Sunday, December 30, 2007

Polls and Trends at the End in Iowa
I don't know if polls where they include tenths of percents are really superior in terms of prognosticating power, but they are more immediately impressive to the credulous observer (me):

On the Democratic side, there is a three-way statistical tie with Sen. Hillary Clinton leading with 30.7% support, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 26.8% and John Edwards at 24.2%. The poll's margin of error is 3.3%.

Key finding: Edwards is the clear second choice favorite with 30.4%, followed by Obama at 24.9% and Clinton at 12.2%. According to Democratic caucus rules, candidates who receive less than 15% of the vote are considered "non-viable." Their backers have the choice of either going home or casting their ballots for their second choice.
One interesting finding: Democrats think Republicans will choose Huckabee as their nominee; Republicans think Democrats will choose Obama.

Both emphases mine. So, given that all the methodology is suspect and the weather is a total wild-card with the potential to wreck any model or hypothesis, here's what we see:

  • At best, Hillary Clinton is the first choice of about 31 percent of this sample. She's the first or second choice of 42.9. By contrast, Edwards is the first- or second choice for 54.6 percent. Obama is the first or second choice of 51.7 percent. Hillary is the third (at best) choice of 57.1 percent, the same numbers are 45.4 percent for Edwards and 48.3 percent for Obama.

  • The voters for the other party, an interestingly subjective audience, feel Obama and Huckabee would be the other party's nominees. This is obviously open to interpretation, but one thing it could mean is that the most voters from the other party would be open to supporting Obama or Huckabee in November if the other party nominates them.

  • The fact that so many Republicans nationally still seem to think Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, yet their Iowa co-partisans disagree, suggests that the race really looks different when more people are paying close attention--probably another indication of how meaningless Clinton's national polling leads continue to be.

My nightmare scenario from a freakin' year ago--that Clinton is a plurality "victor" but by far the least broadly supported Democrat even within the Dem primary electorate--continues to look plausible if not likely. Remove either Obama or Edwards from this race and Not-Hillary would triumph; with them both dividing that title, she might squeak through.


Ted McDaniel said...

Your nightmare and mine too. This time last year I pined for Gore to get in and consolidate the Not-Hillary vote around him. Over the Summer I decided that Gore would not get in it and Obama was impressing me more and more, so I got behind him. Seeing Edwards rise in Iowa is bad news. One of them needs to bail out so the other can keep her away from the nomination.

David said...

That this methodology of "nominating" a president is so susceptible to counter-intuitive and even non-democratic outcomes like this, shows just how rotten it is.

Still, the only really awful outcome is Clinton first, Edwards second, Obama third. If that happens, the race is over. Edwards needs to win Iowa to have any chance, and Obama has to at least be close to Clinton.

I feel like an idiot on so many levels for particularly caring about this.

Feral said...

On a related note; a lot of news today about Bloomberg preparing to make a run for it. Will he be another Nader? And if so, which side would he hurt more? And lastly, does he have a shot in hell? I like him, and I know you like him, but we're not so much an accurate representation of the majority of the voting public.

David said...

That's true.

It's interesting about Bloomberg. My theory always has been that the infantilized public isn't ready for a guy who's charisma-challenged, has tried (and enjoyed) drugs, had a lot of sex, is short, Jewish and a billionaire, and has a fairly well-documented history of saying snarky, possibly offensive things. (e.g. the pregnant employee whom he told to "kill it.")

On the other hand, he's got more money than God and is smart about how to use it for political purposes. He could run a Monty-Burns-for-Governor campaign, and with no three-eyed fish to knock him offstride, maybe he could buy the votes of the dumbasses who aren't quick enough to grasp why he'd actually be good at the job: his independence, practicality and managerial chops.

If he went in vs., say, Clinton and Romney, he really would have a shot. At this point I think he's a go unless Obama or McCain wins a nomination.

Feral said...

So the possible presidential contenders are: A woman, a black guy, a Mormon, a Jew, and a divorce-happy, cross-dressing friend of “the gay”. McCain’s camp must be pissed off…(what’s a decorated war veteran with tons of political experience and a reputation for being an honorable, honest family man gotta do to get noticed around here?).

I’m picturing him punching a hole in his hat.

David said...

Well, McCain already lost one bitter race to a guy who was clearly dumber, less experienced, less honorable and less interested in actual governance as opposed to wearing the cool jacket they give you after you've flown in Air Force One. So he's probably used to it, at least.