Donald Trump may be the front-running candidate to beat in Iowa, but a new poll suggests his victory strategy relies on a key factor: whether Iowans who don’t usually vote show up next Monday.
According to a Wednesday Monmouth University survey, a victory for Trump in the Iowa caucus hinges on whether his non-traditional campaign style motivates irregular voters to caucus for him.
“Turnout is basically what separates Trump and Cruz right now,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said. “Trump’s victory hinges on having a high number of self-motivated, lone-wolf caucus-goers show up Monday night.”
Trump’s support in the latest Monmouth poll stood at 30%, putting him 7 points ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) among likely Republican voters. This was based on a turnout projection of 170,000 voters from past-voting history and voters’ stated intentions. That turnout would far surpass 2012’s record of 122,000.
But according to Monmouth, Cruz’s supporters are far more reliable voters — Wednesday’s poll found the senator beating Trump 28% to 23% among voters who have a history of participating in state elections.
Monmouth tested two other turnout scenarios:
- If a whopping 200,000 Iowa Republicans turn out to caucus, Trump would lead 32% to 21% over Cruz.
- If a more modest — but still record — 130,000 Iowans show up, it would put the race in a 26% to 26% tie between Trump and Cruz.
By most accounts, Cruz still has the organizational edge. As The New York Times has reported, Trump’s shaky ground game has reportedly not kept up the kind of door-to-door campaign that has typically characterised caucus success. The Cruz campaign, on the other hand, has invested heavily in technology to continue to contact and collect information about its supporters and is reportedly bringing in as many as 500 out-of-state volunteers to help reach voters.
Still, being the front-runner has its luxuries. Even if Trump loses to Cruz in Iowa, he has significant breathing room in New Hampshire, where he’s leading in all recent public polls.
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