Bernie Sanders Jumps Ahead Of Hillary In Latest Iowa Poll

Bernie Sanders has jumped ahead of Hillary Clinton in the Hawkeye State.

Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders continues to surge in the polls, and cause more headaches for Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton’s Iowa edge is gone.

Bernie Sanders leads the former secretary of state for the first time among Iowa Democrats likely to caucus in February, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll unveiled Thursday morning — the latest in a string of surveys that show a tightening race in the Hawkeye State.

The Vermont senator’s advantage is within the margin of error — he took 41 percent compared with Clinton’s 40 percent — and another 12 percent said they would support Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to declare his 2016 intentions. (Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley picked up 3 percent, while no other candidate registered above that mark, and 3 percent were undecided.)

But the shift is a significant one, coming on the heels of polls showing Sanders edging Clinton in New Hampshire, too. Together, the results suggest a candidate reeling from the controversy over her emails and struggling to put down a rebellion on her left flank.

While Clinton remains the front-runner for the nomination, and pollsters caution against reading too much into one survey, the results reflect serious movement for Sanders: He trailed the former secretary of state by a 52-33 percent margin in Quinnipiac’s last poll of Iowa’s likely Democratic caucus-goers, in July.

Clinton fared better in the latest NBC News/Marist polling of Iowa released last weekend, drawing 48 percent to Sanders’ 37 percent. (With the vice president in the mix, Clinton stood at 38 percent, Sanders at 27 percent and Biden at 20 percent.)

Thursday’s less favorable results are unlikely to surprise many in her Brooklyn headquarters: People close to Clinton’s camp have recently been warning that Sanders could win both Iowa and New Hampshire before her massive organizing infrastructure kicks in among the next wave of nominating contests on March 1, when Clinton hopes to sew up the nomination. Her allies have also long noted that no non-incumbent candidate has broken the 50 percent mark in the Iowa caucuses other than Iowa’s own Tom Harkin in 1992.

But the new Quinnipiac poll is nonetheless likely to send shockwaves through the Democratic establishment, which is increasingly nervous about Clinton’s inability to put the email flap to rest, and worried about her seeming difficulty connecting with voters.

The fact that Thursday’s result effectively shows a tie will hardly quiet the doubters, particularly given Clinton’s heavy investment in her Iowa field operation — she has 78 paid organizers in the state, compared with more than 50 for Sanders — and her consistent lead until now.

Unlike the NBC News/Marist Poll released last week, Quinnipiac does not appear to have asked voters to chose from the candidates who have actually declared their candidacy for the Democratic nomination, leaving Biden out of the mix. However we can get a sense of how that question would be answered by digging deeper into the poll. A question that was directed solely to those people who said they would back Vice-President Biden if he entered the race showed that 47% of those voters would go to Clinton and 44% would go to Sanders, with the remainder going elsewhere. While this is an admittedly small sample size to work with, it does tend to corroborate other polling that shows that Biden’s entry into the race would hurt Clinton, at least initially.  The poll also shows a significant gender gap between Sanders and Clinton, with Sanders leading among Democratic men by 49% to 28%, with 16% going to Biden, while Clinton leads among Democratic women by 49% to 35%, with 9% going to Biden. Sanders also unsurprisingly holds a lead among those who describe themselves as being strongly liberal but the two candidate are roughly evenly matched among other ideological groups. Sanders also holds large leads among those without a college education and younger voters, which could be a problem for him because those are two voting blocs that don’t necessarily turn out to vote in the same numbers that other segments of the Democratic coalition do.

If there is good news for Clinton in this news out of Iowa, it is that she is still very highly regarded by Iowa Democrats:

[S]he remains popular with Iowa Democrats as a whole. Likely caucus participants said they have a favorable view of Clinton by 76 percent to 20 percent, earning trustworthiness marks of 64 percent to 30 percent and 78 percent to 18 percent saying she cares about their problems. By a count of 92 percent to 7 percent, voters said the former secretary of state has strong leadership qualities and 89 percent said she had the right temperament to tackle an international crisis, compared with 9 percent who did not think so.

But Sanders fares better. He drew a higher net favorability rating of +72 points (78 percent to 6 percent), and a higher share (86 percent to 4 percent) of those saying he is trustworthy than they did of Clinton. By a count of 85 percent to 5 percent, people said the senator cares about their issues. Asked about Sanders’ leadership qualities, 76 percent said they were strong, compared to 9 percent who said they were not. On his temperament in times of crisis, voters approved of him by 65 percent to 15 C;percent.

Biden drew a net favorability rating of +70 points (79 percent to 9 percent), while 91 percent said he is honest and trustworthy, compared to 5 percent who did not think so. By a count of 84 percent to 11 percent, likely caucus-goers said Biden cares about the needs and problems of people like them. On the leadership front, 81 percent to 14 percent gave him high marks, while in terms of his ability to handle crises, 81 percent to 13 percent said they approved of his capabilities.

