They give Bernie a 49% chance of winning a simple majority of the delegates, and establish a 24% chance that no candidate will come to the convention with enough delegates. Biden is considered to have a 19% chance. If you’re scoring at home, that only leaves 8% for all other candidates added together. (Basically 4% each for Warren and Buttigieg, and zero for the others.)

Bernie is also the betting favorite at this point, with Bloomberg now closest.

The Bookmakers now consider Trump a favorite in the 2020 general election, and his odds have been improving steadily in the past two months, starting the day the House voted to impeach. His betting line rose to +140 during the investigation phase, but dropped to -125 after the impeachment vote. The line now stands at -150. The overseas bookmakers show even shorter odds (typically about -162), and they are still shortening. They could shorten far more if and when Bernie’s nomination gets more certain.

(I don’t think there have been any “Trump vs Sanders” polls since the Iowa debacle and the Senate acquittal.)

Overall, despite some stops and starts, Trump’s likelihood of re-election has been increasing for a year now, as the Democrats have produced no clear, powerhouse contender.

Quality control issues have not been resolved.

“More than 100 precincts reported results that were internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses. In some cases, vote tallies do not add up. In others, precincts are shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates. And in at least a few cases, the Iowa Democratic Party’s reported results do not match those reported by the precincts.”

Well, in order to answer that question, we have to pose another: what factor should determine the first state. For the sake of this link, the assumption will be “It should be the state which best reflects America.”

You may supply other criteria, of course, but let’s go with this one for now in order to evaluate which state best meets that particular criterion, since the media chatter for two weeks or more has centered around the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire are not representative of America.

So. If you were a marketing company testing a new product for a possible national roll-out, which state would be the test market most suitable to best estimate your product’s success in the full USA?

The answer supplied by this firm in 2016 was Illinois. It contains the correct proportion of midwestern farms, urban concentrations, rich suburbs and small towns. It contains approximately the correct proportion of whites, blacks, Latinos, and Asians, all in the approximately representative proportion of religions. It contains the proper proportion of elite universities, graduates from functional colleges, people with some college, high school grads and high school drop-outs. It contains the right mix of liberals, moderates and conservatives. It contains the right mix of income levels. Given all of those factors, campaigning in Illinois does not allow for pandering to small town and rural White America, as the candidates do in Iowa and New Hampshire, but the mix in Illinois also precludes pandering to any other groups. Any position taken there must either appeal across-the-board to one’s party base, or must be a calculated risk, just as in the whole of America.

The film which did this study compared dozens of factors in each state to national averages, then distilled all of those specifics down to five general categories. Illinois finishes among the top six best matches in all five categories, and is the absolute best match in demographic and income factors.

In contrast: New Hampshire is one of the states least representative of America (nearby Vermont is the least typical state), and Iowa is somewhere in the middle.

He was the last man standing of all the great stars of another time.”

And a great star he was, and sometimes a great social justice warrior, although his personal life was (allegedly) sometimes not so heroic.

Years ago I saw him tell an interviewer that his favorite Kirk Douglas film was “Lonely are the Brave,” a low-budget modern Western that has never received much attention, but was a damned good choice.