New Des Moines Register poll: Clinton 48, Sanders 41

Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders as the first choice of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers by 48 percent to 41 percent, with all other candidates far behind, according to a new poll by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics. Jennifer Jacobs reported the main findings in today’s Des Moines Register. Since the poll was in the field before Vice President Joe Biden ruled out running for president again, the Register reallocated Biden’s supporters to their named second-choice candidate. Selzer’s previous Iowa poll showed Clinton ahead of Sanders by 37 percent to 30 percent with Biden in the field and by 43 percent to 35 percent without Biden as an option.

After the jump I’ve posted excerpts from Jacobs’ report, focusing on weak points for Clinton and Sanders.

Just 2 percent of respondents named Martin O’Malley as their first choice in the Register’s latest poll, behind “not sure” at 4 percent and “uncommitted” at 3 percent. Bleeding Heartland has a post in progress with my hypothesis on why O’Malley is getting no traction in Iowa, despite doing all the right things in terms of organizing and retail politics. Every time I’ve seen the former Maryland governor campaign here this year, audiences have responded favorably to his stump speech. I usually hear good feedback from other Democrats who have attended his events too, but it’s not translating into enough people signing supporter cards. Unfortunately for O’Malley, both Clinton and Sanders performed very well in last week’s debate, which drew record viewership for a debate featuring Democratic presidential candidates.

Jim Webb made the right choice to drop out of the race; the Register’s new poll showed him tied with Lincoln Chafee at 1 percent. Yesterday, Webb tweeted that it’s time for this country to “fix” the criminal justice system. I hope he will become heavily engaged in criminal justice reform efforts at the federal and state levels, instead of pouring his energy into an independent presidential bid.

The most shocking finding in the the Register’s latest poll: Iowa Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is “good for Iowa.” Among likely Democratic caucus-goers, 39 percent said the TPP deal is good for Iowa, 27 percent said bad for Iowa, and 34 percent were unsure. Among likely Republican caucus-goers, just 27 percent said TPP was good for Iowa, 30 percent said bad for Iowa, and 42 percent were unsure. For decades, the Iowa business community and in particular representatives of Big Ag have spun “free trade” agreements as good for this state, so I would have expected much stronger support for TPP among Republicans.

UPDATE: Quinnipiac released a new Iowa poll on October 23 showing Clinton leading Sanders by 51 percent to 40 percent, with O’Malley at 4 percent. I enclosed below excerpts from the polling memo. Last month’s Quinnipiac poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers showed Sanders at 41 percent and Clinton at 40 percent.

Selzer & Co. surveyed 402 likely Democratic caucus-goers between October 16 and 19. The poll’s statistical margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

From Jennifer Jacobs’ October 22 report for the Des Moines Register, “Iowa Poll: Clinton up by 7, but gap tightens.”

On one potential concern for Sanders, his self-label as a “democratic socialist,” 81 percent are not bothered.

However, the new poll shows he’s vulnerable to one corrosive criticism.

“Sanders has a big problem, and it’s guns, not socialism,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said.

Sixty percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers say they feel less supportive of Sanders because he has voted against waiting periods and background checks for gun buyers, positions that were highlighted in the debate. Three-quarters of Clinton voters say his gun stances undermine their support for him, and 46 percent of his own voters agree they’re troubling. […]

The leading criticisms thrown at Clinton — about her use of a private email server to conduct sensitive government business as the nation’s chief diplomat; about whether she adequately protected the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which suffered a deadly attack on Sept. 11, 2012; and about her delays or flip-flops on key issues — don’t hurt her with many likely caucusgoers, the poll shows.

Fully 81 percent said it doesn’t bother them that Clinton hasn’t been forthcoming about her home email server. Just 18 percent say that makes them less supportive of her. […]

Clinton’s delays in making policy decisions or policy flip-flops don’t bother 64 percent; 34 percent are troubled. […]

Asked if the congressional investigations into Benghazi are worth the time and money, 79 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers said no.

From the October 23 press release on Quinnipiac’s latest Iowa poll:

Among the 48 percent of Iowa likely Democratic Caucus participants who watched or listened to last week’s Democratic debate, 62 percent say Clinton did the best job, with 31 percent for Sanders and 3 percent for O’Malley.

Chafee did the worst job, 39 percent say, and 37 percent say Webb did worst.

Rating Clinton’s personal qualities, Iowa Democrats say:
70 – 24 percent that she is honest and trustworthy;
92 – 7 percent that she has strong leadership qualities;
83 – 15 percent that she cares about their needs and problems;
92 – 7 percent that she has the right kind of experience to be president.
Rating Sanders, Democrats say:
87 – 5 percent that he is honest and trustworthy;
71 – 17 percent that he has strong leadership qualities;
86 – 7 percent that he cares about their needs and problems;
60 – 27 percent that he has the right kind of experience to be president.
From October 14 – 20, Quinnipiac University surveyed 592 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus participants with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

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