We’re just four days from kicking off the 2016 primary race in Iowa. Ahead of the final pre-Iowa caucus debate, new polls by Monmouth and Quinnipiac show Donald Trump edging Ted Cruz in a tight race. Trump leads nationally and in New Hampshire. Trump also holds the national betting lead, as aggregated by PredictWise.
Here’s a look at the state of the race:
New polls show a slight Trump lead in Iowa. Monmouth shows Trump with a 7-point lead, 30 percent to Cruz’s 23, with Rubio at 16 and Ben Carson at 10. Cruz, however, leads 28 percent to 23 percent among Iowa Republicans who regularly caucus. Via Quinnipiac, Trump leads by just 2 over Cruz, 31 percent to 29, with Rubio at 13.
The RealClearPolitics averages show Trump with a 5.8-point lead over Cruz at 32.7 to 26.9 percent, with Rubio running third at 12.6 percent.
Iowa Polling Averages (by RealClearPolitics)
If the caucus results bear out the polling, an interesting quirk of the Iowa caucus could change the landscape of the race. Under caucus rules, if a candidate fails to reach a 15 percent threshold, his or her supporters are required to select another candidate. According to recent polls, that means that 40 percent of the Iowa Republican electorate will be up for grabs on caucus night.
The polling history from RealClearPolitics shows an encouraging result for Trump. Six days before the caucus in 2008, Mike Huckabee led Mitt Romney by just 2 points (30.5 to 28.5 percent), smaller than Trump’s lead over Cruz; Huckabee took 34 percent and the victory, while eventual nominee John McCain finished fourth. In 2012, eventual Iowa winner Rick Santorum was polling fourth at 13.8 percent, with Ron Paul in the lead at 21.3 percent; there’s been no recent surge from a 2016 Trump challenger.
Despite these polling results, FiveThirtyEight, which takes more than polls into account for its “polls-plus” forecast, holds Cruz at a 49 percent chance of taking Iowa, with Trump at 42 and no other candidate in double digits. The polls-only forecast, which weights polls based on methodology and past accuracy, favors Trump with a 55 percent chance, compared to 38 for Cruz and single digits for everyone else.
FiveThirtyEight Polls-Plus Model
Trump fell precipitously in the as aggregated by Predictwise, 66 to 56 percent. Cruz rose to 40 percent, with no one else in double digits.
Click the “next page” button below for New Hampshire and national polling roundup, as well as a discussion of today’s news.