Dan Guild

The first Democratic debate and Iowa: Biden in real trouble and a race remade

Dan Guild puts the latest Democratic primary poll numbers in context. -promoted by Laura Belin

The above image and the accompanying story were national news within minutes of the end of the first debates. Kamala Harris attacking Joe Biden for his statements about busing and his praise for two old segregationist senators was the story of the June 27 event.

Less than a week later, the race in Iowa is remade.

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Joe Biden will probably lose Iowa

Dan Guild examines what history tells us about how to interpret the latest Iowa Democratic caucus poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register, Mediacom, and CNN. -promoted by Laura Belin

It has been two months since the last good Iowa caucus poll. This is actually unusual: you have to go back to 1996 to find a similar gap. So the latest poll by Selzer & Co (what does the Des Moines Register have against Saturday nights?) was eagerly anticipated.

Joe Biden announced his candidacy to great fanfare on April 25. Within two weeks, national polling showed him picking up between 10 and 15 points. But there is no national primary. I wrote here in March that I Biden was a VERY weak front runner based on his Iowa polling to date.

Ed Kilgore speculated around the time of Biden’s announcement that he had a “shock and awe” strategy.

Did that strategy work? Has it moved votes in Iowa?

Tonight the Des Moines Register provided its verdict: No.

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On polling eleven months before the Iowa caucuses

Valuable historical perspective from Dan Guild on the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom. -promoted by Laura Belin

If you know something about the history of the Iowa caucuses, you know three things:

1. Most people don’t really make up their minds until the last month, and often until the last week. Just before the 2016 caucuses, I wrote a post here called “Front runners beware,” which turned out to be fairly accurate.

2. But. BUT. – Iowa caucus polls are consumed like some sort of smartphone app you just can’t put down. You know it isn’t good for you. BUT it HAS to mean something, right? Isn’t the best prediction of what people do in elections is what they say the will do know.

3. And when it is the Des Moines Register poll, people listen. It’s a bit like the old Merrill Lynch television commercial: When Ann Selzer talks, people REALLY listen.

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Does “electability” matter?

Dan Guild reviews past polling data for clues on how Democratic voters will pick a favorite presidential contender. -promoted by Laura Belin

“I am for him/her because they can win”. I have been active in New Hampshire and Iowa presidential primary politics for over 30 years. In that time I have found if you ask someone why they are for a candidate, likely as not they will say “because they can win.” The press mirrors this and will write often about which contender is “electable”.

I am skeptical electability is ever decisive.

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