Post-Debate Analysis: Clinton Comes From Behind To Claim Crucial Victory

By Noah Lieberman

Ballotcraft is a fantasy politics game (think fantasy football, but for politics). Play against your friends and win by best predicting what’s going to happen in upcoming elections. Sign up and play here: www.ballotcraft.com.

Hillary Clinton was the big winner Saturday night, taking the Ballotcraft market by storm and seizing victory in the final focus group vote from last month’s winner Bernie Sanders. It was a slow and steady climb to the top for the former Secretary of State, who nearly doubled the price of her stock over the course of the night. Throughout the night, she seemed strong and experienced, and her message of moderate liberalism resonated enough with our focus group for over 70% of them to vote her the winner of the debate. She balanced offense and defense appropriately, and finally let her lifetime in politics define her as an elder statesman, rather than a conniving politician.

Clinton Nov Chart

The elephant in the room, of course, is the coverage of this debate, which has centered around one of Clinton’s poorer responses in which she avoided a question on Wall Street donations by citing both September 11th and her gender. While the motivation and reasoning behind this answer can be debated, it was undoubtedly bad wording, destined to be played over and over on cable news and online. It was the worst moment of the debate, and will certainly haunt Clinton in the relatively inactive period of politics we face for the next four weeks. And in our market and focus group, it did not matter.

Now, to be sure, there was a response in the market. Clinton’s price dipped after the answer, from 48.1 to 44.5, slowing her momentum and prolonging the dissipating lead of Senator Sanders. But Clinton had put on by far the strongest performance in the first half of the debate, relying on her ample and unrivaled experience in foreign policy, and finished out strongly as well. Moreover, Sanders and O’Malley had their fair share of rough spots as well. Particularly harmful were Bernie’s inability to eloquently elaborate on the specifics of his plans to bring single-payer healthcare and free college to the American people. Though Sanders let Clinton get into striking range on the market in the foreign policy-centric first half of the debate, traders looked willing to forgive if he could reestablish himself in the second half. But a renewed scrutiny on his more idealistic platform kept him from simply mimicking his responses in the last debate. Ultimately his inability to adapt led to his downfall, as he dropped 13 points in the second half of the debate, compared to less than 7 in the first.

Clinton Nov Chart 2

The big takeaway here is that, since our focus groups watch the entire debate, they are more likely to use the whole of the debate as a measure of each candidate’s performance. We’ve seen it in the Republican debates, where even the biggest faux pas don’t hold candidates back from contending for the title. In future debates this means our investors should restrain from overreacting to big moments and stick with candidates unless they entirely collapse. Speaking of which, one final note on Martin O’Malley: He was essentially a non-entity on the market this weekend, a departure from his earlier success. I this means he is pretty much done as an  investment on Ballotcraft, and should be avoided in the next debate if he hasn’t resigned by this time next month.

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Insights from our Focus Group

Our focus group declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the November 14 Democratic Debate. We asked members of our focus group for insights into their decision making process. Here’s a selection of their responses:

Hillary was strong offensively and defensively, fending off attacks while making a strong case for why her agenda is the best.

I think Hillary defended herself successfully and went on the offense as appropriate. The other candidates needed to be on the attack and didn’t fully succeed.

Bernie’s biggest success was criticizing Clinton’s Wall Street connections but it wasn’t a knockout.

Martin seemed to come to life more during this debate.

Bernie was fine but didn’t do a great job of fending off attacks from Hillary. Hillary continued to seem the most presidential despite the gross misstatement about why banks gave her money after 9/11.

Everyone is focused on foreign policy and anti-terrorism. Hillary Clinton clearly performed on this and has command of the issue. Bernie Sanders makes good points, but it seems like he’s trying to get away from the topic because even he knows it’s not his strong suit, comparatively.

Thanks again to our focus group for their help!

Hillary Clinton Wins Democratic Debate

Hillary Clinton is the winner of the November 14 Democratic Debate, as she was deemed by our focus group as the candidate to have “best improved his or her chance of winning the Democratic nomination”.

This is the breakdown of our focus group’s voting:

Nov 14 Debate Winner

We will be regularly updating this blog with commentary from our focus group and analysis of trading behavior during the game, so check back again soon.

Special thanks to our focus group!

Debate Preview: Bernie Dominating Market, But Can He Go The Distance?

By Noah Lieberman

Ballotcraft is a fantasy politics game (think fantasy football, but for politics). Play against your friends and win by best predicting what’s going to happen in upcoming elections. Sign up and play here: www.ballotcraft.com.

Tonight’s Democratic debate in Des Moines comes right as the Democratic field reaches a crossroads: With Hillary Clinton leading by at least 20 points nationally and in every early state besides New Hampshire, this debate could likely mark the beginning of the end for Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, who need to cut into that lead soon to have a chance at winning. With such high stakes for this debate, it’s important to understand the narratives for each of the candidates before the debate starts tonight. Below are the three stories you should be aware of to make sure you win your league tonight:

Sanders Continues Impressive Streak

About three days before the first Democratic debate last month, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders began to pull away in the Ballotcraft market, opening up a double digit lead over Hillary Clinton that wouldn’t become undone. He carried that momentum through debate night, staying miles ahead of the competition and winning the final vote by a landslide. After such a convincing victory, it would be easy to peg Sanders as the frontrunner from this point forward for future debates. And the market seems to have done that, giving him a 62% chance of winning the debate. But could Bernie’s past success actually hinder him tonight?

Since the last debate, Sander’s deficit in the national polls has remained roughly unchanged at 23 or 24 percent. This may influence how our focus group thinks when picking a winner: Even if Sanders is as good as he was in the last debate, will it really improve his chances of being President? I don’t expect this to matter much during trading, but it might deter me from putting all of my eggs in the Bernie basket when the market closes. I still think barring some amazing Clinton performance or complete collapse by Sanders his stock will rise during the night, but consider diversifying your portfolio come the end of the night.

