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

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Sanders tells Maher 'there will be a number of plans' to remove Trump if he loses Sirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters 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 WarrenOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds On The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package Warren, Khanna request IG investigation into Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds MORE (D-Mass.), who registered 17 percent in the survey.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBillionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November Buttigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins MORE round out the top four, notching 16 percent and 15 percent support, respectively. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Klobuchar3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight 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 YangBiden's latest small business outreach is just ... awful Doctor who allegedly assaulted Evelyn Yang arrested on federal charges The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden weighs in on police shootings | Who's moderating the debates | Trump trails in post-convention polls MORE finished just below her, with 5 percent support.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election The movement to reform animal agriculture has reached a tipping point Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act 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.