Why the Iowa Democratic Caucus is Closer Than it May Appear

At first glance, the Democratic Caucus in Iowa looks like Hillary Clinton is in cruise control. In the Model update at the start of the week, Clinton was showing a 20%+ lead. Today, the Model update has a similar top-line: Clinton 55.9%; Sanders 36.0%. But recent trends show that the race may be changing. At second glance, you can see what appears to be the very slow rise of Bernie Sanders during the month of November:


But there’s more that’s going on than meets the eye just from looking at the above. Clinton has clearly reached a peak at about 55%. The good news for her: that’s obviously more than enough to be victorious. Even if Sanders keeps climbing into the 40s, 50+1 = a win. But there’s still something more —

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Trump Regains Lead in Iowa Model, Cruz Surging; NH Dem Model Remains a Toss-Up


As more older data falls off from the Iowa GOP Model today, and a new poll from Quinnipiac is added, the November trends continue: Trump has regained a lead in Iowa, Ben Carson continues to slide, Ted Cruz is surging, and Marco Rubio is still ‘slowly’ climbing but is not really showing any signs of growth beyond the low teens. Meanwhile, the NH Dem Model continues to show a tight race.

The new numbers:

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NH GOP Model: Trump Cruising; Shifts Abound (And SC Updates)


In today’s NH GOP Model update, Donald Trump continues to cruise with no one within 17% of his lead. He is riding near that 30% mark overall. While NH does not look very competitive at the moment, there is a whole bunch of jockeying down below as many candidates are hitting new highs while others are hitting new lows. This week’s numbers:

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Iowa GOP Model: Trump and Cruz Rising at Carson’s Expense

It’s all about the trends. It’s been a quiet two weeks of polling out of Iowa, but a whole lot of movement appears to be brewing. While Carson is still clinging to a lead in today’s Model, if more data keeps coming in like the present, he’s quickly going to lose that title. For all of October, Carson was surging in the Hawkeye state, climbing toward the 30% mark while Donald Trump was holding in the low 20s. Meanwhile, Cruz and Rubio were hanging out in the low teens. Today, I’m seeing that movement toward Trump and Cruz.

The new numbers:

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State of Dem Race: Clinton Still Cruising; Sanders Numbers Have Stabilized

Hillary Clinton had a great October. After a strong first debate, a sturdy showing at the Benghazi hearings, and an announcement from Joe Biden that he was not running, her numbers surged across the board. Those events now seem like a distant memory. While Clinton’s climb continues in all the model updates this week, she seems to be settling into a new peak. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has stabilized. He remains competitive in New Hampshire, but he’s still facing a huge blowout in South Carolina. While he’s showing some signs of life in Iowa, the situation there would still have to dramatically change for him to have any chance.

The new numbers:

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Louisiana Governor 2015: Final Thoughts

There’s not much good polling out of Louisiana. Most polls that do exist are from partisan firms. On the surface, Democrat John Bel Edwards should cruise to victory tonight. I agree he likely will. Here are the factors to consider:

But Wasn’t Matt Bevin Supposed to Lose, Too?

Well, kind of. Many polls had Conway up 4-5% in the final weeks, but my own model had that lead wiped away when pushing undecideds. What my model didn’t capture was the size of the wave of the break toward Bevin. While anticipated, it was a much bigger break than expected. But, the numbers here are different. Many polls showed KY a tie to a slight Conway win. JMC Analytics has shown the closest race with Vitter only 4% down. All other polls have shown Edwards margins between 6 to 20% as of late. So, even if there’s a 9% break toward Vitter, as was the case in Kentucky, Edwards still might pull it out by a few points. The closest Model bands I have right now are at about 9.5%. So, if polling is as bad as it was in Kentucky, sure, this thing could get close. But…

Louisiana is not Kentucky; Vitter is not Bevin

There are two elements here. In some ways, Louisiana is more conservative than Kentucky. But, polling in Kentucky has often been worse than Louisiana as of late. The break to the GOP beyond the final polls in 2015 mirrored what happened to Grimes (D) in her race against McConnell (R) in 2014. While the sample size is small, the same thing did not happen to Landrieu in the 2014 run-off. While she lost badly, she actually did a little bit better than last minute polling.

The other factor here is the candidate. While Bevin ran a terrible campaign in many ways, Vitter is tainted by personal baggage, such as the ongoing attacks on his family values and the D.C. Madam scandal. While I anticipate he’s going to get a small break his way, he reminds me more of Todd Aiken’s issues in Missouri. Aiken under performed even his last few polls, even in a conservative state. Therefore, I’m not sure Vitter will get the GOP break he’d otherwise likely get.

Finally, Louisiana politics have been a mess. The adage that politics are local apply here. Look at Illinois 2014. While data would historically break toward Quinn(D) in a blue state like Illinois at the end of a cycle, he was terribly unpopular. Illinois was ready for a change at the state level. Bobby Jindal(R), the outgoing governor, is terribly unpopular. It looks like Louisiana is ready for a change. Thus, based on all the data, I think Edwards still pulls it out tonight.

