Poll: Biden still leads in Iowa, but Warren and Buttigieg are coming on strong

June 11, 2019

Biden is sliding—but just slightly—in the Iowa polls. Results of a new Des Moines Register/CNN poll suggest that age and political seasoning count for a lot, but that voters are fickle and can easily be enticed by fresh faces and policies.

The poll—conducted by Des Moines-based pollster Ann Selzer—found that Biden support is at 24%; Senator Bernie Sanders, at 16 %, Senator Elizabeth Warren, at 15%, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at 14%; and Senator. Kamala Harris, at 7%. No other candidate has more than 2% of support.

While Biden still tops the field, his campaign may have reason to be concerned, Vox reported on June 9Back in December, the same poll found his support to be at 32%; but, by March, it had slipped to 27%; and now, he is at 24%— still in first place, but no longer in a clearly dominant position.

And age is a double-edged sword. Some see 76-year-old Biden and 77-year-old Sanders as the Democratic party’s elder statesmen (1%); others (46%) say their age would be a disadvantage; and still others (50%) say it would make no difference, according to the poll results.

It is important to keep in mind that in caucus states, voters’ second (or even third) choices can factor into the final result, Vox points out. If a candidate does not meet the minimum threshold of 15% support in a local precinct, each individual supporter has the opportunity to switch his or her support over to another candidate.

With a field as large as the current one, it is very possible that some caucus participants may well find themselves having to select another candidate to support. Because of this, the Iowa poll gave respondents the option to give three levels of possible support to each candidate: First choice, second choice, or “actively considering.”

When all three tiers of support (by those planning to vote in person) were added together by the pollster, Biden again topped the list of candidates, with 61%, Vox said. However, Warren matched him exactly, with 6% possible support. Three other candidates manage to reach potential support of over 50%: Sanders (at 56%), and Buttigieg and Harris (each of whom had 52%).

Elizabeth Warren, whose proficiency at policy-making has earned her a spotlight, has been gaining gradually among voters: She was at just 8% in December;  and at9%percent in March. But she has now shot up to 15% support overall, in a dead heat with Sanders for the second-place position behind Biden.

“That’s a strong showing for Elizabeth Warren,” Selzer told the Des Moines Register. “It says to me there are people who are paying attention. Again, in a field this big, that’s step one. First, you have to get people to pay attention.”

Pete Buttigieg may be the “phenom” of the race. In March, he was at only 1%; but he is now at 14%, very nearly matching Warren. However, fully 28% of those polled say that his sexual preference would be a disadvantage; while 62% say it makes no difference.

Another factor that may surface during the campaign is the fact that all of the top-runners at the moment are white. Only 25%of those polled see that as an advantage, while 12% say it’s a disadvantage and 56% say it makes no difference.

Research contact: @DMRegister 

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