First, I want to say that I have no problem with what I am about to talk about, and I am not alleging anything conspiratorial. In politics, affinity groups are affinity groups and great things. Barack Obama will do better among African-Americans than other candidates. Joe Lieberman got huge electoral and financial turnout from Jews. And the Wall Street Journal talks about Mitt Romney’s support from Mormons:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it has more than 22,500 members in Iowa in 68 congregations. Joseph Cheney, the president of one of seven "stakes," or geographical groups within the church, estimates that as many as 7,000 Mormons are likely to show up on caucus night, and that nearly three-quarters of the Mormons in the state support Mr. Romney.

This suggests that about 50% of the adult Mormons in Iowa will caucus for Romney. (Assuming that 70% of the 22.5k are adults, not an unreasonable assumption) That 50% number is extraordinary. In a November analysis of polling, a CBS analyst said:

In 2004 about 124,000 people attended Iowa Democratic caucuses, out of a statewide population of about 2,200,000 adults. Even if that Democratic turnout is matched on the Republican side (which might not happen, given the greater enthusiasm of Democratic voters this year), that would still mean a turnout of only 11 percent of the adult population. The hard part for polling is finding them in advance of the caucuses

In other words, the very high end of typical turnout is around 10%. IA Mormons are looking at 50%. Assuming that, under normal circumstances, Mormons participate in higher numbers, perhaps 20% would normally participate in the caucus, (just a guess) that would mean 2,800 votes. Romney will be beating that by at least 2.5x.

That means that Romney will be increasing the universe of caucus-goers by approximately 4,200 people. Increasing the universe is the Holy Grail of winning the Iowa caucuses, but most people don’t succeed. (Exhibit A is always the famed Youth Vote)

The upshot is that you can safely add 5% or so to Romney’s numbers in any Iowa poll. Furthermore, if the Romney campaign is smart — and they are very, very smart — they are trying to drive these numbers even higher. What if turnout was 70% not 50%? Then that would be the equivalent of adding about 7% to his numbers.

The bottom line is that Mitt Romney will win a caucus that looks close. Romney starts with 5-7% of the vote. Any attempt to play down Romney’s chances in Iowa is just a game, the expectations game.

UPDATE: The LA Times has a similar report about California.

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11 Comments

Rachel · December 18, 2007 at 9:29 AM

I suspect the LDS numbers are inflated. They count every person who has ever joined their church as members, regardless of their activity level. Even people who have left and attend another church.

The only way to get your name off the church roles is to go thru a resignation procedure that isn’t worth the bother for a lot of former members. A majority of converts eventually leave the church. Their retension level isn’t very good.

Their worldwide numbers are hugely inflated. They deny it but its true.

If you do the math it comes out to about 330 members per congregation. That just isn’t plausible.

ee2793 · December 18, 2007 at 9:50 PM

Soren, your little McCain Hucklenut strategery expectations game playing is laughable.

Elbeau · December 19, 2007 at 12:48 PM

330 per congregation is right in line with our regular numbers per congregation. In most parts of the US, including Iowa I believe, you will find about 50% of our members in attendance each Sunday. That puts 165 people in the average Iowa church each week, which is right on target for how large the church likes to keep it’s congregations.

So, Let’s take the 22,500 members and divide by 2 to get the “Active” members = 11,250. 50% Caucus turnout from that number gives us 5,625…still an impressive number.

Then there’s the fact that many of our less-active members still identify themselves with the church…so maybe throw another 500-1000 supporters from that group. The numbers definitely work in Romney’s favor.

eye · December 19, 2007 at 1:02 PM

Elbeau,

Thanks for commenting and confirming those numbers. That seems about right to me too.

Soren

FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » Mitt Romney Watch: The Mormon Affinity Vote and Iowa Expectations · December 18, 2007 at 10:53 AM

[…] There are a couple of pieces this morning about Mitt Romney, Iowa election expectations and the Mormon Affinity vote for Mitt. […]

CALIFORNIA YANKEE · December 18, 2007 at 1:16 PM

Romney’s Sleeper Cell…

With all the mania over the Huckaboom, one could be forgiven for concluding the Republican presidential race is all over in Iowa but for the counting and writing the “Huckabee Wins” headline. It is still two weeks before Iowans tell the country who s…

Team Romney’s Iowa expectations ruse, the Mormon “orange plan” « who is willard milton romney? · December 18, 2007 at 1:50 PM

[…] We must now revise our hypothesis. Eye of eyeon08.com has developed evidence to suggest an alternative reading of events on the ground in Iowa based on the Mormon support for Romney. Regard: … In other words, the very high end of typical turnout is around 10%. IA Mormons are looking at 50%. Assuming that, under normal circumstances, Mormons participate in higher numbers, perhaps 20% would normally participate in the caucus, (just a guess) that would mean 2,800 votes. Romney will be beating that by at least 2.5x. […]

The upside of Mitt’s Mormonism · December 18, 2007 at 3:01 PM

[…] Elizabeth Holmes of the WSJ, who covers Mitt, has a smart piece getting at this point and has a great anecdote to back it up.  Soren Dayton, no Romney fan, crunches the numbers and shows what an advantage turing out even a small portion of Mormons could mean for Romney on caucus night. […]

race42008.com » Blog Archive » About those Mormon voters · December 19, 2007 at 10:21 AM

[…] Jim G., Jonathan Martin, and Soren Dayton are talking up the Mormon factor in the upcoming primaries, particularly in Iowa. […]

race42008.com » 2007 » December » 19 · December 19, 2007 at 12:14 PM

[…] Jim G., Jonathan Martin, and Soren Dayton are talking up the Mormon factor in the upcoming primaries, particularly in Iowa. […]

race42008.com » Blog Archive » Race 4 2008 Early Morning Essential Reads · December 19, 2007 at 3:51 PM

[…] Romney is doing better in Iowa than you think […]

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