Bernie Sanders has surged ahead of Democratic rivals in Iowa, a new poll released on Saturday suggests, with barely a week to go until the state’s voters head to caucuses to nominate a candidate for November’s presidential election.
The Iowa caucuses on 3 February represent the first formal election-year test for the Democratic field seeking to challenge Donald Trump for the White House.
The Vermont senator is now the first choice of 25% of voters, the New York Times/Siena College survey found, an increase of six points from a similar poll taken in October.
A drop in popularity of Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, from 22% to 15% accounts for Sanders’ boosted standing, with Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and former vice-president Joe Biden stagnant in second and third place respectively with 18 and 17%.
Sanders, 78, has been “consolidating support from liberals and benefiting from divisions among more moderate presidential candidates who are clustered behind him”, the New York Times article accompanying the poll data claimed.
Such fractures were evident in the final Democratic debate before the caucus in Des Moines 11 days ago, when the candidates clashed over healthcare and foreign policy, among other issues.
The night was capped by an extraordinary post-debate confrontation in which Warren accused Sanders of calling her a liar on national television and refused to shake his outstretched hand.