Today will be a historic day for leading presidential candidates as initial elections begin with the Iowa caucus. The latest polls of Hawkeye State voters show Bernie Sanders with a 4-point lead over Hillary Clinton.
The Quinnipiac University poll released last Wednesday shows Bernie Sanders with 49% followed by Hillary Clinton with 45%. Martin O’Malley remains at the tail end with single digit support.
“Is this déjà vu all over again? Who would have thunk it when the campaign began?” asks Peter Brown of Quinnipiac. “Secretary Hillary Clinton struggling to keep up with Senator Bernie Sanders in the final week before the Iowa caucus. It must make her think of eight years ago when her failure in Iowa cost her the presidency,” he added.
Sanders has been leading in the Hawkeye State for several weeks now, with voter statistics showing a strong male vote. Meanwhile, female Democrats continue to cling to the idea of Hillary Clinton as the first female president. Senator Sanders earns the most support from voters who identify as “very liberal” whereas Clinton receives support from voters who consider themselves “somewhat liberal.”
“Perhaps more than other contests, the Iowa caucuses are all about turnout,” explains Mr. Brown. “If those young, very liberal Democratic Caucus participants show up Monday and are organized, it will be a good night for Senator Sanders. And if Sanders does win Iowa, that could keep a long-shot nomination scenario alive.”
While a win in Iowa (and probably New Hampshire) will certainly keep the underdog socialist in the game, let’s not forget that Rick Santorum won in Iowa before his campaign eventually fizzled out. This week Santorum said he wouldn’t have stood a chance with this year’s debate rules. “Four short years ago, you won Iowa, beat Mitt Romney, shocked the country, but just the other day you talked about ‘doing what is in the greater good’ for your campaign. Is Monday night your last stand?” asked Bill Hemmer of Fox News.
Santorum replied that this is the type of question that makes voters distrust the American media.
On the other side of the fence, we’ve got Donald Trump leading by 7 points in Iowa over second-place candidate Ted Cruz. While Senator Cruz has made Iowa a priority in recent months, he saw Trump surpass him in the Hawkeye State with an 11 point increase during the past 30 days. Trump admitted to ABC News this week that he never thought he would be in the lead just before the caucus. “I’m somebody who knows how to win,” he said. “I close the deal. But I never thought I’d have 24 point leads in different states.”
A Monmouth University poll released last week shows Trump with 30% in Iowa followed by Cruz with 23% and Senator Marco Rubio with 16%. Evangelical, “very conservative,” and Tea Party voters tend to support Cruz while Trump leads among the “somewhat conservative,” non-evangelical, and moderate voters.
“Turnout is basically what separates Trump and Cruz right now,” says Patrick Murray of Monmouth. “Trump’s victory hinges on having a high number of self-motivated, lone wolf caucus-goers show up Monday night.” About 170,000 voters are exptected to show up for the Iowa caucus. This is a significant increase from the GOP turnout four years ago (122,000).