By Jim Ellis
Feb. 3, 2020 — The final Iowa Caucus research surveys are providing very different results, while what is traditionally the state’s most reliable poll, from the Des Moines Register through Selzer & Company, is being held back.
The DMR and Selzer have decided not to release their latest data because of potential methodology errors in that a particular candidate’s name was omitted from an unknown number of survey questionnaires. This means the results could be compromised. Therefore, this particular poll will not be made publicly available.
The American Research Group (Jan. 27-30; 400 likely Iowa Democratic caucus meeting attenders) and Park Street Strategies’ (Jan. 24-28; 600 likely Iowa Democratic caucus meeting attenders) studies find different leaders but have a key new point in common.
The ARG findings post Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) atop the field, as most recent polls have shown, with former Vice President Joe Biden in second place with 17 percent. Park Street, however, sees Biden pulling first place support with 20 percent as compared to Sen. Sanders’ 18 percent.
But the biggest change, as both of these pollsters detect, is a late surge coming from Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. ARG places her third with 16 percent, just ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who posts 15 percent. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg drops to just nine percent backing.
Park Street also sees Klobuchar jumping into double digits, but not as high as ARG forecasts. PSS projects the Minnesotan to a 12 percent level behind Buttigieg and Warren who both have 17 percent support.
It appears that Sen. Klobuchar’s Iowa campaign may be peaking at exactly the right time. Her strength looks to be coming from fellow Midwestern candidate Buttigieg who appears to be losing support just when voting is beginning.
Again, however, we see multiple candidates in position to qualify for delegate apportionment meaning we can expect all of the individuals who make the cut declaring victory tonight regardless of where they finish. And, to a degree, they would be correct. Iowa holding just 41 first ballot delegates means the difference among the candidates’ standing would be very small as they move onto New Hampshire in just eight days.
Both of these latest surveys find four candidates qualifying for delegates, but a total of five is apparently possible. ARG sees Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar, and Warren breaking the 15 percent minimum threshold necessary to win committed delegate votes. Park Street projects Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren in the top four positions. Conceivably, all five could qualify.
Remember, the Iowa caucus meetings will conduct more than one round of voting to determine the final outcome after eliminating candidates who are below the threshold after the first vote. Therefore, all five could reasonably qualify at the end of the day.
If these numbers prove to be reflective of the final tallies later tonight, and factoring in all five candidates because they could reach 15 percent after the also-ran candidates are eliminated, the delegate count could look something close to the following calculation:
- Sanders ……. 11
- Biden ……….. 9
- Warren ……… 7
- Buttigieg …… 7
- Klobuchar …. 7
Should the delegate count come close to this projection, it would seem all of these candidates would advance on basically a level playing field. Therefore, the only clarity coming from Iowa, if this count proves accurate, would be that the caucuses produced no clear leader. Additionally, with New Hampshire polling similar to the numbers we see in Iowa, it is possible that next week’s primary results might be similar to tonight’s totals.
It is also important to recall that Iowa Democratic Party rules merely empower the caucus attenders to choose delegates for the state party convention, scheduled for June 13th. Therefore, the presidential delegate count could change at that time once the state convention voters make the final decision regarding whom to support.