The latest CNN/ORC International Iowa Caucus poll doesn’t pass the smell test.
They show Donald Trump with an 11 point lead:
1. Donald Trump 37%
2. Ted Cruz 26%
3. Marco Rubio 14%
4. Dr. Ben Carson 6%
5. (Tie) Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee 3%
7. Rand Paul 2%
8. (Tie) Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich & Rick Santorum 1%
This poll was conducted January 15 through January 20th. 266 likely Republican caucus goers were interviewed (n=266) and has a margin of error of ±6.0%.
Polls conducted during the same time frame:
The Monmouth College/KBUR AM poll was conducted on January 18 and 19th. 687 likely Republican caucus goers were interviewed (n=687) with a margin of error of ±3.7%. In this poll Cruz (27%) leads Trump (25%). Carson (11%) is fourteen points back followed by Rubio (9%).
The Loras College poll was conducted January 13 through January 18th. 500 likely Republican caucus goers were interviewed (n=500) with margin of error of ±4.4%. Trump (26%) and Cruz (25%) are statistically tied in this poll.
The CNN/ORC International poll’s methodology is troubling along with having a very small sample size. The results are an outlier compared to other surveys released in this time frame and is the only poll during this time frame to show Trump above 26% support in Iowa. CNN/ORC uses a sample based upon Random Digit Dialing, which means they screen down from 2,002 adults to find 266 self-screened likely Republican caucus goers. This survey’s criteria for a likely caucus participant is based upon the stated response of the respondent and not tied to state voter registration files. This loose definition of likely caucus participant benefits Trump.
Nate Silver noted something else about the CNN/ORC poll:
For instance, the CNN poll implies a turnout of about 320K in the Iowa GOP caucus, versus ~120K in 2012.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 21, 2016
Based on the other data at hand I don’t think the CNN/ORC poll is trustworthy. The race in Iowa is still extremely tight and will come down to who has the best organization to turn out voters to caucus.