Clinton still leads Iowa; O’Malley Backers Could Help Sanders

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new Iowa Democratic poll, conducted in partnership with Progress Iowa, continues to find Hillary Clinton holding a modest lead in the state. She’s at 48% to 40% for Bernie Sanders and 7% for Martin O’Malley. There’s been little movement since our last poll two and a half weeks ago- Clinton’s support is up 2 points, O’Malley’s is down 1, and Sanders is steady.

One thing that will likely cause things to tighten up on Monday night is that O’Malley’s supporters are far more likely to move to Sanders than Clinton at the sites where he fails to meet the 15% threshold. 57% of O’Malley voters say Sanders is their second choice to only 27% who say it’s Clinton. We found something similar on our last poll, when O’Malley voters said they’d pick Sanders over Clinton 43/20. So just based on the reallocation of O’Malley voters, Sanders can expect to make up a couple points of his deficit. 

One finding on this poll that’s encouraging for Clinton is that 88% of her voters say they’re firmly committed to supporting her, compared to 74% who say the same for Sanders. When you look at the race just among voters who have completely made up their minds, Clinton’s lead expands to 17 points at 56/39. Sanders is up 55/31 with folks who say they may yet change sides.

Sanders’ hopes in Iowa really rely on a lot of independent voters showing up Monday and changing their registration to Democratic to caucus for him. Clinton has a 53/36 lead with registered Democrats, while Sanders has a whooping 62/23 advantage with independents. We find independents to make up about 17% of the likely electorate for Monday night- given Sanders’ overwhelming advantage with them his path to victory is dependent on turning out even more of those folks.

The predictable demographic divides present themselves in these Iowa numbers. Clinton is up 54/37 with women, but trails 44/40 with men. Sanders leads 52/37 with voters under 30 and 49/36 with voters between 30 and 45, but more than makes up for that with a 65/24 advantage among seniors.

Democrats in Iowa like their candidates better than the Republicans do theirs. Sanders paces the field in popularity with a 76/14 favorability rating, which makes him the most popular candidate on either side of the aisle. Clinton’s 69/22 favorability makes her more well liked by Democrats than every Republican candidate except Ben Carson is on their side. And even though he’s going to finish a distant third Martin O’Malley’s 53/18 favorability with Democrats actually makes him more broadly popular within his party than Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum are in theirs.

Full results here


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