Two new polls released today from The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg and Gravis show the Iowa Caucus has become a two person race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz with less than three weeks before Iowans begin voting. The Des Moines Register poll shows Cruz with a three point lead in Iowa, while the Gravis poll has Trump with a six point lead. Both polls have Trump and Cruz well ahead of all other competitors in the state.
According to the Des Moines Register poll Ted Cruz leads the Republican field in Iowa with 25 percent of the vote. Donald Trump comes in second with 22 percent of the vote followed by Marco Rubio in a distant third with 12 percent. Ben Carson places a distant fourth with 11 percent, and all other candidates are garnering 5 percent support or below.
The Des Moines Register poll was conducted from January 7-January 10, 2016. The sample includes 500 registered Republicans who say they will definitely attend the Iowa Caucuses. That is a fairly small sample, and the poll has a large margin-of-error equal to +/- 4.4 percentage points, which means that Trump may in fact be winning if he is given the benefit of the margin-of-error.
According to a poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters by Gravis Donald Trump holds a fairly large lead there with 34 percent of the vote, compared to 28 percent for Ted Cruz. The Gravis poll has ben Carson polling at 9 percent, and all other candidates polling at 5 percent or below.
The Gravis poll was conducted from January 11-12, 2016. The sample includes 422 registered, likely Republican voters in Iowa That is a fairly small sample, and the poll has a large margin-of-error equal to +/- 5.0 percentage points, which means Cruz could theoretically be winning if given the benefit of that polls margin-of-error.
Analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight gives Gravis a C rating in his ranking of pollsters based on partially on Gravis’ performance over 20 released surveys. Silver has not given a rating to the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg, likely because their polling is restricted merely to the Iowa Caucus.
Both polls match up well with other polls that show the Iowa vote coalescing around Trump and Cruz in the final weeks. A Real Clear Politics average of seven Iowa polls released over the last week shows Trump with 27.3 percent support followed by Cruz with 26.9 percent support. Marco Rubio garners only 11.9 percent support in the RCP average, followed by Ben Carson with 9 percent support. All other candidates, such as George Bush, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul, are polling at 4.4 percent or below.
Of course much can change over the next three weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucus. Notably, in 2012 the polls had Rick Santorum polling at just 6 percent and Newt Gingrich leading with 26 percent support in Iowa. Santorum ended up winning the Iowa Caucus in 2012 with 24.6 percent support, and Gingrich ended up placing fourth with 13.3 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney went on to win the Republican Party nomination in 2012 after winning New Hampshire and gaining broader support than Santorum in later primary states.
In 2008 Mike Huckabee was winning the polls in Iowa at this point with 34 percent support, and Mike Huckabee went on to win the Iowa Caucus 34.4 percent of the vote.
The question is whether 2016 will look more like 2012 or 2008. It is conceivable that Marco Rubio could gain support if the voters currently supporting Jeb Bush (polling at 4.4 percent), Chris Christie (polling at 4.0 percent), and John Kasich (polling at 2.4 percent) decide that their candidate is a lost cause and Rubio is the moderate to vote for in the race. However, it is also possible that bandwagon effect starts to impact the race, and that voters currently supporting Carson (polling at 9.0 percent) and Huckabee (polling at 2.4 percent) commit to Trump and/or Cruz as the anti-establishment favorite.