Feb. 2, 2016 — After more than a year of campaigning and anticipation, the first votes of the 2016 open presidential campaign were cast Monday evening. Both Republican and Democratic voters attended precinct caucuses in the Hawkeye State of Iowa to record their presidential preference.
The Iowa Republican precinct caucuses ended in a virtual three-way tie last night, with no candidate receiving even 30% of the vote. Sen. Ted Cruz (28 percent), Donald Trump (24 percent) and Sen. Marco Rubio (23 percent) each are expected to garner a respective 9, 8 and 8 delegates.
The Democratic side turned out equally interesting. In their much different system, where voters’ choices translate into state delegates for each candidate, it was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders ending in a virtual tie.
More in-depth analysis on the Iowa Caucuses coming tomorrow.
Selzer & Company — often referred to as Iowa’s most accurate pollster because of their past work in predicting how the caucus attenders would vote — polling for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News, released final pre-caucus numbers and the results were interesting. The survey was conducted over the Jan. 26-29 period, and consisted of 1,204 respondents from both political parties, divided evenly (602 apiece).
According to the Selzer data, several things looked like they were becoming clearer. First, on the Democratic side, the showed a very close race shaping up between Clinton and Sanders. Selzer found Clinton clinging to a 45-42% edge. If you add the first and second place responses, Clinton scored a 71, while Sanders posted a nearly identical 70. Granted, in a two-way race, the second choice question matters little, but it did again underscore that the Iowa Democratic campaign looked effectively tied.
For Republicans, Trump appeared to be ascending in the final days, while Cruz (R-TX) looked to be falling into a downward trend. The final numbers yielded Trump with a 28-23 percent final polling lead as the campaign period concluded. In third place was Rubio, capturing 15 percent. Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) followed in fourth and fifth position with 10 and 5 percent, respectively.
In using the first choice/second choice responses, as was done for the Democrats but is more meaningful for Republicans since they have a large candidate field, it is Sen. Cruz who captures the best combined score, 40, while Trump and Rubio both register 35’s. Those kinds of numbers played out last night
In terms of having the most fervent support, Rubio and Carson record the best numbers (58 percent of their supporters said they were “enthusiastic”), while Cruz tabulated 56 percent. Donald Trump found only 44 percent of his supporters identifying themselves as “enthusiastic”. One more piece of favorable news for Cruz: if the Republican nomination battle were a two-way race between the Texas senator and Trump, it is Cruz who would enjoy a 53-35 percent advantage.
The spate of US House retirements continued over the weekend, as northeastern Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Sherwood/Green Bay) announced that he will not seek a fourth term later this year. Ribble, saying he “comes from the private sector and am anxious to return to it and to a more private life,” becomes the 38th House member not to seek re-election this year, the 23rd Republican, and the first from Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Janesville) home state. He is the eighth member to voluntarily retire in 2016 before seeking a fourth consecutive term.
The 8th District, located in the far northeastern sector of Wisconsin, encompasses all or part of 14 counties, with Green Bay (population 104,868) the largest city. Though Ribble won two mid-50s victories and a 65-35 percent margin in 2014, the 8th District can perform marginally. Mitt Romney recorded a 51-48 percent margin over President Obama here in 2012, but the Democrat carried the seat 54-45 percent over Sen. John McCain four years earlier.
Republicans and Democrats have each elected three of the last six Representatives here, but the GOP members have served the longest, by far. Since 1974, Republicans have held the seat 32 years compared to the Democrats’ ten. We can again expect that the eventual Democratic nominee will be competitive in this year’s general election.
Because Rep. Ribble’s retirement announcement was surprising in nature, no individuals are yet surfacing as potential candidates. The 8th District will begin the open seat campaign with a Lean Republican rating.