Influential Selzer Poll Scrapped Before Iowa Caucus Showed Bernie Sanders In 'Free Fall,' Insider Says

The highly anticipated Selzer poll was scrapped just ahead of the Iowa caucus, but one Democratic strategist said the results would have shown an unlikely candidate surging and another potential frontrunner in free fall.

The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll was considered the gold standard for Iowa polling, scheduled to be released on Saturday night, with CNN devoting an entire hour just to its release. But the poll from Des Moines-based Selzer & Co. was scrapped at the last minute after reports that some of the pollsters did not ask respondents about all the candidates in the race.

As Politico reported, a representative for former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign said a supporter from Iowa received a call for the Selzer poll but the representative did not mention him as one of the potential choices. Liz Smith, Buttigieg's campaign manager, wrote on Twitter that they passed the concern on to the polling firm, which ultimately decided that they results could not be released as they had not yet determined how widespread the error had been.

The announcement sparked immediate speculation about what could have been shown. The Selzer poll has historically been one of the most accurate in predicting the winner of the Iowa caucus, and this year's Democratic primary is unusually close, with a number of candidates within striking distance.

Tom Watson, a Democratic strategist, said he learned through back channels that the poll showed Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren surging and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders moving downward. That would have been a significant shift, as Sanders has been climbing in recent polls while Warren's numbers have steadily been dropping.
Watson later added that he did not know if the reports he heard were true. Other evidence suggests a close result in the Iowa caucus. Biden, who has been the frontrunner in national polling since announcing his candidacy, said that he believes it will be a tight race after polls showed Sanders surpassing him. Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, via Politico, the former vice president said that the race, as it stands, appears to be all tied up.
"I think it's going to be really close, George. It's neck and neck. Bernie's up, I'm up. Actually, there's basically a statistical tie."
While the Selzer poll will not be seen before the Iowa caucus kicks off on Monday, FiveThirtyEight reported that there are still at least two other polls in the state set to be released on Sunday.