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Few Caucusgoers Tied to 2020 Choice

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019

Buttigieg joins a crowded pack of front-runners;
No groundswell of support for Bloomberg

West Long Branch, NJ – South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group.  Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support.  The poll also finds that Mike Bloomberg receives a chilly reception among Hawkeye State Democrats as he considers whether to make a late entry into the nomination contest.

Four candidates are currently vying for the top spot in Iowa’s caucuses – Buttigieg (22%), Biden (19%), Warren (18%), and Sanders (13%).  Compared to Monmouth’s August poll, Buttigieg has gained 14 points (up from 8%) and Sanders has gained 5 points (up from 8%), while Biden has lost 7 points (down from 26%), and Warren’s standing has changed by only 2 points (20% previously).

Buttigieg has gained ground among every major demographic group since the summer. His support stands at 26% among voters who describe themselves as moderate or conservative, 23% among those who are somewhat liberal, and 15% among those who are very liberal. He is currently in the top tier for both women (24%, to 22% for Biden, and 20% for Warren), and men (20%, to 19% for Sanders and 16% for Warren).  Looking at the poll results by age, Buttigieg (26%) is nipping at Biden’s heels (29%) among voters age 65 and older. He has a slight advantage among those age 50 to 64 (24%, to 17% each for Biden and Warren), and is competitive among voters under the age of 50 (19%, to 24% for Warren and 19% for Sanders).  Buttigieg leads among college graduates (24%, to 21% for Warren and 15% for Biden) and is in the top tier among those without a college degree (21%, to 21% for Biden, 18% for Sanders, and 16% for Warren).

“Buttigieg is emerging as a top pick for a wide variety of Iowa Democrats. While he has made nominally bigger gains among older caucusgoers, you really can’t pigeonhole his support to one particular group. He is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Other candidates register single digit support among all likely caucusgoers, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (5%), California Sen. Kamala Harris (3%), former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer (3%), entrepreneur Andrew Yang (3%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%), and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (2%). Another 7 candidates earn 1% or less. Support for Harris has slipped by 9 points since August (12%), while the remaining candidates are within a point or two of their summer support levels.

Less than 3-in-10 likely caucusgoers (28%) are firmly decided on their candidate choice. Most are open to the possibility of supporting a different candidate on caucus night, including 16% who say there is a high possibility that they could change their minds, 37% who say there is a moderate possibility, and 8% who say there is only a low possibility of switching candidates. With so many candidates in the field some voters will probably have to switch allegiances if their top choice does not meet the viability threshold for delegate allocation at their caucus site. Barely 3-in-10 likely caucusgoers (29%) say they would be very disappointed if this were to happen. Another 41% would be somewhat disappointed and a sizable 20% say they would not be too disappointed.

“Iowa caucusgoers are used to changing their minds up to the last minute. In fact, some probably even look forward to waiting until caucus night to settle on a candidate. This all translates to a race that is extremely fluid and will probably stay that way up to February 3rd,” said Murray.

The poll asked voters to name a second choice candidate. When first and second choices are combined Buttigieg (37%) and Warren (35%) are the leading picks. They are followed by Biden (29%) and Sanders (25%), along with Klobuchar (14%), Harris (9%), Steyer (6%), Booker (4%), Yang (4%), and Gabbard (3%). Among Buttigieg voters, the top second choices are Warren (21%), Biden (20%), and Klobuchar (15%). Among Biden voters, the second slot goes to Buttigieg (22%), Warren (20%), and Klobuchar (17%). Among Warren voters, it’s Sanders (33%), Buttigieg (26%), and Biden (16%). Among Sanders voters, Warren stands alone in second place (46%). Among voters who are currently supporting a candidate not in the top tier – and thus may be more likely to realign on caucus night – second choices include Buttigieg (28%), Sanders (16%), and Warren (15%). [Note: the maximum margin of error for these results ranges from +/-8% to +/-10% for each candidate group, except Sanders at +/-14%.]

The poll also found that Buttigieg has the best favorability rating in the field, while ratings for Biden and Warren have declined. Currently, Buttigieg gets a 73% favorable and 10% unfavorable rating from likely Iowa caucusgoers, which is similar to his 72%-9% rating in August. Warren gets a 69%-23% rating (down from 76%-14%) and Biden gets a 65%-26% rating (down from 72%-20%). Sanders has a 61% favorable and 29% unfavorable rating, which is improved somewhat from August (58%-33%).

Klobuchar also holds a relatively strong rating of 54% favorable and 18% unfavorable (similar to her 51%-18% rating in August). Ratings have dropped, though, for Booker (48%-19% from 58%-16% in August) and Harris (50%-25% from 72%-17% in August). Among other candidates who have qualified for the November debate stage, Yang earns a positive 39%-24% rating and Steyer gets a more divided 33%-29% rating, whereas Gabbard has a negative 21%-38% rating.

