Iowa Leaning to Santorum?

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NBC Marist came out with their Iowa poll today, and it contains few surprises.  Note that although the poll was released today, it was conducted from Dec. 27-28, so it is not giving us any newer information than the polls I cited yesterday.  That means it doesn’t do much to help our interpretation of what’s happening in Iowa. In releasing the poll, NBC has been trumpeting Santorum’s rise, but his support as reported by NBC includes the undecideds who are leaning toward him.  For comparison purposes, I’ve posted the candidates’ support among potential caucus voters in the first column, and the totals including the undecided who are leaning in the second column.  The second column is what is getting reported.  (Candidates in order as they were listed in poll summary.)

Newt Gingrich 13 13
Mitt Romney 22 23
Michele Bachmann 5 6
Rick Santorum 11 15
Jon Huntsman 2 2
Ron Paul 19 21
Rick Perry 13 14
Undecided 16 7

As you can see, Santorum gets the biggest boost when we include the leaners.

The three big takeaways from the NBC poll are, first, that there are still a good chunk of undecided voters.  Even among “likely voters” (not shown here) 12% considered themselves undecided.  That’s enough – if they all broke the same way (they won’t) – to provide the winning margin to almost any of the top five candidates.  At the very least it suggests the race is still fluid. Second, there’s no evidence yet that the conservative vote is coalescing around a single candidate although Santorum has picked up some of their support. He’s considered the true conservative by 23% of likely voters, compared to Paul with 21%. Third, as I’ve said before, there’s not a lot of love in Iowa for Romney, who still can’t seem to break out.  Note however, that he’s the second choice of 21% of those polled – that leads the field.  Interestingly, Perry is the second choice of 20%. If current trends hold, Romney is poised to win this by default.

We should see a couple more polls before Tuesday.  Everyone is waiting for the Des Moines Register poll, which should be released Saturday night, because it proved accurate four years ago, and because  it is likely to provide the last bit of evidence regarding trends in support.  For now, I’ve included the NBC survey in the table composed of all the post-Christmas Iowa polls. Note that although NBC has been touting the fact that their survey included about 30% cell phones, the results don’t differ at all from the non-cell robo-call results posted by Rasmussen.

Candidate Public Policy Polling (12. 26-27.11) CNN (12.21-24, 12.26-27.11) Insider Advantage

(12.28.11)

American Research Group (12.26-28.11) Rasmussen (12.28.11) NBC/Marist (12.27-

28.12)

Romney 20% 25% 17.2% 22% 23% 23%
Paul 24% 22% 17.3% 16% 22% 21%
Gingrich 13% 14% 16.7% 17% 13% 13%
Santorum 10% 16% 13.4% 11% 16% 15%
Perry 10% 11% 10.5% 9% 13% 14%
Bachmann 11% 9% 11.8% 8% 5% 6%

Meanwhile, there have been a couple of other developments pertaining to recent blog posts that I’ll address separately.

2 Responses to Iowa Leaning to Santorum?

  1. Jack Goodman says:

    Matt, a question: do the wide swings of these polls over the past few months reflect the fickleness of the Iowans, the power of negative advertising, or the general weakness of the Republican field. I am confused by the fact that the Evangelicals who obviously have very strong beliefs and know what they care about, have apparently changed their minds so frequently.

  2. Matthew Dickinson says:

    Jack,

    I think the explanation is a combination of candidate weakness and a steep learning curve that often characterizes the early caucus and primaries. Although the evangelicals (who seem to make up about 45% of likely caucus supporters) know what they like, they didn’t know that much about these candidates. So what we’ve seen is a learning process in which each potential non-Mitt candidate (they already know they don’t like Mitt from 2008) was examined and each was found to have flaws. Bachmann too “flaky”, Perry a bit unsteady in debates, Gingrich got pummeled with unprecedented negative advertising highlighting the non-conservative aspects of his record, Paul is more libertarian than conservative and that leaves Santorum as the last conservative standing – for now! He’s out to prove the old biblical adage – “the last will be first”.

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