Saturday, January 30, 2016

How Things Stand Going Into Iowa On Monday Night

From my favorite polling organization, Public Policy Polling.

On the Republican side:
PPP's new Iowa poll, conducted in partnership with Progress Iowa, continues to find Donald Trump leading in the state. He's at 31% to 23% for Ted Cruz, 14% for Marco Rubio, 9% for Ben Carson, 4% each for Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul, 3% for Carly Fiorina, 2% each for Chris Christie and John Kasich, and 1% each for Jim Gilmore and Rick Santorum.

Since we last polled Iowa two and a half weeks ago Trump and Cruz are the only candidates to see their support move by more than a couple points- Trump's seen a 3 point gain in his support from 28% to 31%, while Cruz has seen a corresponding 3 point decline in his support from 26% to 23%.

Cruz has seen a large drop in his favorability rating over the last few weeks, from 69/18 down to just 56/35. Trump's continued focus on the 'Canadian birther' issue may really be a big part of what's helping him at Cruz's expense. We found on our last Iowa poll that only 32% of Republican voters thought someone born in another country should be allowed to serve as President, and attention to Cruz's birthplace has been a constant since that last poll.

There are still a lot of votes on the table in Iowa- 31% of likely caucus goers say they could change their minds between now and Monday. Trump benefits from having the most firmly committed support though- 80% of his voters say they're firmly committed to him compared to 71% of Cruz's and 65% of Rubio's among the other leading contenders. Among voters who say their mind is totally made up, Trump's lead over Cruz grows to 12 points at 36/24. The only other candidate whose supporters are as committed to him as Trump is Rand Paul- that should help Paul to finish 5th or maybe even slip into 4th if enough of Ben Carson's supporters peel off to other candidates in the closing stretch.
On the side of the Democrats:
PPP's new Iowa Democratic poll, conducted in partnership with Progress Iowa, continues to find Hillary Clinton holding a modest lead in the state. She's at 48% to 40% for Bernie Sanders and 7% for Martin O'Malley. There's been little movement since our last poll two and a half weeks ago- Clinton's support is up 2 points, O'Malley's is down 1, and Sanders is steady.

One thing that will likely cause things to tighten up on Monday night is that O'Malley's supporters are far more likely to move to Sanders than Clinton at the sites where he fails to meet the 15% threshold. 57% of O'Malley voters say Sanders is their second choice to only 27% who say it's Clinton. We found something similar on our last poll, when O'Malley voters said they'd pick Sanders over Clinton 43/20. So just based on the reallocation of O'Malley voters, Sanders can expect to make up a couple points of his deficit.

One finding on this poll that's encouraging for Clinton is that 88% of her voters say they're firmly committed to supporting her, compared to 74% who say the same for Sanders. When you look at the race just among voters who have completely made up their minds, Clinton's lead expands to 17 points at 56/39. Sanders is up 55/31 with folks who say they may yet change sides.

Sanders' hopes in Iowa really rely on a lot of independent voters showing up Monday and changing their registration to Democratic to caucus for him. Clinton has a 53/36 lead with registered Democrats, while Sanders has a whooping 62/23 advantage with independents. We find independents to make up about 17% of the likely electorate for Monday night- given Sanders' overwhelming advantage with them his path to victory is dependent on turning out even more of those folks.

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