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Monday, December 19, 2011

Despite Polls, Iowa Caucus-Goers Not Decided

By Susan Duclos

I see a lot of buzz surrounding the Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling survey headlining with "Paul Leads In Iowa," but when Iowa residents were asked if they are "decided" on a candidate yet, the majority say no.

As it looks now, it seems likely that a significant number of caucus-goers will wait until the night of January 3 to choose. That doesn't mean polls are irrelevant -- they help us know who's up and who's down at any given moment -- but it does mean it's impossible to know where the Iowa race might go. And that will likely remain the case all the way up to the caucuses themselves.

Ed Morrissey questions the PPP sample as well as pointing out that the PPP survey, for now, is an outlier.

PPP says that they are polling likely Republican caucus-goers, but there’s a reason for a little skepticism on their sample. At 597 respondents, the size is respectable enough, but its composition and definition of “likely” is quite shaky. Only a little over half (55%) bothered to caucus with Republicans in 2008, an election primary with as much publicity and import as this one. Thirteen percent caucused with the Democrats, which is reasonable because (a) Democrats aren’t conducting a primary this cycle, and (b) some who caucused with Democrats might be inclined to support Republicans this year.

However, almost a third (32%) didn’t caucus with either party in 2008. How can they be considered “likely” caucus-goers in this cycle? It can’t be because Ron Paul is running this time, because he was running in 2008 as well.

There are other reasons for skepticism. RealClearPolitics notes two other polls taken in almost the same timeframe as PPP’s survey, and Paul was below 20% in both (Rasmussen and Insider Advantage). They all show fairly close margins, but the PPP looks like a bit of an outlier — at least for now.

Republican caucus-goers and primary voters are not going to let the media, nor polls, influence their decisions, nor are they going to rush to judgment.

The only thing that concerns GOP supporters is replacing Obama and they will choose, for themselves, who they feel confident can accomplish that.