- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2019

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden leads the 2020 field among likely Democratic Iowa caucus-goers with Sen. Elizabeth Warren nabbing second place, according to a poll released Thursday.

Mr. Biden was the choice of 28% of likely caucus-goers, and was followed by Ms. Warren at 19%, Sen. Kamala Harris at 11%, Sen. Bernard Sanders at 9%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana at 8%, according to the Monmouth University poll.

Ms. Warren picked up 12 points of support compared to an April Monmouth poll, which was released before Mr. Biden had entered the race. Ms. Harris gained 4 points, and Mr. Sanders went backward, slipping 7 points.

In the poll released on Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer were next, at 3% each, followed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 2% apiece. Other candidates were at 1% or less.

The poll was released as candidates prepared to descend on the Hawkeye State starting on Thursday for the Iowa State Fair.

More than seven-in-10 respondents said they’d prefer to have a nominee who would be strong against President Trump even if they disagreed with them on most issues, compared to 20% who said they would favor a candidate aligned with them on most issues but who would have a hard time beating Mr. Trump.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they thought most of the Democratic candidates could not beat Mr. Trump, and 30% said they thought only one or two of the candidates could win.

Of the voters who said they think only one or two candidates could win, Mr. Biden had 41% support, followed by Ms. Warren at 13%, Ms. Harris at 11%, Mr. Sanders at 10%, and Mr. Buttigieg at 5%.

Among respondents who said they think at least half the field could win against Mr. Trump, 21% favored Ms. Warren, compared to 20% for Mr. Biden, 12% for Mr. Buttigieg, 8% for Mr. Sanders, and 8% for Ms. Harris.

“These results are just another sign that the electability factor continues to accrue in Joe Biden’s favor. This comes despite, or more likely because of, the attacks he has been weathering of late,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

On health care, 56% of respondents said they would prefer an opt-in provision for Medicare, as Mr. Biden and other candidates have advocated. Meanwhile 21% said they want a “Medicare for all” type system with no private health insurance coverage, which more liberal candidates like Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have advocated.

When asked which candidates come closest to their own views on health care, Mr. Biden led the way at 28%, followed by Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders at 20% apiece.

Still, nearly three-in-10 respondents said they didn’t know whose health care platform is aligned with where they stand personally.

“Many voters remain confused on the single most important domestic policy issue of the 2020 race,” Mr. Murray said. “The Medicare for All crowd has their champions, but the vast majority of voters who want a public option are all over the place. Last month’s debates do not appear to have clarified where the candidates stand on health care.”

Iowans also have the option this cycle to participate in the caucuses online or over the phone before the scheduled Feb. 3 date.

Among those who said they’ll opt for a “virtual” caucus, Mr. Biden led with 37% support, followed by Ms. Warren at 11%, Mr. Buttigieg at 10%, Mr. Sanders at 9%, and Ms. Harris at 8%.

The potential impact of the virtual caucus is “highly uncertain,” Mr. Murray said.

“As it stands right now, the virtual caucus could help Joe Biden by adding to his total voter share by racking up support from people who would not venture out on a cold February night,” Mr. Murray said. “However, if it also attracts a high number of people who would otherwise caucus in person, then candidates could end up wasting votes because the virtual delegate share is capped.”

The survey of 401 voters likely to participate in the Democratic caucuses was taken from Aug. 1-4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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