With the amount of noise out there, take a firm number with a grain of salt, but final prediction: Edwards 55.6% – Vitter 44.4%. An Edwards +5% margin wouldn’t surprise me with the amount of data error out there, but Edwards +15% is also in the realm.

NH GOP Model: State Remains Trump’s, Movement Down Below

Another week goes by and it still looks like Donald Trump is a big favorite as we start to approach the New Hampshire GOP Primary. Meanwhile, there’s a whole lot of movement going on in Tiers 2 and 3 this week as the race may be shifting a bit as others jockey for spots two to eight.

NH GOP Model 11.16

11.16 NH Model (Change vs. 11.2 Model)

Trump 29.1% (-1.6%)

Carson 13.8% (-0.2%)

Rubio 10.1% (+0.5%)

Bush 8.5% (-0.1%)

Kasich 8.0% (-0.4%)

Cruz 7.3% (+0.9%)

Fiorina 6.9% (-0.5%)

Christie 5.1% (+1.6%)

Paul 4.2% (+0.4%)

The highlights:


This remains Trump’s state. Though he bounces up and down with each passing week, he’s been pretty locked in around that 30% mark for the last month. With so many candidates in the race, such a number would be more than enough to secure victory here. Perhaps best for him is that no other candidate is standing out as an alternative. Two weeks since the last Model update and Trump is still holding onto a rather commanding 15% or so lead.

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NH Dem Model: As Close as It’s Been

This week’s NH Dem Model shows a tied race. As of this moment, I wouldn’t say either candidate is favored, but the trend lines continue to be positive for Hillary Clinton. The Model:

NH Dem Model.11.16

11/16 Model (Change vs. 11/04 Model):

Sanders: 41.4% (-0.7%)

Clinton: 40.1% (+1.9%)

O’Malley: 2.5% (+0.2%)

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Iowa GOP Model: Carson holds at 27%; Trump, Rubio, Cruz Climb

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One week closer to the Iowa Caucus, and there’s some good news for Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. After weeks of climbing, Ben Carson’s finally plateaued, at least for the time being. Carson started last week at 27.5%, his highest number yet. He ended the week at 27.2%. Though not a meaningful change in itself, this is the first time in the last five Model updates that his numbers did not rise. The upper-20s thus appear to be his ‘current’ peak. We’ll see if those numbers hold.

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SC Model: Clinton hits new high; Trump’s lead falls but he’s still favored

Hillary Clinton is still set to dominate the SC Democratic Primary. Meanwhile, Donald Trump remains a big favorite in the Palmetto state, but Ben Carson’s certainly trending closer.

Democrat Model (11/09)(Change vs. 10/28 Model)

Clinton: 57.8% (+6.0%)

Sanders: 16.0% (-2.4%)

O’Malley: 1.5% (+0.4%)

Hillary Clinton has netted 8.4% in the SC Model over the last couple weeks. Her numbers are hitting a new high there as she’s now very well above that magical 50% marker. With a 41.8% margin, there’s simply not much to say. While Bernie Sanders appears to be holding well in NH, that headline will quickly be forgotten as the candidates move South. Outside of the Northeast, the Upper Midwest and some Mountain Caucus states, the Sanders map remains small.

GOP Model (11/09)(Change vs. 10/26 Model)

Trump: 31.9% (-4.2%)

Carson: 21.2% (+0.7%)

Rubio: 9.0% (+2.8%)

Cruz: 7.7% (+1.1%)

Bush: 6.5% (+0.6%)

Fiorina: 6.3% (+1.0%)

Graham: 2.7% (-0.9%)

Huckabee: 2.5% (-0.4%)

Kasich: 2.1% (-1.4%)

Paul: 1.5% (-0.4%)

Christie: 1.2% (-0.2%)

Unlike the Democratic contest in South Carolina, the GOP race grows a bit more interesting this week. While Ben Carson is up just a bit, Trump’s numbers are sliding 4.2% in today’s Model update. While Trump is still a big favorite here, two recent polls out of Monmouth and Clemson show a very different race, the former actually showing Carson with 28% to Trump’s 27%. The Model doesn’t buy that figure…yet…but it’s certainly trending toward a much closer race as Carson’s netted almost 5% in the last two weeks. Another data point like that, and the Model’s going to show a different race.

The big note remains: No other candidate in South Carolina is getting above 10%. While Rubio’s getting a really nice bounce here and Cruz is continuing his trickle up, the 2nd Tier remains clear as this is still a Carson/Trump race. And if anyone has questions about the toll the recent press coverage has taken on Carson, it should be noted that the above Monmouth poll — which show Carson’s best numbers yet here in SC — was taken through this weekend…in the middle of the controversies. So, if anything, Carson’s campaign may be — at least initially — correct in that the media hub-hub may actually be helping him. Again, at least for the moment.

One last observation: though mainstream news press may make it seem as though Rubio’s campaign is running away with it and Bush’s campaign is over, they’re still within the MOE of each other in South Carolina, both in the 6-9% range. So, the data have yet to support this narrative.

Current Polls in the SC Model: Monmouth (GOP); Clemson; CBS News/YouGov; CNN (GOP; DEM); Gravis (via RCP); Winthrop (Dem).