Saturday, January 30, 2016

Poll Close, But Edge to Hillary

Factoid are flying faster than I can track at the moment, but my seat of the pants take on the below the topline stats in the Iowa Poll indicate that Hillary Clinton has the intangibles edge on Bernie Sanders for Monday.

The top line is close - Hillary 45, Bernie 42, with a 4 point margin. Remember that margins are bell curves - a two or four point Hillary lead is more likely than a 7 point Hillary lead or a one point Bernie lead.

Unanswered question: Is the poll weighted to account for delegate math? Or is it a percentage of voters? Because a percentage of voters is not the same as a percentage of state delegate equivalents, which is what Iowa Democrats report as the result.

Key points:

"Clinton leads Sanders among Democrats who say they will definitely hit caucus sites, while Sanders leads among Democrats who say they will probably caucus." Organization is what turns those Probablys into Definitelys - and Clinton has the organizational edge.

County caucus coordinator perspective: That benefits not running out of room and registration forms. (At this point, I care a LOT more about that than about who wins.)

With Sanders leading among new caucus goers, he needs to surf a turnout wave to  win. I'll know a lot about the state of the statewide race when I'm at my sign in table, as I live in a mostly student precinct in Iowa City, and if the wave hits, it hits me.

Either way the caucus winner will be clear at the sign in table before the caucus even convenes. But an important reminder: Doesn't matter if I have 50 people or 500 people show up, my precinct has a fixed six delegates. And if the Bernie turnout wave is concentrated in a few places, he gains relatively little.

And a couple subtle things tell me Team Bernie does not expect to pull this one out.

Two days before the 2008 caucus, Hillary Clinton was in Iowa City. The press flacks were spinning the concept than any result within a two point range was "a three way tie." And Clinton herself wrapped up her speech talking about people who couldn't caucus, troops and second shift workers.

So there's precedent: the candidate trailing in Iowa blames the process.

So is this about voter rights, certainly a worthy issue? Or is this a shot at the Iowa process?

One item is an item; two is a pattern. Note this deleted tweet from a Sanders staffer:

The article in question is the usual Iowa So White/Process Unfair mishmash that we hear this time of year, and concludes: "The Iowa caucus is an archaic political vestige that has no place in influencing our presidential politics as it does."

And there's App-O-Phobia, the worry in Bernieworld that because Microsoft developed the results reporting app, somehow the fix is in for Hilalry.

Look, as a desktop Linux user for eight years, and as the guy who inflicted the Linux Monday series on you my unfortunate readers, I hate Microsoft as much as anyone. But remember, this is a bipartisan thing, and there's no rational reason that either Microsoft or BOTH Iowa parties would risk their reputations, and risk First, on dodgy software.

So the groundwork  is being laid for a Blame The Process reaction to a narrow Iowa loss, and Sanders is still a favorite in New Hampshire, next door to his home state.

As for poor Martin O'Malley, his supporters best strategy would be going in with their second choice in mind, or figuring out their price at realignment time. My bet is a lot of county convention delegates - the usual offer in negotiations - will be O'Malley people under other labels.

Their odds may be better in the Hillary camp, full of experienced folks. They know how to make the offer, and they know how to put their own hands down, give up their own seat,  and become an alternate - because they know that alternates pretty much always get seated. The Bernie rookies, in contrast, understand less that caucus night is about the NUMBER, not about who the delegates are. They will be fighting hard to be delegates themselves and may be less willing to give a slot up.

Those county conventions aren't till March 12... by which time it's hard to imagine O'Malley still in the race.

On the Republican side;

I wonder how much the poll will have a Heisenberg Effect on the supporters of the people at 3% or less, and on Carson people. In a way, this poll is like a Republican first alignment, and only Trump, Rubio and Cruz are viable.

Predictions: Fiorina, Huckabee, and Santorum drop out Monday night. Kasich is out after New Hampshire. Carson stumbles along , a victim of his own direct mail consultants. And Rand Paul's support is indigestible, but may shrink as people cross over for Sanders.

At that point, the serious arm twisting of Jeb! and Christie begins, as the establishment win desperately tries to unite behind Rubio.

But at this point, things look really good for a narrow plurality win for The Donald.

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