Poll: Elizabeth Warren Jumps Out To Big Lead In The Iowa Caucus

Elizabeth Warren’s early investment in Iowa is paying off.

A new Iowa Starting Line-Change Research poll shows the senator opening up a commanding lead in the Iowa Caucus. Warren was the top pick of 28% of likely Iowa Caucus-goers in the poll, an 11-point lead over the nearest competitor. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were both tied for second with 17% each. Pete Buttigieg came in fourth at 13% and Kamala Harris has the backing of 8%.

Both Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke garnered 3% of caucus-goers’ support, while Steve Bullock, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer got on the board at 2%. Julian Castro, Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang rounded out the field at 1%, while everyone else had less than that.

The poll was conducted online August 9 to 11, right in the middle of peak Iowa State Fair campaigning, and surveyed 621 likely Democratic caucus-goers on questions related to the Democratic horserace. That part of the poll had a ±3.9% margin of error.

The horserace numbers reflect a shake-up that those of us on the ground in Iowa have been seeing for a while. It also shows significant movement from our last Starting Line-Change Research poll from May 15 to 19. Here’s where the top candidates stood in that poll, along with their movement since:

May Poll (change to August)
Joe Biden: 24% (-7)
Bernie Sanders: 24% (-7)
Pete Buttigieg: 14% (-1)
Elizabeth Warren: 12% (+16)
Kamala Harris: 10% (-2)
Beto O’Rourke: 5% (-2)

Today’s results come after an incredibly packed week of campaigning in Iowa, one where enthusiasm and organization on the ground for candidates like Warren were readily apparent.

The senator spent a considerable amount of time on Iowa trips during the winter and spring, locking in activists and volunteers early on. Warren was also the quickest in the field to build up a strong ground game here, stocked with veteran Iowa Caucus staffers.

In this poll, Sanders has not fallen as much in the standings as in some early other states, but he has slipped from his previous first-place tie with Biden. His core group of support in Iowa has slowly shrunk down to the left-most activist base, but he also has the potential to turn out many new caucus-goers, which may be more accurately reflected in online polls such as these.

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The good news for progressives is that the two most left-leaning candidates command nearly half of the support in the incredibly fractured Democratic field. The recent concerns that Warren and Sanders would split the progressive base too much for either to succeed does not appear to be happening, or at least not in Iowa for the moment.

Biden, on the other hand, risks a costly defeat in the lead-off state if his numbers continue in this downward direction. This poll was conducted in the few days after his latest gaffe on the Iowa campaign trail where he stumbled over a line talking about “poor” kids and “white” kids. He has, however, ramped up his staffing in Iowa in recent weeks, now running one of the largest operations here.

Meanwhile, Buttigieg maintains a strong showing among the top candidates, even after his candidacy cooled off in most national polls this summer as he dealt with policing controversies back home. Buttigieg was greeted very warmly by Iowa crowds during his trip this past week, though he’ll still need to move at some point in this Midwestern early state.

Harris, who has decided to go all-in for the Iowa Caucus, holds a decent base of support in this survey, but isn’t showing the momentum she had in other polls following her strong debate performances.

The poll also shows Booker starting to pop up on the radar a little more, which many Iowa politics watchers have been expecting for some time. And it’s not terrible news for O’Rourke, who had nearly disappeared off of other polls around the country.

The other good news for Warren is that her support appears to be very broad in the party. She leads every age demographic (even surpassing Biden in the oldest age bracket, 31% to 28%) except for the youngest. Sanders has a 14-point lead here among the 18-34 range with 34%.

There are many other fascinating breakdowns in support, as well as considerable data on other aspects of the Iowa Caucus race and the general election contest here, which can be purchased with the full poll from Change Research.


Help us continue our mission of providing local, independent journalism by donating to Iowa Starting Line today


by Pat Rynard
Posted 8/15/19

86 Comments on "Poll: Elizabeth Warren Jumps Out To Big Lead In The Iowa Caucus"

  • Why should we let a nothing but corn state like Iowa determine who gets to run for President? They have little in common with us in self reliant Pennsylvania.

      • The reason there are so many candidates running as Demos is everyone wants to follow a bad act. Even those egregiously unqualified and Warren, Harris and others are unqualified. They are seeking desperate, ignorant people to vote for them. Much like Trump did. Exec mgmt in gov’t is much different and more difficult than the private sector. Done both. Teaching is not exec experience at all. Electing Warren is not as bad as electing Trump. My fucking Lab would be a better POTUS than Trump. But we need people like Biden, Castro, Inslee who have exec gov’t experience to quickly fix the disasters of the Trump/Putin/Kock/Pence, et al debacle.

      • Iowa is the heart of the nation. God bless Iowa! Watch Tulsi Gabbare soar in Iowa! They know the real deal when they see it. Imagine Combat Vet, anti-war, anti-neocon, anti-deep state vs. Captain Bonespur Chickenhawkowitz? Break the glass ceiling!

    • I guess if you are a Democrat, in this 2020 contest, you don’t like Iowa and New Hampshire telling you who your nominee is going to be. I’m a Republican in Maryland and we vote real late in the Primary process. So years ago, John MaCain had already won the Repub nomination before we got to vote. I say all Primaries should be on the same day nationwide. It’s interesting how Democrats want to do away with the Electoral College but not the stupid Primary process. BTW – Bill Clinton won by the Electoral College, TWICE. He lost the Popular Vote, TWICE. So some thought should be given before trashing the EC.

