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Official Iowa Caucus Thread...with some analysis.


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On the GOP side, Donald Trump looks very likely to win based on the polls and 538's prediction models.  Here is the latest Pollster.com graphs:

20160129163301401.png

So it looks like Cruz is starting to fall and Trump is on the rise there, making him the most likely winner with only three days left before the caucuses.  Iowa is notoriously difficult to poll, however, so Cruz doing better or worse than expected wouldn't be surprising.  If Cruz makes it close - which is possible because he's got one of the most sophisticated ground games I've seen since 2012 - then he'll obviously get a lot of positive press coverage heading into New Hampshire and South Carolina.  If he does much worse than expected, then the focus could shift away from him to Rubio.

New Hampshire is shaping up to be very interesting, with John Kasich now in second place and rising in the polls.  This graph isn't as easy to read, but basically Cruz has flat-lined and Rubio has fallen in recent polls.  If Kasich can pull out a 2nd place finish then he's going to start getting serious second looks in the later primaries.

20160129163838439.png

A Rubio 3rd place finish in Iowa could give him a spike in New Hampshire that could put him in second place over Kasich.  If Rubio pulls out a 2nd place finish in New Hampshire, he might be the person who gets looks by the establishment as the anti-Cruz/Trump candidate.  Considering that it's very unlikely that Bush does well in Iowa and will probably not place in the top three in New Hampshire, he looks like he's pretty much done.  It pretty much goes without saying that Ben Carson is definitely not a factor in the primary anymore.

For Cruz, a close 2nd place in Iowa with a not-terrible showing in New Hampshire makes South Carolina look very interesting.  Trump has a lead, but Cruz is making a big surge there, following by a smaller increase for Rubio.  Cruz and Trump could fight it out for the evangelical votes in South Carolina in this scenario.  Here is the graph of SC polling at this point:

20160129164919888.png

With a good showing in New Hampshire, Kasich could become a factor in the race.  The other establishment candidates might start coalescing around him, especially if Rubio drops an egg in Iowa and NH, which could put him into a close 3rd place.  Barring something unforeseen, it's like that Trump/Cruz will get the 1st and 2nd place spot in SC, though which will place where is still uncertain.  But Kasich could become the wild card and start syphoning off Bush's 9% in SC and perhaps some of Rubio's 14%.  That places him in a solid third place and positions him very well heading into Super Tuesday.  But again, all of this depends on him having a good showing in New Hampshire and eating into Bush/Rubio's support in South Carolina.  It's just as likely that Rubio could come out of Iowa and NH as the anti-Cruz/Trump candidate and take over Bush's support to put him as the number three.

Anyway, that's how I see things progressing at the moment.  Here are the things that appear most likely at this point:

Trump wins Iowa with Cruz in second and Rubio third.  We won't know until Monday how close they are to one another.

Trump wins New Hampshire, but more closely than the current polls show.  Kasich will probably be second followed by Cruz/Rubio, but there's still a lot of uncertainty about that.  They'll only have 8 days after Iowa to make inroads in NH, so the scenario is likely to change but I'd be surprised if anyone can overtake Trump's lead there in 8 days.  So most likely is a more narrow Trump win in New Hampshire.

South Carolina is wide open, especially considering we still have about three weeks to go and the large trends in the polls right now.  There is also a general lack of polling there at the moment, so we should get a better idea of where the candidates really are in a few weeks.  

Beyond SC, I think everything depends on how the non-Cruz/Trump candidates do in the three early states.  I could see scenarios where Kasich emerges as the anti-Trump/Cruz and positions himself well for Super Tuesday, and I can imagine scenarios where Rubio does the same.  I can also imagine scenarios where Cruz emerges over Trump and others where Trump ends up prevailing over Cruz.  All that is to say, we have a pretty good idea how Iowa and NH play out, but we'll have to wait for those results before we get an idea about where the primary is heading thereafter.

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19 minutes ago, Psychic Gibbon said:

What's even weirder is that Rand Paul has said he has enough supporters among caucus goers to win despite his low poll numbers (a la Santorum).

Yeah, I think he's wrong about that.  He's only polling about 4%, so an outright win would be very shocking given the polls.  In 2012, Santorum was polling about 15-18% and got 24.6% of the actual vote.  So he over performed, but only by about 8%.  And the reason he won is that all of the late deciders went his direction.  [In other words, the polls were generally accurate for other candidates and Santorum was the only one to over/under-perform relative to the polls.

This is why Iowa is notoriously difficult to predict based on the polls.  It's why surprises are always possible.  But Santorum polling at 4% but getting 25-30% of the actual vote?  I just don't see that happening.

