Iowa: Trump Falling

Oct. 28, 2015 — Several new Iowa Republican polls — the most stark examples coming from a pair of surveys released yesterday — project Donald Trump now falling behind in preparation for the Hawkeye State’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucus meetings scheduled for Feb. 1.

According to Monmouth University (Oct. 22-25; 400 likely Iowa GOP Caucus attenders, each of whom has voted in at least one of the last two primary elections), Dr. Ben Carson has opened a significant lead over Trump, topping him 32-18 percent in their October study. Looking back at their August poll, the two were tied at 23 percent. The swing represents a net 14-point gain for the retired neurosurgeon and first-time political candidate.

But, Monmouth is not the only pollster to detect a major switch among Iowa Republican poll respondents. Loras College (Oct. 19-22; 500 likely Iowa GOP Caucus attenders), polling just days before Monmouth, arrived at a similar conclusion. They find Carson ahead of Trump by an almost identical 31-19 percent.

The CBS News/YouGov survey (Oct. 15-22; 529 likely Iowa GOP Caucus attenders), again in the field during the same basic period, arrives at a much different result, however. This data finds Carson and Trump tied at 27 percent, but still points to the fact that latter is losing steam while the former is gaining within the Iowa Republican cell samples.

Interestingly, the three polls also detect similar second-tier findings. All show significant increases in support for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Monmouth finds Rubio and Cruz tied for third with 10 percent apiece. Loras also has Rubio at 10 percent, but Cruz following with six percent. CBS/YouGov predicts Cruz doing better than Rubio, leading him 12-9 percent. All three studies find Jeb Bush in a like position, still lagging in single-digits as he has been beginning in early summer, recording eight percent (Monmouth), seven percent (Loras), and six percent (CBS/YouGov).

The Iowa swing toward Carson again reveals the early volatility in the Republican race. From a national perspective, current events have not yielded a drastic change in the campaign but this shows us that what may be happening on the ground in small states can be different than what we see in the national media.

These results again reinforce that the there is no candidate, including Trump and Carson, anywhere close to dominating the field to the point where he or she can attract majority delegate support. Therefore, the race culminating in a brokered convention remains a distinct possibility.

Additionally, it is important to remember that in the Iowa system, individuals attend evening precinct meetings to cast their ballots in the middle of a cold winter; it is difficult to poll and the actual results could be much different than pre-election polling might indicate.

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