If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Changes in the Democratic Race

A Commentary By Douglas E. Schoen

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

I have argued for the last couple of months that the Democratic primary race has been static, representing a strong, if not dominant position for Hillary Clinton. In light of current polling, it is important to acknowledge that Barack Obama has made significant progress in the last month in states like New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

The most recent polls out of New Hampshire show Clinton’s lead over Obama down to 8 points (33.4% to 25.4%), according to the Real Clear Politics average. The Mason-Dixon poll just released says that Clinton’s lead has shrunk to three points (30% to 27%). In South Carolina, the Real Clear Politics Average has Clinton’s lead at less than seven points, with two of the most recent polls, Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen, showing Clinton and Obama in a statistical tie. Even in Nevada, where Clinton once held a 40-point lead, Obama trails only by 8 points, according to the Mason-Dixon poll (34% to 26%).

Curiously enough, the state that showed the least change is Iowa. Even when Clinton was considered to have a solid lead in Iowa, her lead was no more than a few points outside the margin of error. Now, with Obama at his highest support level yet, the Real Clear Politics average gives him a 1.6-point lead – a relatively small change. The Mason-Dixon poll has Hillary Clinton two points ahead. The recent Newsweek poll, which has Clinton behind Obama by six points for likely caucus-goers, reported a tie between the two candidates when it included all Democratic voters. Turnout is very difficult to predict. And so, the Iowa race remains static as it continues to be in a statistical tie.

Hillary Clinton still does have some important advantages in Iowa. Her support is older and comes from women; Barack Obama’s is younger and comes from men. With the caucus occurring on the night of the Orange Bowl and with most Iowa universities not in session, this gives a slight advantage to Hillary Clinton.

Thus, while the media hype has exaggerated the recent poll results in Iowa, the net impact appears to have legitimately helped Barack Obama in other early states.

Carly Cooperman contributed to this article.

Douglas Schoen is a founding and former partner of Penn Schoen & Berland, and a Fox News Contributor.

Schoen was President Bill Clinton's research and strategic consultant during the 1996 reelection campaign.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.