The PoliBlog

The Collective
Tuesday, November 20, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via WaPo: For Democrats, Iowa Still Up for Grabs

The top three Democratic presidential contenders remain locked in a close battle in Iowa, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) seeing her advantages diminish on key issues, including the questions of experience and which candidate is best prepared to handle the war in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) draws support from 30 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, compared with 26 percent for Clinton and 22 percent for former senator John Edwards (N.C.). New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson received 11 percent. The results are only marginally different from a Post-ABC poll in late July, but in a state likely to set the tone for the rest of the nominating process, there are significant signs of progress for Obama — and harbingers of concern for Clinton.

Iowa is quite difficult to predict for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that if in a given meeting a candidate fails to reach “viability’ (which ranges from 25% to 15%, depending on the number of delegates being elected–see the rules here [PDF]) the caucus attendees voting for that candidate then vote for their second choice. As such, to know voters’ second choice is an important factor in determining likely outcomes. As such, Obama has reason to smile:

In another positive shift for Obama, 55 percent now see him as their first or second choice, an important trend in a state where a person’s second choice can matter and voters often switch their support at the last minute.

Other numbers also suggest that many voters’ second choice would be someone other than Clinton:

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed reported that a “new direction and new ideas” are their top priority, compared with 33 percent who favored “strength and experience.” That is a shift from July, when 49 percent sought change and 39 percent experience.


in Iowa, Obama dominates the “change” vote, winning 43 percent of that group, compared with 25 percent for Edwards and 17 percent for Clinton.

Of course, it is rather difficult to really rely on polling numbers for the Iowa caucuses to begin with, given that it is difficult to know for sure if one’s sample really captures the likely universe of caucus attendees.

One has to also wonder if the insane need to be first will affect who turns out, given that the event will be held this year on January 3rd–which is on the tail-end of the holiday season. I wonder, for example, when do Iowa public schools return to session? One suspects that many won’t start back until Monday the 7th and therefore one wonders if some families won’t still be traveling on the 3rd. Further, the Orange Bowl will be that night, which may dissuade some folks from being out at the meetings. Neither of those is a major factor, but could still shape the specific set of persons who turn up to vote.

Of course, even if Obama does win Iowa, I find it still rather unlikely that he would go on to win the nomination.

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Filed under: US Politics, 2008 Campaign | |


  • el
  • pt
    1. So, second choices matter. So, how hard would it be for pollsters to ask voters caucus-goers for their second (and while they are at it, third) choices?

      Pretty hard, apparently, because I don’t think anyone does it.

      Note also that the poll has a ±4.5 margin of error, and therefore it can’t tell us who is in first place among the top three. I might also ask how hard would it be in Iowa–little IOWA!–to get a tighter MOE, but I won’t, because that would just be piling on at this point.

      Comment by MSS — Tuesday, November 20, 2024 @ 2:55 pm

    2. :)

      Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, November 20, 2024 @ 3:28 pm

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