Iowa Caucus Polls As Clear As Mud


The Iowa caucus winner will be decided by by the turnout and the losers not the front runner at the moment.

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Yesterday, in Who is Really Ahead in the Iowa Caucus

I also asked a series of "What If?" questions.

Four What Ifs?

  1. What if Warren tops 15% but Buttigieg doesn't?
  2. What if Buttigieg tops 15% but Warren doesn't?
  3. What if neither tops 15%?
  4. What if both do?

This evening, I took a dive into that Monmouth Poll and they see things like I did.

“Caucus electorates are the most difficult to model in polling. The smartest takeaway from this, or any Iowa poll for that matter, is to be prepared for anything on Monday,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Currently, 47% of likely Iowa caucus goers are firmly decided on their candidate choice. That hasn’t changed much from Monmouth’s poll two weeks ago when firm support stood at 43%. Nearly half (45%) say they are open to switching support on caucus night, including 13% who rate this as a high possibility, 23% a moderate possibility, and 9% a low possibility. Firm support for the top polling candidates ranges from 47% for Klobuchar, 48% for Biden, and 49% for Buttigieg to 55% for Warren and 58% for Sanders.

The poll asked caucus goers to name a candidate they have in mind as a second choice. When these are combined with initial preferences, Biden (39%), Warren (34%), Sanders (32%), and Buttigieg (29%) are bunched together. They are trailed by Klobuchar (22%), Steyer (10%), and Yang (7%) as either a first or second choice. These numbers have not changed much since earlier this month.

A key factor in how these second choices will play out, though, is determined by whose supporters will need to realign if their first choice does not reach the 15% viability threshold for convention delegates. If Klobuchar and Yang remain viable in some precincts, the race remains tight. A hypothetical six candidate field puts the race at 22% Biden, 22% Sanders, 17% Buttigieg, 16% Warren, 12% Klobuchar, and 5% Yang.

If viability comes down to just the top four candidates, though, the race is still tight but Biden appears to benefit slightly more. When likely caucus goers are asked to choose from among this limited field, the race stands at 29% Biden, 25% Sanders, 20% Buttigieg, and 19% Warren. In this scenario, about 4 in 10 Klobuchar supporters would realign with Biden, while about 1 in 4 would go to Buttigieg, 1 in 5 to Warren, and just a handful to Sanders.

“Klobuchar’s performance could be a real game changer in the final delegate allocation out of Iowa,” said Murray.


The most recent poll is Emmerson. Let's investigate.

The final Emerson College/7 News Iowa poll finds Senator Bernie Sanders with a solid lead going into Monday’s caucus with 28% support. Former Vice President Joe Biden follows with 21%, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 15%, Senator Elizabeth Warren is at 14%, and Senator Amy Klobuchar is the only other candidate in double digits with 11%. Data was collected from January 30 - February 2, 2020, mixed-mode, n=853, margin of error of +/- 3.3%.

This represents a slight shift from last week’s Emerson College/ Channel 7 poll of Iowa; Sanders has dropped two points, Buttigieg has gained five points, and Warren picked up three points. Biden’s support was unchanged and Klobuchar has lost two points.

Sixty-six (66%) percent of likely Democratic Caucus-goers will definitely vote for their candidate, but on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, 34% say there is still a chance they could change their mind, and vote for someone else.

Respondents were also asked about their second choice candidate. Among Warren supporters, 46% chose Sanders, and 25% chose Klobuchar. Of Buttigieg supporters, 30% picked Klobuchar, 22% picked Warren, 19% picked Sanders, and 18% picked Biden*. And of Klobuchar supporters, 41% had Biden as their second choice, 26% had Warren and 23% had Buttigieg*.

Klobuchar Swing

That last line is key. Klobuchar may very well be the determining factor.

This is what I said yesterday, answering my four "What If?" questions above.

Crucial Questions Answered

1: Votes for Buttigieg are more likely to go for Biden than the others.

2: Votes for Warren are highly likely to go to Bernie.

3: I suspect Bernie is the winner but it is harder to say.

4: I suspect Biden will pick up more of those for voting for Klobuchar, Yang, Steyer, etc.

At the time I wrote that I had not looked at either Monmouth or Emmerson.

Berrnie may very well be in the lead, but probably not by 7 percentage points. Yet, if Warren falls flat, it could be by more than 10.

Very Close Race

This race is likely much close than media portrays especially if both Pete and Warren exceed 15% in all the districts.

Biden is a decent shot to come away with the most delegates even if Bernie beats him in the first round.

The second wild card is turnout. Older voters tend to be more likely to vote, but Bernie voters are more likely to be energized.

This is not much more than a tossup in terms of delegate count, even if Bernie wins the first round of the caucus.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (9)
No. 1-7


I accidentally posted this in Economic - Apologies offered


Looks like it's a fairly narrow spread going in and so no matter who finally comes out on top of this quirky but neat process, it won't matter much, especially with Billionaire Bloomberg waiting in the wings. The next big development will be the decline - or rapid collapse - of Biden and who gets his votes. My guess is that after some jostling it will be Bloomberg. By far the most interesting Dem is 'Crazy Bernie' but I find it hard to believe the Establishment will let him get too far ahead.

That said, if he can stand up to them and be taken seriously by the DS etc., that would make for a very interesting, and possibly substantive, election. Just can't see it happening, though. Substance is anathema in US politics these days... speaking of which - and tangentially - Bernie has insufficient sense of humor to merit the Presidency. Far too idealistic.

PS As if on cue, Iowa caucus nrs leaked (inc. Buttys which were supposed to be missing).. Biden tanking already:


I've still yet to meet a human being who is excited about a Biden presidency. I've encountered at least some enthusiasm for the others (minus Bloomberg), but it's hard to imagine a "frontrunner" having this little ground level support.


Tell me again why these numbers matter. Unless Trump really screws it up, he is winning re-election. Trump is winning in spite of himself and because of poor opponents and a decent economy. Check back in 6 months to see if all the above are true.


By the way, the Democratic party is considering running a third party candidate in the general election should Sanders swipe the nomination. That would be truly unprecedented and surely push Trump into office for a second term easily. 2020 is definitely going to be an interesting election no matter what happens. Trump, Bernie and the Democrats will be one big pot of love stew soon.


My Bernie relatives have seen some anti-Sanders conspiracies in Iowa (and in the last election); they share some feelings, if not facts, with Trump supporters. So, let me be the first to suggest THE UNBEATABLE TICKET:

                            TRUMP-SANDERS 2020!!

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