Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lead their nearest party rivals in final polls released just hours before the Iowa caucus, but barely so, pointing to a close fight for the state.
In the Republican race, Trump and his closest rival Ted Cruz are virtually tied at 27% and 26% in the Emerson College poll released on Monday, with Marco Rubio a close third at 22%.
The same polls gave Clinton a lead of 8 points over Bernie Sanders, her nearest rival in the Democratic race — with the two of them scoring 51% and 43% respectively.
But another poll released on Monday — Quinnipiac, which used three times more respondents than Emerson — had Sanders ahead of Clinton, even if only marginally, by 49% to 46%.
The aggregate of polls for Iowa compiled by Real Clear Politics told nearly the same tale: Trump leads Cruz 28.6% to 23.9, and Clinton leads Sanders 47.9% to 43.9%.
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEigth, which hasn’t projected an election wrongly yet — except the UK polls -- has said Clinton has 66% chances of winning, and Trump 46%.
Phrases such as “dead heat”, “neck and neck” and “close” were used most frequently by commentators and pundits as Iowa prepared to caucus later in the day.
Results are expected around 10:00 pm or 11:00 pm local time (9:30 am or 10:30 am on Tuesday in India), according to The Washington Post. But Iowa is known to buck predictions.
In 2012, Rick Santorum, a Republican candidate, found out he had won the Iowa caucuses more than two weeks after, having spent the time in between believing he had lost to Mitt Romney.
Polls can be tricky. David Yepsen, a long-time observer in Iowa, prescribes a “grain of salt” to go with the polls. Santorum won despite polling in single-digits till two weeks before.