Matching trends previously seen in New Hampshire, a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll released Saturday shows that Sen. Bernie Sanders is trending upwards in the key early primary state as he closes the gap with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
As the Register reports:
Liberal revolutionary Bernie Sanders, riding an updraft of insurgent passion in Iowa, has closed to within 7 points of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race.
She's the first choice of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers; he's the pick for 30 percent, according to a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.
But Clinton has lost a third of her supporters since May, a trajectory that if sustained puts her at risk of losing again in Iowa, the initial crucible in the presidential nominating contest.
This is the first time Clinton, the reporting noted, that 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.
Sanders' support owes more to voters' enthusiasm for his candidacy than opposition to Clinton, the poll found. A whopping 96% of his backers say they support him and his ideas, with just 2% saying their vote is motivated by a desire to stop a Clinton candidacy. As for the controversy surrounding Clinton's use of email while leading the State Department, 61% of likely Democratic caucusgoers say the issue is not important to them.
Sanders has a deeper reservoir of support, the poll found. Thirty-nine percent of likely caucusgoers say their feelings about Sanders are very favorable, with just 8% having a negative view of him. That's a sharp contrast to Clinton: 27% view her very favorably, but 19% view her negatively.
Saturday's poll marks a remarkable eight-month climb for the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist from Vermont, who is garnering support in part from his anti-establishment rhetoric. Back in January, half of likely Democratic caucusgoers were unfamiliar with Sanders, and he was pulling in just 5% of support.
"What this new poll shows is that the more Iowans get to know Bernie, the better they like him and what he stands for. We've seen the same thing in New Hampshire and across the country," Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement.
Two recent polls out of New Hampshire showed that Sanders is now the presumed frontrunner in that state.
Responding to the latest survey in Iowa, Steve McMahon, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns dating to 1980, said the latest numbers "suggest that she can be beaten."
On Friday, both Sanders and Clinton spoke at the Summer gathering of the Democratic National Committee, a summit for party insiders and delegates where Sanders warned attendees that unless Democrats can arouse genuine enthusiasm among voters based on serious policy solutions they will have no chance of winning elections in 2016.
"Let me be very clear," Sanders said. "Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout." He added, "With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old will not be successful."
Offering a solution to the Democrats most faithful supporters, Sanders said that his campaign has a clear strategy of fomenting deep political change. "We will win in 2016, not just the White House, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, but Statehouses all across the country," he said, "because we are going to create an unprecedented grassroots movement which taps into the American people’s desire for real change in this country."
Watch Sanders' full remarks at the DNC meeting below: