Joe Biden is maintaining a steady lead, Elizabeth Warren has gained 12 points, and Bernie Sanders has lost 7 points of support in Iowa.
Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are engaged in a tightening Iowa Race
According to the new Monmouth University Poll of Iowa:
Biden continues to lead the Democratic field with 28% support among voters who are likely to attend the Iowa caucuses in February 2020. This is nearly identical to his 27% support level in April. [Note: Biden had not yet declared his candidacy at the time of Monmouth’s first 2020 poll in Iowa.] However, Warren is now closing the gap at 19% support, up from 7% four months ago. Support for Sanders has gone in the opposite direction, now at 9% compared with 16% in April. California Sen. Kamala Harris clocks in at 11% (up from 7%) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has 8% (similar to his 9% in April). Other candidates who register at least 2% in the poll include Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (3%), former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer (3%), New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (2%), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang (2%). The remaining 15 candidates included in the poll each earn 1% or less. Of particular note, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who had 6% support in April, registers less than 1% in the current poll.
Biden’s lead is boosted by the addition of a virtual caucus option this cycle. Among those who say they will caucus online or over the phone prior to the official February 3rd date, Biden holds 37% of likely caucusgoer support compared with 11% for Warren, 10% for Buttigieg, 9% for Sanders, and 8% for Harris. Biden’s strong lead in the virtual caucus is driven almost entirely by potential virtual caucusgoers who would not normally be considered likely to caucus in person. The race is much tighter among those who say they plan to attend the traditional caucus event, with 26% supporting Biden and 20% backing Warren, followed by Harris at 12%, Sanders at 9%, and Buttigieg at 7%.
Warren has now passed Biden in terms of approval rating among Democrats (76%-73%), and there is a sizable gap between the top two and the rest of the field.
Sen. Kamala Harris did gain 4 points, but it was only one third as much as the surging Elizabeth Warren. It is clear that both Biden and Warren are hurting the vote share for Sen. Bernie Sanders who has not been able to reverse his slide in the polls with two presidential debates. The bigger Democratic field is making it more difficult for Sen. Sanders to carve out space for himself, and his campaign is getting squeezed by other candidates on the left.
Iowa will either launch Biden on a run, or turn the Democratic primary into a race
If Joe Biden wins Iowa, he will be positioned to go on a run in the early states. Should this happen, Biden will be in a position to lock the nomination up fairly quickly. An Elizabeth Warren win would set up a battle with Biden for the nomination. It is easy to see Warren getting an Iowa and winning New Hampshire. Biden is strong in South Carolina and Nevada, so a Warren win change the stable dynamics of the Democratic primary.
The stakes are high in Iowa. With Trump struggling in the Hawkeye State, the caucus winner could be in a good position to flip the state in November.