Wyoming Caucus Predictions Are Hard To Come By, But One Candidate Is Still The Favorite
The next state to cast its vote in the Democratic primary is Wyoming, which heads to the polls on Saturday. There's still a delegate gap of about 220 between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but if the race tightens, even a small state like Wyoming could conceivably tip the balance. And yet predictions about Wyoming's primary and how it might unfold are pretty hard to come by this year.
This is largely due to the complete lack of polling in the state. I repeat: There hasn't been a single poll conducted of Democratic primary voters in Wyoming. That's actually not all too surprising, because Wyoming is a very sparsely populated state. This means that polling is both expensive and difficult and, just as importantly, there aren't that many institutions (universities, research centers, etc.) in the state to carry out the actual polling. In addition, Wyoming's low population (the lowest in the country, in fact) means that it's not worth very many delegates; this, in turn, gives pollsters even less incentive to survey the state.
As a result, it's hard to put a finger on the pulse of Wyoming Democrats. But we're not entirely out of luck, because there are other ways to try and game out how the state will vote.
You can look at structural factors at play in the state. Wyoming is heavily white, and it hosts caucuses instead of a primary. So far, Bernie Sanders has done better in white states than diverse ones and much, much better in caucuses than primaries; this suggests that Sanders is, if nothing else, playing on friendly terrain in Wyoming.
Another option is to look at betting markets. Over at PredictIt, where users place bets on the outcomes of political events, Sanders is trading at 97 cents in Wyoming. That translates, roughly, to a 97 percent chance that he'll win the state. The bettors could all be wrong, of course, but it's not for nothing that those who are actually putting money on this race are putting their money on Sanders far more so than on Clinton.
All of this being said, it's not likely that Wyoming will play a very big role in determining the eventual nominee. In the Democratic primary, it's only worth 18 delegates, which is less than any other state in the country. What's more, those delegates will be divided between Clinton and Sanders relative to each candidate's vote share, so unless one of them wins in a blowout, the prize will be even smaller and less likely to tip the scales.
But hey, you never know. This election has proved over and over again that conventional wisdom is often disastrously wrong. If the Democratic race does truly come down to the wire, every single vote will count, and that includes the 18-person delegation from Wyoming.