One new poll shows Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is solidifying her lead as front-runner in a large Democratic field of candidates competing in Iowa caucuses.
A second poll finds South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg in the lead.
But perhaps the most critical takeaway from both polls is fewer than one-third of likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants are firm in their choice at this point in the race.
Warren is first choice of 23.1 percent of those responding to the poll conducted by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, consisting of University of Iowa faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in the political science and sociology departments.
Independent Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden rounded out the top tier as the first choices of 18.1 percent, 15.5 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively. They were the only candidates with support in double digits. Nearly 13 percent of respondents did not know or refused to answer.
The results indicate Warren is well-positioned in Iowa 12 weeks ahead of the Feb. 3, 2020, caucuses, according to Frederick Boehmke, University of Iowa professor of political science, who serves as faculty adviser of the Hawkeye Poll.
“While most potential caucusgoers are still evaluating a handful of candidates, Warren places at the top among respondents’ first and second choices,” Boehmke said. “She also does well among those still narrowing down their choices and especially well among those very likely to attend the caucuses.”
In a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday, Buttigieg was at 22 percent, Joe Biden at 19 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 18 percent and Bernie Sanders at 13 percent. While Buttigieg has been surging in recent polling in Iowa, the Monmouth poll is the first to show him in the lead.
The poll’s margin for error was plus or minus 4.6 percentage points. It was conducted Nov. 7-11.
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That poll also asked Iowa Democrats’ second choices. When first and second choices were combined, the leaders were Buttigieg (37 percent) and Warren (and 35 percent).
The Hawkeye Poll found notable differences in support based on demographics. Warren was the first choice of 30.7 percent of women compared with 12.3 percent of men. Sanders led among men, with 24.3 percent, but was the first choice of 13.7 percent of women. Buttigieg ranked first with 17.8 percent of women and 12.1 percent of men, while Biden fared better with men — 16.5 percent to 14.5 percent among women.
Warren’s lead grew to 31.6 percent among those who self-identified as “very likely” to caucus, compared with 15.5 percent for Sanders. However, Sanders leads among those “somewhat likely” to attend. Biden has support of 11.7 percent of the “very likely” and 21.1 percent of the “somewhat likely.”
The poll also found that candidates have yet to lock in their support. Just 31.7 percent are “strongly committed” to their first choice, while 50.9 percent say they have narrowed the field to just a few candidates and 17.1 percent said they don’t know who they will back caucus night.
Among those “very likely” caucus participants, 37.4 percent have their minds made up, compared with 22.5 percent among the “somewhat likely.” Among the “strongly committed,” 22.4 percent back Warren. She’s also the first choice of 30.2 percent of those who still are narrowing their decision.
Warren is the second choice of 23.6 percent of the Hawkeye Poll respondents, while Sanders was the second choice of 16.1 percent. Buttigieg is the second choice of 11 percent, followed by California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris at 7.9 percent and Biden at 7.2 percent.
Concerning electability, 65 percent said the most important characteristic is that a candidate’s positions agree with theirs. The ability to win the general election was most important to 30.2 percent. Warren leads among those who rated positions as most important with 29.9 percent. Among those who indicated that winning the general election was most important, Biden leads with 27.1 percent.
The Hawkeye Poll of 1,288 registered voters was conducted Oct. 28 to Nov. 19. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percent. Among the sample were 538 possible Democratic caucusgoers, including 465 likely Democratic caucusgoers. The margin of error was higher in the subgroups.