New 2020 Poll Shows Iowa Leaders, Super PAC Skepticism

A Public Policy Polling survey shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a nearly two-to-one lead over his nearest competitor, Senator Bernie Sanders, in a new poll of likely Iowa Caucus-goers. Biden, who is expected to soon enter the presidential race, starts with 29% support in the poll, compared to Sanders’ 15%, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 8%, and Beto O’Rourke’s 7%.

The poll, which ran from March 14 to 15 (during the first two days of O’Rourke’s candidacy) and surveyed 678 likely caucus-goers, was commissioned by the End Citizens United organization, a group pushing campaign finance reform issues in the 2020 race. The poll found that 83% of likely caucus-goers have a “major problem” with “unlimited special interest money in elections,” and that 64% think Democratic candidates should disavow any spending help from supportive Super PACs during the primary.

Here are the full horserace numbers for the Iowa Caucus:

Joe Biden: 29%
Bernie Sanders: 15%
ElizabethWarren: 8%
Beto O’Rourke: 7%
Amy Klobuchar: 6%
Kamala Harris: 5%
Cory Booker: 4%
Someone Else: 4%
Not Sure: 22%

The poll did not include every declared or likely presidential candidate, making it different from other recent Iowa polling. It lumped those who haven’t been near the top in public polling into a “someone else” category, which should be taken into account. Polling a field this large has been challenging, so some may take this approach.

That said, it largely tracks with what others have found, though Biden’s lead of this margin is certainly noteworthy. The Des Moines Register’s poll had him with just a two-point lead over Sanders a few weeks ago. But polling on Sanders’ real level of support might be tricky, as his core base of followers include many Iowans who aren’t always that engaged in politics, so they may not answer that they’re likely to caucus until much closer to the actual caucus night next February. Candidates often bring out many new voters to the Iowa Caucus, making it difficult to predict.

Most polling this early on for the caucus horserace is heavily reliant on name ID of the top contenders. Still, it’s an interesting look to see where candidates at least start off at with the potential Iowa Democratic caucus-going electorate.

The survey also questioned how important certain issues were to Iowans. Here’s how many answered “very important” to each one:

Overturning Citizens United: 63% very important
Medicare for All: 61% very important
Sweeping anti-corruption legislation: 67% very important
Immigration reform: 43% very important
Gun safety reform: 64% very important

As this was sponsored by the End Citizens United organization, they also keyed in on a lot of questions around Super PACs and campaign finance reform.

The poll found that 66% would be less likely to support a candidate who “had a Super PAC spending unlimited amounts of money from wealthy donors and corporations to help them buy the Democratic nomination for President.” Another 63% responded they would be more likely to back a candidate who “has pledged to not take any money from corporate PACs.” They also mentioned that a Super PAC was supporting Jay Inslee’s climate change-based candidacy, finding that 64% said it made them less likely to back Inslee.

You can see all of the top lines for the poll here.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 3/20/19

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