A majority of likely Iowa caucus-goers think there are too many Democrats in the 2020 race: poll

A mere 18 percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers say they are considering all 23 of the Democratic candidates

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 11, 2019 9:34AM (EDT)


A new survey finds that Iowa voters, who in a few months will decide the winner of America's first major contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, think there are too many candidates in the race.

A mere 18 percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers surveyed in a Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll — that is, those voters who plan on attending the caucuses held on Feb. 3, 2020 — say they are considering all 23 of the Democratic candidates who currently running for president.

By contrast, more than seven out of ten of those voters think there are too many Democrats in the current field of candidates. Forty-seven percent say that several of the current candidates should exit the race, and 27 percent say most of them should do so.

Of the 23 candidates listed in the poll, nine have the ignominious distinction of either failing to be listed as the top or second choice by any survey participant or having so few people list them as their top choice that their result rounded down to 0 percent. The former category included a pair of mayors — Bill de Blasio of New York City and Wayne Messam of Miramar, Florida — and the latter includedGov. Steve Bullock of Montana, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Eric Swalwell of California and author Marianne Williamson.

This latest poll is only one in a series of surveys rolling out about the Iowa field. In a poll released earlier this week by the Des Moines Register and CNN, former Vice President Joe Biden led the Iowa candidates with 24 percent of the vote, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont with 16 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 15 percent and South Bend and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 14 percent. The increased standing for both Warren and Buttigieg suggested a growing level of support for their candidacies. Biden and Sanders, by contrast, have been among the frontrunners for the nomination ever since the end of the 2016 election cycle.

In response to the poll, Sanders told CNN's Dana Bash that "we're not going to get 50 percent of the vote in Iowa. I don't think anybody will."

He added, "I think we have a very strong chance of being the candidate who will defeat the worst president in the modern history of this country, Donald Trump."

However, Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute told Salon he does not see evidence that Sanders appeals to "mainstream voters."

"The election is going to be determined, most likely, in the upper Midwest, in the same battleground states that Donald Trump won last time and shocked Hillary Clinton," Marshall told Salon. "That means Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan. You could also throw in Iowa. So does Bernie Sanders expand the map for Democrats in these places? Does he appeal to mainstream voters? And I don't see any evidence of it. I think that's the great challenge for Bernie Sanders, and I'm not sure how he surmounts it."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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