A new PPP poll reveals that Bernie Sanders has cut Hillary Clinton’s 18 point lead in Iowa down to 6 points in Iowa.
Things are tightening up on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton now leads Bernie Sanders 46/40, with Martin O’Malley at 8%. Clinton is down 6 points from her 52% a month ago, while Sanders is up 6 points from his previous 34% standing. The increased tightness of the race has a lot more to do with Sanders than it does Clinton. Clinton’s favorability is 72/22 this month after being 73/19 last month, a minimal change. But Sanders’ favorability has shot up from a 65/23 spread to now 79/13 so his popularity is clearly growing as the voting nears. The good news for Clinton is that 78% of her voters are firmly committed to her, compared to 64% of Sanders’ who say the same for him. Clinton’s lead goes up to 53/39 among those who have their minds totally made up.
O’Malley’s continued presence in the race is helping Clinton. In Iowa we find his supporters would prefer Sanders over Clinton 43/20, and in New Hampshire they prefer Sanders over Clinton 47/13. So to some extent O’Malley is helping to split the anti-Hillary vote.
The fact that Clinton’s voters are more committed than Sanders’ voters is a bit of a red flag for Sanders, but the trend line in Iowa is clear moving in the senator from Vermont’s direction. The Sanders campaign has been telling anyone who would listen for weeks that they are gaining momentum in Iowa.
Martin O’Malley is struggling to keep his campaign afloat, and it seems like only a matter of time until he drops out. Once the former Maryland governor departs the race, the anti-Clinton vote will solidly unify around Sanders. The door is wide open for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination, but how far he goes will be determined by Iowa.
If Sanders wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he will be set up to pick off Nevada. Despite numerous trips to South Carolina, Sanders has been able to make up no ground there, so the first primary in the South looks set in stone for former Sec. Clinton. If Clinton wins Iowa, she could get a bounce that swing New Hampshire to her. She would then be poised to win South Carolina and focus on Nevada.
The Democratic race is fluid. There are several potential scenarios in play, but what is clear is that momentum has swung to Bernie Sanders in Iowa.