Saturday, December 31, 2011

Des Moines Register Poll

The Des Moines Register Poll came out Saturday night and it shows Mitt Romney as the nominal leader at 24%. Ron Paul is second in the poll at 22% but the more recent two nights of polling (the poll was conducted over four nights) shows Rick Santorum still surging garnering 21% and Paul fading a bit.

So what are we to make of all this?

First, as Nate Silver points out, even with the best polls, there are a variety of reasons to be cautious in treating a polling result as a prediction. The most important reason in this case is that the poll was taken over four days with the most recent interviews conducted a full four days before the caucus. This is a particularly volatile electorate as 41% of caucus-goers said they could still change their minds.

But there are some things we can probably draw from this poll:

1) Romney's ceiling: Romney attracted 24% in the poll on the first two nights ... and on the second two nights. We can expect everyone's numbers to go up just a little bit as the undecideds find a home but it is clear that Romney is not going to go significantly higher. A really good guess for Romney's topline on Tuesday night is 28 - 30. I'd guess 28.

2) Paul's ceiling: This poll is particularly good for a lot of reasons. One of them is that it includes cell-phone only voters. Paul did a bit worse in the second two nights of polling as his crazy newsletters got more coverage and as Santorum's surge got more coverage. Paul is not likely to go away as his supporters are somewhat unique but he probably won't move much higher either. Moving lower is possible. A really good guess for Paul is probably right around what he got in the poll here ... 20 - 24 is my guess. UPDATE - Paul actually did a lot worse the second two nights. I'd revise my estimate for him down to 17 - 21. The attacks on him are taking a bigger toll that I had thought.

3) Santorum's surge: Santorum is the only one with real upside. He got just 15% in the four-night sample but did A LOT better on the last two nights. I have a good theory on what is happening. Conservatives who don't like Romney had gone from Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrich and a few went to Paul when he surged. Now they are moving to Santorum. Bachmann, Gingrich, and Perry are not doing very well in this poll but there is still a combined 30% slice of likely caucus-goers supporting these three also-rans. The shift of some of their supporters moving to Santorum is what has fueled his surge in recent days. As more of those 30% see that Santorum is the conservative with the best shot (the Des Moines Register poll will get lots of coverage, especially in Iowa), I think some of those supporting these voters will move to Santorum. Will it be enough for Santorum to catch Romney? I doubt it ... but it is possible.

4) Partly for the reasons in #3, Gingrich, Perry, and Bachmann are done. Gingrich is the most likely to keep going as polls in South Carolina still show him in the lead. That will change quickly with a 4th or 5th place finish in Iowa though. Perry could keep going as he has money. It is hard to see what his path to the nomination would be but remember, logical reasoning is not his strong suit. Bachmann will likely pack it in.

5) Huntsman is still running for President. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


With brilliance like this, how can he be losing???
“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,”
Pure genius!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why Paul is Likely to Win Iowa ... And Why Democrats Should Hope I'm Wrong

Mark Blumenthal has a piece on the latest Iowa polling and argues that the polling doesn't provide very certain answers about the outcome. The crux of his argument is here:

But be wary of placing too much faith in Iowa's current polling snapshot. The coming week will bring another round of surveys that may once again reveal changes in the standings. Equally important, the state's Republican caucuses will attract a very narrow slice of the potential electorate, historically about 3 to 5 percent of Iowa's adult population -- a group that pollsters cannot identify with precision beforehand. Most of the recent surveys depend on automated methodologies, most are missing voters who don't have landline telephones, and all will face the challenge of reaching Iowa voters between Christmas and New Year's, a time when many Americans are traveling away from home.

All this is true. However, if Blumenthal is right about all this, and if you think about the people these polls are missing, it would seem a lot of Paul voters are getting left out. For instance, "most are missing voters who don't have landline telephones." Who doesn't have landline phones? The young voters Paul attracts. Pollsters are not reaching voters who are traveling over the holidays? I'll tell ya who is not traveling: older voters. In short, these latest polls have Paul with a slight lead and yet they seem to be oversampling voters who are not inclined to vote for him and undersampling voters who are likely to vote for him. Finally, everyone has made a big deal about the lack of organizing in this year's Iowa Caucuses. Maybe it won't matter. But the polls will not necessarily reflect the advantage a well-organized campaign has and, if anyone has that advantage in Iowa, it is Ron Paul.

If you're a Democrat and you're excited that Paul may knock off Romney in Iowa, don't be. This actually works more to Romney's benefit than anyone else's. We all know the race will boil down to Romney and someone else. If that someone else is Ron Paul, Romney wins easily. So, to the extent that Paul gets a boost from Iowa or (more importantly) Gingrich and the rest of the alternatives to Romney under-perform and fail to get a boost out of Iowa, Romney is better off for the long haul.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fundamentally Newt

Newt Gingrich is fundamentally full of s**t.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Memo to Mitt ... You're Losing

Each time someone (Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, etc.) has risen to challenge Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination, they have fallen apart as fast as they rose. So Mitt might think this is what is going to happen with Newt.

I don't think so. If I had to bet who is going to win the nomination, I'd bet on Newt right now, not Mitt. Several reasons why:

1) Newt is ahead of Mitt in several national polls by statistically significant margins. I do not recall seeing that from any of the others. Perry was the closest to achieving this but he was such an awful candidate, he couldn't possibly remain up there.

2) The polling numbers out of some of the early states are particularly alarming for Mitt Romney. Gingrich has a solid lead in Iowa and in South Carolina. He has a massive lead in Florida. But Mitt does not even have a solid firewall in New Hampshire if the latest numbers are to be believed. If Mitt loses Iowa and New Hampshire to Newt, the game is over. And Newt is already close enough in New Hampshire that an Iowa win could push him over the top.

3) Much has been made of Newt's lack of a ground game. I think the ground game is important in Iowa but not as important as it used to be. In addition, Newt does still have time to build his ground game up a little. Right now, Iowa is probably Newt's to lose.

What's striking about Newt's rise in the polls is that national media, etc. are sticking with the view that Mitt is still the front-runner. But, we've always known that if the anti-Mitt folks coalesce around a non-Mitt candidate, Mitt would lose. Conservatives appear to be doing that.

If I were a betting man, I'd give Newt the better shot at the nomination right now.