By Chris White
Former Vice President Joe Biden and self-avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading the polls in Iowa, according to a poll published Saturday.
The two septuagenarians are so far besting their younger, female Democratic opponents in the race to unseat President Donald Trump.
Nearly 27 percent of likely Democratic caucus attendees say Biden is their first choice for president, according to a Des Moines Register-CNN-Mediacom poll. His numbers are down slightly from the 32 percent who said the same in December, but it still tops every other Democrat vying for the top spot. Biden is leading the pack even though he has not yet entered the race.
Biden has a 2 percentage point advantage over Sanders, a Vermont Independent who runs to the left of the former vice president. The poll of 401 likely Democratic caucus attendees was conducted March 3-6 and contains a 4.9 percent margin of error. Analysts argue the poll should put some wind in Biden’s sails as he is considering an announcement.
“If I’m Joe Biden sitting on the fence and I see this poll, this might make me want to jump in,” J. Ann Selzer, president of the Des Moines-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll, said in a statement. “I just can’t find much in this poll that would be a red flag for Joe Biden.”
Roughly 64 percent of those polled, including the majority of people in each major demographic group, say they think Biden’s breadth of experience qualifies him as a potential candidate. Some people in the poll believe Biden’s time has passed and he should let the younger crew have a shot.
Biden’s chief strategist, Steve Ricchetti, is signaling that the Delaware Democrat is about 95 percent committed to running, officials connected to the former vice president told The New York Times Thursday. One of the key issues holding up Biden’s decision-making is whether Trump will exploit his personal life.
Democratic operatives worry Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s 49-year-old son, would inevitably become an ongoing issue if Joe Biden were to join an increasingly crowded presidential race. Hunter Biden’s romantic relationship with his brother’s widow created headlines throughout the past several years, though most of the reports went under the radar during Joe Biden’s tenure in the Obama administration.
Despite Joe Biden’s trepidation, the contest in Iowa appears to be a two-person race, with the next-closest challenger, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, trailing Sanders by 16 percentage points. Whichever candidate remains standing at the end of the primary race will inevitably have to contend with Trump’s broad base of support in Iowa.
The president has the support of an overwhelming majority of Iowa’s Republicans, a separate Des Moines Register poll published in December shows. Roughly two-thirds of Republicans in Iowa say they would “definitely vote to re-elect Trump” if the general election for president were held today.
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