Iowa caucus: Buttigieg and Sanders tied as frontrunners in final poll before crucial vote

Iowa’s caucus notoriously difficult for pollsters to predict 

Andrew Buncombe
Des Moines
Monday 03 February 2020 19:58
US Election: What is the Iowa caucus?

Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are tied as frontrunners in the final poll before a crucial vote in Iowa.

With the campaigns of a dozen or so candidates scrambling to knock on doors and put in a final effort to try and win over voters ahead of Monday night’s caucus, a poll placed the former Indiana mayor on 19 points, with the Vermont senator on 17, a statistical tie.

The poll, by Democratic group Focus on Rural America by party pollster David Binder, came just days after the Des Moines Register announced it was not publishing its traditional, and deeply respected, eve of vote survey, after claims that Mr Buttigieg’s name had been left off a questionnaire that was read out to at least some respondents.

The latest poll put Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren on 15. Other polls had put Mr Biden in joint first place with Mr Sanders, and the Iowa vote is notoriously difficult to poll, history has shown.

In a large respect, the highlighting of Mr Sanders and Mr Buttigieg underscores much of the narrative that has played out here, as candidates have made their pitches to voters, backed up with year-long campaigning reported to have totalled $800m.

Much of the debate within the Democratic Party as it seeks to defeat Donald Trump, has been whether the best tactic is to opt for someone representing progressive ideas that could excite and energise the grassroots supporters. Falling into that category have been the 78-year-old Mr Sanders, and Ms Warren, 70, a senator from Massachusetts.

Amid the centrists, the contest has largely been between Mr Biden and Buttigieg, and in Iowa at least, Amy Klobuchar.

Donald Trump launches blistering attack on 'radical Democrats just down the street' in Iowa

The elephant not in the room is Michael Bloomberg, who has skipped the four early voting states, and is spearheading an unorthodox campaign centred on massive advertising in some of the key battleground states. People will get an indication of how successful that approach is on 3 March, so-called Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states hold their primaries.

Among the candidates who have seen their national number bump a little has been billionaire Tom Steyer. Yet in the last poll, he stands at just 3 per cent; to be viable in the caucuses process a candidate has to get at least 15 per cent, before a realignment process takes place, and voters are obliged to pick their second or third choice.

Mr Steyer rallied his supporters at his campaign office this morning, as they headed off to knock on doors for one last day.

“We’re absolutely energised to stand up for what is right,” he said.

The Hill said Ms Warren is the top second choice among voters, taking 20 per cent and suggesting she may have the strongest advantage of attracting other candidates’ supporters.

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