The Iowa caucuses are four months away and they’re notoriously difficult to poll.
And, of course, like in every case, each poll is just a snapshot. Polls can’t predict what will happen, and just show a picture, however blurry, of current conditions. Moreover, no single poll should be taken as the gospel truth. Multiple polls matter more.
That said, a new Des Moines Register poll, by the best pollster in Iowa, has some news worth noting.
Donald Trump and Ben Carson, both outsider candidates, are doing well on the Republican side.
“Wow,” said Kedron Bardwell, a political science professor at Simpson College. “This poll will have Republican consultants shaking heads in bewilderment. Not since 1992 has anti-establishment sentiment been this strong.” [source]
Part of what’s going on is anger toward both Democrats and Republicans. These Iowa Republicans think the GOP politicians they’ve elected have let them down.
Earlier this year, I thought the most likely GOP nominees were Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio.
All are doing terribly in Iowa right now. Bush and Rubio are getting 6% each and Walker, who hails from neighboring Wisconsin and once led the state, is getting 8%.
Bush was once considered the frontrunner. He’s raised a huge amount of money. Now he’s third in the national polling average with 8% and second in the NH pollster average (12%). This poll has him at just 6% in Iowa, admittedly never a great state for him.
Meanwhile, the Democratic side is getting exciting, too.
Hillary Clinton still leads but far more narrowly than before. Sanders is surging.
In fact, Sanders is only 7 percentage points behind Clinton in a 37%-30% matchup.
And Sanders is also second for Iowa caucus voters’ combined first and second choices.
If Biden wasn’t in the race, Clinton and Sanders would receive about half of his votes.
That makes his support more stable but also means that if he loses the nomination and Clinton wins it, she’ll be able to take on his support. (That assumes that this pattern holds nationally some months from now.)
Other bright spots for Clinton are that very few (17%) think that the email issue is important, and two-thirds are confident that she can win the presidency.
These results come after a time when Clinton was the clear leader in national polls and all state polls but New Hampshire. That was the situation when I wrote about her candidacy last week.
Clinton still has a 25 point lead in the national poll averages, with 47% and Sanders at 22%. Based on the last two polls, she’s behind in New Hampshire, a state she once led. And this poll has her ahead in Iowa by a much reduced margin than before.
So the former front-runner on the Republican side is way back in the polls right now and the Democratic front-runner still is in the front, but faces challenges.
Buckle on, folks. This is getting real interesting.