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The Polls Tell Us…It's A Toss-Up in Iowa

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With at least one poll of Iowans being released every day, the results tell us that while no candidate is the definitive frontrunner, certain patterns have emerged.

With different candidates leading in different polls, both the Democratic and GOP races are classic 'toss-ups.' In polls released during the past week, Hillary Clinton led by 4 points in Zogby's survey and by 7 points in American Research Group's poll. John Edwards polled on top by a statistically insignificant 1-point in MSNBC/McClatchy's survey and Barack Obama was tied with Edwards in the KCCI-TV / Research 2000 survey.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee polled on top in the latest Zogby and KCCI-TV surveys (by 2 and 7 points respectively) while Mitt Romney led in polls by American Research Group and MSNBC / McClatchy (by 9 and 4 points).

No one can call themselves a frontrunner in Iowa not only because different polls tell us there are different leaders, but because each polling organization has to make subjective decisions as to whom is a 'likely caucus voter.' Turnout at such caucuses is very hard to predict, and a tighter screen is needed than that used for 'regular' likely voters.

Secondly, the Huckabee surge has stopped—though his base support might be strong enough to carry him through on Thursday night. Romney, and to some extent John McCain, appear to have picked off some of Huckabee's softer supporters in recent weeks. Romney's support, however, has been more fragile than most other top candidates throughout Iowa and the early primary states, so there is no guarantee his 25+ percent of base support will stick with him throughout the caucuses.

Thirdly, the race for third place on the GOP side appears to be between McCain and Fred Thompson, with Rudy Giuliani polling in the single digits alongside Ron Paul for fifth in most recent polls. A sixth place showing for Giuliani behind the well-funded Paul would be no less than a nightmare for the former New York City mayor, even though Giuliani has not been spending as much time in the Hawkeye State as most other GOP candidates (McCain, for example, has not devoted much campaign resources to Iowa, and yet leads Giuliani by at least 5 points in most surveys).

Previous post: Five Days Out: Romney Back On Top in New Iowa Poll
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Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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