The Iowa caucus days away, Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to surge, taking a 5-point lead in the state over Hillary Clinton according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning.
The poll, which was conducted before this week's Democratic forum and has a margin of error of +/-4 points, shows Sanders leading 49 to 45, with former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley registering just 4 percent.
Sanders' support in Iowa has predominantly come from very liberal, young voters, and men.
Currently, the gender gap stands at male voters backing Sanders 63 to 32 percent, while female voters support Clinton 54 to 40 percent in Iowa.
So what would it mean if Sanders could capture the female vote?
Since 2000, it’s been noted that women consistently outnumber men among Iowa’s registered voters by a fair margin of 110,000 according to the University of Iowa’s Institutional Repository. Furthermore, female Democrats also tend to have a higher percentage turnout than their male counterparts in presidential elections.
In 2008, Obama managed to win 37.6% of the Iowa caucus, with Clinton receiving 29.5%. He also captured 57% of 17-29 year old voters, a striking similarity with Sanders who has a 19-point lead over the former Secratary of State, with women ages 18 to 34, according to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll. Sanders also scores 50% compared to Clinton’s 31% among millennial women nationwide.
“Is this deja vu all over again? Who would have thunk it when the campaign began? Secretary Hillary Clinton struggling to keep up with Sen. Bernie Sanders in the final week before the Iowa caucus,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement. “It must make her think of eight years ago when her failure in Iowa cost her the presidency.”
According to the Quinnipiac poll, women who plan to caucus in Iowa favor Clinton by 16 points. A reassurance for the former secretary of state, but not the 30-point lead she has among nationwide primary-goers, or the 40-point lead among all registered female Democrats. In fact, preserving this advantage with women might be Clinton’s saving grace and much more significant than recruiting male voters.
And Sanders knows this.
During a rally in Decorah, Iowa on Sunday, Sanders specifically targeted female voters by noting that, unlike Clinton, he supports Senate legislation that will ensure three months of paid family leave for parents, paid for with a small increase in payroll taxes.
“A dollar and 61 cents a week to make sure when you have a baby, you can stay home with that baby and not be forced back to work,” Sanders said. “I think that makes sense. I think that is a good investment."
Women have been rallying on social media in support of Sanders. The Twitter account @Women4Bernie has over 18,000 followers and the same Facebook page has over 22,000 likes.
“Perhaps more than other contests, the Iowa caucuses are all about turnout. If those young, very liberal Democratic Caucus participants show up Monday and are organized, it will be a good night for Sen. Sanders,” Brown said.
“And if Sanders does win Iowa, that could keep a long-shot nomination scenario alive.”