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Poll: Buttigieg leads Democratic field in Iowa

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegLGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE has surged to the front of the Democratic presidential field in Iowa, according to a Monmouth University poll, the latest sign that he’s gaining momentum ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses in February.

The poll shows Buttigieg with 22 percent support among likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers, a 14-point leap from where he stood in a similar Monmouth survey conducted in August. He is trailed in second place by former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE at 19 percent and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden defends his health plan from Trump attacks Progressives blast Biden plan to form panel on Supreme Court reform Biden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver MORE (D-Mass.) in third with 18 percent support.

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Only one other candidate, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden defends his health plan from Trump attacks Progressives blast Biden plan to form panel on Supreme Court reform Sanders: Progressives will work to 'rally the American people' if Biden wins MORE (I-Vt.), registered double digits in the latest Monmouth poll, with 13 percent support.

The poll suggests that the race in Iowa, the first state to vote in the 2020 Democratic nominating contest, is knotted at the top between Buttigieg, Biden and Warren. 

Buttigieg, 37, has seen his political stock tick upward in Iowa in recent months as he’s sought to cast himself as a younger alternative to Biden, who has so far carried the mantle of the party’s moderate wing.

Buttigieg has also sought to contrast himself with the primary field’s leading progressives, Warren and Sanders, and has taken sharp aim at the Massachusetts senator over the specifics of her "Medicare for All" proposal.

Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that part of Buttigieg’s recent rise in the state owes to his broad base of support among likely caucusgoers, adding that his backing isn’t limited to one particular voting bloc or group.

“Buttigieg is emerging as a top pick for a wide variety of Iowa Democrats,” Murray said. “While he has made nominally bigger gains among older caucusgoers, you really can’t pigeonhole his support to one particular group. He is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology.”

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage Obama says he voted by mail: 'It's not as tough as a lot of folks think' Clean energy opportunities in a time of crisis MORE (D-Calif.), who has shifted her campaign strategy in recent months to place a particular focus on Iowa, plummeted in the most recent Monmouth poll, falling from 12 percent in August to 3 percent in November. That puts her behind Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDurbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing MORE (D-Minn.), who notched a fifth-place finish with 5 percent support. 

Still, the presidential race in Iowa remains fluid. According to the Monmouth poll, more than 60 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers said that they are open to supporting someone other than the candidate they currently prefer on caucus night, including 16 percent who said there is a high possibility that they will change their minds.

Less than a third of respondents — 28 percent — said they had firmly decided on which candidate they plan to support in the Feb. 3 caucuses.

“Iowa caucusgoers are used to changing their minds up to the last minute. In fact, some probably even look forward to waiting until caucus night to settle on a candidate,” Murray said. “This all translates to a race that is extremely fluid and will probably stay that way up to Feb. 3.”

That a majority of likely caucusgoers say they could still change their mind before caucus night may bode well for those voters’ second choices for the Democratic nomination. 

Seventeen percent of respondents pointed to Warren as their second choice, while 15 percent said Buttigieg would be their No. 2 pick, 12 percent said it would be Sanders and 10 percent said it would be Biden.

The Monmouth poll surveyed 451 likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa by telephone from Nov. 7-11. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.