According to the latest 7News/Emerson College Poll, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is leading the Iowa Democratic Caucus. Having surged eight points since December, Sanders is now polling at 30 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden is in second place, with 21 percent support.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has surged to third place, with 13 percent of the vote. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts came in fourth, having secured the backing of 11 percent of registered Democratic and Independent voters. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in fifth place, with 10 percent. The rest of the field is stuck in single digits.
Younger voters appear to have propelled Sanders to first place. Among those under 50, 44 percent support him. Warren is in a distant second with 10 percent, and no other candidate has managed to reach double digits. The Vermont senator is not doing nearly as well among those over 50, however.
Thirty-two percent of voters over the age of 50 say that they plan to support Biden, and 18 percent of them say they will vote for Sanders. Klobuchar is polling at 17 percent among those over the age of 50, Buttigieg at 15 percent, and 12 percent of them are backing Warren.
As Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling, explained, "younger voters have coalesced around Sanders, but older voters seem to be having cold feet on Mayor Pete and are taking a serious look at Amy Klobuchar."
Sanders is supported across the ideological spectrum and holds a strong lead with "very liberal" Iowans. Forty-six percent of them support Sanders, 17 percent support Warren, 14 percent support Buttigieg, and only eight percent are behind Biden. Sanders leads among "somewhat liberal" voters as well, with 36 percent. Biden is in second place, polling at 19 percent, and Klobuchar in third with 15.When it comes to moderates and conservatives, Biden is in the lead, polling at 29 percent. Sanders and Klobuchar are supported by 15 percent of self-described conservatives and moderates, and Buttigieg is at 12 percent.
As Kimball explained, given that Iowa is a caucus state, "the second and third-tier candidate supporters will have an impact on the eventual winner, even if the winner is not their first choice."
Only two candidates, Sanders and Biden, are above the 15 percent threshold, which means that other candidates' supporters could play a significant role in the race.
Warren supporters are breaking for Sanders at 51 percent, 17 percent of them say Klobuchar is their second choice, and 16 percent of them choose Biden.
Among Klobuchar supporters, Biden is the most popular second choice with 39 percent, and 28 percent of them say Buttigieg is their second-favorite candidate.
Thirty-five percent of Buttigieg supporters are breaking for Biden, 25 percent say Klobuchar is their second choice, and 23 percent choose Warren.
Sanders has surged in other key states as well. According to the latest CNN poll of New Hampshire, he enjoys the support of 25 percent of the electorate in the state.