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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).

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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