By Jim EllisAug. 19, 2019 — The Change Research organization, which has previously conducted simultaneous multi-state polling within the same sampling period, just repeated their process. This time, the firm surveyed likely Democratic voters in both Iowa and Wisconsin over the Aug. 9-11 period and found Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren topping the field in both states.
As we know, the Iowa Caucus, with only 41 first-ballot delegate votes, is an important trend-setting state because of being placed first on the national voting calendar. In 2016, after her campaign was selling Hillary Clinton as the “inevitable nominee,” she barely won the first vote in Iowa, which arguably began a downward spiral for her campaign. Though Clinton obviously won the party nomination, the long fight with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) politically weakened her for the general election campaign.
According to the Change Iowa data (621 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus participants through online communication), Sen. Warren would lead Sen. Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), 28-17-17-13-8 percent, respectively. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who needs to make a major play in her neighboring state, still only shows two percent support, tying her with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), billionaire Tom Steyer, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, but behind the three percent score of both Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).
Biden may have a similar problem to that of Clinton, and it could prove to be a major stumbling block. As the presumptive national front-runner, under-performing in Iowa would show clear vulnerability. Traveling the following week to Sens. Warren and Sanders’ New England backyard for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary after sustaining an Iowa loss would strengthen the two local candidates and possibly cause Biden to again fall.
This scenario would be quite damaging to the former vice president. Because his momentum would significantly slow, re-starting for the succeeding Nevada Caucus becomes very difficult and he would need a boost here before heading to the South Carolina primary and the southern states-dominated Super Tuesday. Currently, Biden is polling very strongly throughout the south, but faltering early could quickly change that dynamic.
Wisconsin, while an important state in the Democratic delegate configuration with 84 first-ballot delegates, is less prominent because the state’s electorate won’t cast their votes until April 7. This is several weeks after the important March 17 date that will likely decide whether we will see a first-ballot victor or an open convention. On the evening of March 17, 65 percent of the first-ballot votes will become known, and then locked into place because of various state election laws and procedures that bind all the voting entities.
The Wisconsin Change Research survey (626 likely Wisconsin Democratic primary voters through online communication) also sees Sen. Warren capturing first place. She does so with 29 percent preference, with Sen. Sanders in second-place recording 24 percent, while Biden trails at 20 percent. Here, it is Mayor Buttigieg, likely taking advantage of Midwestern regional loyalty, who places fourth with nine percent, ahead of Sen. Harris at five percent, and businessman Andrew Yang, Sen. Klobuchar, and Rep. Gabbard who score two percent, apiece. All others have one percent or less.
In terms of delegate apportionment, the top four Iowa finishers in the Change poll are close enough where each would likely reach the minimum 15 percent threshold in order to qualify for delegate division. If this poll were precise, and assuming many minor candidates will be gone by the time of this vote, fourth-place finisher Buttigieg would likely reach the 15 percent mark. Therefore, the unofficial Iowa delegate count would likely split 15 for Warren, nine for both Sanders and Biden, and eight for Buttigieg.
The Wisconsin vote, again assuming this poll were the actual statewide vote and the congressional district delegates lined up in correct proportion to the at-large result, see Warren and Sanders, along with Biden as the only qualifiers for delegate apportionment. Under the Democratic delegate formula, this state’s delegation would unofficially split 33-28-23 for Warren, Sanders, and Biden.
Since the Change data is in line with other polling around the country, the Iowa and Wisconsin results suggest that if these elections were today, we would be headed for an open convention with an unpredictable outcome. Looking at the current ballot tests across the nation that all depict a state leader with far less than majority support suggests the race must drastically change before early February if the Democrats are to unify and nominate President Trump’s challenger on the first ballot.