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Biden & Warren Show Gains

Meanwhile, Sanders slides, as does Harris

Iowa Political Power  |  September 11, 2019 12:00pm  |  By James Q. Lynch

Biden & Warren Show Gains article image

Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the odds-on favorite of Iowa political insiders to win the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.

At the same time, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ stock continues to slide with the elected officials, political activists, campaign consultants, and media figures surveyed by the Iowa Political Power Poll last week.

49% of the insiders said they expect—but not necessarily prefer—that Biden will win the Feb. 3 caucuses that kick off the Democrat Party's presidential nomination contest. Another 34% predict Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be the winner. That’s an increase of 13 percentage points since the last Iowa Power Poll in July when 21% forecasted a Warren win. Biden’s share of the first-place votes rose by 8 percentage points.

Interestingly, the higher expectations for Warren parallel the assessment of 44% of the insiders that her campaign ground game is the strongest in Iowa. As of mid-August, she had more than 60 staffers in Iowa. Biden’s ground game, on the other hand, is judged strongest by just 10%. Biden is ramping up his campaign presence in Iowa and expects soon to have 75 staffers here.

The increases in the share of Iowa political leaders who expect Biden and Warren to win the caucuses came at the expense of Sanders and California Sen. Kamala Harris. The percentage of those predicting a win for Harris increased from 2% to 13% in July. This month, however, only 1% saw a first-place finish for Harris.

The percentage of Iowa Power Poll insiders who see Sanders winning the caucuses continued to slip in September. The share of them who see Sanders, who came within less than a percentage point of defeating eventual 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, topping the field slid from 8% in June to 4% in July to 3% this month.

NOTE: The Iowa Power Poll is not a scientific poll. It is, instead, a fascinating glimpse into what Iowa’s political leadership class thinks about the 2020 Democratic caucus. The Iowa Political Power Poll member list is composed of 1,634 party activists, important media figures, political consultants and elected officials at the city, county, state and federal levels. Click here to view the list. It includes both Republicans and Democrats. A total of 193 individuals responded to this survey, for a response rate of 11.81%. The survey was taken Sept. 4-9, all by email. Plans are to survey once a month until the caucuses.

Asked who will place second in the caucuses, Sanders and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailed Warren and Biden with 12 and 11%, respectively.

Caucus watchers traditionally see three tickets out of the Iowa caucuses. 28% of those surveyed by the Iowa Power Poll predict Sanders will get one of them. Another 16% see Warren winning bronze with Buttigieg and Biden following at 13 and 11%, respectively.

When votes for first-, second-, and third-place finishes are totaled, Biden and Harris each tallied 164 total votes, and Sanders scored 83.

Here are the total results broken down by question. If a candidate received no votes in this most recent survey, the candidate was not listed.

Question #1: The Iowa caucuses will be held Feb. 3. Looking into your crystal ball, who do you think will place first among the Democrats?

Joe Biden: 49% (48% June, 41% July)

Elizabeth Warren: 34% (14% June, 21% July)

Tulsi Gabbard: 3% (0% June, 1% July)

Bernie Sanders: 1% (8% June, 4% July)

Cory Booker: 2% (4% June, 1% July)

Pete Buttigieg: 2% (5% June, 2% July)

John Delaney: 1% (0% June, 1% July)

Kamala Harris: 1% (2% June, 13% July)

Amy Klobuchar: 1% (0% June, 0% July)

Beto O'Rourke: 1% (1% June, 1% July)

Marianne Williamson: 1% (0% June, 0% July)

Andrew Yang: 1% (0% June, 0% July)

Don't Know: 3% (15% June, 13% July)


Question #2: Who will place second?

Elizabeth Warren: 35%

Joe Biden: 24%

Bernie Sanders: 12%

Pete Buttigieg: 11%

Kamala Harris: 6%

Cory Booker: 3%

Amy Klobuchar: 3%

Bill de Blasio: 1%

Tulsi Gabbard: 1%

Wayne Messam: 1%

Beto O'Rourke: 1%

Tim Ryan: 1%

Don't Know: 3%


Question #3: Who will place third?

Bernie Sanders: 28%

Elizabeth Warren: 16%

Pete Buttigieg: 13%

Kamala Harris: 9%

Joe Biden: 11%

Cory Booker: 4%

Julián Castro: 2%

Tulsi Gabbard: 2%

Amy Klobuchar: 2%

Beto O'Rourke: 2%

Steve Bullock: 1%

John Delaney: 1%

Marianne Williamson: 1%

Andrew Yang: 1%

Don't Know: 9%


Question #4: Which candidate has the best on-the-ground campaign organization?

Elizabeth Warren: 44% (22% June, 37% July)

Joe Biden: 10% (5% June, 7% July)

Pete Buttigieg: 8% (4% June, 3% July)

Bernie Sanders: 7% (16% June, 15% July)

Cory Booker: 4% (13% June, 9% July)

John Delaney: 4% (5% June, 3% July)

Tulsi Gabbard: 3% (0% June, 0% July)

Kamala Harris: 3% (2% June, 3% July)

Amy Klobuchar: 1% (1% June, 1% July)

Tim Ryan: 1% (0% June, 0% July)

Don't Know: 17% (27% June, 9% July)