It’s NOT a primary….
The NY Times ask’s the question….
Why are polls so different a week out From the event?
With one week to go until the Iowa caucuses, Joe Biden finds himself in a seemingly unimaginable position: needing to mobilize older voters who are usually the most consistent voters.
This helps explain why recent polls diverge so much on Mr. Biden’s standing in Iowa.
He trailed in the New York Times/Siena College poll of Iowa caucusgoers released Saturday. Yet he very well might have led a Times/Siena poll of a hypothetical Iowa primary, because he had a substantial advantage among Democrats in the survey who regularly turn out in primary elections.
But the Iowa race is a caucus, not a primary. And while analysts know very little about the nature of caucus electorates, there is reason to think that caucuses attract very different kinds of voters.
On the one hand, many regular voters don’t participate in caucuses. One-third of people who participated in a recent Iowa Democratic primary — usually considered all but certain voters — said they weren’t likely to caucus, and these voters backed Mr. Biden by 11 points in the Times/Siena poll. The large number of Democratic primary voters who seem uninterested in attending the Iowa caucuses is all the more surprising given that recent Iowa primary elections for Senate, House, governor or local offices were not particularly competitive and certainly did not attract national attention.
On the other hand, a presidential caucus — and perhaps especially Bernie Sanders — draws a large number of voters to the polls who do not vote regularly. As a result, it was Mr. Sanders who led the Times/Siena poll — by seven points — despite weakness among regular and consistent voters. His supporters may not vote so often, but he led among those who said they had caucused before, including in 2016. Most important, he led among those who said they would show up next week, and therefore led the poll.
This mismatch — between the voters who say they will participate in a caucus, and the voters who typically show up in primaries — may be at the heart of the wide split in recent Iowa polls.
Many pollsters rely, in some way, on past vote history to conduct their surveys. Some pollsters use it to define which voters could be selected to participate in a survey, like a recent Monmouth University poll that selected registered Democrats or independents who turned out in 2018 or in a recent primary, or who registered since 2018. A Neighborhood Research and Media poll was even more limited in its model for who was likely to vote: voters who turned out in either the 2016 or 2018 primary. These polls in Iowa showed Mr. Biden with the lead, and the Times/Siena poll also found Mr. Biden tied or ahead among these groups….