Key Findings: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg in tight race; Klobuchar shows some strength
Washington, D.C. – With mere days until the Iowa Democratic caucus, a new Park Street Strategies (PSS) poll of 600 Iowa Democratic caucusgoers finds Joe Biden holding a very small lead in the race for the Democratic nomination, with the race in Iowa closely clustered among the top four candidates. Currently, Biden leads (20%), followed by Bernie Sanders (18%), Elizabeth Warren (17%), Pete Buttigieg (17%), and Amy Klobuchar (12%).
In terms of the all-important second choice rankings, which hold special significance given the nature of the Iowa caucus, Warren leads at 21%, followed by Klobuchar (16%), Biden (16%), and Buttigieg (14%). Interestingly, only 9% of likely Democratic caucusgoers say that Sanders is their second choice, which is the weakest level of support among the top five candidates. The Iowa race is also showing distinct gender differences, with Sanders leading among men and Warren leading among women.
Overall, how do likely Democratic caucusgoers describe the current state of the race? The most frequently used words were: “crowded,” “chaotic,” and “confusing.”
“The Iowa race is crowded and extremely close – with the top four candidates clustered together. While Biden leads and does hold a small advantage, the difference between Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg reflects a statistical tie. It is reasonable to believe that with a successful GOTV operation, any one of these four candidates could win Iowa, and while Klobuchar is less likely to win, she could surprise in terms of how well she places,” said Chris Kofinis, founder and CEO of PSS.
The current state of the race, based on the PSS poll, is as follows:
2020 Iowa Democratic Caucus:
State of the Race*:
- Joe Biden 20%
- Bernie Sanders 18%
- Pete Buttigieg 17%
- Elizabeth Warren 17%
- Amy Klobuchar 12%
- Andrew Yang 5%
- Tom Steyer 4%
- Tulsi Gabbard 1%
- Michael Bloomberg <1%
Second Choice Candidate**:
- Elizabeth Warren 21%
- Amy Klobuchar 16%
- Joe Biden 16%
- Pete Buttigieg 14%
- Bernie Sanders 9%
- Tom Steyer 6%
- Andrew Yang 6%
- Tulsi Gabbard 2%
- Michael Bloomberg 2%
*Reflects likely Democratic caucusgoers’ top preference, or whom they plan to support during the Iowa Democratic caucus.
**Reflects the second-choice preference for likely Democratic caucusgoers if they were forced to support someone other than their top choice.
Additional findings released today that help define the views of likely Democratic caucusgoers are as follows:
Views of Likely Iowa Democratic Caucusgoers:
- Broken down by gender, men choose Bernie Sanders most often as their first choice, while women are more likely to choose Elizabeth Warren. Interestingly, Sanders does not make the top three among women’s first choice candidates – it’s Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg, followed by Sanders. For men, the top three are Sanders, Biden, and Buttigieg.
- 49% of likely caucusgoers find it is most important to nominate a Democrat who can defeat President Trump, versus 35% who prefer a candidate that closely reflects their ideology and values, and 14% who prefer a candidate that shares their policy positions.
- For the top choice candidates, “experienced” was a positive word most frequently used to describe Biden, followed by “honest”; the words “passionate” and “consistent” were most often used to describe Sanders; Warren was most often associated with positive words such as “smart” and “energetic.”
- Alternatively, when asked to provide negative descriptors of the candidates, “age” and “too old” were frequently used to describe Biden. “Age” and “socialist” were both common negative references to Sanders, while “radical” was a common negative descriptor of Warren.
- Regardless of who will ultimately be the 2020 Democratic nominee, 42% of likely Democratic caucusgoers believe it is “somewhat likely” that Trump will win the general election, while 25% believe it is “not very likely.”
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Methodology: A random sample of 600 Iowans participated in the telephone survey from Jan. 24 to Jan. 28, 2020. Respondents were registered to vote in the state of Iowa, identified as Democrat (82%) or Independent (18%), and were eligible to vote in the upcoming 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus. Respondents were screened so that only those who were “extremely likely,” “very likely,” or “somewhat likely” to vote in the Iowa Democratic caucus were included in the survey. The sample was obtained from purchased lists of registered Iowa voters, and the composition of cell phone to landline was 50/50. Gender was 57% female and 43% male, and age was lightly weighted, thus reflecting the gender and age breakdowns of Iowa Democratic caucusgoers in previous election years. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level was +/- 3%.
Park Street Strategies is a Washington, D.C.-based firm specializing in communications and research.