Clinton An Underdog, But Media Coverage May Shape Results

After Vice President Biden declared he was not seeking the Democratic nomination, the path to victory began to seem rather clear for former Secretary of State Clinton. And so these debates, primary votes, and campaign stops become almost perfunctory, as Hillary and her staff realized that very little could happen to stop them from winning the nomination. Sanders has put up a good fight, but as of yet has failed to close the gap nationally to make it a competitive race. Essentially, the only way Hillary will lose is if Sanders’ grassroots movement spreads outside of the young, liberal Democrats who comprise his base.

There are a few ways that could happen: A big win for Bernie in an early state like New Hampshire, a new scandal for the Clinton camp, or a debate in which Sanders greatly outperforms Clinton. Many on our site and across the web thought that last month’s debate was an example of the latter, but the media and then later the polls showed that that was not the case. They declared Clinton the winner, even though many found it hard to imagine Bernie and O’Malley improving by any substantial amount. So the question now becomes whether this media coverage will keep our focus group voters from choosing anyone other than Clinton as tonight’s victor. They might not sway every member, but expect this to lead to a closer vote than last time.

O’Malley Far Behind The Pack, Poised To Repeat Climb

The biggest surprise (for me, at least) in October’s Democratic debate was the incredible performance of former-Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who not only delivered a fantastic defense of liberalism, but also made a strong case for himself as a candidate. That strong performance showed up in the focus group vote as they awarded him second place, though he was distantly behind Sanders. Again, the greatest enemy for O’Malley is the status quo, which was upheld after the debate despite his great performance. There’s not much more O’Malley can do to move up in the polls other than go after the leaders, but I think his ambitions for higher office in one of their administrations will prevent him from really letting loose. I’d put some credits into his stock now, since it will probably rise as he has another good night behind the podium, but sell off before the night is over.

Post-Debate Analysis: Rubio Cruises To Unprecedented Victory

By Noah Lieberman

Ballotcraft is a fantasy politics game (think fantasy football, but for politics). Play against your friends and win by best predicting what’s going to happen in upcoming elections. Sign up and play here: www.ballotcraft.com.

Tuesday night’s Republican debate was full of exciting moments and quotes that are sure to repeated on the news for weeks to come. However, for all the excitement, bickering, and crazy moments, the debate was seemingly uninteresting on the Ballotcraft market. Marco Rubio had an astounding lead for the entire night and ended up winning the focus group vote at the end of the night. But there were some major trends behind the numbers, which will surely have an effect on future debates and markets. Here’s a quick look at the stories you should keep in mind for the next debate and beyond:

The story of the night, obviously, was Rubio’s complete domination of the entire field from start to finish. He built upon his great showing from two weeks ago (when he also won) and claimed his third debate crown of the campaign. Our focus group cited his poise and debating skill (specifically in his bout with Rand Paul) and awarded him a victory with 36% of the vote. This pales in comparison to his dominance in the market, where his stock reached record-setting highs of over 70 points. No one has ever done this well in a debate before on the Republican side, and with such a clear cut victory (especially over fellow moderates Jeb Bush and John Kasich) it isn’t hard to imagine Rubio finally moving into the upper echelon of candidates.

Rubio Nov Debate

The really impressive feature of Rubio’s performance is that he was able to completely shut out all of the other candidates, holding at least a 30-point lead for the entire debate. No other candidate had even held the lead for a whole debate, let alone built on it like he did, ending over 50 points ahead of the next closest competitor. However, one has to wonder if he has hit his ceiling, and will start to pay for it during the next Republican debate. Some of our focus group members mentioned his history of great performances as a reason for why they didn’t think he improved his standing the most. It would seem inevitable that more voters share this viewpoint come next month, when Rubio will surely face a tougher road to gain his fourth victory.

Other than Rubio, the most interesting trend of the night is the general confusion that consumed the four outsider candidates, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump ended up floating around each other on the market for most of the night, as the traders failed to recognize one of them as the clear second choice candidate. This is an interesting break from precedent, since one of these four candidates has risen above the rest in each of the past three debates.

Outsider Nov Debate

In the final focus group poll, three of these candidates (Cruz, Fiorina, and Carson) received a sizable share of the vote, meaning this inability to select a winner of this faction was widespread. Should this continue in future debates, it might take one of these candidates dropping out or being relegated to the JV debate for the others to have a shot at winning it all.

Be sure to come back later this week for in-depth coverage and preview of the Democratic debate.

Insights From Our Focus Group

Our focus group declared Marco Rubio the winner of the November 10 Republican Debate. We asked members of our focus group for insights into their decision making process. Here’s a selection of their responses:

The Rubio-Rand debate was the most interesting moment of the night and Rubio came out on top.

Rubio successfully built on his performance from last debate.

It was tough to decide who raised their profile most in this debate, but I think Cruz’s answers were the most articulate and his ideas most effectively communicated.

Paul came across competent and smart and the “reasonable” one on stage.

Bush did enough to stay alive.

Rubio was strong as usual but it feels like his bar has been raised and eloquence is necessary but not sufficient for him to get the debate win.

Carly sounds much more solid.

Thanks again to our focus group for their help!

Marco Rubio Wins Republican Debate

Marco Rubio is the winner of the November 10 Republican Debate, as he was deemed by our focus group as the candidate to have “best improved his or her chance of winning the Republican nomination”.

This is the breakdown of our focus group’s voting:

November 10 Debate Winner

We will be regularly updating this blog with commentary from our focus group and analysis of trading behavior during the game, so check back again soon.

Special thanks to our focus group!