increasingly outlandish incidents occurring on a weekly basis. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders’ surprise win in Michigan was treated as if it were the first of a series of fatal blows struck against the authoritarian Clinton machine.

The next series of contests is today: Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Missouri will pit the Democratic candidates against each other. The question at the forefront of both candidates’ minds is, “Was Michigan a fluke?” Clinton is desperately hoping that it was, and that Sanders registers an underwhelming performance in Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida. For Sanders, if he can pull off another against-the-odds win in Ohio then it shows that he will likely be a thorn in the side of Clinton for a while longer.

Complicating the Ohio race is the fact that the state holds an ‘open primary’. In an open primary, registered voters of any political persuasion may vote in either party’s primary. Fearing a Trump presidency, it is not outside the realm of possibility that some Democrats may vote in the Republican primary rather than the Democratic primary. Interestingly, exit polls indicated that 7 percent of the voters in the Michigan Republican primary were registered Democrats who may have voted against Trump, assuming that Clinton would have an easy victory in Michigan, as polls indicated she would. These voters may have cost Clinton victory in Michigan, and it is not inconceivable that a similar story could occur in Ohio. Additionally, Sanders’ strength amongst younger voters received a boost on Friday, when a judge ruled that 17-year olds who will be 18 on Election Day in November are allowed to vote in Tuesday’s primary. These last minute changes could leave Ohio favouring Sanders.

Sanders’ best chances are in Illinois and Missouri. The polls have oscillated wildly between Clinton and Sanders, with each candidate registering leads at different times. Clinton does have an edge at the moment, but after Michigan, pollsters are understandably reticent on the favourite’s chances. Missouri has barely been polled, so this race is a true tossup, with Clinton taking a bare lead, but Sanders expected to perform strongly.

All up, we should expect Clinton wins in Florida, North Carolina, and a close win in Ohio. Missouri will most likely vote for Sanders, and Illinois will be close for either side. Despite a surprise victory in Michigan last week, Sanders is yet to start recording the blowout wins that he needs to close the delegate gap with Clinton. Close wins in Ohio and Illinois will not be enough for Sanders to vanquish Clinton. All the world is indeed a stage, but it is unlikely that we will see an exit today.

Disclaimer:  this is the view of the author and Flinders University does not take responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the material and does not accept responsibility for, or endorse the contact or condition of, any linked website.

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Jesse Barker Gale's blog posts

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