We’re under the two week mark with just thirteen short days before Iowans begin the caucus process on February 1. The Republican race in Iowa is currently in a dead heat between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, each hovering around 27% in polling averages. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by a mere four points on average among Iowa Democrats.


Report on the GOP race from CBS News:

The Republican presidential nomination is growing increasingly more fractured as the primary race becomes more urgent.

The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are just over two weeks away, so that leaves little time for pulling punches.

CBS News’ Julianna Goldman reports that the best way to think about the fight for the Republican nomination right now is a tale of two primaries: You have one battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and then there’s the fight between candidates like Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush vying to be the alternative.

What they all have in common is just how harsh and personal the Republican race has become.

With Cruz nipping at his heels, Trump ventured into more traditional political territory on Friday. Instead of the usual massive rally, he held a smaller town hall.

“We have to caucus, before we forget, we have to caucus, we have to get out,” Trump told the crowd.

He later appeared at a local Pizza Ranch, a frequent stop for White House hopefuls.

When asked why he didn’t mention Cruz, Trump said, “What’s to mention? What’s to mention?”

RCP GOP 1-18
(Polling as of 10:47am ET on 1/18/16)

Iowa is a must-win for Cruz if he has any chance of finishing in the top three in New Hampshire. A second place finish would be good for many candidates in Iowa, but if Trump takes Iowa, the race is going to swing heavily in his favor. If Cruz can manage a win, he’ll have at least a good argument heading into to New Hampshire where he will be able to fight for a strong second place most likely. South Carolina would then become the tie-breaker between Iowa and New Hampshire.

However, if Trump wins Iowa, it’s going to give him a very likely victory in New Hampshire and South Carolina. If that happens, he’ll become the favorite to win the nomination very quickly. The Republicans meet for their last debate before the Iowa caucus on Thursday, January 28, 2016.

Next, onto the Democratic side where Bernie Sanders is turning Iowa into a serious race. Report from the Washington Post on the tendency of Iowa Democrats to vote for the most progressive candidate in the caucus:

Iowa is a swing state. But when it comes to its first-in-the-nation caucuses, its conservatives tend to be quite conservative, and its liberals tend to be quite liberal.

And even socialist.

As the country begins to decide how it feels about the idea of socialism — thanks to Bernie Sanders’s ascendant Democratic primary campaign — it’s worth noting here that it’s a word that many Democratic caucus-goers have clearly embraced. And, in fact, many even call themselves “socialists.”

A little-noticed data point in the new Selzer & Co. Iowa poll, in fact, shows that 43 percent of likely voters in the Feb. 1 caucuses say they would use the word “socialist” to describe themselves.

And to be very clear, this question was not whether they would vote for a socialist or sympathize with socialism; it’s whether they consider themselves socialist.

The 43 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers who self-identify as socialist is actually more than the number who identify themselves as capitalist — 38 percent.

RCP Dem 1-18
(Polling as of 10:47am ET on 1/18/16)

Iowa is prime for Bernie Sanders to get a victory, just ask Barack Obama who triumphed in 2008. Hillary Clinton is still the favorite, but her lead has shrunk significantly. We should get some new polls out this week to show whether the Democratic debate on Sunday night had an major effect.

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