The starting gun is about to be fired on primary season in the States (being America, that feels like an appropriate metaphor) with Iowans going to the polls tomorrow to have their say on who should be the Democrat and Republican candidates for President. It’s also the season for every half-wit, narcissistic wannabe political commentator to give his or her hot take on what’s going to happen, and what it will mean. So here I am, also having a crack at predicting the outcome of Iowa, mainly so that I can see how far the last few months of earnestly watching debates, reading FiveThirtyEight’s analysis and following candidate’s speeches has brought me. I should point out that never mind Iowa (which I comfortably forget about between election cycles), I’ve never actually been to the States. My predictions are based on voter behaviour from the UK and Israel, but I suspect voting behaviour is more universal than we might suspect. Just one technical point, I promise. The poll I’m basing my predictions off is the final Des Moines Register one, produced by Ann Seltzer, described by FiveThirtyEight as “the best pollster in Iowa”. The important numbers are Drumpf 28%, Cruz 23%, Rubio 15% and Carson 10%. Rand Paul is on 5%, but his votes won’t change hands, his views are notably different from the other candidates. The other slew of candidates are within the margin of error of 0%. So, without any further ado, here I go: my predictions for the outcome of the Iowa vote tomorrow.
1) Let’s deal with the orange-tinted, spray-on hair equipped elephant in the room first. I don’t think Drumpf will win, despite the poll lead. Reasoning? Drumpf’s voters are not ideologically motivated, they’re not deeply committed to political activism, and while I think a lot of them support Drumpf in theory, I also think a lot of them won’t bother to turn out on the day itself. Another factor against Drumpf is that his whole campaign shtick is “I’m a winner”, “I’m self-made”, “I don’t rely on anyone else”. The problem with that is, your voters get complacent and if they’re 50/50 on whether to go and vote or not, it makes them more likely to choose not (“Drumpf will win anyway, so I don’t need to bother going to vote”). Sometimes, it’s smart to inject a little bit of worry and urgency, just to get your voters out (as done to perfection by Netanyahu last year). I have Drumpf down as coming a couple of points behind Cruz.
2) Cruz. I think he’ll win, because unlike Drumpf, his voters, mainly evangelicals and Tea Party loyalists, are ideologically driven and more likely to be involved in the political process, i.e. more likely to turn out on polling day. Also in his favour is his very strong ground game in Iowa. One of the assumptions I’m transferring from UK/Israel is that between 25%-33% of voters head to the polls, *still not knowing* who they’re going to vote for. A lot of Cruz campaigners on the way and outside the polling station may well tip some of those people in his favour.
3) Rubio I’m tipping to come a very strong 3rd place, higher than his numbers suggest. I think a lot of voters for the more irrelevant candidates in Iowa (Kasich, Bush, Christie, Santorum, Gilmore) who really don’t like the idea of Drumpf or Cruz, will switch their votes last minute to Rubio to try and defeat those two. He’s the second choice candidate of 20% of the voters polled in the Des Moines Register, and I think a fair amount of those will end up voting for him rather than their first choice, out of political calculations.
4) Carson I think will do a bit worse than his numbers suggest, and I think his votes will go slightly more towards Cruz than Drumpf, mainly because of the evangelical factor, but won’t make a huge difference. Again, I feel like a lot of people will go to the polling station and think “there’s no point me voting for the good doctor, as much as I like him, because he’s not going to win”.
And as an afterthought, Democrats? Clinton to win it by a narrow margin, pretty much in line with the polls.
So there you go. That’s how I’m calling it. Iowa, over to you!
EDIT: Nailed it. 5/5. If travel writing doesn’t work out, there’s always political analysis to fall back on.
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-The Wandering Jew-