The fact that Clinton’s favorability numbers in the Hawkeye State is good news for her because it suggests that this dip in the polls may end up being temporary and that she’ll end up winning back much of the support she had before. The fact that Sanders and Biden’s numbers are higher is likely troublesome for the campaign team in Brooklyn, of course, but in Sanders case he hasn’t really been hit with any negative campaigning yet, and in Biden’s case he hasn’t even entered the race yet. Both men have nowhere to go but down from the currently high esteem that Democratic voters hold them in, and when that happens, many of those voters are likely to turn back to Clinton as the candidate with the most experience who is also most likely to win in November 2016.

That good news notwithstanding, though, this is certainly not the direction that the Clinton campaign would like to see this race going. It was just a few months ago, after all, that Clinton had a seemingly insurmountable lead over her opponents in the Hawkeye State, and the fact that her campaign was putting together a massive ground operation seemed to indicate that the state may well be out of reach for anyone else. Just as Bernie Sanders surged in New Hampshire and finally overtook Clinton last month, though, he has also risen in Iowa and now has a lead over Clinton there, albeit within the margin of error. Clinton still hold a sizeable lead in the RealClearPolitics average in Iowa, but that’s because the average still includes several polls where she had double digit leads. The trend in that state can be seen quite clearly, and it seems to be matching the trend we saw in New Hampshire. At this point, I suppose, we need to start wondering if Clinton will start showing weakness in any other states, and what that might mean for the Democratic race.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    The fact that Clinton’s favorability numbers in the Hawkeye State is good news for her because it suggests that this dip in the polls may end up being temporary and that she’ll end up winning back much of the support she had before. The fact that Sanders and Biden’s numbers are higher is likely troublesome for the campaign team in Brooklyn, of course, but in Sanders case he hasn’t really been hit with any negative campaigning yet, and in Biden’s case he hasn’t even entered the race yet. Both men have nowhere to go but down from the currently high esteem that Democratic voters hold them in, and when that happens, many of those voters are likely to turn back to Clinton as the candidate with the most experience who is also most likely to win in November 2016.

    It’s Iowa, it’s early, and it’s fun. Basically, no one is ready to coronate Hillary Clinton this far in advance of the convention. The on-the-ground reality? There is no Republican alternative that will cause Democratic voters to change allegiance. In this zero-sum political world the importance of voter turn-out cannot be overstated.

  2. Davebo says:

    There’s a much more interesting poll out today on the GOP side.

    It seems at a minimum 64% of likely GOP voters are all in on the crazy.

  3. Tillman says:

    If anything, this should be read as the Democratic base wanting to avoid the appearance of coronation. They’d like a contest. I imagine in some haughty fever dreams (where has superdestroyer gone?) a few people imagine there won’t be more substantive political debate for the rest of the election.

    My barometer is going to be the attendance Sanders gets at UNCG. Based on that crowd, I’ll have a better idea if Clinton is in real trouble or not. UNCG has a famously liberal (for the South) student body, and I can’t imagine the Sanders campaign wouldn’t have some sort of presence there, if anywhere in the state at all.

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    The rise of both Trump and Sanders indicate that the American people are fed up with a status quot that puts the oligarchs and plutocrats ahead of regular people. I’m not sure the pitchforks will come out anytime soon but I think it may be close. The banksters that destroyed the economy are still being rewarded for their misdeeds instead of being of in jail where they should be. .

  5. Tillman says:

    @Ron Beasley: Heh. The Justice Department only recently realized it’s been going about this all wrong by not putting bankers in jail.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    OT…
    The Senate has failed to advance the Resolution of Disapproval against the Iran Deal…which means it will likely never reach Obama’s desk to be vetoed.
    Tally was 58-42 in favor of advancing but it needed…of course…60 votes.
    Another major victory for our feckless, ineffective, lead from behind, President.
    Republicans are intent on playing procedural games…but the fat lady has likely sung.

  7. Todd says:

    I don’t believe either Clinton or Sanders will be the eventual Democratic nominee. Watch Vice President Biden’s interview on Colbert tonight. He’s exactly the right guy for the mood of this electorate .. and exactly the Democrat who would be most immune to Trump’s BS. And for those who are apt to write him off as “crazy Uncle Joe”, go search for the last Vice Presidential debate against Paul Ryan … he’s quite a skilled politician.

    I know I sound like a broken record on this, but any Democrats who don’t recognize what a huge risk it would be nominate Hillary Clinton are willingly sticking their heads in the sand.

  8. SKI says:

    Until Bernie starts polling well in states that aren’t 85+% white, none of this matters.

    Where is he polling in SC? From PPP 2 days ago:

    On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton leads with 54% to 24% for Joe Biden, 9% for Bernie Sanders, 2% each for Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, and 1% for Lincoln Chafee.

  9. Tyrell says:

    @Ron Beasley: The people are tired of being told by the media that “it is all over” , “Hillary has got it in the bag, forget it, get over it”.

  10. Pinky says:

    @Todd: Biden is a very good speaker, a natural populist. He’s also only slightly thicker-skinned than Trump.

  11. bill says: