On Saturday, a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll brought some bad news for Hillary Clinton. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is within seven points of her. I guess if you’re on Team Clinton you can take sober satisfaction in the fact that the former first lady is still leading Sanders 37/30, but we’re a long ways from Iowa. In all, the poll concluded that Clinton’s support in the state has dropped by a third. At this rate–she’s in danger of losing come February (via Des Moines Register):
This is the first time Clinton, the former secretary of state and longtime presumptive front-runner, has dropped below the 50 percent mark in four polls conducted by the Register and Bloomberg Politics this year.
Poll results include Vice President Joe Biden as a choice, although he has not yet decided whether to join the race. Biden captures 14 percent, five months from the first-in-the-nation vote Feb. 1. Even without Biden in the mix, Clinton falls below a majority, at 43 percent.
"This feels like 2008 all over again," said J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Iowa Poll.
In that race, Clinton led John Edwards by 6 percentage points and Barack Obama by 7 points in an early October Iowa Poll. But Obama, buoyed by younger voters and first-time caucusgoers, surged ahead by late November.
In this cycle, Sanders is attracting more first-time caucusgoers than Clinton. He claims 43 percent of their vote compared to 31 percent for Clinton. He also leads by 23 percentage points with the under-45 crowd and by 21 points among independent voters.
The other things mentioned in the poll included the fact that Sanders really isn’t the anti-Clinton candidate. Ninety-six percent of his supporters say they support him because they like his positions on policy. There’s also the Biden factor. The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll found that the vice president captured 14 percent of the vote, with 24 percent saying he’d be their second choice. Biden’s support has grown; he was registering at eight percent in May just before his son, Beau, passed away from brain cancer.
If the vice president were to declare his intention to run for the Democratic nomination, he would probably see another bump in the polls. J. Ann Selzer, director of the Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll, noted that Biden siphons support from Clinton and Sanders. Without Biden, the poll has Clinton at 43 percent and Sanders at 35 percent. So, if you’re a Democrat who’s “ridin’ with Biden,” the fact that your candidate is already taking votes from both of the leading candidates is a positive sign. At the same time, Biden has stated he might not have the “emotional fuel” for a third run, though he has a donor base in waiting, a grassroots contingent, and the blessing from the White House to go for it.
Nevertheless, even as the aura of Clinton’s inevitability begins to fade, it’s possible that Sanders could win Iowa and New Hampshire–and then lose every contest after that. As Nate Cohn at The New York Times has mentioned consistently, white, urban-based liberals dominate the Sanders coalition. Cohn added he doesn’t have enough support with nonwhites, moderates, and southern voters to win the nomination. At the same time, the article added that his campaign is doing more to reach nonwhite Democratic voters, and he seems to be garnering the Obama coalition in Iowa, as Selzer noted on CBS’ Face The Nation.