Will the Santorum surge last until tomorrow?

Will the Santorum surge last until tomorrow?

Could Mitt really be pipped at the post?

I can’t recall a survey in recent times that has been scrutinised as much as the one by the respected US pollster, Ann Selzer for the Des Moines Register. What sets it apart is Selzer’s track record, the scale of the phone survey and the effort to only to count those most likely to take part in tomorrow’s caucus meetings at 1,700 location across Iowa. As Politico reports:

“Selzer…said in an interview she was taken aback over four days of polling late last week to see Santorum’s support take an “astonishing jump” before her eyes. On the first day of polling, Dec. 27, he registered only ten percent in calls to likely caucus-goers. By the last night, the 30th, he was drawing 22 percent. Cumulatively, the full poll showed him drawing 15 percent, compared to 24 percent for Romney and 22 percent for Ron Paul.

But Selzer said the poll showed Paul bleeding support fast and Romney stationary. Santorum, by contrast, is taking advantage of an unusually fluid electorate to gain support at a time when it is too late for rivals to shoot him down with a blast of negative messaging: Any TV commercials to air before Jan. 3 voting have already been made and sent to the stations..”

The polling commentator Mark Blumental picked up two apparently contradictory features in an analysis at Huffington Post:-

“…For example, two very plausible alternative assumptions about turnout yield two very different outcomes:

Her sample found fewer evangelicals among likely caucus-goers than in past caucuses, but if she weighted the final two days of interviewing so that evangelicals are 60 percent of participants — the level reported by network entrance polls in 2008 — Santorum would lead Romney by five points (25 to 20 percent).

Consistent with her previous Iowa polls this year, Selzer found indications of lower turnout among seniors compared to past Republican caucuses. However, if seniors were weighted up to 27 percent of the respondent pool interviewed on the last two days (to match the 2008 entrance poll), Romney would lead Santorum by seven points (26 percent to 19 percent)…”

Whatever the mood amongst punters seems to be pro-Santorum and as I write (at 0735) Betfair has him at 2.1/1 with Romney at 1.1/1. Paul is now third favourite.

Who is going to win? I don’t know but we don’t have long to wait. The caucus meeting start at 7pm in Iowa or 1am on Wednesday morning in the UK. I can see another long night ahead.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH

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