According to a new CNN/ORC International poll, 53% of all registered Democrats contacted in Iowa said they would support Hillary Clinton if the 2016 caucuses were held today. That number far outpaces the 15% that would opt for Vice President Joe Biden, 7% who would choose Sen. Elizabeth Warren and 5% who would pick Sen. Bernie Sanders.
When Clinton stops in Iowa for the first time in six years this Sunday, she and her husband are headlining Sen. Tom Harkin’s final Steak Fry, she will be greeted like a hero. But, it’s worth remembering Clinton’s problems in Iowa in 2008 when analyzing the approach she takes to all of that adoration.
Clinton finished third in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, John Edwards narrowly edged her out for second. There were lots and lots of reasons given for her struggles in the state up to and including:
The Clinton machine wasn’t strong in Iowa since Bill Clinton didn’t seriously compete in the state in 1992 (native son Harkin made the race non-competitive) and was unchallenged for the Democratic nomination in 1996.
Clinton was out of step, particularly on the war in Iraq, with the liberal activists that comprise the bulk of the caucus vote. Both Obama and Edwards were significantly more outspoken in their opposition to the war than Clinton.
Clinton fundamentally misunderstood the Iowa electorate. She ran a Rose Garden campaign when Iowa voters wanted her to drop the big entourage and simply talk to them one on one.
It’s that last criticism that may be most telling as it relates to 2016. Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were the two most famous candidates in the 2008 race. Both came to Iowa wearing that fame, cocooned off from average folks, defaulting to larger rallies rather than the hand to hand work that has, traditionally, been rewarded by Iowa voters.
Although Clinton tops Biden with men and women, there is a noticeable gender split between the two politicians. Sixty-three percent of women favor Clinton, compared with Biden’s 10%. With men, however, Biden is drawing 21% support, a number more than twice his support among women.
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee nearly laps the field with 21% of all registered Republicans contacted in the poll saying they would support the former Arkansas governor if the 2016 Iowa caucuses were held today.
Paul Ryan is second with 12%, and there is a cadre of politicians, including Sen. Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with support in the single digits.
Huckabee and Ryan are getting similar support with men, 15% and 16%, respectively, but it is with women that the former Arkansas governor jumps ahead of the congressman.
Twenty-seven percent of registered Republican women polled said they would pick Huckabee, compared with 8% who choose Ryan.
As the first-in-the-nation caucus state, Iowa is critically important to presidential hopefuls and can make or break a campaign.
With almost two years until the 2016 presidential election and a little over a year before the Iowa caucuses, most Republicans and Democrats polled have openly admitted that they are toying with the idea of running for president.
The CNN/ORC poll was conducted September 8-10, with 1,013 Iowa adults, 608 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.