NBC's First Read
said it best: No Iowa poll "gets (and deserves) more attention than the Des Moines Register poll by ace Iowa pollster Ann
Selzer." That reputation was earned, in part, from their final 2004 pre-caucus survey,
the only public poll to correctly predict the rank order of the top four
Democratic candidates. Political web sites have been buzzing since Sunday about
release, which to the credit of all involved includes a "methodology
and questions" page that answers many of the questions asked by our Pollster
Disclosure project. Today, Ann Selzer provides us with a few additional
Their methodology page includes the full text of the
substantive questions asked, plus a reasonably complete general description of
how they selected "likely caucus goers." Follow the link for full details, but
the gist is that they started with a random sample of telephone numbers drawn
from "the Iowa
secretary of state's voter registration list." They then interviewed those who
said they would "definitely" or "probably" attend the caucuses on a question
that offered those two choices plus one more ("probably not").
Selzer also informs us via email that their completed interviews
included a small number of voters interviewed on their cell phones. They sent
their original sample to a service that identified the known cell phone numbers
among those provided by the secretary of state. Selzer dialed those numbers
The data released on the Des
Moines Register site did not address two questions we have been asking
pollsters as part of our Disclosure Project. The first involves the percentage
of adults represented by the each sample. In other words, how tight was the
Ann Selzer has provided an answer via email. I will spare
you the wonky math: The Democratic sample represents roughly 12%, and the
Republican sample 10%, of Iowa's
voting age population.
While the Register did
not include data on the demographic composition of their samples on their results
pages, the Register's David
Yepsen (via First Read),
included some of this information in his Sunday column:
Among likely Democratic
caucusgoers, 62 percent are women, and Clinton
carries more of them - 34 percent - than any other candidate...
Only 2 percent of likely Democratic
caucusgoers are under age 25, while 51 percent are over age 55. On top of that,
only 23 percent of the Democrats say this will be their first caucus...
[T]he poll shows 49 percent of the
likely Democratic attendees are from rural and small-town Iowa. Among Republicans, 54 percent say they
live in those places...
Among likely Republican
caucusgoers, 51 percent describe themselves as "born again" or
A majority of GOP caucusgoers - 58 percent - are men, a contrast with the 62
percent female majority among Democrats...
Among Democrats, 76 percent have at
least some college or more and 56 percent of them earn more than $50,000 a
year. Among Republicans, 80 percent have some college or more and 60 percent
earn more than $50,000.
We will have more on returns from the Disclosure Project
later in the week.