How much can change in a week in Iowa


Historically, candidates supported by evangelicals underpolled in Iowa voting because polling did not account for the fact that evangelicals participate in caucuses more than other voters in Iowa.

1988 Republicans: The polls pegged the eventual winner, Bob Dole, with a clear lead over the competition. Dole averaged 44 percent and won 37 percent. In one of the largest predictive errors in our data set, second-place finisher Pat Robertson averaged only 9 percent in the polls but ended up with 25 percent thanks to a strong performance among religious conservatives.

1996 Republicans: A University of Iowa survey conducted during this stretch had Bob Dole ahead with 22 percent. He won with 26 percent. The surprise — just like in 1988 — came from the candidate appealing to religious conservatives, this time Pat Buchanan. Buchanan was well back in the polls with only 4 percent, but he finished second with 23 percent. Also finishing strong was Lamar Alexander, who climbed from 6 percent in the polls to 18 percent in the final results.

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2012 Republicans: You can see Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum gaining momentum during this stretch. While the entire 10-day average had Romney at 20 percent and Santorum at 7 percent, a CNN/Time survey ending seven days before the caucuses gave Romney 25 percent and Santorum 16 percent. The final result: Santorum 24.54 percent to Romney’s 24.51 percent. Third-place finisher Ron Paul almost perfectly matched his support in the polls (22 percent) by ending up with 21 percent.

So what does all this mean? Historical polls have been off by a lot — by enough that it wouldn’t be shocking (or even surprising) if Cruz, who has consistently run second to Trump in recent Iowa polls, prevailed in the Hawkeye State.

Cruz is running neck and neck in the polls with Trump. That is why I would be surprised if Cruz ultimately did not win, due to his support from evangelicals.



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