# Jim Gilmore



Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2016 Iowa caucuses prediction contest

With no clear leader in either party less than a week before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, this latest installment in Bleeding Heartland’s occasional series of prediction contests should be especially fun. Anyone can participate, regardless of whether you live in Iowa or have ever lived here.

To enter the contest, post your answers to the eight questions enclosed below as comments in this thread before 6 pm on February 1. Valid entries must be submitted as comments here. Predictions sent to me by e-mail or posted on social media will not be considered. It only takes a minute to register as a Bleeding Heartland user (a link is near the upper right corner of this screen). You don’t have to use your real name; feel free to choose a screen name that allows you to post anonymously. You’ll be e-mailed a password for logging in. Then you can comment here or on any other thread. To protect against spammers, your comment will be “pending” until I approve it.

It’s fine to change your mind after making your guesses, as long as you post your revised predictions as an additional comment in this thread before the deadline.

No money or prizes are at stake here, just bragging rights. This contest doesn’t work like “The Price is Right”; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether they were a little high or low. Even if you have no idea, please try to take a guess on every question.

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Weekend open thread: Conflicting Iowa Republican caucus polling edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. The big news for Iowa politics watchers is the new poll by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics, which shows a surge for Ted Cruz since October, a stable second-place position for Donald Trump, a big drop for Dr. Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio the only other candidate in double digits among likely Republican caucus-goers.

It’s the second poll this month to show Cruz in first place here. Like the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, Monmouth University found Cruz gaining most from Carson’s falling support. Last month’s endorsement by Representative Steve King has helped the Texas senator consolidate the most conservative parts of the Republican base, and he has an enormous lead among evangelicals. Some will attribute that development to backing from the FAMiLY Leader’s front man Bob Vander Plaats, but for months now, Cruz has had the largest number of evangelical pastors supporting him, as well as major social conservative voices like radio host Steve Deace and Dick and Betty Odgaard, the so-called “religious liberty ambassadors” because they shut down their business rather than buckle to pressure to allow same-sex marriages there.

Trump and his supporters have been touting a CNN poll released on December 7, which had him ahead of Cruz in Iowa by 33 percent to 20 percent, but I don’t believe that for a second–and not only because Ann Selzer has the best track record for polling this state. The CNN poll showed Trump does much better among no-party voters than among registered Republicans. An Iowa State University/WHO-HD poll that was in the field during early November found that a disproportionate number of Trump supporters have not voted in a Republican primary during the last ten years.

I don’t believe that Iowa State/WHO-HD poll reflects the current state of the race (it had Trump running behind Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and “don’t know,” with Cruz in fifth place). But I do agree with those pollsters that whether someone has voted in a recent Republican primary should be factored into a likely caucus-goer screen. Attending the caucus takes considerably more time and effort than casting a ballot in a primary. You have to find your precinct caucus location (usually different from where you would vote in a November election) and go out for an hour or more on a cold night in February. Trump doesn’t have anything like the massive organization Barack Obama’s campaign built to identify and turn out supporters who had never caucused before January 2008.

I enclose below highlights from the new Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register as well as the main findings from the latest Monmouth University and CNN polls of Iowa Republican caucus-goers. Steven Shepard’s profile of Ann Selzer for Politico is worth a read.

A Bleeding Heartland post in progress will consider whether Cruz is now firmly in position to win the Iowa caucuses, or whether he is on track to peak too soon. I’m on record predicting Cruz would not win here, but that view was grounded in several assumptions that have turned out to be false.

Trump claims the Des Moines Register is biased against him, and speaking to a rally in Des Moines on Friday night, he characterized the Register’s chief politics reporter Jennifer Jacobs as “the worst.” For the record, I do not agree, even though I’ve had some serious issues with Jacobs’ reporting. But I did find something strange in her Sunday Des Moines Register piece about “the skinny” on each candidate. Jacobs called Carly Fiorina (at 1 percent in the Selzer poll) an “also-ran,” described Mike Huckabee (3 percent) and Rick Santorum (1 percent) as “yesterday’s news,” and said Rand Paul had “little opportunity” after dropping to 3 percent. Yet she put a positive spin on Chris Christie’s 3 percent showing:

After some of the best days of his campaign, the tell-it-like-it-is New Jersey governor has seen a slight bump in support, up from 1 percent in October.

And his favorability rating is no longer underwater. In the October Iowa Poll, it was 39 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable. Now it’s 46 percent favorable, 42 percent unfavorable.

I had a feeling that securing more friendly coverage in the Register was the one thing Iowa Republican elites could deliver for Christie’s campaign.

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When will Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, or Rick Santorum go after Ben Carson?

