Monthly Archives: January 2016 Predicts Clinton and Cruz to win 2016 Iowa Caucus

By NuQum Economists (Source:, 1/31/2016) is predicting Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz will win tomorrow’s Iowa presidential caucuses.  As of 11:30am (CST), forecasts that Ted Cruz will win the Iowa Republican caucus by two percentage points over Donald Trump (29 percent and 27 percent, respectively).  This forecast is in contrast to most of the recent polling and prediction market forecasts that show Donald Trump winning the Iowa Republican caucus. also forecasts Marco Rubio to finish a distant third at 15 percent of the caucus vote, followed by Ben Carson (12%), Rand Paul (4%), Jeb Bush (3), Mike Huckabee (3%), Rick Santorum (3%). Chris Christie (2%), Carly Fiorina (1%), and John Kasich (1%).

In the Democratic race, forecasts that Hillary Clinton will win 52 percent of the Democratic caucus votes, followed by Bernie Sanders with 45 percent and Martin O’Malley at three percent.  The NuQum forecast shows the former Secretary of State with a more comfortable advantage over Bernie Sanders than most of the recent polling in Iowa.

NuQum Iowa Caucus Forecast 2016

Methodology: economists utilize Real Clear Politics’ poll averages for its initial forecast and then modify this forecast using marginals from the most recent public poll (in this case, the Des Moines Register Iowa Poll) to adjust caucus vote percentages for each candidate.  The adjustment employed for the Iowa caucus involves identifying the urban/rural composition for each candidate and weighting results accordingly.  Based on a historical analysis, corrects for known biases in Iowa caucus polling data that typically under-represent rural votes in the final vote percentages.  For example, in the 2012 Iowa caucus, most polling data significantly under-represented the final Santorum vote totals.  In the 2016 caucus forecast, Ted Cruz benefits most significantly from this bias adjustment.  It is a safe assumption that this bias adjustment accounts for the ability of the Iowa evangelical community to organize and get out the vote for their preferred candidate(s).  For this election, those candidates most benefiting from evangelical support are Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.

If you have any questions about our election forecast, please give us a call at (515) 512 2776 or email our senior economist at:


Hillary Clinton: The “Work Hard” Candidate

By Kent R. Kroeger (Source:, January 28, 2016)

Outcome.  Shmoutcomes.  All you need to know is that Hillary Clinton has spent a political lifetime working tirelessly for (insert interest group).

When a young Iowa voter asked Hillary Clinton why there is so little enthusiasm for her candidacy among his age cohort, Hillary forcefully summarized her core argument for why she should be the next president:  “I’ve been on the front line of change and progress since I was your age.  I’ve been fighting for kids and women and the people who are left behind to get the chance to make the most out of their own lives. ”

It was Hillary’s best moment at CNN’s town hall meeting televised a week out from the Iowa caucuses.  Her response to the young man would be oft-repeated in the town hall’s news coverage.  It was a good line, delivered effectively.  More importantly, her full answer to the young man highlighted one of her genuine successes as First Lady – the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program (CHIP), which, in the ashes of her failed attempt to bring universal healthcare to the U.S., needed Republican support in order to become law.  Yet, as I listened to her, her response seemed just another political bromide where the meaning had been sucked out by a decade and a half of economic stagnation for America’s middle and working classes.

American’s median income has been in decline since 2000.  Bill Clinton can justifiably be proud that Americans’ income growth rates during his administration were among the strongest in the past 50 years.  Still, even that positive outcome was built on a bipartisan economic deregulation program — particularly in the banking, investment and insurance industries — whose long-term ramifications borne out during the 2007 world financial crisis laid waste to much of middle class America’s economic gains from the 1990s.

However, even if we generously forgive the Clinton administration for the excesses left unchecked by economic deregulation, to what extent should Hillary share credit for the economic gains during her husband’s administration?  Well, she was there.  I suppose that’s enough.  According to the polling data, it is enough for a majority of Democrats and may be enough for the majority of voters in the 2016 general election.

In fairness, based on her own rhetoric, Hillary is not asking for support based on her husband’s accomplishments.  She emphasizes her tireless efforts to improve the lives of children, women, minorities, low-income households, and the middle class. The problem is this argument holds little weight when displayed next to the actual economic and social outcomes experienced by these social groups.

Hillary repeatedly tells us she works hard.  I do not doubt it.  She may work too hard, as evidenced by her recently released email where she sent an email to a subordinate to tell another subordinate to make hot tea for an upcoming State Department meeting.  Who doesn’t just directly email the tea-making subordinate?  People that work hard, apparently.

I am being a bit harsh towards Hillary, I agree, but I struggle to find concrete evidence of her claimed accomplishments.  I mentioned CHIP and, yes, she gave an historic speech in Beijing, China in 1995 on women’s second-class status in far too many parts of the world.  Her speech is as relevant today as it was then.  But that is the problem!  Very little has changed since Hillary gave that speech.  It was a great speech.  Yet, if we measure it relative to outcomes, it was just a speech.  Not much more.   I’m sure she worked hard writing it.  Unfortunately, my thoughts turn towards the Yazidi women and girls in ISIS-controlled Syria and the question as to whether our nation’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 –- with Hillary’s influential and regrettable support — perhaps contributed to the rise of ISIS and its subsequent crimes against men and women.

Again, this is a harsh conclusion regarding Hillary’s culpability in the suffering of Middle Eastern women, but not as hard a conclusion as it should be.  I will leave to others discussions of her role in the destabilization of Libya, Syria, and Iraq.  She isn’t alone in bearing some responsibility for these messes, and certainly is not the primary culprit.  Nonetheless, her neo-conservative-inspired default positon on questions of U.S. military interventions in the Middle East, driven by what I believe to be a purely political calculation to maintain her credibility with military- and security-focused voters, must be considered part of her foreign policy resume.  Outcomes must matter more than effort and intent.

