Warren Leads But Buttigieg Surging With Iowa Democrats

(CN) – While Elizabeth Warren continues to hold a slight lead among Democratic candidates in Iowa, support for Pete Buttigieg has surged in the Hawkeye State in a tightening race, according to a poll released Friday.

A New York Times/Sienna College poll finds Massachusetts Sen. Warren at the top at 22%, followed closely by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 19% and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Buttigieg at 18%. National front-runner Joe Biden came in fourth place at 17%, still within striking distance of the top three candidates.

The new poll slightly echoes a Civiqs poll taken last month that also showed increased support for Buttigieg, who has set himself up as an alternative moderate Democrat to the former vice president.

While Biden continues to lead in national polling, his support in Iowa has fallen since he entered the race in April. The majority of his support comes from older voters, particularly those aged 65 or older. Among younger voters however, he only records 2% support from the 18-29 age group and 3% among voters aged 30-44.

Biden’s failure to appeal to younger voters has opened a slight pathway for centrist Buttigieg to pick up their support, though the group tends to be more liberal and support Warren’s and Sanders’ “Medicare for all” and free college tuition pledges.

Warren continues to enjoy the majority of support from 18-29 voters at 38%, while Sanders retained 29% support. Buttigieg has 12% support from the same age group, putting him below the more liberal candidates but above Biden.

Despite concerns over his health following a heart attack last month, polling for Sanders has remained consistent in Iowa. The Vermont senator took some time off the campaign trail after undergoing surgery, a move that has done little to affect his support in the Hawkeye State.

The numbers reveal a tightening race among the four top candidates, while the other Democrats have failed to make significant movement. The fifth most popular presidential hopeful, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, only registered 4% support among Iowa Democrats. Taken with other state and national polls, a clearer image is forming of who will remain competitive in the race by the end of the year.

While Warren tops the list of candidates, she also tops the list of Democrats’ second choice, a relevant number as Iowa caucuses differ from most primary elections. Iowa Democrats engage in a multiround vote where they select their first choice. If that candidate fails to receive less than 15% of the votes, their supporters can choose another candidate to vote for. Warren was named as the second choice of two-thirds of Sanders supporters.

The Iowa caucuses are still three months out however, and support could still shift among the candidates. Two-thirds of likely voters said they still haven’t made up their mind about their candidate and could change their vote between now and Feb. 3.

The poll surveyed 439 Iowa Democrats from Oct. 25-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

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