Both Trump and Hillary will win the caucus for their parties, but not at the percentage that the polls show. Here’s why:
Caucuses are not like primaries. For a primary, you show up, vote, and leave. You could do it in a few minutes if the lines aren’t long. For a caucus, you have to show up on time in your local area and be there most of the night. Speeches are given and debates are held and if a candidate doesn’t get enough votes, then a second vote is held and so on. It’s democracy on a most basic scale.
While Iowans take it very seriously (since no one cares about Iowa except once every four years), you still have the very real situation where only the most political and enthusiastic supporters even attend. And even then, it varies from place to place. A rural site where 20 farmers show up can have as much of an impact as an inner-city site where 100 students show up.
And all this hurts both Trump and Hillary.
Trump gets people to come to a rally to see the celebrity and listen to him spout his hatred. But many of his supporters are people who never vote — they’re not your normal political folks. I’m willing to bet that a large chunk of them will find something else more interesting to do that night.
On the Democratic side, you have the very enthusiastic Bernie supporters who will come out to the caucus meetings. They will give Bernie a much better showing than expected but it still won’t be enough to counter Hillary (who, despite a media attempt to turn this into a horse race, is pretty comfortably ahead of Bernie in all state polls except for New Hampshire, located next door to his home state of Vermont).
I’m not saying Hillary will run away with Iowa — it will be close, and the closer it is, the better for Bernie. He may even win the caucus, which could give him the momentum he needs to even the polling in other states. That’s how Obama did it when he was behind Hillary by about the same amount. Obama had the advantage though of being a great speaker and looking like a President, something you should never discount.
In the long run, Iowa is important only to show how good each candidate’s ground plan is. It in no way predicts the ultimate winner. Just ask Presidents Mike Huckabee, Tom Harkin, and Richard Gephardt.
But then again, who really knows? Trying to predict the caucus is next to impossible. Anything can happen. My prediction is just a guess. After all, in 2008, everyone was predicting Hillary to win and she came in third, behind Obama and Edwards.