The latest polling revealed that support for Bernie Sanders has increased by ten points among Democrats in Iowa after the Senator from Vermont officially announced his bid for the Democratic nomination.
According to the most recent Quinnipiac University poll of Iowa, Sen. Sanders has gone from 5% in February to 15% in May. The poll had Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 19% in February, but after she has repeatedly ruled out a run for the nomination, she was not included in the current round of polling.
Logically, it appears that Warren supporters should be a target for the Sanders campaign, but Hillary Clinton was the most popular first and second choice of Iowa Democratic caucus goers. When her first and second choice support was combined, Clinton received 79% support. The first and second favorite support for Sanders was 25%. (Note: percentages add up to more than one hundred.) Clinton’s 2016 is looking like a reversal of her 2008 Iowa caucus experience while Sanders is in a position to be a legitimate second.
Hillary Clinton had a jaw-dropping 83% approval rating with Iowa Democrats. The former Sec. of State’s approval rating with very liberal Democrats was 88%. Sen. Sanders is largely unknown in Iowa. His favorability split was 44%-6%, but 50% of those polled did not know enough about him. Sanders had a favorability rating of 68% among those who considered themselves to be very liberal.
What this polling illustrates is that Hillary Clinton is a historically strong candidate. Not since Dwight D. Eisenhower has a non-incumbent presidential candidate had this much support for his/her campaign. The data also hints that there may be room for only one more legitimate Democratic candidate in the race. At this very early stage, it looks like that candidate will be Sen. Bernie Sanders.
One issue with the Quinnipiac Poll is that Vice President Biden was included in the polling. The numbers will shift after Biden is dropped from the poll. It is safe to assume that some if not most of the Biden support will shift to Hillary Clinton, but there will be an opening there for Sanders to pick up some additional support.
Bernie Sanders has gotten a bigger bounce from announcing his campaign than many expected. Sanders is not a fringe candidate. He will likely be the top challenger to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic field, as the Democratic primary looks like it will feature two strong voices debating the issues in 2016.