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Now for the Democratic Primary...

Iowa is a virtual dead heat in the polls using Pollster.com's model, but Clinton has a strong lead using 538's model.  And 538's "polls plus" model gives Clinton a huge chance of winning Iowa.  I'm going to say that there's too much uncertainty to say who's likely to win.  However, a close Iowa outcome - even a narrow Clinton lead - is going to help Sanders heading into NH, where he's very likely to win, especially considering that he's been trending upward in NH and Clinton has been dropping:

20160129174735560.png

I don't think any outcome in the two early contests is going to change the dynamic of the primary.  Unlike the GOP primary, where these early contests could influence South Carolina and beyond, I don't see NH and Iowa having a huge effect later on.  Yes, a close Iowa outcome and big NH win would give Sanders a lot of positive air time, but it's not like that would completely change the dynamics of the race.

Which makes SC the more interesting contest.  Clinton still has a huge lead, but Sanders has been trending upward.  He's now at about 33% in the polls in SC:

20160129174812382.png

You've also got Nevada caucuses between NH and SC, and a Sanders win there could start shifting the race.  A close outcome in SC signals that Sanders could make a credible run at it.  I don't think he needs to win outright - though that would be huge - but if it's close then it suggests that he'll do well on Super Tuesday and beyond.  He'll probably do well in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado (obviously Vermont as well), and Clinton will likely do well in Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and probably Oklahoma.  So unless Sanders can make Iowa and SC somewhat competitive, the likely outcome is that Clinton emerges from Super Tuesday with more delegates and starts an inevitable march to the nomination.  

For historical context, Mitt Romney lose AL, CO, GA, MN, OK, and TN on Super Tuesday, but went on to quickly crush Santorum (who only won a few other states) after that.  I could see something similar for Clinton, especially if she wins Iowa and dominates in SC.  I suspect that Sanders could be out of the race shortly after the March 15th contests if he doesn't make inroads in states with large numbers of minorities (especially the South).  O'Malley's early exit won't mean much because he doesn't have enough support to shift the dynamics for either Clinton or Sanders, and I suspect that he'll endorse Clinton anyway.  

Ultimately, I think that SC will be our best insight into Super Tuesday (which is only three days afterward) and the March 5-8 contests (KS, LA, NE, ME, MI, MS).  So for the Democrats, barring something unexpected in Iowa, we'll probably have to wait until the end of February to get a sense of how things are progressing.

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35 minutes ago, Dago 3.0 said:

yo trout....got a question for you

do you think that come election day there may be a low turnout for the dems? I'm just wondering about the possibility of there being some voter apathy among black voters with this being the first president after the first black POTUS

Great question, and I'm not sure about that.  But I think it would only make a difference in South Carolina.  Iowa only has a 2.7% African American population and in New Hampshire it's only 1.2%.  African Americans are about 28.5% of the population in South Carolina, though.  

I know that Clinton is preferred over Sanders among minorities, but I haven't looked to see how large each is for Clinton's base of support yet.  Will let you know if/when I come across that.

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1 hour ago, Trout_Farm said:

Great question, and I'm not sure about that.  But I think it would only make a difference in South Carolina.  Iowa only has a 2.7% African American population and in New Hampshire it's only 1.2%.  African Americans are about 28.5% of the population in South Carolina, though.  

I know that Clinton is preferred over Sanders among minorities, but I haven't looked to see how large each is for Clinton's base of support yet.  Will let you know if/when I come across that.

I was referring more to the presidential election than the primaries

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3 hours ago, Trout_Farm said:

Now for the Democratic Primary...

Iowa is a virtual dead heat in the polls using Pollster.com's model, but Clinton has a strong lead using 538's model.  And 538's "polls plus" model gives Clinton a huge chance of winning Iowa.  I'm going to say that there's too much uncertainty to say who's likely to win.  However, a close Iowa outcome - even a narrow Clinton lead - is going to help Sanders heading into NH, where he's very likely to win, especially considering that he's been trending upward in NH and Clinton has been dropping:

I disagree. It has gotten too close for even a small loss to help sanders. He has been trying to manage expectations by stating that he does not need Iowa and that he does not think he will get the Obama turnout, but with the media playing up the idea that it is a horse race, The only way for him to get momentum is to win. A loss even by a small amount will change the narrative back to HRC favor. Plenty of polls have shown sanders leading. You cannot have polls showing you with a +6 lead, then state that we did better than expected when you lost. 

