How Reliable Are the Iowa Caucus Polls on June 10th? MoJo Investigates.

Over on Twitter, someone suggested taking a look at early polls of the Iowa caucuses from past years to see how they panned out. On the Democratic side, it’s a little tricky because there were really only two candidates in 2016 and one of them was the clear frontrunner. That’s not much of a comparison to this year, so I went back to 2008:

Support for John Edwards (remember him?) and Hillary Clinton stayed pretty steady during the entire campaign, while 3rd-place candidate Barack Obama quietly scooped up nearly all of the undecided vote and ended up winning by a wide margin.

On the Republican side, 2016 featured a huge number of candidates, which makes it a pretty good comparison for Democrats this year. Here are the top ten candidates on June 10 before the caucus date:

This is even better news for today’s also-rans. The early leader, Scott Walker, wasn’t even in the race by the time the caucuses were held, while seventh-place Ted Cruz won and tenth-place Donald Trump came in a close second.

I think the only real lesson you can take away from this is that you’re in trouble if you aren’t even managing, say, 5 percent support right now.¹ For what it’s worth, RCP has only five candidates currently polling above that level:

  • Joe Biden (23.8%)
  • Bernie Sanders (18.8%)
  • Pete Buttigieg (12%)
  • Elizabeth Warren (9.3%)
  • Kamala Harris (7.5%)

This looks . . . about right to me. Maybe add Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar as dark horses, and I think that’s pretty much the field.

¹As usual, Donald Trump is a huge outlier.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate