- The final Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa caucus poll was cancelled on Saturday evening, just one full day away from the Monday caucus.
- The cancellation came after a Pete Buttigieg supporter said that the candidate’s name was ommitted by a poll worker, prompting the campaign to raise the issue to the pollsters.
- The poll is widely considered the gold standard of Iowa caucus polls. A CBS/YouGov poll released Sunday morning showed Biden and Sanders in a dead heat for first place at 25%.
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The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom survey was cancelled Saturday night after a Pete Buttigieg supporter said the Mayor of South Bend’s name was omitted during a poll call.
The survey, conducted by J. Ann Selzer of the pollster Selzer & Company, is widely considered the gold standard of Iowa caucus polls, boasting a coveted A+ rating from FiveThirtyEight.
Politico reported that the issue likely occurred because the interviewer enlarged the font size on their computer, which may have cut Buttigieg’s name off the list. After a Buttigieg aide complained to the pollsters, they decided to pull the poll.
Selzer gave a statement to the Des Moines Register about the cancelled poll.
“There were concerns about what could be an isolated incident,” Selzer said. “Because of the stellar reputation of the poll, and the wish to always be thought of that way, the heart-wrenching decision was made not to release the poll. The decision was made with the highest integrity in mind.”
CNN was set to announce the results of the poll at a televised live show in Iowa, but cancelled the special once the survey mishap was announced.
CBS/YouGov released their final Iowa poll Sunday morning, showing Biden and Sanders in a dead heat for first at 25%, with 17% for Buttgieg, 16% for Warren, and 5% for Klobuchar. Emerson College is releasing their final Iowa poll Sunday evening.
The last CNN/DMR Selzer poll, released on January 10, showed Sanders in the lead with 20% of likely caucusgoers backing him compared to 17% for Warren, 16% for Buttigieg, 15% for Biden, and 6% for Klobuchar.
One day away from the caucuses
Iowa will officially kick off the 2020 primary cycle with its highly-anticipated caucuses on Monday. While Iowa only accounts for 1% of the total delegates allocated throughout the process, the state’s caucuses receive a disproportionate amount of attention from candidates and the media by virtue of it going first in the Democratic primary process.
While polls like Selzer’s are useful and instructive indications of what the electorate thinks ahead of a contest, they’re not always perfect predictors of the final result – especially given the unique and unpredictable features of caucuses.
All of Iowa’s 41 pledged delegates are allocated proportionally, with 27 delegates allocated at the congressional district level and 14 party leader/elected official and at-large delegates apportioned based on the results of the statewide vote.
Candidates must, however, break 15% of the vote in a given district or the state level to win any delegates from those areas at all.
Because of the specific structure of the Iowa caucuses, caucusgoers’ second choices play a critical role in the proceedings and could determine the ultimate outcome.
Every Iowa precinct with a caucus holds not one but two rounds of preference expression, or alignments, meaning the leader in each congressional district could shift rapidly over the course of the night.
If a caucusgoer’s first-choice candidate doesn’t break the delegate threshold on the first alignment, they can either switch their preference to a candidate who is viable in their precinct, be an uncommitted caucusgoer, or try to combine forces with other caucusgoers to make their first-choice candidate viable.
A caucusgoer whose first-choice is viable after the first alignment cannot, however, change their vote, meaning candidates can only gain and not lose votes/delegates in the second alignment.
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