Poll: Biden leads in Iowa, with Sanders in close second

Poll: Biden leads in Iowa, with Sanders in close second
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders HuffPost reporter: Sanders could win plurality of delegates but lose nomination Meghan McCain to Joy Behar: 'You guys have done a piss-poor job of convincing me that I should vote for a Democrat' MORE continues to lead in Iowa just before the first-in-the-nation caucuses, but Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Warren: Bloomberg making debate will show how other candidates handle 'an egomaniac billionaire' HuffPost reporter: Sanders could win plurality of delegates but lose nomination MORE (I-Vt.) is closing the gap between himself and the front-runner, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

The poll, conducted from Jan. 23-27, found Biden with 23 percent support among likely Democratic caucusgoers, roughly on par with a previous Monmouth survey from earlier this month that showed him at 24 percent in the Hawkeye State.

Sanders, however, is within the margin of error for first place, notching 21 percent in the latest poll — a 3-point gain since the early January survey.

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Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegHuffPost reporter: Sanders could win plurality of delegates but lose nomination Sanders campaign expands operations in Michigan Sanders leads among Latino voters: poll MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Bloomberg making debate will show how other candidates handle 'an egomaniac billionaire' Klobuchar campaign gets first super PAC HuffPost reporter: Sanders could win plurality of delegates but lose nomination MORE (D-Mass.), meanwhile, are neck and neck, scoring 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Another contender, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar campaign gets first super PAC Sanders leads among Latino voters: poll How the media fall in and out of love with candidates MORE (D-Minn.), took 10 percent in the poll, marking the first time since launching her presidential bid last year that she has scored in double digits in Iowa.

The survey suggests that, just five days out from the Iowa caucuses, the presidential race in the state is wide open, with no candidate having a clear advantage heading into caucus day.

What’s more, 45 percent of likely caucusgoers surveyed expressed at least some degree of openness to supporting a candidate other than their current first choice at the caucuses. Another 47 percent said they were firmly decided on their candidate of choice. 

That matters in the caucuses, where voters are charged with persuading their peers whose candidate of choice isn’t considered viable to back their preferred candidate instead.

In most Iowa precincts, candidates need to win at least 15 percent support to be considered viable. Caucusgoers whose candidates don’t meet that threshold will then have to realign and support a different candidate.

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Warren is the candidate most frequently cited as likely caucusgoers’ second choice, with 19 percent saying they would back the Massachusetts senator if not their No. 1 pick. Biden takes second place in that category, with 16 percent putting him in their No. 2 spot, while Buttigieg comes in third, with 13 percent.

Only 11 percent of respondents said Sanders was their second choice in the Democratic field. 

The Monmouth University poll surveyed 1,345 registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters in Iowa from Jan. 23-27. It has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.