POLITICS
01/25/2016 09:06 am ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Trump And Clinton Lead, But Iowa Polling Remains Volatile With A Week To Go

New Hampshire polls seem fairly stable by comparison.
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Donald Trump has regained the lead in Iowa but things can still change. On the Democratic side, young voters could tip the caucus toward Bernie Sanders, but only if they turn out. And many people who say they’re independents are just embarrassed partisans. This is HuffPollster for Monday, January 25, 2016.

TRUMP PULLING AHEAD AGAIN IN IOWA - The last four GOP polls from Iowa show businessman Donald Trump with substantial leads of 5-11 percentage points over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The HuffPost Pollster average has shifted to showing a more than four-point lead for Trump again, after the two were essentially tied just a few days ago. [CNN, Emerson College, CBS/YouGov, Fox News]  

Expect more upheaval in Iowa GOP polls over the next week. - Philip Bump: "Earlier this month, Fox News released a poll showing Ted Cruz leading Donald Trump by four points. The two had a sizable lead over everyone else in the state, and the poll was confirming what others were showing: Cruz had an advantage. On Sunday, Fox released another Iowa poll, with substantially different results. Now, Trump is up by 11 points, a 15-point swing in the two weeks between surveys. This poll, too, mirrors the recent trend: Trump has regained the advantage. It's still a surprising development. Trump's gained a lot, across the board, while most of his competitors have slipped. So what's going on? This is the same polling firm and the same methodology….The story of this new poll is that Iowa has changed. And over the next eight days, it will change more."  [WashPost]

HUGE AGE GAP AMONG DEMOCRATS IN IOWA - A new CBS/YouGov poll shows Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders up by 1 percentage point over Hillary Clinton, mirroring the very tight race the HuffPost Pollster average shows. But unlike many other polls, YouGov released vote preference by age, revealing an enormous gap between younger and older voters.

There’s more evidence for a wide age gap. - Most primary polls have small sample sizes, making it difficult to break the results down by age group and find additional support for YouGov’s numbers. But the latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll reported vote preferences among those under and over 45 years old. In the younger cohort, 62 percent support Sanders, while in the older group, 60 percent support Clinton. [NBC/WSJ/Marist]  

Why the age gap matters in Iowa: In general,people below the age of thirty are less likely to turn out to vote in elections. They have especially low voter turnout in the Iowa caucus. With the exception of 2008, in the last five presidential elections, only 3-4 percent of eligible caucus goers under the age of 29 voted in the Iowa caucus, making up between 9-17 percent of the overall caucus goers. But sometimes younger voters do show up to vote, as was evident in 2008 when 13 percent of eligible caucus goers under 29 turned out to vote. [CIRCLE]

DES MOINES REGISTER ENDORSEMENT OF CLINTON AND RUBIO UNLIKELY TO CHANGE THE RACE MUCH - Harry Enten: "Let’s look at how past candidates were doing in the polls before getting the Iowa paper’s endorsement and how they did once all the votes were counted….Seven of the nine candidates [since 1988] did, in fact, do better than we expected them to do before getting the paper’s endorsement….The paper’s endorsement is credited for greatly improving the fortunes of 2004 Iowa runner-up John Edwards, but most of these candidates haven’t gotten anything like the Edwards bounce. The average post-endorsement bump has been a statistically insignificant 3 percentage points." [538]

A RACE FOR SECOND IN THE NEW HAMPSHIRE GOP PRIMARY - Trump remains firmly at the top of the New Hampshire GOP polls, but Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are battling for second. Rubio and Cruz are basically tied in the HuffPost Pollster average, with a little more than 12 percent support each. Kasich isn’t far behind.

NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATS HOLD STEADY - Bernie Sanders still has a solid lead in the New Hampshire polls. The new CBS/YouGov poll shows him with a massive 19-point lead, while Suffolk shows a more moderate 9 point lead. [HuffPost]

MORE AMERICANS ‘INDEPENDENT’ THAN EVER, BUT WITH A CAVEAT -- Samara Klar and Yanna Krupnikov: “[W]hat distinguishes independents from partisans is not their political positions. In fact, most independents aren’t independent at all. They hold clear partisan preferences, but they utterly refuse to identify with their preferred party….We find that many Americans are largely ashamed of the dysfunction in Washington. Rather than associate with candidates and politicians who are portrayed by media as stubborn and aggressive, a plurality of Americans would rather present an image of calm, cool independence. Not only are Americans likely to present themselves as independent but they also prefer that others do the same.” [Vox]  

That limits a third-party or independent candidate’s chances. - More from Klar and Krupnikov: “In order for political independents to rise up and elect a third-party candidate, two things would have to occur. First, people who say they are independent would have to truly believe that neither of the two parties can effectively represent them. Second, the group of people who report that they are independent would have to have sufficiently coherent interests so as to coalesce around the same candidate. Both of these criteria suggest it is unlikely that people who call themselves independents will move America toward a third party.” [Vox]  

OBAMA FINISHES UP FINAL TERM WITH MIXED PUBLIC FEELINGS ON HIS LEGACY - Pew Report: "Overall views of Obama’s legacy – like his job approval ratings – fall roughly between those of George W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s. About as many say, in the long run, Obama will be a successful president (37%) as say he will be unsuccessful (34%), while 26% think it is too early to tell....In general, Democrats view Obama’s legacy in similar terms as they saw Clinton’s in 1999. Nearly two-thirds (65%) say Obama will be a successful president….But Republicans are much more critical of Obama’s legacy today than they were of Clinton’s then. And in their assessments of whether Obama’s accomplishments will surpass his failures, Republicans express even more negative views today than Democrats did about Bush in 2007." [Pew]

HORSE RACE POLLING HAS A LIMITED LIFE SPAN - Kirby Goidel and Keith Gaddie: "Surveys of public opinion typically take place over two or three days; then the results can start to age. If the immediacy of information is unimportant, the aging of a poll is not of great concern. This is especially the case if the information sought is unlikely to change due to outside events. During political campaigns, however, the information environment is dynamic, so poll results tend to age quickly. Depending on the information of interest to the reader, an aging poll might still be useful. But, if you are following the horse race (who is leading an election in a hypothetical matchup) and want to know the support for candidates or issues in a dynamic environment, a poll grows less valuable as it ages. In some elections where voters have limited information about the issues and don't know the candidates very well, horserace polling may be useless within a day or two of being completed." [HuffPost]

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MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Donald Trump regains a double digit lead in Iowa and remains strong in New Hampshire. [Fox News]

-Donald Trump leads in four out of five key primary states. [YouGov]

-Bernie Sanders continues to duke it out with Hillary Clinton in Iowa, widens his lead in New Hampshire and gains in South Carolina. [YouGov]

-Americans are less satisfied with the field of 2016 presidential candidates than they were in 2000 and 2008. [Gallup]

-Alex Seitz-Wald explains how geography might rule in favor of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. [MSNBC]

-Not sure how the Iowa caucuses work? Here’s a primer. [PBS]

-Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute argues abortion isn’t going to be a deciding issue in the 2016 elections. [Forbes]

-The Monkey Cage is holding a contest to forecast the 2016 election. [WashPost]

-Sarah Palin’s endorsement could help Trump gain support among Tea Party supporters. [Monkey Cage]

-Frank Bruni says the media is addicted to polls at a time when polls are least reliable. [NYT]

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