Candidates Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participate in the Democratic Candidates Debate hosted by NBC News and YouTube on Jan. 17, 2016 in Charleston, S.C.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty

On Caucus Day, latest polls show Iowa Dems closely divided

We talked earlier about where things stand among Iowa Republicans as Caucus Day arrives; now let’s take a look at Iowa Democrats.
The Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, conducted by J. Ann Selzer, was released over the weekend, and it has the race shaping up this way:
1. Hillary Clinton: 45% (up from 42% a month ago)
2. Bernie Sanders: 42% (up from 40%)
3. Martin O’Malley: 3% (down from 4%)
At least in this poll, it’s been interesting to watch Sanders’ deficit steadily shrink over the course of several months. Last January, the same pollster showed Clinton leading Sanders by a whopping 51 points. By May, the margin was 41 points. In June, it was down to 26. Clinton’s advantage was just seven points in August and October, and then two points last month.
Many speculated that Sanders would inch ahead by the time this final poll came out, but that obviously hasn’t happened.
As we discussed earlier, it might seem odd that this one poll, often referred to as the “gold standard” in Iowa polling, gets so much attention, but there’s a good reason for all the fuss.
Looking back over the last 28 years, Selzer’s surveys have correctly identified the winner of the Democratic caucuses in every instance. Indeed, Selzer’s national reputation as one of the premier polling experts stems in part from her successes in accurately projecting accurate Democratic results – in 2004, when Kerry looked like a longshot, she accurately showed him climbing into the lead, and four years later, when the polls were all over the place, Selzer got Obama’s big win just right.
Other tidbits from the poll:
* 83% of Clinton supporters say their minds are made up, while 69% of Sanders supporters say the same. It led Selzer to argue, “Most of the ways you look at it, she’s stronger than the three-point race would suggest.”
* Sanders may be older than Clinton, but he’s faring much better among younger voters. Clinton, on the other hand, leads Sanders by more than two-to-one among voters over 65 years old.
* Sanders leads among Iowa men; Clinton leads among Iowa women.
* Talk of an “enthusiasm gap” appears to be misplaced. Among likely caucus-goers, 73% are “very enthusiastic” about Clinton, while 69% said the same about Sanders.
Watch this space.