2020 DEMOCRATIC FIELD – IOWA PARTY VOTER OPINION
Net Rating (favorable – unfavorable)
  November August April
Pete Buttigieg +63 +63 +36
Elizabeth Warren +46 +62 +47
Joe Biden +39 +52 +64
Bernie Sanders +32 +25 +41
Amy Klobuchar +36 +33 +41
Cory Booker +29 +42 +38
Kamala Harris +25 +55 +48
Andrew Yang +15 n/a +6
Tom Steyer +4 +8 n/a
Tulsi Gabbard –17 n/a +16
Mike Bloomberg –31 n/a n/a
       

The poll finds that another potential candidate who has recently made rumblings about getting into the race is less popular than those already in the field.  Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, gets a decidedly negative 17% favorable and 48% unfavorable rating from Iowa Democrats.  He was also included in the caucus “horse race” question starting with interviewing on November 8. Among the 361 likely caucusgoers contacted after he was added to the poll, just one voter selected him as their top candidate choice and only 1% named him as a second pick.

“Reports suggest that Bloomberg will skip the February contests if he does get into the race. With dismal numbers like these, it’s easy to see why. But I really cannot imagine that Democrats in the Super Tuesday states would be significantly more receptive to him than Iowa voters,” said Murray.

Murray added, “If the race is still wide-open when actual voting begins, it is more likely that Democratic voters will turn to someone who has already been out hustling on the campaign trail. It makes more sense to pay attention to someone like Amy Klobuchar in this scenario than look for a white knight to come riding to the rescue.”

The poll also finds that 34% of likely caucusgoers say they have seen at least one of the Democratic candidates in person this year. Another 24% say they have not seen any candidates so far but plan to do so before the caucuses and 42% have no plans to see any of the candidates. Buttigieg (17%), Warren (15%), and Sanders (14%) are the most spotted candidates, with Biden (11%), Harris (11%), Klobuchar (10%), and Booker (10%) all being seen by at least 1-in-10 voters.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from November 7 to 11, 2019 with 451 Iowa voters who are likely to attend the Democratic presidential caucuses in February 2020, out of 966 registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters who were contacted for the poll.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ. Please note that the trend numbers for the August poll have been rebased to exclude voters who were only willing to attend a “virtual” caucus (which is no longer an option).

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                                        

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)       

1. If the Democratic caucuses for president were today, would you support – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]?  [If UNDECIDED: If you had to support one of these candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward?]

TREND:  (with leaners) Nov.
2019
Aug.
2019*
April
2019
Pete Buttigieg 22% 8% 9%
Joe Biden 19% 26% 27%
Elizabeth Warren 18% 20% 7%
Bernie Sanders 13% 8% 16%
Amy Klobuchar 5% 3% 4%
Kamala Harris 3% 12% 7%
Tom Steyer 3% 3% n/a
Andrew Yang 3% 1% 1%
Cory Booker 2% 1% 3%
Tulsi Gabbard 2% 1% <1%
Steve Bullock 1% 1% <1%
Julián Castro 1% <1% 2%
Michael Bennet <1% <1% 0%
Mike Bloomberg** <1% n/a n/a
John Delaney <1% 1% 1%
Marianne Williamson <1% 0% 0%
Joe Sestak 0% 0% n/a
(VOL) Other 0% 4% 10%
(VOL) No one  0% <1% 1%
(VOL) Undecided 8% 10% 12%
   (n) (451) (327) (351)

     * Excludes “virtual-only” caucus attendees from August poll.

      ** Note: Bloomberg was added on 11/8

2. Are you firmly decided on your candidate choice or are you open to the possibility of supporting a different candidate on caucus night?  [If OPEN: Would you rate the possibility of supporting a different candidate as high, moderate, or low?]

  Nov.
2019
Firmly decided 28%
Open, high possibility 16%
Open, moderate possibility 37%
Open, low possibility 8%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
No first choice (from Q1) 8%
  (n) (451)

3. Who would be your second choice if you had to make one?

TREND:  

Nov.
2019
Aug.
2019*
April
2019
Elizabeth Warren 17% 18% 10%
Pete Buttigieg 15% 10% 6%
Bernie Sanders 12% 7% 8%
Joe Biden 10% 12% 12%
Amy Klobuchar 9% 2% 3%
Kamala Harris 6% 13% 12%
Tom Steyer 3% 3% n/a
Cory Booker 2% 5% 6%
Mike Bloomberg 1% n/a n/a
Julián Castro 1% 1% 1%
Tulsi Gabbard 1% 2% 2%
Andrew Yang 1% 2% <1%
Marianne Williamson 1% <1% 1%
Michael Bennet <1% <1% 0%
Steve Bullock <1% 1% 0%
John Delaney 0% 1% <1%
Joe Sestak 0% 0% n/a
(VOL) Other 0% 5% 12%
(VOL) No one  3% 3% 10%
(VOL) Undecided 19% 18% 18%
   (n) (451) (327) (351)

     * Excludes “virtual-only” caucus attendees from August poll.