Two new polls of Iowa Republicans show Dr. Ben Carson has taken the lead from Donald Trump. Selzer & Co’s latest survey for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics shows Carson is the first choice of 28 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers, followed by Trump at 19 percent, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (10 percent), U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (9 percent), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Rand Paul (5 percent each), business executive Carly Fiorina (4 percent), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (3 percent), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and former Senator Rick Santorum (2 percent each), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (1 percent), and the rest of the field below 1 percent.

Similarly, Quinnipiac’s latest poll of likely Republican caucus-goers found Carson ahead of Trump by 28 percent to 20 percent, followed by Rubio (13 percent), Cruz (10 percent), Paul (6 percent), Fiorina and Bush (5 percent each), and no one else above 3 percent.

Carson is the best-liked candidate among those likely to participate in the Iowa GOP caucuses. Both the Selzer and Quinnipiac surveys found that 84 percent of respondents view him favorably. I’ve posted more excerpts from the poll write-ups after the jump.

Carson is crushing the competition among social conservatives, an important bloc that tends to break late in Iowa caucus campaigns, as Bleeding Heartland guest author fladem discussed here. He has invested heavily in direct mail and leaving copies of his paperback books on Iowa Republican doorsteps, while generally escaping scrutiny from his competitors.

At some point, other candidates who are appealing primarily to the religious right must recognize that their path to relevance in Iowa runs through Carson. Only 22 percent of Selzer poll respondents said their minds are made up; 78 percent could change their minds. I’m curious to see when 2008 winner Huckabee, 2012 winner Santorum, and/or Jindal will start making a case against the surgeon. To be stuck in the cellar after spending substantially more time in Iowa than Carson must be so frustrating.

Cruz may also need to give Iowans a reason not to support Carson. Perhaps some of his Christian conservative surrogates could take on that role. “Opinion leaders” backing Cruz include numerous evangelical clergy, talk radio host Steve Deace, and Dick and Betty Odgaard, the self-styled martyrs to marriage equality in Iowa.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Nick Ryan, who led the 501(c)4 group American Future Fund for several election cycles and headed the pro-Santorum super-PAC during the 2012 primaries, signed on earlier this year to lead a super-PAC supporting Huckabee. It might make more sense for that group to go after Carson than for Huckabee to do so directly. Still, the next GOP debate on October 28 would be a good opportunity for rivals to score points against the new Iowa front-runner.

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Labor Day weekend open thread, with new Iowa caucus polls

Happy Labor Day weekend to the Bleeding Heartland community! This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Click here for a brief history of the holiday.

For those wanting to enjoy the outdoors during the unofficial last weekend of summer, you may find some inspiration in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' list of fourteen "incredible hikes in our state parks and forests," here and here. I'm embarrassed by how few of those parks I have visited, but I can highly recommend the walking trails at the Ledges and Dolliver Memorial State Parks.

Three more polling firms have released new Iowa caucus surveys since last weekend's Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg news. Highlights are after the jump. All recent polls put Donald Trump and Ben Carson well ahead of the rest of the Republican field in Iowa. Bernie Sanders has clearly gained some ground on Hillary Clinton, but other polls have found a larger lead for the Democratic front-runner here than Selzer did.

Eric Boehlert was quick to criticize the media for giving Selzer's poll of Iowa Democrats such big play last weekend, even though it looks like an "outlier" in his view. I take his point, but the last time I said a Selzer poll appeared to be an outlier, I had to eat my words.

Before I get to the polls below, here's one for the "campaigns don't matter" crowd, who believe economic conditions largely decide presidential elections. The Moody's Analytics model "now predicts a Democratic electoral landslide in the 2016 presidential vote," with 326 electoral votes for the Democratic nominee and 212 to the Republican. Click through for more information on the Moody's methodology.

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A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll to give the GOP establishment nightmares

Selzer & Co's new survey of Iowa Republicans for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News gives GOP strategists plenty to worry about.

The top three "outsider" candidates (Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz) are the first choice for 49 percent of respondents. The top three "establishment" candidates (Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio) are the first choice for only 20 percent.

The survey also indicates that several candidates considered heavyweight contenders are yesterday's news for likely GOP caucus-goers. The 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee is sitting at 4 percent, tied with Rand Paul, who had been expected to inherit much of his father's support from the last election campaign. The 2012 winner Rick Santorum is at 1 percent.

The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs wrote up the key findings here, with input from Jason Noble. My first thoughts about the numbers are after the jump.

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Steve King's stand on birthright citizenship more mainstream than ever in GOP

Just four years ago, Representative Steve King's commitment to ending birthright citizenship was considered such a political liability for Republicans that King was passed over to chair the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on immigration.

Now a growing number of Republican presidential candidates would end birthright citizenship for children born to parents not authorized to live in the U.S. In fact, GOP presidential contenders who share King's perspective outnumber those who are willing to defend current law, which has been settled for more than a century.

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