Iowa Caucus 2016 Polls: Final Polls Point To Big Victories For Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders, But Experts Warn They Could Be Wrong

The 2016 Iowa caucus is now here, and final polls point to what could be game-changing victories for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Voters will go to the polls on Monday for the first official voting of the 2016 election season. There will be a lot at stake, with Hillary Clinton hoping to hold off the surging Bernie Sanders and keep her title as frontrunner, while on the Republican side Donald Trump is looking to start primary season with a victory to prove that his lead in the polls is more than smoke and mirrors.

Both Sanders and Trump have run their campaigns as political outsiders — Sanders the self-identified socialist from Vermont, railing against big banks and big corporate money politics; Trump the real estate mogul turned reality television star, thumbing his nose at the Republican establishment.

Donald Trump leads the final 2016 Iowa caucus polls, while on the Democratic side pollsters are split. Sanders has led a series of polls, but the final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg survey shows Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by three percentage points, 45 to 42. The same poll has Donald Trump ahead of Ted Cruz Ted Cruz by five points, 28 to 23 percent.

The Iowa caucus will also be a chance to see if the polls end up matching the actual vote totals. Many pollsters are under greater scrutiny after underestimating Barack Obama’s strength of victory in 2012 and getting it wrong on a series of state-level elections.

“It’s certainly the time when our industry is in the crosshairs,” said Mollyann Brodie, the president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research Brodie, told Politico. “It’s the time when people are paying most attention,” she said, conceding that “the failures bring a lot more attention than the successes.”

Polling experts said it can often be difficult to accurately predict the early states, which was shown in the 2008 Iowa caucus. Pollsters predicted a win for Hillary Clinton, but she ended up finishing third behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. The victory helped propel Obama to the eventual Democratic nomination.

Could something similar happen with the final polls before the 2016 Iowa caucus? Pollsters told Politico that it certainly is possible.

The report noted:

“The early primaries in general are tough because of how volatile the voters are,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “They are undecided at a level that we rarely see in undecided voters.”

“You can tell how difficult it is based on how varied the poll results are in both Iowa and New Hampshire on both sides of the aisle,” agreed Neil Newhouse, the pollster on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. “It’s challenging.”

The 2016 Iowa caucus polls also point to a quieter, yet still very important race. Though Trump holds a small but significant lead over Ted Cruz, the caucus is seen as a chance both for Cruz and for other candidates to prove themselves as still in the running. Though polls show other candidates including Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush as far behind Trump, a stronger-than-expected showing in the Iowa caucus for any of them could help build momentum should Trump falter.

It is now just a matter of hours before voters will see if the final tally in the 2016 Iowa caucus matches the final polls from the state. The caucus takes place at 7 p.m., with results expected to come within the next few hours.

[Picture by Ralph Freso/Getty Images]