President Barack Obama won Iowa in 2008 by 9.5 percentage points, but the incumbent President's poor performance among early voters indicates Republican challenger Mitt Romney has the advantage heading into election day.
Obama is doing worse than John Kerry, who lost the state in 2004 to George W. Bush, in early voting.
Romney has less of a deficit to overcome in Iowa on Election Day than either John McCain and George W. Bush in 2008 and 2004, respectively. Republicans have closed the registration gap with Democrats. Romney leads among independents in Iowa. And all of the state's major newspapers -- even those that endorsed Obama in 2008 -- have endorsed the former Governor.
The Des Moines Register, whose final 2008 poll predicted Obama winning by 17 -- 7.5 points higher than the actual outcome, has Obama up by five in its final 2012 poll.
But the poll -- like many that have Obama ahead -- assumes Democrats will have a greater partisan advantage than they did in 2008, when enthusiasm for Obama was at its peak. Then, Democrats had a one-point advantage at the polls. In 2012, Republicans had a four-point advantage.
Polls that have a reasonable partisan breakdown -- like ARG's poll with a D +1 sample -- have Romney in the lead or tied.
"He will again under-perform his Iowa polling, where he has yet to come close to the 50 percent mark in any survey of polling averages," top Romney strategist David Kochel wrote.
Democrats’ Early-Vote Margins Have Collapsed
Kochel noted that instead of an 18-point margin, Democrats maintain only a five-point margin going into Election Day. In 2004, when George W. Bush won Iowa, Democrats had a six-point lead going into Election Day, which means Obama is doing worse in early voting than John Kerry, who lost the state.
Traditionally, Democrats outperform Republicans in early voting in Iowa, and Republicans outperform Democrats on Election Day.
Kochel also noted:
And the key statistic our voting models point to is that the GOP has, as of today, 87,481 more high-propensity voters available to vote on Election Day because many more of our most committed voters have made the choice to vote on November 6. Tens of thousands more mid-propensity voters are also available, which will grow our Election Day margins even further.
Independents Have Turned Against Obama
Obama is losing independents in Iowa by roughly six points, and, as Kochel notes, "more than 50,000 more independents have requested absentee ballots or have voted early as compared to this time four years ago."
"With tens of thousands of independents voting in the days and weeks following Governor Romney’s stellar performance in the debates, these votes are already in the bank for our ticket," he affirmed.
GOP Intensity Results in Record Ground Game
Kochel also noted that in "Iowa and nationwide, polls show GOP intensity between 8 and 10 points higher than Democratic intensity."
"We’re seeing that in the swelling number of volunteers packing our Victory offices statewide," Kochel wrote. "When contrasted with the empty Obama offices around Iowa, it’s clear the energy and momentum is ours."
This is why the Obama campaign has not released its numbers from Iowa.
Iowa Wave is Evident on the Pages of Iowa Newspapers
Kochel recalled that it has "been generations since all four of Iowa’s largest newspapers endorsed the same candidate," and "it’s been 40 years since our largest paper, the Des Moines Register, endorsed a Republican."
"Mitt Romney is going to win Iowa on Tuesday, and the state that launched Barack Obama’s historic run for the White House will politely ask to have its vote back," Kochel concluded.