Iowa poll: Warren, Buttigieg, Sanders and Biden in a tight scrape at the top

A new survey of Iowa Democrats finds four candidates vying for the stop spot in the caucus — Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Mass.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE are bunched at the head of the docket with no clear leader.

The Quinnipiac University poll finds Warren at 20 percent support, followed by Buttigieg at 19 percent, Sanders at 17 percent and Biden at 15 percent. The poll has a 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

Fifty-two percent of likely Democratic voters surveyed said they could still change their minds before the Feb. 3 caucuses.

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Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow indicated that Iowa's caucus is, "A close race with a crowded field of frontrunners." 

“While Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Bernie Sanders have held top tier status in national polls for months, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins their ranks in the 2020 Iowa caucus. And it's a race that is up for grabs.”

Rounding out the field are Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Minn.) at 5 percent, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisFive takeaways from the Democratic debate Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Calif.) at 4 percent, and businessman Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Steyer, Biden clash over climate credentials Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE, tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangYang says white supremacist violence should be designated domestic terrorism Yang jokes first thing he'd say to Putin as president is 'Sorry I beat your guy' Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE, and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico MORE (D-Hawaii) at 3 percent each. 

Self-described “very liberal” Democrats are splitting their vote between Sanders, at 32 percent, and Warren, at 30 percent. Those who describe themselves as “somewhat liberal” are divided between Warren at 29 percent and Buttigieg at 24 percent.

But “moderate and conservative” Democrats make up half of likely caucusgoers, and these are split between Buttigieg at 19 percent and Biden at 18 percent.

Buttigieg tops the field among white voters with college degrees, while Sanders leads among white voters without a college education. 

Buttigieg is also the top second choice for voters at 17 percent, followed by Warren at 16 percent, Sanders at 13 percent and Biden at 12 percent.

Among voters whose top candidate is polling at less than 15 percent, Buttigieg is the top second choice at 22 percent, followed by Sanders at 21 percent. This statistic could be an important factor should several low-polling candidates drop out before the caucuses.

One-third of voters said they’re primarily looking for someone who can defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE. Those voters view Biden, Buttigieg and Warren as likeliest to win in a head-to-head matchup against the president.

"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," said Snow. "Biden, Warren and Buttigieg are tied among those ranking a 2020 win uppermost in their decision." 

Health care is the top issue for likely Democrats in Iowa, with 26 percent saying Sanders is strongest on the issue, and 22 percent saying Warren. 

Among those who said they backed Sanders in the caucuses in 2016, 35 percent are still with him, but 23 percent now support Warren and 19 percent support Buttigieg. Among those who backed Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE in 2016, 27 percent now support Biden, followed by 21 percent for Buttigieg and 18 percent for Warren.


The Quinnipiac University survey of 698 likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers was conducted between Oct. 30 and Nov. 5 and has a 4.5 percentage point margin of error.