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Final Iowa Polls Released Today

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Two final polls of Iowans were released today—with mixed results on the Democratic side and Mike Huckabee the consensus leader for the GOP.

For the Democrats, Zogby's tracking poll conducted December 30 through January 2 finds Barack Obama leading with 31 percent, John Edwards in second at 27 percent, and Hillary Clinton in third with 24 percent. This marks a shift in the Zogby poll from just a half-week ago, when it was Clinton at 31 percent, Obama at 27 percent, and Edwards at 24 percent. The media would certainly have a field day if Clinton places third in Iowa, even in a close three-way race.

The final American Research Group (ARG) survey, however, tells a different story: Clinton at 34 percent, Obama at 25 percent, and Edwards at 21 percent. ARG has tracked this race with 17 polls over the past 13 months, and has reported Clinton in the lead in 15 of them (losing out to Obama in late November and Edwards in April).

Many pundits are predicting an Obama victory, though an equal number are shying away from making any prediction. While Edwards has now failed to poll on top in 42 of the last 43 surveys of Iowans, Smart Politics outlined in our January 2nd entry several reasons why the former Senator could emerge the victor later tonight.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee leads in both polls released today. The numbers:

Zogby
Huckabee = 31%
Romney = 25%
Thompson = 11%
Paul = 10%
McCain = 10%
Giuliani = 6%
Hunter = 1%
No opinion = 6%

ARG
Huckabee = 29%
Romney = 24%
Thompson = 13%
McCain = 11%
Giuliani = 8%
Paul = 6%
Hunter = 4%
Keyes = 1%
No opinion = 4%

Beyond the headlines tonight, watch for who comes in third; Ron Paul, who raised an astonishing 20 million in the 4th quarter of 2007, is surging and is expected to get out the vote among his supporters. A third-place finish for Paul will create an uproar over Fox News' decision to exclude him (and all candidates not polling in double-digits nationally) to their upcoming debate this weekend. Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson have already been invited by Fox to participate, and a Paul victory over two or possibly three of them tonight would even further rally Paul's growing army.

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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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