Iowa poll makes waves among 2020 Democrats

The latest poll of Iowa voters sparked reactions from several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, who said the large primary field means even candidates with relatively low numbers are viable contenders. 

The benchmark Des Moines Register and CNN poll, released Saturday night, showed former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead narrowing, though he retained a significant advantage with 24 percent support. Second place was a three-way statistical tie, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 16 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at 15 percent and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 14 percent.

{mosads}Appearing Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sanders said it’s unlikely any candidate will achieve 50 percent support in Iowa. He noted that neither he nor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was able to break 50 percent in the 2016 Iowa caucuses — Clinton ultimately won by a fraction of a point — and added that the large field makes it an even more daunting task this year.

“We’re not going to get 50 percent of the vote in Iowa. I don’t think anybody will,” Sanders said. Polls have shown the Vermont senator has consistently been in second place behind Biden, but the Iowa Poll is the first to show other candidates coming close.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), meanwhile, waved off his weaker showing in the poll, which put him at 2 percent, down from 11 percent in December, despite a blitz of appearances across the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

“I don’t know that this many months out from the caucuses in Iowa that these polls really indicate what our prospects are,” O’Rourke told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “If I relied on polls, in any race that I’d run, I never would have been able to serve in the United States Congress, we never would have tried to take on Ted Cruz, and we wouldn’t have been able to lead the largest grass-roots effort in the state of Texas.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also responded to the poll, which showed her at 2 percent, putting her among the top six polling candidates. That percentage, she noted on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” put her ahead of 18 other candidates.

“I’m clearly on the debate stage and expect to be there in the fall. And I think that’s going to give opportunity to voters in Iowa and all across the country to really narrow it down,” she said Sunday. Along with the top four, O’Rourke, Klobuchar and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who polled at 7 percent, were the only candidates polling above 1 percent.

Warren did not appear on any of the Sunday shows, but the numbers reflect one of her best Iowa showings since she entered the race.

“That’s a strong showing for Elizabeth Warren,” pollster Ann Selzer, who conducted the survey, told the Register. “I think that all of the publicity lately and all of the polls lately are so Biden-heavy that for her to have any metric that shows her on par (with him) … it says to me there are people who are paying attention. Again, in a field this big, that’s step one. First, you have to get people to pay attention.”

Nine candidates, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the most recent entrant, polled at 0 percent. “There’s always been a question mark as to how many can get any real traction,” Selzer said. “And we gave them every opportunity to show that they have some kind of constituency here. But there’s a fair number who, their constituency just isn’t very big.”

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Bill de Blasio Elizabeth Warren George Stephanopoulos Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Pete Buttigieg Ted Cruz

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