Some Post-Caucus Analysis

I know, I know, Tim Russert, but he said some interesting stuff...

56% on the Democratic side were first time caucus goers.

And on the whole change vs. experience question, not surprisingly, it was "overwhelmingly for change", which Obama won 51% to 19% (presumably over Clinton.) Obama also won both among men and women. Wow.

And finally, as Mike will no doubt appreciate, Timmeh pays homage to the youth vote:

One last salute to the young people for turning out. In 2004 young voters were about 17% of the model we saw, tonight it's over 20% which is a very significant increase. They really did respond and decide to caucus tonight. The message here in Iowa is "Change, Change, Change." I think it's a real transformation of our politics.

Keith also just revealed that Obama won 32%-31% among Democrats over Clinton.

There's more...

Andrea Mitchell Reporting Clinton Team Expects 2nd Place

Yes, more MSNBC watching...

This is interesting and probably explains the Clinton team's shift in their expectations rhetoric. On Hardball, Andrea Mitchell just said the Clinton campaign expects the order to be Obama - Clinton - Edwards.

They think they will do no worse than second. They don't think they will come in 3rd. They think that Edwards is locked in at 3rd. Their own polling mirrors what other polling shows, that if traditional Democrats turn out, they can win, if women come out, that's obviously in her favor...If Obama doesn't win by too much, they still think from their overnights in NH, which shows her back up in NH, she can still recover there, but if it's a big Obama win here, then they've got a problem, then he's got a big bounce going into New Hampshire.

She also said the Clinton campaign believes, even if they lose in NH and South Carolina, that they see February 5th as their firewall. That seems like wishful thinking.

There's more...

The Entrance Poll Effect

Tonight, the first caucus "results" we will be hearing will be those of the entrance poll taken as people head in to their caucus locations.

From The Politico:

Instead of waiting for actual votes to be counted on the night of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, a consortium of the major TV networks and The Associated Press will conduct an entrance poll to measure how people say they will vote.

Those results will be broadcast long before the official vote is announced and, in some cases, before the voting is finished.

Joe Lenski of Edison Research, who'll be conducting the entrance poll, elaborated over at Pollster:

We only get the chance, in a caucus situation, to interview people as they're entering and that's usually 60 to 90 minutes before the caucus begins. So, these results get updated very quickly throughout the evening as interviews must be completed before the caucus begins. What we provide for an entrance poll is similar to what we provide our clients and subscribers for an exit poll on an election night and that is an estimate of how the voting is going, demographic detail of who's voting for whom, what voting groups are there, what their sizes are and what factors seem to be driving the vote that evening.

In 2004, the entrance poll results were identical to the final official finishing order but with an essentially three-way tie going into tonight, there seems to be more of a danger of the entrance poll impacting perceptions of who the winner is before the official results actually show a different winner entirely. As Stoller writes:

I'm starting to think that the entrance poll will determine the media narrative after Iowa, not the final caucus results. If someone wins the entrance poll, but loses after second-choices are allocated, both the campaign and the media will point that out in pretty much every write-up of the caucuses. In order for a candidate to score a real momentum boost from Iowa, it will be necessary to win both the entrance poll and the final results by 4% or more.

Also, Ezra wonders if it could actually lead to a questioning not only of the final results but of the system as a whole:

But won't it also trigger a wholesale reassessment of whether this caucus system makes any sense at all? It would seem very hard for the major networks to commission and tout this poll, receive the results, watch them get totally invalidated by the caucus's procedures, and then pretend that nothing happened.

Keeping in mind the conventional wisdom that Clinton performs worst among second choices and will likely have the most to gain by a blurring of the definition of "winner" coming out of tonight, I wonder if we're going to be inundated with Clinton surrogates playing up the entrance poll results before the final results come in. No doubt, all campaigns will be spinning them, but I have a sense the entrance poll results will be the best Clinton (and the 2nd tier candidates, incidentally) will see all night, not so for Edwards and Obama.

But a question does remain: what exactly will be reported by the media. Roger Simon says:

...the entrance poll will not measure the effect of the realignment. It will measure only a voter's first preference.

But in fact, according to Lenski, the entrance poll does take second choices into account:

...there will be a question on the Democratic Iowa entrance poll asking "If your first choice does not gather enough supporters, who will be your second choice?"
 

Ultimately, it sounds to me like there will be plenty of information to keep political junkies happy and for the media to pre-emptively spin results as they wish, all of which will likely lead to not a little confusion, which, as I said before, will probably benefit Clinton. Worst case scenario for her: she's third in the entrance poll AND in final results, which is exactly what happened in today's Zogby tracking poll, per TPM:

In an exclusive get by Election Central, we asked Zogby for information on how the final poll result would look after second choices are reallocated for voters who were in favor of candidates under the 15% benchmark for viability, thus adding those respondents to the top three candidates' totals. Here's what they gave us: Obama 37.5%, Edwards 33.7%, Clinton 28.8%.

The pre-reallocation numbers were Obama 31%, Edwards 27%, Clinton 24%, showing that Hillary's deficit only worsened after second choices were taking into account.

There's more...

Research 2000: Iowa a 3-Way Tie, Obama Has Peaked

It's a tale not unfamiliar to Iowa poll-watchers: the latest Research 2000 poll (500 LVs, 12/26-27, MOE 4.5%) confirms that among the top Democrats (I leave out the other candidates, all of whom are polling in single digits with no upward movement whatsoever,) Iowa is a three-way tie. But look at the trendlines (pdf of prior poll is HERE,) you see some signs that the race is anything but static.

