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Sanders Favored to Win Nevada Caucuses, GW Election Prediction Model Finds

Three other candidates appear to be locked in a tight battle for second place, according to GW’s Graduate School of Political Management

February 21, 2020
Jason Shevrin: [email protected], 202-994-5631
Timothy Pierce: [email protected], 202-994-5647
WASHINGTON (Feb. 21, 2020)—Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to run away with the 2020 Nevada caucuses, according to the latest projection from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM). Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg are competing for second place, and they are all expected to finish well behind the Vermont senator.
GSPM researchers created two models to forecast the Nevada primary. The first, or “basic,” model is identical to those used to predict the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. The second, or “momentum,” model takes into account the results from the New Hampshire primary in order to examine the effect of previous elections on future contests.
“The models make slightly different predictions,” Meagan O’Neill, GW’s lead research scientist for the project, said. “We plan to use the results of Nevada compared to the two models to inform the model for Super Tuesday.” 
The basic model projects a sweeping Sanders victory with 30.6% of the vote. Biden is expected to finish a distant second with 17.5% of the vote, with Warren (16.6%) and Buttigieg (14.1%) following close behind. The momentum model also predicts a comfortable Sanders win (29.2%) but slots Buttigieg into second place (16.4%), followed by Biden (15.1%) and Warren (14.5%).  
Both models consider three factors: Twitter mentions, cash on hand and endorsements. The amount of Twitter mentions reflects the attention a candidate is garnering among the wider electorate as well as the effect important opinion leaders have on the online political discussion. Cash on hand quantifies the financial position of a candidate and demonstrates the level of donor commitment. The number of endorsements is a relative indication of a candidate’s strength within the party. The momentum model also takes the results of previous elections into account. A complete description of the model’s methodology can be found online.
This election prediction project is the first of its kind to take into account the number of times a candidate’s name is mentioned on Twitter. The inclusion of quantifiable Twitter activity provides a more holistic measurement of public opinion about the 2020 presidential campaign.
The 2020 election prediction model project is an initiative of GSPM’s Public Echoes of Rhetoric in America (PEORIA) Project, which strives to quantify how voters react to campaign messages. The researchers plan to test the new models against the results of the first few primaries in 2020 to refine it before predicting an array of results for Super Tuesday. Model projections will be published periodically throughout the 2020 campaign.