The Campaign Spot

Is Romney Doing Better in Iowa Than Polls Suggest?

Soren Dayton makes an interesting case that Romney’s doing better in Iowa than he lets on, citing one local Mormon leader’s estimate that as many as 7,000 Mormons are likely to show up on caucus night, and that nearly three-quarters of the Mormons in the state support Romney. Calculating that a certain number of these folks are not regular Iowa caucusgoers, Dayton estimates that Romney is probably running five percent higher than the polls show.

Still, don’t Mormon Iowans have every bit as much chance to show up in a poll as anybody else? It’s not like running a phone bank to reach out to the Amish. And if Romney’s sliding in the polls beforehand, doesn’t that suggest that even with this base of hard-core, definately-will-show-up supporters, he’s still in more trouble than he was a month ago or six weeks ago?
Dayton thinks that “any attempt to play down Romney’s chances in Iowa is just a game, the expectations game.” Well, maybe. On the other hand, the expectations game has risks on both sides. If you talk down your chances too much beforehand, people, including your supporters, might buy into it. Secondly, Huckabee has led every poll in Iowa since late November, with Romney leading by a point in two.

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