DES MOINES, IOWA — The latest Iowa Poll released by legendary pollster Ann Selzer over the weekend shows a battle is brewing for second place in the Iowa Caucuses – but former President Donald Trump continues to run away with the race here in Iowa. WHO 13’s Zach Fisher talked with Selzer about what else the numbers show, two months before Caucus day.
“The position that Donald Trump holds is just so dominating, its a big number,” said Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co. “It was a good poll for Donald Trump.”
The former president gained one percentage point among likely Iowa Republican caucus participants over the span of two months. Trump, at 43%, sits 26% higher than Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.
Selzer says that Trump’s lead is so commanding and his voters are very much locked in: it’ll take a massive influx of new Iowa caucus participants for anyone else to win the state.
“It is two things that could happen. One is that something spectacular happens in the news cycle and it shifts people’s thinking,” said Selzer. “…Or it could there’s a rush of new caucus-goers who are all lining up for one of the other contenders.”
Selzer mentioned former President Barack Obama’s Iowa Caucus win in 2008, where Hillary Clinton was far and away the favorite. Obama brought in a record amount people who had never participated in a caucus before. Selzer believed it was 57-58% new faces out of all Iowa Democrats caucusing in that election cycle.
And for other Republican presidential campaigns, that means there is a rough blueprint of taking down a heavy favorite.
“We’re going all in on Iowa and we’re doubling our staff and we’re putting more resources on the ground, opening that new headquarters over in West Des Moines and really increasing our presence in the state that I believe will, in a very real way, expand our footprint as we again continue on to caucus day,” said Matt Gorman, a senior advisor on Senator Tim Scott’s presidential campaign.
Scott lost 2% from August to October and his overall footprint shrank in the state. The campaign is responding by adding additional staff around the state, just doing so in the last week and a half
Nikki Haley, outside of Donald Trump, was the biggest winner in the new poll, gaining 10% in the last two months. That puts her tied with DeSantis at 16%.
“Nikki Haley is now second in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Time to start talking about a two-person race, one man and one woman,” said Ken Farnaso, the Press Secretary on Haley’s campaign.
DeSantis lost 3% in two months, but the candidate still thinks there is a way to eat at the former president’s commanding lead.
“Well, I think you’ll you’ll see that consolidation to continue, especially as some of the the ‘Tier Two’ candidates continue to fade or to drop out. I think the next debate will be especially telling seeing who actually ends up showing up on the debate stage, who performs,” said Kristin Davison, the chief operating officer for Never Back Down. “That would be very indicative as to who will show up in Iowa on January 15th. And as that the field continues to diminish, I think you will see that consolidation grow, the footprint, grow and push the DeSantis ahead.”
Though there was a loss in percentage points for first choice, DeSantis actually grew his footprint in two months. More Iowans are choosing him for second and third options now.