Dec. 26-27Dec. 10-13RCP 6-poll Ave.
Obama293326
Edwards292425.2
Clinton282430.66

In 2 weeks, Clinton has risen 4 points, Edwards has risen 5 and Obama has dropped 4. Looking at the last few polls out of Iowa, it's hard not to conclude that Obama has peaked and that Clinton is regaining her strength in the state, but this is the first poll that really shows evidence of Edwards closing strong as many of us have expected (and Bill Clinton has made a point of warning) he would do.

I'll update with more analysis when the internals become available.

There's more...

New Iowa Poll: Edwards v. Obama For The Win

Now we see what Bill Clinton was talking about when he said it would take "a miracle" for Senator Clinton to win Iowa. Look at these numbers. InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion brings us their latest poll out of Iowa, the first to be taken since last week's Iowa debate (it was in the field from Dec. 16-17.)

This poll is interesting because not only does it factor in second choices, but it also breaks down the vote among 977 likely voters (MOE +/- 3%) and then, within that group, a subset of 633 highly likely voters (MOE +/- 4%.)

Results are as follows:

Highly Likely VotersLikely Voters
Obama26.624.3
Edwards26.029.8
Clinton23.826.4
Other1412.1
Undecided9.57.4

Then when second choices (for those supporting candidates who don't meet the 15% viability threshold) are added in:

Highly Likely VotersLikely Voters
Edwards41.942.3
Obama31.129.4
Clinton27.028.2

As you can see, when second choices are factored in, Edwards is the clear winner, which has been conventional wisdom for a while. What would appear to go against the grain of conventional thought, however, is that Edwards performs better on the first ballot among LVs than he does among highly LVs, or to put it another way, the more the universe expands, the better Edwards does. That's not the way it was supposed to go down.

The internals of the poll are broken down into age and gender. Clinton remains the leader among women and voters over 65, Obama leads among the youngest voters and Edwards's support is more broad-based, although he consistently excels among male voters. One sign of trouble for Clinton is that when second choices are factored in, Edwards ends up beating Clinton among the demographics that favor her; on the other hand, Obama still beats Edwards among voters aged 18-29 and is competitive among the 30-44 age group after the second ballot.

Also, it should be mentioned that while undecideds make up 7.4 and 9.5% of likely and highly likely caucusgoers respectively, once second choices are added to the mix, undecideds are pushed, which appears to benefit Edwards. So, while I'm not convinced that Edwards would win as decisively as this poll would suggest, I do think, if these numbers are accurate, that at this moment he's slightly favored to prevail on January 3.

Update [2007-12-18 20:45:37 by Todd Beeton]:An interesting couple grafs from Yepsen in light of this new poll:

Proof of Edwards' uptick and Obama's jitters about him came Monday in Spencer, when Obama told a crowd: "Senator Edwards, who is a good guy, he's been talking a lot about 'I'm going to fight the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington.' Well, the question you have to ask is: Were you fighting for (citizens) when you were in the Senate?"[...]

It may also suggest Obama's internal polls are showing the Illinois senator has peaked. Some of Obama's people also suggest that a vote for Edwards is a wasted vote because he's a one-trick pony who can perform only in Iowa. They say Edwards has so little campaign infrastructure in the subsequent states that he couldn't capitalize on a win in the state, while Obama could. It's a suggestion Edwards strongly denies.

We also shouldn't forget that an Edwards surge in Iowa is actually really good news for Clinton, especially now that operation lower expectations is underway. At this point A. she's not expected to win Iowa and B. her best case New Hampshire scenario is a weakened Obama out of Iowa, which Edwards will happily oblige.

Update [2007-12-18 20:50:34 by Jerome Armstrong]:Insider Advantage now has a PR out about the poll, and from the looks of the topline numbers, it appears, if you want to take all your stock from one poll, that the pundits are not blowing smoke when they talk about the Edwards being the 'sleeper' in Iowa.

Obama's closer than it appears though:

Edwards leads with 30 percent in a poll of Democratic voters who said they intend to participate in the Jan. 3 presidential caucuses, followed by Clinton with 26 percent and Obama with 24 percent. When the sample was narrowed to the most likely caucus-goers, based on several questions, Obama leads Edwards by less than a percentage point with 27 percent, with Clinton in third place at 24 percent.

Edwards holds a significant advantage, however, among a group who could be key to the first contest of the presidential year: those who say their first choice is someone other than the top three. Under Iowa Democratic Party rules, candidates who poll less than 15 percent in the first vote at each caucus around the state are eliminated, and their supporters get a second chance to vote for another candidate.

Under both screens, Edwards leads as the second choice of these voters, with Clinton trailing Obama.

As for the Republicans:

The Republican race is a duel between Huckabee, with  28 percent in this poll, and Romney, with 25 percent.

Rudy Giuliani, who has led most national polls of the Republican candidates, garnered only is in 6th place in this poll, behind Fred Thompson, with 10 percent, John McCain, with 9 percent, and Ron Paul, with 6 percent, in addition to the two frontrunners.

...In the tighter voter screen, the frontrunners change places: Romney leads with 28 percent, to Huckabee's 25 percent.

There's been a number of news articles as well about Thompson making a late surge in Iowa. Not really here yet.  Just about two weeks to go.

There's more...

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