If you believe some polls and the news media, Donald Trump's campaign is on a downslide in Iowa, the first state to hold a Republican caucus where a convoluted process begins to select a grand total of up to 30 delegates, just over one percent of the total.

The impact of the Iowa caucus is negligible for a number of reasons, but, because it is the first such vote in the nation, the media believes it should set the agenda for all the rest of the states. That obviously is not the case, yet, two polls, neither of which can actually claim to know for sure exactly who they allegedly interviewed, have concluded that Dr. Ben Carson, whom I respect, has leaped ahead of Trump.

The genesis of this astounding turnaround in the current race for the GOP presidential nomination is in a poll from Quinnipiac University and another from the "highly respected" Des Moines Register newspaper. Actually, the polling method is so shallow in each instance that the number quoted by the media, that is salivating to drive a stake through Trump's heart, could actually be the reverse of what is reported.
In the Register's own words, "The Iowa Poll, conducted October 16-19 … is based on telephone interviews with 401 registered Iowa voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Republican caucuses … .

"Questions based on the subsamples of 401 likely Republican caucus attendees each have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the percentages shown here by more than plus or minus 4.9 percentage points." [1]

In other words, besides the fact that the sampling is pitifully small, these polls were conducted over the phone with people who may or may not have been who they say they are. Similarly, the poll from Quinnipiac University poll has some questionable conclusions.

Quinnipiac says that Carson leads Trump 28 - 20 percent among Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants. A news release on the poll also says, "This compares to the results of a September 11 survey showing Trump at 27 percent with Carson at 21 percent."

But again, check out the methodology. "This RDD telephone survey was conducted from October 14 - 20, 2015 throughout the state of Iowa. Responses are reported for 574 likely Iowa Republican Caucus participants …. This subset of likely Republican caucus -goers has a margin of sampling error of +/ - 4.1 percentage points."[2]

But here is the part I like best. The poll is done on phones and when someone answers a landline, "Interviewers ask to speak with the adult member of the household having the next birthday."

Well that is a foolproof method of determining voter identifications if I ever saw one. Suppose that an interviewer calls my house and asks to speak to the adult who has the next birthday. That would be my wife, but hell will freeze over before she ever answers a poll, so I would just say, "Oh, that's me. Fire away." See how that works?

Meanwhile, Dr. Carson did some Sunday media work, basking in the glow of "front-runner" status, and on Fox News Sunday had an extraordinarily difficult time explaining his proposed changes to Obamacare and Medicare. Carson has said he will repeal Obamacare, as have most Republicans, but adds that he will give wage earners a choice of having their own health insurance account as opposed to letting government bureaucrats determine their future health care.

FOX moderator Chris Wallace seemed unable to get his head around that concept and repeatedly asked Carson to explain how this proposal would work and how it is different from earlier incarnations of Carson's health plans. Carson tried very patiently to explain his plan but Wallace simply was having none of it.

I don't know whether Carson has suddenly lost his communication skills or if Wallace was just have a rough Sunday morning, but the interview went badly for Carson who seemed to be struggling through most of it. Remember when I wrote in my last column, that Carson is next to feel the full weight of negative media? Looks like it started Sunday.

Oddly, the Iowa caucuses are virtually irrelevant. The results of the caucus are reported to the media which then deserts Iowa usually without explaining that there then will be county, district and state conventions that actually select the Iowa delegates, and they aren't bound in the least to the results of the original caucuses!

Last time around Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucus, for instance, but the media declared Mitt Romney to be the winner, regardless of what the votes showed, and by the time the record was corrected, any momentum Santorum may have garnered dissipated.

As noted previously, the Register poll notes that if the same questions were asked of the same people 20 times, the answers would change by plus or minus 4.9 percent in 19 of those times. The 20th round of questioning apparently is a wild card.

So, does that mean that one time out of 20, people who may or may not plan on attending an Iowa GOP caucus, and may or may not be eligible to vote in said caucus, and may or may not actually vote, could declare by a wide margin, say 85 percent, that they are forever bound to Alfred E. Neuman? Plus or minus 4.9 percent of course. But their votes aren't binding.