DMR/Selzer Iowa Caucus update

The Des Moines Register/Selzer & Co. poll is out from Iowa. This is the poll most of us pay more attention to than any other. In this case, the poll shows very much what my trend estimate has been saying.

The minor discrepancies are my trend estimate is a bit lower on Ron Paul. DMR/Selzer puts Paul at 22, while I see him just under 20, or 18 if you believe the red “sensitive” estimator. Selzer’s last two days of polling put Paul at 18, or even 16 for the last day of polling. (It is unusual to report results for single days since the sample size is low and margin of error high. Still, the dynamics of this race are so interesting this is a nice addition to the data reported, even if we should add considerable caution. In effect I do the same by reporting the red sensitive estimator which similarly is more subject to random noise than my standard gray trend estimate.)

The other discrepancy is Rick Santorum, who DMR/Selzer puts at 15 while my trend suggests a shade higher, 16 or 17. Here the last day or two of DMR/Selzer puts Santorum’s surge much higher: 21% and competitive with Romney. A finish this high Tuesday night would be extremely attention getting.

Other candidates are close in trend and DMR/Selzer poll. In particular neither my trend nor the poll see any evidence of a Perry surge late. We both see Gingrich in 4th though not significantly ahead of Perry. Bachmann shows no evidence of a last minute recovery. Huntsman remains in New Hampshire.

Fortnight Review: Mitt takes Iowa Lead

Tonight’s trend estimate shows Mitt Romney in first place in Iowa with Ron Paul slipping to second place. Rick Santorum has held third place while Newt Gingrich as slipped to 4th place. Some polls have Gingrich in 5th while others make it 4th. My standard trend estimate shows a more solid 4th place than earlier in the week, when Gingrich and Perry were nearly tied.

This also debuts a new feature, the Fortnight Review chart, which plots the last 14 days of polling along with standard and more sensitive trend estimates. By zooming in on the last two weeks we get a more clear picture of the most recent polls. The trends are still the trends based on all the data. As we obsess about each primary, these Fortnight Reviews let us obsess even more.

The longer term view is still important for perspective. The shifts in Iowa over the past 6 months have been huge, but the last two weeks are showing just marginal (though intriguing!) changes. So here is the long term Iowa trend for some perspective.

In Iowa: Paul, Romney, Santorum, Gingrich

Iowa remains dynamic. Paul retains a slight lead over Romney in my standard trend estimate. Santorum’s surge is quite sharp and across multiple polls, giving strong credence to this latest of GOP candidates to suddenly surge. And the previous surging candidate, Newt Gingrich, has now fallen to 4th place in Iowa, only a half a percentage point ahead of Rick Perry.

The red “sensitive tend” thinks it sees a hint that Paul has peaked, but the evidence is quite tenuous. The four post-Christmas polls put Paul at 22, 24, 17, 22 while Romney reads 25, 20, 17, 23. You have to have a lot of faith in the polling precision to think this represents a convincing shift.

On the other hand, the Santorum surge is powerful and convincing: 16, 10, 13, 16, far above his pre-Christmas levels. His sudden ascent to third place makes him competitive for “exceeding expectations” by quite a margin. It has taken a long time, and tryouts with virtually every alternative (save Huntsman, really) but Santorum’s natural affinity with social conservatives in Iowa seems to be paying off here in the end.

While Paul still stands in first place, the concentrated criticism of him over the last week may yet pull him back from his peak of support in Iowa. If so, Santorum might still have a shot at second place, assuming no reversal of Romney’s current upward trend. Certainly all three could finish near 20%, with the order of finish still up for grabs.

After taking a tsunami of negative ads, Gingrich seems headed for 4th or conceivably lower. I wonder if there are late ad buys shifting ads to Paul from Gingrich.