The Des Moines Register poll results

The most eagerly watched poll in Iowa has been released and on the Republican side it shows Donald Trump with the lead at 28%, Ted Cruz at 23%, and Marco Rubio at 13%. On the Democratic side it shows Hillary Clinton at 45% and Bernie Sanders at 42%. So there were no real surprises.

Harry Enten reviews past polls with the results and says that the record is good but not perfect.

History suggests there are two types of candidates who tend to outperform their polls. The first is a candidate who does well among Christian conservatives. Selzer’s final polls on the Republican side in 1988, 1996 and 2012 all missed the candidate favored by Christian conservatives by at least 8.5 percentage points. That could be good news for Cruz. Secondly, candidates with late momentum, such as Kerry in 2004 and Santorum in 2012, also tend to beat their polls. That could be beneficial to Rubio, who seems to be gaining in some polls.

Let’s see on Monday. Meanwhile, here are the more complicated Iowa Democratic caucus procedures explained using Legos. The Republican one is simpler where people vote after listening to speeches.


  1. StevoR says

    Give it a day and this poll, well, won’t become meaningless because it already is.

    Well, okay, that maybe a little harsh it’ll have slight historical footnote value as one of many snapshots pre the actual outcome of the first and slightly more influential and significant snapshot of actual votes at the start of a political race that still has an awfully long way to go.

    In six months, who’ll give a damn? Let alone by the end of the year. (For good or ill.)

    If I was a gambler -- which I’m not -- I’d bet this poll will be wrong. Its a pretty safe prediction -- its just the degree of wrongness in question really. So what will the actual results be? We’ll soon know for sure -- for Iowa. Then New Hampshire then a lot of other states and finally all of them.

    This too shall pass -- like all the polls before it. And all the polls after it it too.

    The actual election OTOH, that matters, so please do vote and choose wisely. Tomorrow will tell, something anyhow. The start of the real election story. Actual Iowan votes -- one state of fifty odd states. Yegods US elections drag on!

    That said, thanks for this evanescent snapshot, Mano Singham.

  2. StevoR says

    Of course now I read a few posts back and see this :

    While polls can be fun for political junkies (and I include myself in that category), I never quite see the point of polls that are released just before an event since it is too late for the candidates to do anything meaningful with that information. It may spur campaigns to extra efforts if they are close to winning or in danger of losing and maybe it influences the enthusiasm of voters. But I find it hard to imagine that these have major effects on the outcome.

    Which, yes, is certainly part of what I’m saying.

    Along with polling generally is unreliable and of dubious validity and can’t be taken as, er, “gospel” colloquially speaking.

  3. says

    There was a sci-fi story I read (was it by Bruce Sterling?) in which a politician had a real-time feedback network and could tailor his lies to exactly what would work with a given crowd at a given time.

  4. Nick Gotts says

    Marcus Ranum@3,

    Such artificial aids may not be needed by a gifted demagogue. I’m currently reading Alan Bullock’s Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. On p.379 of the 1993 Fontana edition, he writes:

    Hitler had a flair for divining what was hidden in the minds of his audiences, and for this reason often showed uncertainty at the start of a speech as he sensed and probed their mood. Years after he had broken with him, Otto Strasser, Gregor’s brother, wrote:

    Hitler responds to the vibration of the human heart with the delicacy of a seismograph, or perhaps of a wireless receiving set, enabling him, with a certainty with which no conscious gift could endow him, to act as a loudspeaker proclaiming the most secret desires, the least admissable instincts, the sufferings, and personal revolts of a whole nation.

  5. StevoR says

    @ 3. Marcus Ranum : Here’s another story on a future voting with computer predictions deciding outcomes :

    By isaac Asimov. It has a somewhat different take on it apparently, (& this I didn’t know till now) inspired by real election results back in 1952. Oh & it involved the then far distant future year of 2008. So I guess we now know who we have to thank for Obama! A certain Norman Muller.

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