Now, there is one special interest group that has benefited handsomely from Bill and Hillary’s collective hard work — that would be Bill and Hillary Clinton.  From 2001 through 2013, the Clintons jointly earned over $160 million, largely from speeches and book sales.  By now, that total most likely exceeds $200 million.  And I have no doubt Hillary worked really hard on all those books and speeches.  That should be enough for the American voter, right?  We will find out in the next ten months.


An Open Letter to Colin Cowherd

An Open Letter to Colin Cowherd:

As the self-selected representative of the State of Iowa, I want to apologize to Pac-12 fans, Big Ten fans, the College Football Playoff committee, The Disney Company, Brent Musburger and the Stanford band for my Iowa Hawkeyes failing (again) to put a competitive football team on the Rose Bowl field this past January 1st.

We didn’t belong in that game.  The game was so painful to watch I’m sure even some in the Stanford band felt their halftime show crossed the line from irreverent to cruel.  In truth, we did not earn the right to play in a game of that stature.

Therefore, Colin, I want to thank you for attempting to open the eyes of Hawkeye and college football fans to the virtues of taking risks in order to become something better than what is otherwise possible if you choose instead a safer path.  It was an important life lesson you were imparting to us, even though most of my Hawkeye friends chose to either attack the message with inaccurate assertions (e.g., Pittsburgh is not top-tier college team), to hurl expletives at the messenger (before Twitter, what did Iowans do to defend their state?), or in most cases, just to ignore the message.

For others reading this letter and not familiar with your argument, your basic message was that Iowa’s football team is a fraud because the coach (Kirk Ferentz) chooses to play a creampuff non-conference schedule in order to inflate Iowa’s won-loss record and present a false pedigree to AP voters and the national college football audience.  As a result, like the life cycle of 17-year cicadas, every other decade an Iowa Hawkeye football team ends up in the Rose Bowl…and finds a way to lose in a fashion more epic than their previous epic Rose Bowl loss.

Iowa Rose Bowl games almost feel scripted.  A fake-fumble play when Stanford was already ahead 28-0 perfectly fit the game’s dramatic (or comedic) arc.  It is Lucy pulling football away from Charlie Brown just as he thinks he will actually kick it this time.  But, of course, he doesn’t.  He never will.  And Iowa won’t win the Rose Bowl.  Not until we choose to accept more risk on our schedule.  And probably not even then.  Perhaps when global warming makes Iowa a warm, coastal state and the best players choose to come here?

To be blunt, the best college football is played at schools where the best athletes choose to attend.  There is no substitute in football for quality athletes and Iowa doesn’t get them.  We haven’t since the days of Alex Karras.  Good coaching matters, but good players matter more.  And elite players are what separate Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson from the pack.  And Iowa is part of the pack.

But there is always that fluke year when a good program like Iowa’s bubbles up to the front of the pack.  But unless that team plays top-tier teams early and often, you can never know for sure if this really is “the year.”  Sadly, the Rose Bowl is not the place to find out if your team is for real.  This is the fatal flaw of Iowa’s non-conference scheduling strategy.  An approach, by the way, started under legendary Iowa coach, Hayden Fry, who wanted to ensure that his teams were healthy (and undefeated) heading into the Big Ten schedule.  This strategy has continued under Fry’s student, Kirk Ferentz.

How much better would Iowa fans be feeling today if their team scheduled LSU or Georgia in 2015?  Is it not better to challenge yourself and be a deserving 11-2 team in the Capital One Bowl than a deceptive 12-1 team in the Rose Bowl.

Colin, I can tell you that most Iowans are in denial.  The typical Iowa sports writer is saying, “Despite the Rose Bowl outcome, Iowa had a great season.”  But I believe in their private thoughts they know what I know — this Iowa season will be defined by an embarrassing loss to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.  If Donald Trump teaches us anything, it is that the winning is more fun than losing.  To be fair, there are some Iowa fans and sports literati, such as sports radio hosts Marty Tirrell (an East Coast transplant) and Ken Miller, who are conveying the truth (even if doing it a bit more gently than you, Colin).  Stanford was bigger, stronger, faster and better coached than Iowa.  That is a perfect recipe for a really bad game.  [And Stanford is probably not in Alabama or Clemson’s class!]

I will end this letter by imploring all of us to learn the unintentional message sent by Coach Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeye football team.  Aiming low does not prepare you for the real world.  Challenge yourself.  Hike the steeper and longer trail even if a gently-sloped and shorter trial is available.  It makes reaching the ultimate destination much more rewarding.  Take the hard calculus class, even if it is not a graduation requirement.  Put your grade point average at risk.  It will pay off the day you sit before an employer and can talk more intelligently about econometric modeling and regression parameters than the student who  received A’s taking only multiple-choice math classes.  Take risks.  Compete with the best.  And enjoy the journey wherever it takes you.

Or, you can be like Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes and dial up North Dakota State and Miami (Ohio) for the 2016 schedule and whose toughest game is a home bout against Michigan.  Other than the Michigan game, Iowa will be favored in all of its other games next season.  And if all goes according to Ferentz’s plan, look out Pasadena, you might see those tour buses and Winnebagos from Iowa coming over the San Gabriel Mountains once again in 2017.  Consider yourself warned.


Kent R. Kroeger (a lifelong Iowa Hawkeye fan)

Des Moines, Iowa