2016 Democrats, 2016 Republicans, Poll Watch, Uncategorized

Poll Watch: Episode 8 (News from Iowa)

September 22, 2015

New Democratic and GOP polls from Iowa have landed, courtesy of PPP.  Both were taken directly after the most recent Republican debate.  Let the insta-conclusions begin!

Hillary is Recovering

Maybe she hit bottom a couple weeks ago, maybe this is just a dead cat bounce, but either way, the news is good for Hillary Clinton.

After weeks and weeks of poll slippage, Hillary got her best Iowa result in several weeks, 21 points ahead of Bernie Sanders.  Her 43% is more than the combined total of Bernie and Biden (39%).

In early August, PPP polled Iowa voters without Joe Biden, this time they included the still-deciding VP.  Back then, Hillary was favored over Bernie by a 2 to 1 margin.  If you add in the second choices of Biden voters from the new survey, same thing.

At least in this one Iowa poll, Hillary has turned back time to when she was still inevitable.  Barring indictment, if she can win Iowa with a margin similar to this poll, Hillary will be as unstoppable as everyone figured.  The question is whether she can.

For the past two weeks, Hillary has done a media blitz, the type she thought she could pass up when she announced.  Hillary went on the Ellen show, did Tonight with Jimmy Fallon and even Face the Nation.  For the first time in a couple months people are seeing Hillary in something other than an email story.

It must have helped.  Her Brooklyn campaign offices are probably feeling quite a bit better today.  However, the fun has just begun.  October 13 is the first debate and a chance for Bernie to go head-to-head on the issues.  Soon after is her testimony in Congressional hearings on Benghazi.

Before the debate is another round of email releases.  Joe Biden will probably make some form of announcement between now and the debate, which could be good or bad for her depending on if he’s in, out or still temporizing.

You can only go on these shows for the first time in several years once.  The campaign was careful to pick friendly questioners.  This isn’t Trump talking to anyone with an FCC license.

Still, for the first time, the resources of the previously inevitable Hillary were brought to bear and her detractors (myself included) were reminded she isn’t dead yet.

3-Way GOP Tie

The top line shows Trump at 24%, Carson 17%, Fiorina 13%.  Improvement for Carly, close enough to pre-debate for the others.  All three are ahead of their early August PPP results.

Yet, candidates are closer than they may appear.  Second choice status is very important 4+ months ahead of voting, especially in a crowded field.  If you add first and second choice together, it looks like this:

Carson 31%

Trump 30%

Fiorina 29%

That’s pretty damn close.  As a frame of reference, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are next up with about half the support.  While the average candidate is about 50/50 between first choice and second, Trump has a 4 to 1 ratio.

This helps Trump in the polling publicity game, but indicates he’s in a real fight.  When asked who they would prefer in a two-way race, Iowans preferred Carson over Trump almost 2 to 1 and Fiorina better than 6 to 4.

It does not look like the debate harmed Carson very much, will need to see what his opposition to potential Muslim presidential candidates does.

Kasich Not Connecting

John Kasich was at 3% after the first debate, now he’s at 2%.  Chris Christie was at 1%, he’s still at 1%.  Doesn’t look like much happened, right?

On the surface, true. The two candidates most heavily concentrating on New Hampshire, due to their more moderate views are continuing to struggle with the socially conservative Iowa GOP electorate.

Neither Kasich, Christie, nor even Jeb Bush needs to finish Top 3 in Iowa to have a chance.  It’s possible this is moot anyway, that none of the three establishment-friendly governors can get nominated in the current atmosphere.  Maybe Marco Rubio is as establishment moderate as the electorate will go.

But if any of these supposedly general election-friendly governors are to have a shot, the first challenge is having a positive favorability rating with Republicans.  You can’t get nominated if your own party doesn’t like you.

Whatever you think about the respective chances of Clinton, Sanders and Biden, all have very favorable numbers among their own.

Iowa voters are paying more attention than national voters and are closer to the average GOP primary voter than their fellow early-birds in New Hampshire.  This makes them our best proxy for acceptance of this group.

For comparison, Carson still has the best ratings 7 to 1 favorable and +66 among those with an opinion.  Carly is next at over 4 to 1 and +47.  Rubio places third, with several others not too far behind.

Though Trump leads the overall poll, he’s a comparatively weak 6 to 5 positive and +8.  He’s relying on being the first choice of a full 50% of the people who like him at all.

When he debuted in the poll 6 weeks ago, Kasich was 3 to 2 positive, +10.  Not great, but with almost 50% of voters having no opinion, plenty of room for growth.

That put him ahead of Christie, who was still upside-down, if better off than in April and roughly even with Jeb, though having the advantage as more voters were already opposed to the Florida governor.  Of the 3, you would have chosen Kasich’s place.

Things have changed.  Christie has continued his recovery and is now 4 to 3 favorable, +11 He’s gone from being toxic to slightly more popular than Trump.  Over 20% of voters still don’t have an opinion.

This is highly encouraging.  I’ve long figured the odds were really stacked against Christie because GOP voters decided they didn’t like him anymore, but extra exposure seems to help.  If he’s managed to move his numbers to 60/30 favorable by December, it might be a mistake to count him out.

Meanwhile, Kasich is now 6 to 5 negative, minus 5.  Many voters still have no opinion, so it isn’t too late.  Still, time is running out.  If he doesn’t alter his tone or topics a little by the next debate on October 28, he will have dug too big a hole.  Do not be surprised if Christie passes him in New Hampshire by Halloween.

Meanwhile, Jeb is now slightly underwater with Iowa GOP voters.  He hasn’t recovered from his rough August and is the one major candidate who would lose a head-to-head with Trump (51 to 37).

In case you think Iowans have lost their mind, in the same survey, voters were asked their opinion of Mitt Romney.  By a 57/24 margin, they feel favorable about the 2012 nominee who lost Iowa to Rick Santorum.

If given the chance to vote for Romney in 2016, most passed and chose one of the current candidates.  However, Mitt did slightly out-point Jeb.  This is a long way of saying Scott Walker is presently more viable in Iowa than Jeb.

Status Quo for Most

Rubio’s traditional post-debate bump extends to Iowa, putting him slightly ahead of where he was after the first debate.

Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum and are all within a point or two of the last PPP survey and generally close to more recent polls from others.

Scott Walker may be gone, but his Iowa number of 5% indicated he didn’t slide any further after the debate.  He wasn’t willing to live off the land in Iowa, probably wise as it would have prevented him from keeping his national infrastructure, but he wasn’t completely dead in the Hawkeye State.

The overall conclusion, almost a week out from the debate is that Carly is up, Kasich is down, Walker is out, Jeb still doesn’t look like a front-runner, we’ll see if Rubio can maintain debate momentum this time and everyone else is about where they were 4-6 weeks ago.

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