Beating Trump Is Priority for 75% of Iowa Caucus-Goers

WEST BRANCH, N.J. (CN) – Who will win the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 is anyone’s guess, but one thing seems to be shaping up clearly: Iowa caucus-goers want their candidate chiefly to stand up to President Trump.

An audience member arrives at a rally for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Democrats in the early presidential voting states of Iowa and Nevada will be able next year to skip their states’ traditional neighborhood caucus meetings and instead cast their votes over the phone, according to plans unveiled by the state parties. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Monmouth University released a poll Thursday that says nearly three-quarters of voting Democrats would support a candidate whose stance on most issues differs from theirs, so long as the candidate is strong against Trump. A similar poll in April showed only 64% focused primarily on a candidate’s chances of beating the president versus alignment on issues.

Former Vice President Joe Biden currently holds a comfortable lead among Iowans, favored by 28% of voters likely to attend the Iowa caucuses in February, the poll found. That number is even greater among those who plan to participate in the virtual caucus, with Biden raking in 37% support.

In second place with 19% support, Senator Elizabeth Warren is nipping at Biden’s heels. She was polling at only 7% four months ago, according to data reported by Patrick Murray, who heads Monmouth University’s Polling Institute.

The Iowa caucuses are the first major election of the presidential primary that can help a candidate build momentum. If the virtual caucus numbers are to be believed, Murray said it bodes well for a Biden ticket.

“If the Iowa Democratic Party reports the initial voter preference count on caucus night, it could make the front-runner look even more formidable if there is an overwhelming turnout in the virtual caucus,” he said.

But Murray also cautioned that the virtual caucus is capped, and press coverage could also sway momentum. “If the party does not report these results right away, though, then the caucus night media coverage might focus on someone who did not fare as well in total turnout but did a better job of organizing delegate wins at key caucus sites,” Murray said.

Support for Senator Bernie Sanders is flagging, according to the poll, with the Democratic Socialist supported by only 9% of voters in Iowa compared with 16% in April. Senator Kamala Harris of California has risen from 7% to 11% and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, has held stead at about 8%.

Voters in the Hawkeye state are not terribly enthusiastic, however, about the chances that certain candidates will thwart Trump’s re-election. Nearly two-thirds of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers say most of the Democratic candidates stand no chance of taking the White House in 2020.

Those numbers on electability give Biden an edge, Murray says.

Health care remains the dominant issue for voters in Iowa, but voters there do not seem clear on whether they favor any particular candidate’s health care plan. “The Medicare for All crowd has their champions, but the vast majority of voters who want a public option are all over the place,” Murray said.

Only 21% of polled Iowans said they favor Medicare for All, but many of them say they favor candidates who have proposed some kind of Medicare for All plan.

The Monmouth poll was taken by telephone from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4 of 401 Iowa voters who are likely to attend the Democratic presidential caucuses in the state. The margin of error for the poll is 4.9 percentage points.

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