Biden Falters and Warren Takes the Lead in New Iowa Poll

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Could we be looking forward to a Trump vs. Pocahontas election? Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been slowly but steadily gaining ground in the polls over the last couple of months, but this weekend marked the first time that she actually drew ahead of longtime frontrunner Joe Biden in the Iowa polls. The poll, taken by the Des Moines Register in conjunction with CNN, shows the Massachusetts senator sitting prettier than ever atop the pack of Democratic contenders, leaving Biden behind and leaving Bernie Sanders trailing in a distant third.

According to the new poll, Warren now leads the field with 22% support from likely Democratic caucusgoers, while Biden, who has led the same poll for the last three cycles, falls to second with only 20% support. That leaves Sanders, the runnerup for the nomination in 2016, trailing badly at 11%. The rest of the candidates failed to crack double-digits, leaving the future of their campaigns clouded in uncertainty.

J. Ann Seltzer, whose company conducted the poll, said that voters should be cautious about drawing too many long-term conclusions about the course of the race.

“The data in this poll seem to suggest the field is narrowing, but my sense is there’s still opportunity aplenty,” Selzer said. “The leaders aren’t all that strong. The universe is not locked in.”

Iowa isn’t everything (although you’d never know it from the way presidential candidates spend their time there in the months leading up to the primaries), and there are numerous instances of candidates winning the caucuses only to go on to lose the nomination. Donald Trump can attest to that, among others. Still, Warren’s sudden takeover is one of many signs that her campaign is on the upswing, and it comes at a time when the liberal base is getting increasingly negative about a Biden nomination. Furthermore, it shows that Warren – not Sanders – is poised to become the true beneficiary of the party’s slide to the left in recent years.

The poll also demonstrates the extraordinary course of Warren’s rise. When the Register first conducted this poll in December, Warren was at a piddling 8% when it came time for likely caucusgoers to choose their preference. Through organizational strength and a series of well-defined plans that made her agenda clear, she has surged to the top of the pack in only ten months. She is a formidable threat to Biden’s dominance, and she could very well have Trump’s people thinking about a different kind of campaign than the one they’re preparing for.

To our way of thinking, Warren would be an extremely weak candidate for the Democratic Party; she’s certainly not going to enjoy the same kind of establishment support that rallied around Hillary Clinton, and she’s not going to attract those NeverTrump Republicans who want an alternative. It’s also not clear how much support she’s going to demand from black voters, one of the most important Democratic Party constituencies. Biden covers all of those bases, even if he has his own share of considerable flaws.

This will be interesting to watch, but we’re feeling better than ever about “four more years.”