Last week’s Iowa caucuses marked the official beginning of the 2020 primary season. Democratic voters, however, remain as uncertain as ever about how things will end, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey.
In the poll, taken last Wednesday through Friday, just 5% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say it’s clear who’s likely to win the nomination. Another 47% say it’s down to just a few candidates, and 37% that it’s still anyone’s race.
One-quarter of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they think former vice president Joe Biden is most likely to win the nomination, 24% that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is, and about a third that one of the other candidates will. Another 18% aren’t sure.
That’s a notable change from late January, when about four in 10 believed Biden was most likely to win, putting him significantly ahead of Sanders.
Who do voters think did well in Iowa?
The outsized importance of the Iowa caucus has never been about the few delegates up for grabs in the state ― rather, it’s the first chance for candidates to prove their strength in an actual contest. This year, that impact was already diluted by reforms that held the potential for a candidate to win the raw vote but not the most delegates, and by a chaotic news cycle that included the Senate’s vote to acquit President Trump and Trump’s own State of the Union address. The days of uncertainty that followed the Iowa caucus seemed likely to further attenuate the advantages of a win.
Only about a third of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they were following the caucus results very closely, the HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. But despite that, and despite the turmoil, there was relative agreement about which of the candidates turned in a good showing. Two-thirds say Sanders did well in Iowa, and 65% that former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg did. Just 31% say Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren did well, and just 20% that Biden did, with fewer than 1 in 5 saying the same of any of the remaining candidates. (Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t compete in the caucus, but was included as an option in the poll to give voters the option to weigh in on that strategy.)
How do voters feel about the primary system?
There’s significant appetite for a change in procedure. Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say, 63% to 26%, that Iowa should switch to holding primaries rather than caucuses. A 55% majority also say that early states like Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence over the primary process, although that’s not exactly a new complaint ― they said much the same in 2016.
Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters are divided in the amount of credence they place in the results of the caucus, which was plagued by delays and confusion. Only 45% percent say they’re at least somewhat confident that votes were accurately counted, with 40% not too confident or not at all confident.
Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters are more sanguine about their primary as a whole, with 65% at least somewhat confident that the presidential primary will be conducted fairly, and just a quarter saying they have little or no confidence in the process.
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Feb. 5-7 among U.S. adults, including 376 Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.
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