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December 8, 2007
New Newsweek Poll a Head Scratcher
A new poll just released by Newsweek shows former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee with a startling surge in Iowa, now leading Mitt Romney by a 2-1 margin:
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has vaulted over his major GOP challengers to take a commanding lead in the race to win the Iowa caucuses, while Barack Obama continues to edge ahead of Hillary Clinton among Democrats likely to participate, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows. Dan Riehl looks at the polls internals and finds some problems:
The most dramatic result to come out of the poll, which is based on telephone interviews with 1,408 registered Iowa voters on Dec. 5 and 6, is Huckabee's emergence from the shadows of the GOP race into the front runner's spot in just two months.
The ordained Southern Baptist minister now leads Romney by a two-to-one margin, 39 percent to 17 percent, among likely GOP caucus-goers. In the last NEWSWEEK survey, conducted Sept. 26-27, Huckabee polled a mere 6 percent to Romney's 25 percent, which then led the field. Huckabee has also opened up a wide margin over the next three leading candidates, who all show signs of fading in Iowa: Rudy Giuliani, who dropped from 15 percent in the last survey to 9 percent in the current one; Fred Thompson, who fell from 16 percent to 10 percent; and John McCain, who slipped from 7 percent to 6 percent.
While I don't doubt that Huckabee is surging, there's a few grains of salt to take with the latest Newsweek poll showing him at 39 to 17 for Mitt. And, yes, it was before the speech. But what's strange is that compared to previous polls, Huckabee would have had to draw more than 1 - 1 from Mitt, while Thomspon and McCain weren't touched and Paul picked up 3 points. Indeed, all polls from the last 10 days in Iowa show Huckabee surging but getting nowhere near the support the Newsweek poll says he is getting.
South Carolina has shown something different, where Huckabee cut Fred's support dramatically. It doesn't make sense that he wouldn't touch him in Iowa. That brings us to the sample. Yes, they're touting a sample of 1,408 people, but that's not really accurate. In terms of possible Republican caucus goers, you're looking at an MOE plus/,minus 7. Most reputable polling organizations would try to stay away from an MOE that high.
275 Likely Republican caucus-goers (definitely/probably will attend) (plus or minus 7).
Is it a statistical glitch? An anomaly in the sampling? I guess we'll find out when other polls start coming out. If Huckabee shows a 15 point lead or more, you'll know that the Newsweek poll was accurate.