Iowa Caucus Poll Shows Strong Support For Clinton But Concerns Over Scandals In General Election; Support For Sanders Increases

The latest Iowa Poll reported by The Des Moines Register continues to show Hillary Clinton with on overwhelming lead over her Democratic challengers but there is some potential bad news regarding the effects of the Clinton scandals:

At least 70 percent of likely Democratic Iowa caucusgoers say they aren’t bothered by any one of three issues that Clinton opponents have pushed as controversies. The issues are her use of a private email server instead of a government account when she was secretary of state; her handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and its aftermath; and foreign governments’ donations to the Clinton Foundation.

But 66 percent of the likely Democratic caucusgoers say they think at least one of the three issues could hurt Clinton in the general election if she becomes their nominee, the poll shows.

Sometimes polling results based upon predictions of how others will vote is more predictive of the actual election results than polling based upon how the person answering personally feels.

The poll shows an increase in support for Bernie Sanders, but support for a specific liberal challenger is fluid, with Elizabeth Warren’s support going to Bernie Sanders after Sanders announced his candidacy.

Sanders’ support is notable but could be fleeting, said Steve McMahon, a Washington, D.C., political strategist.

“It’s not a statement of support for Bernie Sanders as much as it’s a proxy for a progressive alternative” to Clinton, he said. A few months ago, many of the same liberals were pining for Warren, he said. “It could be Martin O’Malley or somebody else next month.”

Warren, who was at 16 percent in the January poll, has repeatedly said she isn’t running for president. The poll didn’t include her name this time in a list of possible Democratic contenders.

Thirty-seven percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers in the new poll say Warren better represents their political beliefs than Clinton, up 11 percentage points from January, and 26 percent say Sanders better represents their beliefs than Clinton.

The poll came out too early to determine if Martin O’Malley will receive a bounce after announcing last weekend. As there is still along way to go until the caucus, Sanders, O’Malley, and/or perhaps a liberal challenger not yet in the race might wind up with increased support from what is seen now. Clintons’s support could diminish both as a consequence of holding many positions to the right of the Democratic mainstream, and out of increased concern over the effect of the scandals in a general election as more people start paying attention to them.

Update: Subsequent polls show Clinton falling in the national polls as more distrust her and her favorability is now at a seven year low. She only ties Rubio, Walker, and Paul in head to head match-ups. One poll shows her leading Bush while another shows it to be close.

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