How Reliable Are the Iowa Caucus Polls on June 10th? MoJo Investigates.

Over on Twitter, someone suggested taking a look at early polls of the Iowa caucuses from past years to see how they panned out. On the Democratic side, it’s a little tricky because there were really only two candidates in 2016 and one of them was the clear frontrunner. That’s not much of a comparison to this year, so I went back to 2008:

Support for John Edwards (remember him?) and Hillary Clinton stayed pretty steady during the entire campaign, while 3rd-place candidate Barack Obama quietly scooped up nearly all of the undecided vote and ended up winning by a wide margin.

On the Republican side, 2016 featured a huge number of candidates, which makes it a pretty good comparison for Democrats this year. Here are the top ten candidates on June 10 before the caucus date:

This is even better news for today’s also-rans. The early leader, Scott Walker, wasn’t even in the race by the time the caucuses were held, while seventh-place Ted Cruz won and tenth-place Donald Trump came in a close second.

I think the only real lesson you can take away from this is that you’re in trouble if you aren’t even managing, say, 5 percent support right now.¹ For what it’s worth, RCP has only five candidates currently polling above that level:

  • Joe Biden (23.8%)
  • Bernie Sanders (18.8%)
  • Pete Buttigieg (12%)
  • Elizabeth Warren (9.3%)
  • Kamala Harris (7.5%)

This looks . . . about right to me. Maybe add Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar as dark horses, and I think that’s pretty much the field.

¹As usual, Donald Trump is a huge outlier.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

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