Four days from the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump continues to lead in polls. But could a newly-released poll signal possible trouble for the GOP frontrunner? A fresh survey from Public Policy Polling suggest nearly a third (31 percent) of likely GOP caucus goers say the could change their vote before Monday, suggesting “there are still a lot of votes on the table.”
Trump still continues to be the “clear leader” in Iowa at 31%. However, the new Public Policy Polling survey sheds light on some unpredictable dynamics that could lead to some surprises come Monday night — many of which appear unlikely to favor Trump.
As Weekly Standard reports:
What the numbers imply, though, is a mixed bag. On the one hand, Trump may be insulated from such fickle caucus goers, as 80 percent of his supporters say they’re “firmly committed to him”. Compare that to 71 percent of Cruz’s backers and a paltry 65 percent of Rubio’s.
However, PPP explains the flip side:
There are reasons within these numbers to see the possibility of both Cruz and Rubio outperforming their current standing on Monday night. Currently 30 percent of the likely electorate is supporting someone among the also rans — the 9 candidates in single digits. But 43 percent of those voters are open to the possibility of changing their minds — possibly casting a strategic vote. And among that group supporting the also rans 35 percent say they would pick Rubio, 25 percent say they would pick Cruz, and 17 percent say they would pick Trump if they had to choose between the leading contenders.
In other words, of the top three contenders, Trump is likely to benefit least from voters switching from the “also rans” to one of the top three — potentially tightening the race between Trump and his closest competitors, Cruz and Rubio.
Were such a scenario to break, there’s “a real possibility” Rubio could capture 20 to 25 percent, PPP states. Its poll currently projects 31 percent for Trump, 23 percent for Cruz and 14 percent for Rubio, taken from a sample of 780 people.
Meanwhile, the poll doesn’t necessarily capture other potentially alarming signs (albeit anecdotal only) for Trump: backlash from the current feud with Fox News and Megyn Kelly. Anecdotally, many conservative talk show callers are reporting their once-solid support for Trump has weakened in recent days; some have reported switching their support because of Trump’s recent actions. While this is purely anecdotal, some of these once-committed Trump supporters switching leads me to question whether the 80% “committed” Trump supporters in the latest poll are rock solid — or open to fluctuation come caucus time.
The Weekly Standard reports similar anecdotal signs from the ground in Iowa:
Anecdotally, THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s Steve Hayes has seen signs of the volatility in person. He writes in a dispatch from West Des Moines:
… Trump’s erratic behavior has given some Iowa voters pause as they make final decisions about whom they will support in next week’s caucuses. His ostensible reason for skipping the debate – a five-month old feud with Megyn Kelly – seems odd and whimsical. And while so those descriptors fit so much of what Trump has done during his run for the Republican nomination, the risks he is taking so close to the caucuses raise questions about whether his ostensible reason for skipping the debate is the real one.
Hayes quotes one former Trump supporter saying this:
“I liked that he would bring the experience of being a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company and assumed that he could get good people around him, cause you need that when you’re building a company,” Moon said Wednesday. Trump, he continued, could “get the economy on track and get our jobs back from China. And build a wall.”
“Now I’m seeing what his true temperament is – I obviously don’t know him personally – but I’ve seen him say and do some things that I disagree with but haven’t been deal-killers,” Moon says. “But the last few hours – over the last day when he decided he wasn’t going to debate with the rest of the candidates – that really was the last straw.”
“I thought we were due for a CEO in our country,” Moon said. “But Trump to me, with these actions, says: ‘It’s all about me.’ We already have a narcissistic president in the Oval Office. We don’t need another one.”
Read Hayes’ whole piece, including interviews with other Iowans, here.
If indeed these anecdotal signs play out in numbers on caucus night — while on the other hand, Cruz and Rubio disproportionately benefit from “also ran” voters making strategic switches to one of them as PPP poll suggests — the final numbers could be closer than current polls suggest.
The bottom line is, once again, we may be wise to expect the unexpected in Iowa, as we’ve been learning to do all along this election cycle. The voters will decide!
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]