According to a Quinnipiac University poll, a survey of 651 likely Republican caucus participants in Iowa found that 31 percent would vote for Donald Trump. His chief competitor Ted Cruz falls behind by 2 percentage points. Thirty-nine percent of those who said they support a candidate also said they might change their mind, and 2 percent were undecided.
Here’s what we know about the results’ accuracy:
The poll of Republicans comes with a plus or minus 3.8 percentage point margin of error, meaning there is plenty of room for either front runner to be in the lead. Marco Rubio came in third in the poll at 13 percent, but even with the consideration of the margin of error, Rubio still falls short of the top.
In the poll of Democrats, after surveying 606 likely Democratic caucus participants in Iowa, Bernie Sanders is leading at 49 percent, with Hillary Clinton at 45 percent. Two percent were undecided, and 19 percent said they could change their minds. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points meaning, again, either front runner could come out on top.
The Iowa State University/WHO-HD poll that came out Tuesday showed 25.8 percent of likely caucus goers voting for Cruz and 18.9 percent voting for Trump. The poll’s results also put Republican candidate Ben Carson in third at 13.4 percent and Rubio at 12.3 percent.
Like the Quinnipiac University poll, the results show the Democratic race is close: 47.4 percent of likely caucus-goers said they would vote for Clinton, while 45 percent said they would vote for Sanders.
The poll’ s margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. These results show a much closer race across the board for the Republicans and a close race between the two front runners in the Democratic Party.
Mack Shelley, ISU chair of political science and professor of statistics, gave us the breakdown of how this poll was conducted.
Shelley said his team started with the Iowa voter registration list that consists of roughly 2 million people. He said they surveyed a random sample of 12,000 registered voters – 5,000 Democrats, 5,000 Republicans and 2,000 independents – to see who was likely to participate in the Iowa caucus.
To find those likely caucus-goers, they simply asked how likely it was they would participate.
“It’s essentially ran through our department of statistics, so it’s got really, really good science behind it,” he said.
Once they determined who the likely caucus-goers were, ISU conducted phone interviews with 356 Democrats, 283 Republicans and 83 independents.
Shelley said his team had a list from the secretary of state’s office with the cell and landline phone numbers of about 80 percent of the people on the list. To find the rest, he said they paid “a bit of money” to Survey Sampling International in Connecticut, where they got the rest of the phone numbers.
“They do a pretty good job of tracking people,” he said.
Shelley said the poll found that, collectively, the survey respondents in both parties viewed Democrats as more honest, compassionate and providing strong leadership, compared to Republican candidates Trump and Carly Fiorina.
Reach reporter Tia Rinehart at tia.Rinehart@scripps.com or 202-408-1490. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Download graphics: Iowa Polls.zip