If blogging is a little slow for the next day or two, it’s because I just stumbled onto Sean Trende & David Byler’s excellent and engrossing GOP delegates simulator.
The 2016 Republican primary campaign is heavily path dependent, rendering national polling of little value. The order of the contests, the structure of the rules, and the interplay between those two factors can play a huge role in selecting the eventual winner that national polls simply cannot illustrate.
To help make this easier to visualize and understand, we’ve created the widget below that will allow you to walk through the GOP selection process yourself. The process is fairly simple.
Beginning with Iowa in February and working through South Dakota in June, and the awarding of “RNC delegates,” you simply input the share of the vote that you think each candidate will receive. You can use the next state button to advance through the elections, and the previous state button if you feel that you’ve made a mistake. There’s a “reset” button at the bottom of the page if you want to start over.
We’ve pre-loaded the RealClearPolitics polling averages for the early states, but you’re free to alter these as you see fit. You can also use the current RCP national average or, in the later states, the inputs from the previous state as your starting point. As you go through, the program will calculate the statewide delegates that will be allocated using each state’s rules (plus a few assumptions) – you cannot alter these (except through changing the candidates’ share of the votes).
Now get to it and wargame your pants off — I’ll wait right here for you to post the results to the comments.