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Poll: Sanders takes lead in Iowa less than a month before vote

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus The Hill's 12:30 Report: Next steps in the Trump impeachment Sanders selling sweatshirts with his famous inauguration pose for charity MORE (I-Vt.) has taken the lead in Iowa, according to a Des Moines Register/CNN poll released on Friday that shows the Vermont senator jumping past his top rivals after a third-place finish in the same survey in November.

The poll, widely considered the most authoritative in Iowa, shows Sanders with the support of 20 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers. He's trailed closely by another progressive, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenStudent loan forgiveness would be windfall for dentists, doctors and lawyers OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-Mass.), who registered 17 percent in the survey.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Biden signs order to require masks on planes and public transportation Senators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Joe Biden might bring 'unity' – to the Middle East Biden shouldn't let defeating cancer take a backseat to COVID MORE round out the top four, notching 16 percent and 15 percent support, respectively. 

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Still, Sanders’s lead in Iowa is narrow – within the poll’s 3.7 percent margin of error – suggesting that the race in the Hawkeye State remains wide open with less than a month to go before the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The Des Moines Register poll shows that Iowa remains a four-person race. No other candidate managed to register in double digits. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Do Democrats really want unity? Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts MORE (D-Minn.), an underdog who’s banking on a strong finish in Iowa to lend momentum to her campaign, notched 6 percent in the poll, while former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangYang to quarantine after campaign staffer tests positive for COVID-19 Andrew Yang sparks Twitter uproar with pro-bodega video Yang announces run for New York City mayor MORE finished just below her, with 5 percent support.

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (D-N.J.) also failed to gain ground in the poll, coming in with just 3 percent support. That’s unchanged from the Register’s November poll.

The poll is welcome news for Sanders, who rose 5 points since the last Des Moines Register poll was released in November. That survey showed Buttigieg surging to the front of the pack with 25 percent support.

But Buttigieg’s political fortunes in the state appear to be reversing. He’s faced criticism in recent weeks for his fundraising practices, especially from Warren, who pointedly attacked the former Indiana mayor at last month’s Democratic presidential debate for holding a fundraiser at a so-called “wine cave” in California.

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The number of likely caucusgoers who say their minds are made up on who they will support in the Feb. 3 caucuses has risen, as well. Forty percent of respondents said they are sure of their choice. But that still leaves 45 percent who say they could still change their minds, and 13 percent who have not yet picked a favorite candidate, according to the poll.

Things could still change in Iowa in the weeks leading up to the caucuses. The five senators running for the Democratic nomination are facing President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE’s impending impeachment trial, which is expected to begin next week. That means that they will be stuck in Washington, while candidates like Buttigieg and Biden will be free to campaign in the Hawkeye State.

At the same time, the Iowa caucuses are famously difficult to forecast, because unlike primaries, they involve showing up to a specific location at a specific time – and in the dead of winter – while caucusgoers work to persuade fellow voters to support their preferred candidate.

Because caucusgoers can change their minds on caucus night, second-choice preferences are considered crucial. Warren and Buttigieg were the two candidates most frequently mentioned as caucusgoers’ second choices, picked by 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Twelve percent said that Biden is their second choice in the state, while just as many said Sanders is their No. 2 pick, according to the poll.

The Des Moines Register/CNN poll surveyed 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa from Jan. 2-8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

-- Updated at 6:38 p.m.