Bernie Sanders Leads the Pack in New Iowa Poll

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Jan. 5, 2020, campaign event in Boone, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) —Bernie Sanders has moved to the head of the pack of Democrats vying for Iowa voters’s support, according to the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll released Friday. Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden were hard on Sanders’ heels, however.

Sanders was the first choice of 20% of 701 Iowa Democrats polled who say they are likely to attend their Democratic precinct caucus on Feb. 3. Warren was next in line with 17%, Buttigieg 16% and Biden 15%. This race is still very fluid, however: The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

The remaining major Democratic candidates were in the single digits, with Amy Klobuchar at 6%, Andrew Yang 5%, Corey Booker at 3% and Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer each at 2%. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at 1%, has not campaigned in Iowa.

“There’s no denying that this is a good poll for Bernie Sanders,” pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll, told the Register. “He leads, but it’s not an uncontested lead.”

Former South Bend Indiana Mayor Buttigieg showed the most dramatic change, dropping nine percentage points from the most recent previous Iowa Poll in November when he shot to the top of the field earning the support of 25% percent of likely caucusgoers at that time.

With the release of the latest survey results Friday, each of the top four candidates has now sat at the top of the Iowa Poll at some point during the caucus campaign. Biden had led the field in the first three Iowa Polls last year.

This new Iowa Poll comes at a critical time for Democratic presidential candidates who needed to have a minimum number of unique campaign contributors and at least 7% support in two state-level polls by Friday. Prior to the release of the Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll Friday, six candidates had qualified for Tuesday’s debate – Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar and Steyer.

It is getting close to do-or-die time for the Democratic presidential hopefuls competing for support in the Iowa caucuses in just three weeks. Friday’s Iowa Poll and next Tuesday’s debate in Des Moines are the final major events before the caucuses.

Friday’s poll numbers are also an important indicator because of how Iowa’s Democratic caucuses work: A “viable” candidate must have at least 15% support from those attending their precinct caucus. Supporters of candidates with less than 15% must switch to a candidate who is viable.

Warren was the second choice for 16% of those polled, followed by Buttigieg at 15% and Sanders and Biden each at 12%. Only 40% of those polled said their mind is made up, while 45% said they could be persuaded to switch their support to a different candidate.

The Iowa poll was conducted Jan. 2-8 for the Des Moines Register, CNN and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. The poll is based on telephone interviews with 3,131 registered voters in Iowa, including 701 who say they will definitely or probably attend the 2020 Democratic caucuses.

The Des Moines Register and CNN chose poll questions. The newspaper and cable news operation also partnered with Mediacom, the largest cable company in Iowa and the nation’s fifth-largest cable company based on video customers.

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