 

I still think Sanders will win NH, but the media has already made the excuse that it is because he is from neighboring Vermont. He needs Iowa and NH to show he is a serious candidate and even then he still needs to figure out a way to start winning over some moderate whites and minority voters, which one poll has show that HRC's lead with minorities grew.

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1 hour ago, Dago 3.0 said:

I was referring more to the presidential election than the primaries

Ah, sorry I misunderstood.  Maybe, but I'm not sure.  Black turnout has been rising since 1996 in presidential elections, and that's consistent with the national trend.  Don't know how much of 2012 was higher than it would otherwise have been.  I'd be surprised if we saw a significant downturn in black turnout, but maybe not as large a jump as the trend would otherwise suggest.

Here's an article that has a graph about black turnout:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/17/upshot/black-turnout-in-1964-and-beyond.html

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2 hours ago, Trout_Farm said:

Ah, sorry I misunderstood.  Maybe, but I'm not sure.  Black turnout has been rising since 1996 in presidential elections, and that's consistent with the national trend.  Don't know how much of 2012 was higher than it would otherwise have been.  I'd be surprised if we saw a significant downturn in black turnout, but maybe not as large a jump as the trend would otherwise suggest.

Here's an article that has a graph about black turnout:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/17/upshot/black-turnout-in-1964-and-beyond.html

thanks...that is informative

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Also, keep a lookout for the final Des Moines Register poll on the Iowa caucus to be released in about 4-5 hours.  They say that it will be released at 5:45PM today, but not sure if that is Eastern or Central time.   It's usually the most accurate poll for the Iowa caucuses and was one of the only ones (if not the only one) to correctly have Obama in the lead in 2008.  

Here's a writeup about Ann Selzer, who conducts the poll for the Des Moines Register:

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/selzer/

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Hillary is +3 in the latest Selzer poll. MOM's two supporters are split evenly among HRC and Bernie.

83% of voters are committed to caucusing for HRC on monday. 69% of Bernie supporters are locked in for him. And probably the biggest news that will show many people is 73% of HRC supporters are very/fairly enthusiastic with 53% being Very enthusiastic, while Bernie has 69% Enthusiasm with 49% very enthusiastic. 

 

Looks like HRC is going in with the lead, the stronger team, more experienced caucusers, older crowd, and more enthusiasm than bernie.  538 has it at 80% probability that she wins in polls+. 

http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/r1OvZ1NeDjnY

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34 minutes ago, GEORGIAfan said:

Hillary is +3 in the latest Selzer poll. MOM's two supporters are split evenly among HRC and Bernie.

83% of voters are committed to caucusing for HRC on monday. 69% of Bernie supporters are locked in for him. And probably the biggest news that will show many people is 73% of HRC supporters are very/fairly enthusiastic with 53% being Very enthusiastic, while Bernie has 69% Enthusiasm with 49% very enthusiastic. 

 

Looks like HRC is going in with the lead, the stronger team, more experienced caucusers, older crowd, and more enthusiasm than bernie.  538 has it at 80% probability that she wins in polls+. 

http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/r1OvZ1NeDjnY

WHOA!  Look at the percent of first-time caucus goers compared to previous years.  I haven't looked through all of the document, but I wonder if they break that down by vote preferences.

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17 minutes ago, Trout_Farm said:

WHOA!  Look at the percent of first-time caucus goers compared to previous years.  I haven't looked through all of the document, but I wonder if they break that down by vote preferences.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/upshot/surge-for-sanders-or-trump-in-iowa-voter-registration-doesnt-suggest-it.html

 

Article on Voter registration numbers. The numbers seem to suggest that numbers will be similar to 2012 and not 2008 with the huge surge.  I believe in all polls I have seen, HRC does better with people who have caucused before, while Bernie does better with first time caucus goers.  I think the biggest point to HRC's ground game being strong is the monmouth poll. They polled people contacted by the campaign and found that HRC has support from 51% while bernie had 36%. 

Quote

More than 6-in-10 (62%) likely caucusgoers say they have been contacted by a presidential campaign to obtain their support. This includes 49% who have been contacted by the Clinton camp, 38% by the Sanders camp, and 15% by the O’Malley camp. Among those who have been contacted by a campaign, 51% say they plan to caucus for Clinton and 36% support Sanders. Among those who have not received any direct campaign contact, 51% plan to caucus for Sanders and 40% support Clinton. Just over half (52%) say they plan to attend their local caucus with a friend or family member, while 43% say they will go alone. Among those who will attend with another person, Clinton has a 48% to 43% lead. Among those who will caucus on their own, Clinton’s lead is 45% to 40%.

http://www.monmouth.edu/assets/0/32212254770/32212254991/32212254992/32212254994/32212254995/30064771087/f94fe349-47c3-4af3-86b9-5f50e362d1ec.pdf

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1 hour ago, GEORGIAfan said:

Hillary is +3 in the latest Selzer poll. MOM's two supporters are split evenly among HRC and Bernie.

