Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Predictions for the Iowa Caucuses

I don't usually play some kind of pundit, but I figured with the Iowa caucuses today I might as well take a stab at guessing who will win each one. Rather than flat-out predicting a winner, I'd rather hedge my bets a little, so I'll just be assigning odds. To be clear, while these odds are in percentages, they are not the percentage of the vote that I'm predicting each candidate will get. They are basically betting odds that I would give. With that said, let's start with the Republicans.


Given that everyone else lags behind Trump in the polls by double digits, I don't feel too obligated to assign a value to the utterly negligible chance that Rubio or some other clown in the background of this spectacle will somehow win Iowa. While a few weeks back I would have given Cruz better odds, he's faded in the polls since then. Trump has been surging again, and has both a lead and momentum on his side. He will need high turnout to win, but I don't think that's likely to be an obstacle. While Iowa's weather will turn nasty tomorrow, that's expected to be after the caucuses. Yes, Trump will need to turn out a lot of people who haven't caucused ever before, but his supporters do not half-ass it. They are rabid wolverines, ready to claw out the eyes of their enemies, full of bitterness and anger about the GOP establishment's neglect of them. They've turned out in droves for Trump's rallies and beaten protesters all for King Donald, and caucusing won't likely deter them. If I'm wrong about that--which I consider unlikely but not impossible, as indicated by the odds--Cruz can expect to win. None of the establishment mannequins that have been set up (Rubio, Bush, et al.) can possibly hope for anything better than second place, if even that.

On to the Democrats.


This race looks to me a lot more competitive than the Republican race. The polls have been close for the past weeks, and the most recent one puts Clinton ahead by 3% with a 4% margin of error--a statistical tie. (LATER NOTE--It turns out there has actually been a more recent poll released, by the Emerson College Polling Society, that gives Clinton an 8-point-lead, but that organization's polls have consistently been among the worst for Sanders (by a large margin), meaning I'm inclined to disregard it.) I give the edge to Sanders because the momentum is on his side--he's been gaining over the past weeks and brought in 20 million dollars in January. Like Trump, he will need a big turnout, but like Trump, his supporters are enthusiastic (though not violent mobs, unlike Trump's). The caucuses also require some voters to pick their second choice in the end, because of the way they're set up, and the O'Malleyites prefer Sanders to Clinton, giving him a small boost there, too. So while it's still a toss-up, I say advantage Sanders. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. In any case, the only Democratic candidate I'd be surprised to see take Iowa is Martin O'Malley.

Such are my predictions. No matter what outcome, we're in for a hell of an election.

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