In dueling Iowa polls, the fine print is important to note
The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, buffeted by the Des Moines Register's Sunday front page trumpeting its poll that gave Barack Obama a slight lead over her (28% to 25%) among likely Democratic caucus-goers, responded today with a release spotlighting two surveys that put her ahead in the Hawkeye state.
The Associated Press/Pew Research Center poll reported Clinton backed by 31% of the likely caucus-goers, followed by Obama (26%), John Edwards (19%) and Bill Richardson (10%). Iowa State University weighed in with these numbers: Clinton, 30.8%; Edwards, 24.4%; Obama 20.2%; Richardson, 11.4%.
In all three of the surveys, the advantage for the leader is within the margin of error. So basically, they all confirm one obvious point -- the Democratic race in Iowa is very tight and very fluid.
A closer look at the polls, however, reveals a potentially key difference between the Register's survey and the other two: timeliness.
The newspaper's poll was conducted from Nov. 25 (Sunday a week ago) through last Thursday. The AP/Pew survey was conducted Nov. 7-25, while the Iowa State poll was in the field Nov. 6-18.
Pollsters like to refer to their findings as "snapshots in time." The AP/Pew and Iowa State polls strike us as a bit lengthy in the development stage.
-- Don Frederick