Iowa’s caucuses are scheduled for February 2020, making them the first across the nation. A new poll of likely Democrat caucusgoers has found two familiar names and a fast-rising newcomer among the early leaders.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on December 17, 2018

No candidates have formally declared for the 2020 race but the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll found Former Vice-President Joe Biden had the most support as a first choice candidate with 32% of the vote.

He led Bernie Sanders with 19% and Beto O’Rourke at 11%.

O’Rourke’s profile skyrocketed during the 2018 mid-term elections, where he proved one of the most effective fundraisers the Democratic establishment has seen in years.

Behind the frontrunning trio, Elizabeth Warren had 9%, Kamala Harris 5% and Cory Booker 4%. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg only polled 3% despite having made a recent visit to Iowa to drum up support.

Respondents looking for a “seasoned political hand” in 2020

The early results already suggested pragmatism will be front of mind for Democrat voters. 54% of respondents said it was more important to select a candidate that can beat Trump than one who best represents their personal preferences.

49% of respondents said they favoured a “seasoned political hand” to combat Trump in 2020. The unprecedented nature of Trump’s campaign and presidency have led some to suggest the Democrats should abandon a ‘business as usual’ approach in the next election and elect a leader seen as an outsider to the political machine.

Iowa was a swing state in 2016 being won by Trump after Barack Obama claimed victory there in the previous two elections.

The predictive value of such early polls is limited, however. A poll taken in the similar stage of the presidential cycle in 2014 showed Jeb Bush was easily the preferred candidate. Bush later withdrew his candidacy after only contesting in three states and achieving limited support.

Is Biden too old for a presidential tilt?

Biden has long been thought of as a likely candidate but some have raised concerns about his age. Former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr previously told The CEO Magazine that “the tragedy for the US Democrats is that Joe Biden is not 60 years of age.” Biden would be 77 at the date of the next US election.

Biden has recently said he will decide whether or not to run in the next two months. Earlier in December, he told an audience at the University of Montana that he had the necessary experience. “I’ll be as straight with you as I can. I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” he said. “The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that have been in my wheelhouse that I’ve worked on my whole life.”

Sanders would also face questions about his age; he would be 79 at election time. He has reportedly told colleague Elizabeth Warren he was likely to run again.

Carr also predicted the most likely outcome was Elizabeth Warren securing the Democratic nomination but then losing to Trump.