Steve Deace, Iowa prognosticator and radio host, puts on his analyst hat to explain why Iowa polls have a history of being untrustworthy and the current Iowa polls that put Donald Trump up by double digits over Ted Cruz may be flat wrong:
Those of you that have known me for a long time, know that I like to be right more than anything else. I get paid to do this because I’m right more often than not (I’ve virtually predicted the right outcome of every meaningful election in Iowa since I started in the 2008 cycle). In order to do so that means I have to provide analysis that may not be what I prefer the outcome to be. I think I’ve proven time and time again I will do it, too, if I have to regardless of the consequences.
Another reason I’m right more often than not is because I don’t go by top-line public polling, but a more holistic approach that includes factors you can itemize like grassroots energy and organizational infrastructure (donor/volunteer base, etc), and I’ve got sources who give me access to some of the best high-dollar internal data analytics out there.
This is often why my predictions aren’t just right more often than not, but also different from the conventional wisdom almost always.
So now we have FOX as well as CNN producing polls this week that show 300,000 Iowans are voting in the Iowa Caucuses, and therefore Trump with a double-digit lead. Allow me to put those projected turnout numbers in perspective:
–That’s about a 200% voter increase from the highest Iowa Caucus turnout ever back in 2008.
–The most voters we’ve had in a primary (which always has higher turnout) in Iowa this century is only 230,000. And our last U.S. Senate primary had only roughly 150,000 voters in 2014.
–There are actually 11,000 fewer registered Republicans in Iowa this January than in January 2015.
Given those facts, I simply do not believe the projected turnout models in these polls. I have no idea why these polls have suddenly produced these massive turnout models in their weighting in the last week. Perhaps it’s as simple as Trump has consistently polled lower in Iowa than everywhere else, and they’re concerned with getting caught with their pants down come caucus night. I don’t know. But there is absolutely zero evidence on the ground you’re going to see a turnout that massive.
And regarding top line public polls and their history in Iowa, here’s some history to remember:
–In the final week of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, there were eight public polls released that had Hillary Clinton winning, and one even had John Edwards winning. Barack Obama’s organization won by almost eight points, and out-performed the Real Clear Politics polling average by almost seven points.
–In the final week of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, there were four public polls released that had Mitt Romney winning, and he lost by nine points. Mike Huckabee’s organization out-performed the Real Clear Politics polling average by six points.
–Back in 2004, the best John Kerry polled in any of the final Iowa Caucus polls was 23%. He won on caucus night with 37%.
–No final public poll of Iowa back in 2012 had Rick Santorum higher than 18 percent (and that was only two of them), but on caucus night his organization out-performed the Real Clear Politics polling average by almost 10 points.
I cite these precedents as reasons why I’m giving the analysis I’m giving, and sticking with it despite the latest public opinion polls. That analysis is this — the same people who typically vote in the caucuses will likely decide the outcome of this one. And in that case the best organization wins — and the best organization belongs to Ted Cruz.
So if 300,000 people vote and these public polls — that under-reported the size of the GOP wave in the 2014 midterms, and were off by 14 points in last November’s Kentucky governor’s election — turn out to be right, I’ll be the first one to admit I finally got one wrong.
But I’ll believe it when I see it.
Now, let me take off my analyst hat and put on my Team Cruz hat for a moment as I close with this — we’ve got the best candidate and the best organization in this race. So let’s close strong and keep the pedal to the medal this final week given what’s at stake in this election.
Remind our fellow Iowans this could very well be our last chance ever to vote for a Constitutional Conservative who has the resources to win the nomination. Let’s take advantage of it.
It sounds like solid analysis and I hope Deace is right about this and Ted Cruz’s ground game.
I guess we’ll know in a few days.