Poll Shows Near Tie Between Top Four Democrats in Iowa

Pete Buttigieg talks with visitors to the Hawkeye Area Labor Council Labor Day Picnic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(CN) – A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed a dead heat between the top four Democratic presidential candidates, indicating a race that is still very much in the air three months before the Iowa caucuses.

The poll had Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as the front-runner among Iowa likely Democratic caucus-goers with 20% support, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing at 19%, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with 17% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 15%.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar stood at 5% and California Senator Kamala Harris received 4%, with businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard rounding out the top candidates with 3% support.

Support among caucus-goers varied depending on how liberal they lean. Sanders and Warrens got 32% and 30% support respectively from Iowans who consider themselves “very liberal,” while those who identify as “somewhat liberal” were split between 29% support for Warren and 24% support for Buttigieg. Each of those categories make up 24% of likely caucus-goers.

Among those polled who consider themselves “moderates and conservatives,” who make up 50% of likely caucus-goers, the race is narrowly split between Buttigieg at 19% and Biden at 18%.

White Iowans with a college education threw their support behind Buttigieg and Warren, who won 24% and 21% support among that subsection respectively, while white Iowans without a college education preferred Sanders at a 23% margin, with Biden and Warren earning 19% support compared to Buttigieg’s 15%.

Loyalties are far from certain however, as 52% of those polled who expressed a first choice of candidate stated they might change their mind before the caucus, while 46% stated that their mind is made up now. Sanders voters appeared the most dedicated, as 61% of his supporters say their mind is made up compared to 48% of Biden voters, 44% of Warren voters and 40% of Buttigieg voters.

Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow said Wednesday that it is “a close race with a crowded field of frontrunners.”

Snow elaborated that Buttigieg has joined Warren, Biden and Sanders in the top tier of Democrats and “it’s a race that is up for grabs” considering that more than half of those polled left open the possibility of changing their minds before the caucus on Feb. 3.

While the poll indicated that voters are excited about their preferred candidate—67% of those polled said they are extremely or very excited about their first choice—33% of caucus-goers made clear that the quality they are most looking for in a candidate is someone who can win the general election. Honesty came second in terms of candidate qualities at 25%.

Snow added that “for Iowa caucus-goers checking the electability box as their top quality in choosing a candidate, there is no one candidate with a clear edge.”

The top issues among Iowans polled started with health care at 34%, followed by climate change at 24%, the economy at 11% and foreign policy and education each receiving 8%.

Among likely caucus-goers selecting health care as their most crucial issue, 26% support Sanders and 22% support Warren. For those who selected climate change, 25% chose Warren, 24% chose Buttigieg and 20% chose Sanders.

According to the poll, 21% of likely caucus-goers will be participating in their first ever caucus. The first timers are split between 30% who support Sanders and 24% who support Warren, with remaining first timers supporting Buttigieg at 10% and Biden and Yang at 9%.

35% of caucus-goers who supported Sanders in the 2016 Iowa caucus plan to roll with Sanders again, while Warren took 23% of that faction and Buttigieg took 19%. Among those who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, 27% support Biden, 21% like Buttigieg and 18% are for Warren.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 698 Iowans from Oct. 30 – Nov. 5 for its poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

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