'Don't reduce (Iowa caucuses) to a 2-way race yet': Nate Silver

Nate Silver discusses FiveThirtyEight’s primary forecast and what it says about the upcoming Iowa caucus on "This Week."
4:44 | 02/02/20

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Transcript for 'Don't reduce (Iowa caucuses) to a 2-way race yet': Nate Silver
You have made me a better candidate. And you will make me a better president. I take a backseat to no one in this race, period. We want to win and I say this, we win with the candidate that brings people with her. I believe that we are the strongest campaign to defeat trump. Candidates making their final Iowa pitches and fivethirtyeight Nate silver here to analyze where things stand one day it. Thanks for coming back this morning. Definitely. Tell us about your model for Iowa. We take an average of all the polls and account for the uncertainty in Iowa as well. The process you can realign your vote after you initially get in the room. But we have Sanders as the tentative frontrunner with about a 40% chance of winning. Biden who has led some polls next, 1 in 3 chance. It's at least a four-way race. Both buttigieg and Warren have a strong game in Iowa, lot of second-choice voters. Which matters with the way the process works there. Even klobuchar, we have seen crazier things, she may be gaining in polls a bit. Biden versus Bernie, Iowa is sometimes about some dark horse candidate making a last-second surge. The polls can shift a lot from the week before. So, don't reduce it to a two-way race yet. We may end up there tomorrow night. But it's a little premature to say that right now. Why is there so much uncertainty right now, especially this year? For one thing, we actually have had a lot of news come out in the past week that haven't been reflective in the polls yet. None of these polls reflect the impeachment trial reaching an inevitable conclusion and how they'll react to that. In the caucus, it's not a secret ballot, you're actually there with your neighbors, they can try to persuade you. Offer incentives to come over their way. And the ground game matters a lot, having a precinct captain. And we have seen candidates polling at 12% got 20% and the reverse. It's very common there. Therefore, like, if you're anywhere close to the top four you have to look at that as any permation, wide -- Biden can finish from first to fifth for example. I wanted to press on that a little bit, lot of the polling differences depend on whether you think people who have never come to a caucus before are actually going to come to a caucus this time? I think the combination of the fact that Bernie has lot of upside potential as far as getting younger voters to turn out, and he's been to Iowa before, good ground game there, not a pollster's job to look at turnout per se, the biggest turnout scenarios, you get a lot of college age voters. High-information voters, they tend to like Warren, Pete or klobuchar. They have strong ground games. They do. It's helpful the way the rules work to be strong in rural parts of the state and buttigieg has offices open everywhere and klobuchar is strong in western Iowa, which is less populous. All those things matter given the arcane rules of how the process works. Be prepared for any order of finish. And the question is, what does that mean? So many debates of what Iowa really means, what's your guess this year? If you're one of the frontrunner, meaning Biden or Bernie, then Iowa is a big deal. Sanders, I think, in his backyard so to speak in new Hampshire, probably would go 2 for 2. Nevada, lot of union endorsements. Wee have had him doing well in our model there. 3 for 3, that would put him in a very strong position. Biden still leads narrowly nationally. Although Bernie could come back in New Hampshire, Biden would be in an enviable position. So, the if Warren or buttigieg were to win Iowa, all of a sudden, they'd get back on the lead lap, whether they're the co-frontrunner or frontrunner would depend on the exact order of finish. There are different ways to count who the winner is in Iowa, you could have a split verdict potentially. There are two tiers in the primary right now. Kind of Bernie and Biden on one tier and everyone else needs the bounce out of Iowa from a very strong finish. And tomorrow night it could be completely different. Nate silver, thank you for joining us this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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