      • Bill Clinton did not lose the popular vote twice. Why did you think no one would check that? You can’t just make stuff up!


        Bill Clinton Popular Vote: 44,909,889 – Electoral Vote: 370 168 0
        George H. W. Bush Popular Vote: 39,104,545 – Electoral Vote: 168
        Ross Perot Popular Vote: 19,743,821 Electoral Vote: 0


        Bill Clinton Popular Vote: 47,401,185 EV: 379
        Bob Dole Popular Vote: 39,197,469 EV: 159
        Ross Perot Popular Vote: 8,085,294 EV: 0

      • Barry, Bill Clinton won with a clear majority of the popular vote in both ’92 and ’96, with 44,9 mil votes vs 39,1 mil (Bush) and 47,4 mil vs 39,2 mil (Dole) respectively.

      • Barry,

        That is 100% false. Where in Russia do you live?

        W. Bush and Trump lost the popular vote but won due to the electoral college. The electoral college does nothing but remove the power of every voting American.

    • If there’s ever a self-reliant state, it’s Iowa. I grew up there. It’s even more self-reliant now that the Libertarians control both houses and the governor’s office. Austerity is killing Iowans! stay tuned, Pennsylvania…

    • 1) she didn’t lie about who she was if she didn’t know who she was (no DNA test in the 70s and went off on her family stories)

      2) trump lies all the time

      • Name a Trump like. And I’ll remind you a “lie” by definition means you KNOW you are saying something false at the time. Like, say Obama and his failed Obamacare telling us that it’s not a tax and you can keep your doctor and plan if you like it. Ignoranus leftist.

      • She didn’t lie at all. The DNA test confirmed her family lore. They knew there was a Native ancestor back there and they were proud of it. The test confirmed it as much as a DNA test could confirm that to be true and then the right wing intentionally confused everyone about it and Warren did a bad job of reacting usefully to the whole mess that she set up. It was a blunder in the way she played it but she didn’t lie. Trump promised to donate a million dollars to a charity and then refused is what happened.

    • This is a useless poll. Rated C+ by Five Thirty-Eight. It’s an outlier. Biden is winning big in every other poll.

      • No, he’s not. This poll shows Warren with a bigger jump than others but look at the RCP average of polls and you can see that she’s gained on Biden while Bernie has been bleeding support.

  • Her “huge crowd” was estimated at 700 people. Trump regularly draws 30 times that many people with 3 times that that many standing outside the arena.

    I’m not worried.

  • If you remove all her employees and staffers. Remove all the bloggers and journalists. Remove the film and recording crews. Remove all the people and employees that set up the event, placed the chairs, etc…. There would be probably 480 people there.

    Where as Trump packs an entire stadium + the parking lot. She’s got nothing. She is getting the draft from riding Biden’s tail… and picking up all those he left behind with his many gaffes.

  • One Under, but the sounds of if you’re much more under than that! You want to talk about self reliance? We are on energy, food (Corn, Hog, Soybeans) and Tech. Not sure if you’ve been brought up to speed as to who is moving to Iowa and why it’s growing so fast but Apple, Facebook, Microsoft are all building HUGE data centers here! But, you go ahead and pretend that Pennsylvania is better. Iowans are probably the most down to earth people you will ever meet!

    • “Iowans are probably the most down to earth people you will ever meet!”

      except the ones that brag about stupid data centers and the tax breaks they take from the public. Smugness is not a good look for someone whose state has more hogs than people.
      Iowa Nice….? Where is Steve King from again?

    • Not if they don’t back Trump, they’re not. They won’t be any better than the Arizonians who consistently put McCain in office.

  • The poll’s margin of error is 4%. So to say “Booker has started to pop up on the radar” or “it’s not terrible news for Beto” is ridiculous. They could both actually be at 0%, given the margin of error. Harris still has a decent base of support? She could actually be at 4%, which is pathetic. Polls like this, which are small sample size and months away from the actual vote, are useless.

  • At the Iowa state fair they had jars for each presidential candidate. Each person could put in one corn kernel. Trump had to have an extra jar and maybe more than one.

    • Ok… but when the General election comes you can combine all the non-trump ones and it will be a lot closer. Your inability to see that shows the level of intelligence of trump supporters.

  • Warren 2020!! Smart and way better than Trump!

    Anyone who wants to comment on the Native situation is really shallow!

  • Iowan here…. I have never taken a poll (maybe because I work and don’t answer unknown callers). Voting for Trump in 2020.

  • I’ve been predicting since 2017 that either Warren or Harris will be the nominee – this is not an endorsement. Someone will emerge as the field slowly narrows. Biden is the DNC’s choice but not certain they can hand him the nomination after they were exposed electioneering for Hillary last time.

  • I hope Warren as the nominee becuase Trump will win reelection easily. Biden is the only one who would have a chance. Go Liz go! Free stuff for everyone!

  • Warren has already produced a wide array of “I have a plan for that”. That will let her build a large and wide ranging coalition that will propel her to victory.
    Then add in the “tRump Recession” that the latest failed policies and broken international relationships, “easy to win tariff war” and constant state of diversions …. American’s will be looking for stability and sanity again.

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