83% of voters are committed to caucusing for HRC on monday. 69% of Bernie supporters are locked in for him. And probably the biggest news that will show many people is 73% of HRC supporters are very/fairly enthusiastic with 53% being Very enthusiastic, while Bernie has 69% Enthusiasm with 49% very enthusiastic. 

 

Looks like HRC is going in with the lead, the stronger team, more experienced caucusers, older crowd, and more enthusiasm than bernie.  538 has it at 80% probability that she wins in polls+. 

http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/r1OvZ1NeDjnY

 

Thanks for posting this, btw.  

Check out the enthusiastic difference between Clinton and Sanders.  About even in terms of supporters' enthusiasm for them, and both are close to 70% of supporters enthusiastic.

Compared to Republicans, Trump has the lowest enthusiasm (44% very/fairly enthusiastic) and Carson/Cruz have the highest (56% and 58% respectively).  Rubio has 58% enthusiasm.  

That's a pretty big difference between the parties.  This is an Iowa poll, but I'd be interested if this is a general trend nationally.

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9 minutes ago, Trout_Farm said:

 

Thanks for posting this, btw.  

Check out the enthusiastic difference between Clinton and Sanders.  About even in terms of supporters' enthusiasm for them, and both are close to 70% of supporters enthusiastic.

Compared to Republicans, Trump has the lowest enthusiasm (44% very/fairly enthusiastic) and Carson/Cruz have the highest (56% and 58% respectively).  Rubio has 58% enthusiasm.  

That's a pretty big difference between the parties.  This is an Iowa poll, but I'd be interested if this is a general trend nationally.

I wasn't expecting Democratic voters to be noticeably more enthusiastic than Republican voters either.

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11 minutes ago, GEORGIAfan said:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/upshot/surge-for-sanders-or-trump-in-iowa-voter-registration-doesnt-suggest-it.html

 

Article on Voter registration numbers. The numbers seem to suggest that numbers will be similar to 2012 and not 2008 with the huge surge.  I believe in all polls I have seen, HRC does better with people who have caucused before, while Bernie does better with first time caucus goers.  I think the biggest point to HRC's ground game being strong is the monmouth poll. They polled people contacted by the campaign and found that HRC has support from 51% while bernie had 36%. 

http://www.monmouth.edu/assets/0/32212254770/32212254991/32212254992/32212254994/32212254995/30064771087/f94fe349-47c3-4af3-86b9-5f50e362d1ec.pdf

I heard about some researchers who built models of the electorate and saw the effect of turnout among first-time caucus goers.  If more first-time caucus goers show up in large numbers, Sanders has a slight lead.  If it's a traditional turnout, then Clinton has the lead.  So a lot depends on their respective turnout operations, and it sounds like Clinton's operation is stronger.

That's also why I wouldn't be surprised if Ted Cruz makes a better showing than expected, because I've heard some things about how mind-blowingly sophisticated Ted Cruz's turnout operation are.

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11 minutes ago, Psychic Gibbon said:

I wasn't expecting Democratic voters to be noticeably more enthusiastic than Republican voters either.

Me neither.  Didn't expect that many new caucus goers, either.  This is the gold standard of polling in Iowa, so I lean towards believing the results.  But sheesh...didn't expect those numbers.

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Here's a great article on Cruz's ground game.  It's kind of mind-glowingly sophisticated.  The question is whether the polls are picking up this advantage or whether he'll outperform the polls.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/cruz-campaign-credits-psychological-data-and-analytics-for-its-rising-success/2015/12/13/4cb0baf8-9dc5-11e5-bce4-708fe33e3288_story.html

I also read another article about how many Iowa voters are still choosing between Cruz and some other candidate.  Cruz's campaign has started to target these voters specifically during the last 2 days of the campaign, meaning that if his ground game is superior then we could see some late-breaking movement towards Trump that would have him beat expectations.  The Des Moines Register poll was taken during the last few days of last week and won't pick up trends over the weekend.  

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There are some polls conducted more recently that had Rubio surging in Iowa over the weekend.  Some of them have him just a few points behind Cruz in third place.  They're all over the map for Trump/Cruz, though.  

http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2016-iowa-presidential-republican-caucus

Nate Silver's model picks up some of this surge and shows Rubio closer than most of the poll aggregators, as well:

http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/election-2016/primary-forecast/iowa-republican/

 

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