4. If you had to go with another candidate on caucus night because your first choice did not meet the viability threshold, would you feel very disappointed, somewhat disappointed, or not too disappointed?

  Nov.
2019
Very disappointed 29%
Somewhat disappointed 41%
Not too disappointed 20%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
No first choice (from Q1) 8%
   (n) (451)

5. I’m going to read you the names of some people who are running for president in 2020.  Please tell me if your general impression of each is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion. If you have not heard of the person, just let me know. [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

TREND:  

Favorable Unfavorable No
opinion
Not
heard of
(n)
Former Vice President Joe Biden 65% 26% 9% 0% (451)
     — August  2019* 72% 20% 8% 0% (327)
     — April  2019 78% 14% 8% 0% (351)
           
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 61% 29% 10% 0% (451)
     — August  2019* 58% 33% 9% 0% (327)
     — April  2019 67% 26% 6% 0% (351)
           
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren 69% 23% 8% 0% (451)
     — August  2019* 76% 14% 8% 1% (327)
     — April  2019 67% 20% 11% 3% (351)
           
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 73% 10% 14% 3% (451)
     — August  2019* 72% 9% 15% 4% (327)
     — April  2019 45% 9% 22% 24% (351)
           
California Senator Kamala Harris 50% 25% 23% 2% (451)
     — August  2019* 72% 17% 10% 1% (327)
     — April  2019 61% 13% 16% 10% (351)
           
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar 54% 18% 22% 6% (451)
     — August  2019* 51% 18% 26% 5% (327)
     — April  2019 51% 10% 23% 16% (351)
           
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker 48% 19% 28% 4% (451)
     — August  2019* 58% 16% 25% 1% (327)
     — April  2019 54% 16% 18% 11% (351)
           
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 39% 24% 29% 7% (451)
     — August  2019* n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
     — April  2019 15% 9% 34% 42% (351)
           
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard 21% 38% 31% 11% (451)
     — August  2019* n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
     — April  2019 29% 13% 31% 28% (351)
           
Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer 33% 29% 30% 8% (451)
     — August  2019* 33% 25% 26% 15% (327)
     — April  2019 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
           
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg** 17% 48% 29% 7% (361)
     — August  2019* n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
     — April  2019 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
           

     * Excludes “virtual-only” caucus attendees from August poll.

      ** Note: Bloomberg was added on 11/8 (n=361, moe=5.2%)

6. Have you seen any of the Democratic candidates for president in person this year, or not? [If NOT: Do you plan to see any of them in person before the February caucuses?]

  Nov.
2019
Yes 34%
No, but plan to 24%
No, don’t plan to 42%
   (n) (451)

6A. Who have you seen in person so far? [LIST WAS NOT READ] [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted

TREND:  

Nov.
2019
Joe Biden 11%
Bernie Sanders 14%
Elizabeth Warren 15%
Pete Buttigieg 17%
Kamala Harris 11%
Amy Klobuchar 10%
Cory Booker 10%
Julián Castro 7%
John Delaney 6%
Tulsi Gabbard 6%
Andrew Yang 8%
Marianne Williamson 4%
Joe Sestak 4%
Steve Bullock 6%
Michael Bennet 6%
Tom Steyer 7%
Mike Bloomberg 1%
(VOL) Other 1%
(VOL) No one  66%
(VOL) No answer 0%
   (n) (451)

7. Will this be your first presidential caucus or have you attended the Iowa presidential caucuses in the past? [If ATTENDED IN PAST:  Was that a Republican or a Democratic caucus, or both?]

  Nov.
2019
Aug.
2019*
First caucus 14% 9%
Attended Republican caucus in past 2% 1%
Attended Democratic caucus in past 73% 80%
Attended both caucuses in the past 11% 10%
(VOL) Don’t Know 1% 1%
   (n) (451) (327)

     * Excludes “virtual-only” caucus attendees from August poll.

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from November 7 to 11, 2019 with a statewide random sample of 966 Iowa voters drawn from a list of registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters who voted in at least one of the last two state primary elections or the 2018 general election or have registered to vote since November 2018. This includes 434 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 532 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Results are based on 451 voters who are likely to attend the Democratic presidential caucuses in February 2020. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for age, gender, race, and education based on state voter registration list and U.S. Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on the sample of likely Democratic caucusgoers, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
 
42% Male
58% Female
 
22% 18-34
21% 35-49
27% 50-64
30% 65+
 
93% White, non-Hispanic
  7% Other race, Hispanic
 
56% No degree
44% 4 year degree
 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs