Monday, January 18, 2016
Two Weeks to Go Until Iowa Caucuses
I have mentioned here before that I have little faith in polls except for the ones in which actual voters participate on Election Day.
And the first such actual vote will take place two weeks from today in Iowa — where it won't be an actual vote, as in a primary. It will be a caucus, and results from caucuses are less precise than those from primaries.
Until that happens, though, we really won't know if the polls are right or wrong. For now, the polls are all we have, whether the findings turn out to be accurate or not.
Another point about caucuses: Participating in one require more — much more — of a commitment of one's time than merely walking into a voting booth and selecting the candidates for whom one wishes to vote so caucuses are notorious for attracting the diehards, the extremists. Consequently, it would not surprise me if the extreme element among Iowa's Democrats hand a victory to Bernie Sanders.
Earlier in 2015, Sanders was far behind Hillary Clinton in Iowa polls. But that was months before the caucus — and Hillary has had some setbacks — and the latest polls show the race tightening. Just in time for the caucus.
Hillary still leads in the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, but only by two points, 42% to 40% — and that falls within the poll's margin of error.
Sanders leads in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, 49% to 44%.
I guess Hillary can take some solace in the fact that she leads in the latest CBS/New York Times poll, 48% to 41%, although that lead shows some slippage.
For Hillary backers who are nostalgic for the days of summer, Gravis Marketing finds Hillary leading, 57% to 36%.
I wouldn't count on anything that lopsided, though.
On the Republican side, the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll finds Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas leading Donald Trump by three points, 25% to 22%.
But as much as Trump has appeared to be preparing his followers for a defeat, I think he may actually be trying to lower expectations so the victory he anticipates will be that much more meaningful. Gravis Marketing has Trump in front by six points, 34% to 28%. Public Policy Polling says Trump is ahead but by a narrower margin, 28% to 26%.
I'm thinking we could be in for a couple of cliffhangers two weeks from tonight.