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Biden the Clear Leader

But Power Poll shows Warren with strongest ground game in Iowa caucus race

Iowa Political Power  |  June 14, 2019 12:00pm  |  By James Q. Lynch

Biden the Clear Leader article image

Despite making only two campaign visits to Iowa so far this year, former Vice President Joe Biden has a sizable lead over his 20-plus rivals in the Iowa presidential caucuses while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign organization and frequent visits appear to be paying dividends.

Biden, who campaigned in Iowa Tuesday, was the first choice to win the state by 48 percent of those responding to the inaugural Iowa Political Power Poll. However, not only was Warren’s campaign ground game rated better than all others, but she received more votes than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders—14 percent to 8 percent—to win the Feb. 3 caucuses.

Warren has made 17 visits—the same as Sanders and Biden combined—and has more than 50 Iowa staffers. The strength of her on-the-ground campaign is important because organization is seen as a key to success in the caucuses that require Iowans to show up at a particular time and place to support their candidate.

When asked, "Which candidate has the best on-the-ground campaign organization?",  Warren took first place with 22% of the vote. Sanders placed second (16%) and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was third (13%). None of the other candidates received more than 5% of the vote on this question.

The 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 1,735 party activists, important media figures, political consultants and elected officials at the city, county, state and federal levels. It includes both Republicans and Democrats.

A total of 239 individuals responded by email to this inaugural survey, which began Monday and concluded Thursday. Plans are to survey once a month until the caucuses are held. (Full results are below. To check out the complete membership list of the Iowa Political Power Poll, click here.)

When asked who would finish second in the caucuses, Sanders edged Warren 21 percent to 19 percent with 14 percent naming Biden. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was seen as placing second by 10 percent of the Power Poll members, with no other candidates getting more than 5% on this question.

When asked who would finish third in the race, Warren edged Sanders 16 percent to 15 percent with Buttigieg tying Biden at 11 percent. No other candidates received double-digit support from the insiders.

It comes as no surprise that Biden leads the field. This is the third time he’s stumped for president in Iowa and he’s built a fan base—personal and political—by frequently campaigning for Iowa Democratic candidates.

Based on Sanders’ 2016 performance—he came within less than a percentage point of defeating eventual nominee Hillary Clinton—he has been seen as the presumptive Biden challenger in the Democratic field. However, Warren is the only candidate to finish either first or second when the Power Poll leadership class was asked who would win, place and show.

The 15, 16 and 21 percent, respectively, who answered “don’t know” to the questions about who will place first, second and third, suggests a possibility for longshot candidates to catch fire as Iowans begin to pay more attention to the campaign.

Democratic National Committee debates later this month and fundraising numbers for the second quarter also could reshape the race.

(James Q. Lynch is a veteran Iowa political reporter with more than three decades of experience covering the state.)



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: 48%

Elizabeth Warren: 14%

Bernie Sanders: 8%

Pete Buttigieg: 5%

Cory Booker: 4%

Kamala Harris: 2%

Beto O'Rourke: 1%

Don't Know: 15%


Who will place second?

Bernie Sanders: 21%

Elizabeth Warren: 19%

Joe Biden: 14%

Pete Buttigieg: 10%

Kamala Harris: 5%

Cory Booker: 5%

Amy Klobuchar: 3%

Beto O'Rourke: 3%

Kirsten Gillibrand: 1%

Jay Inslee: 1%

Andrew Yang: 1%

Don't Know: 16%


Who will place third?

Elizabeth Warren: 16%

Bernie Sanders: 15%

Pete Buttigieg: 11%

Joe Biden: 11%

Kamala Harris: 7%

Beto O'Rourke: 5%

Amy Klobuchar: 4%

Cory Booker: 3%

John Delaney: 2%

Kirsten Gillibrand: 2%

Eric Swalwell: 1%

Don't Know: 21%


Which candidate has the best on-the-ground campaign organization?

Elizabeth Warren: 22%

Bernie Sanders: 16%

Cory Booker: 13%

Joe Biden: 5%

Pete Buttigieg: 4%

John Delaney: 5%

Beto O'Rourke: 3%

Kamala Harris: 2%

John Hickenlooper: 1%

Amy Klobuchar: 1%

Don't Know: 27%