The Presidential Pensieve for October 5, 2015

Splash water drop

Several new polls — most of which have very questionable data — have been released in the past week. We have reason to believe the numbers in several polls were manipulated to achieve a desired result. In cases where there is solid evidence to support that notion, we have ignored the poll’s result altogether.

Based on reliable polling data, here is the Top 10 in Iowa:

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Ben Carson
  3. Ted Cruz
  4. Carly Fiorina
  5. Marco Rubio
  6. Jeb Bush
  7. Mike Huckabee
  8. Bobby Jindal
  9. John Kasich
  10. Rand Paul

What we see on the ground is slightly different, and for the first time, we are going to skew away substantially from what the polls are indicating. This is based on perceived polling bias, strength of organization, and expectations of final fundraising numbers for the third quarter, which should be reported in the next couple of weeks.

We are holding to our turnout projection to 135,000, if the Iowa Republican Caucus were held tomorrow.

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7. Jeb Bush (5,500 votes) — This might be the establishment equivalent of “rock bottom,” or he may fall even more if Gov. Branstad’s announced all-in support for Chris Christie has any kind of impact.

6. Mike Huckabee (6,500 votes) — There just aren’t enough undecided Christian conservatives for him to attract. He needs to find a way to chip into other candidates’ support without surrendering on his principles, a tall order in the current field dynamics — particularly with Bobby Jindal beginning to re-immerge from the back of the pack.

5. Marco Rubio (8,500 votes) — He would be one of the benefactors of a Fiorina collapse, but he’s lacking a solid Iowa organization — a situation his campaign says it is rectifying — to capitalize on that right now. If he builds an effective Iowa team, he will move up.

4. Carly Fiorina (9,000 votes) — Her comments on the situation in Syria has hurt, and will continue to hurt, with many of the regular caucus attendees. Her shifting positions on education, marriage, and abortion are hurting, too. Her poll numbers are beginning to show it, as well.

2-tie. Ted Cruz (21,000 votes) — Slowly, but surely, he’s moving into striking range. A few more conservative candidates need to drop out before he can move up enough to be a real threat to the frontrunner.

2-tie. Ben Carson (21,000 votes) — Last week, we weren’t sure if he was hitting a plateau or starting to fall off, now we know for sure: he’s falling off, a little.

1. Donald Trump (44,000 votes) — His numbers appear to have reached a plateau, which is not unusual at this stage in the primary cycle. There are indicators that he’s still gaining support, but not at the rate he picked them up earlier in the race, and there remains the unanswered question of how well his supporters will turn out on Caucus Night.