It’s the Friday evening before the Iowa caucuses. And the polls show that everyone will be in for a roller-coaster ride.
As the Iowa caucuses go down to the wire on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is in the lead — but there’s room for a surprise.
- The Monmouth University poll gives Clinton a narrow lead with 47 percent, with Sanders close behind at 42 percent, and O’Malley at 6 percent.
- The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Clinton at 48 percent, Sanders 45 percent, and O’Malley 3 percent.
- Democratic-aligned firm Public Policy Polling has Clinton at 48 percent, Sanders 40 percent, and O’Malley 7 percent.
The PPP numbers also ask a very crucial follow-up question of O’Malley supporters.
A short explanation: With the way Democratic caucuses actually work, with voters standing together in crowds at the local precincts, there is also a rule that a grouping must reach 15 percent of the assembly in order to be deemed “viable” and be able to elect delegates to the later county Democratic convention (which will elect delegates to the state convention — which will then ultimately elect delegates to the national convention.)
With O’Malley at only 7 percent statewide, it’s likely his supporters would fail to meet the 15 percent thresholds across the many local precincts. So which of the big two candidates would they support? The answer is 57 percent for O’Malley, to only 27 percent for Clinton. If that were to pan out, Sanders could net another 2 to 3 percentage points against Clinton on Monday.
The GOP side has a different headache — not for uncertainty, but because of who looks like they’re definitely ahead. Here, the polls show a clear leader in Iowa: Donald Trump.
- The Monmouth University poll has Trump ahead at 30 percent, Ted Cruz with 23 percent, Marco Rubio at 16 percent, and Ben Carson 10 percent.
- The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Trump in first at 32 percent, then Cruz 25 percent, Rubio 18 percent, and Carson 8 percent.
- Public Policy Polling has Trump at 31 percent, Cruz 23 percent, Rubio 14 percent, and Carson 9 percent.
In all of these polls on the Republican side, no other candidates can get over even 5 percent.
Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a veteran’s rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking