Poll: Harris surges to second place in Iowa after debate

Sen. (D-Calif.) has surged into second place in the critical early caucus state of Iowa after a strong debate performance last week, a new poll shows.
 
The survey, conducted for USA Today by Suffolk University, shows former Vice President leading the Democratic field with 24 percent support among likely Iowa caucusgoers. Harris is in second place at 16 percent.
 
She leads third-place contender Sen. (D-Mass.), who clocks in at 13 percent, while Sen. (I-Vt.) finished fourth, at 9 percent. South Bend, Ind., Mayor (D) took 6 percent.
 
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Sens. (D-Minn.) and (D-N.J.) each took 2 percent of the vote. Former Reps. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and (D-Md.), Rep. (D-Hawaii), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and businessman each took 1 percent.
 
Harris’s popularity is all the more impressive when voters make a second selection. She is the secondary choice among 17 percent of voters, compared with 16 percent who say Warren is their No. 2.
 
When combined, 35 percent of voters say Biden is their first or second choice, with 34 percent saying the same about Harris.
 
The race remains highly fluid. Just 24 percent of voters said their minds are firmly made up. Sixty percent of Iowa Democrats said they might change their minds, while 16 percent said they are undecided.
 
About half of Iowa voters said they watched both nights of the opening round of Democratic debates last week, and half of those voters said Harris did better than expected. Castro also caught the attention of Iowa residents — more than a quarter said he exceeded their expectations, after he clashed with O’Rourke over immigration policies.
 
“I thought Kamala Harris was wonderful, and I want to know more about her,” Linda Gomez, a retiree in Ogden, Iowa, told The Hill at a local Democratic Party fundraiser last weekend. Gomez said she still prefers Biden.
 
Forty-one percent of Iowa voters said Biden fell short of their expectations in the debate, after he endured withering criticisms from Harris and other candidates over his past opposition to busing and his age among a younger and more diverse field. Just 8 percent said Biden, 76, exceeded their expectations.
 
“Biden disappointed me. His ideas are old, his manners are old,” Cassie Wherry, who manages a bookstore in Grinnell, told The Hill last week after the second debate.
 
Nearly a quarter of voters, 23 percent, said Sanders fell short of their expectations.
 
The poll, conducted Friday through Monday after last week’s debates, surveyed 500 likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
 
Iowa Democrats are still more likely to say they value electability over a candidate who fits their personal ideology. Sixty percent of Iowa voters said it was more important to nominate a candidate who could beat Trump, while 34 percent said they wanted a candidate who best reflects their values.
 
Democratic voters were most likely to say that it was important to them that the party nominate a candidate who supports raising taxes on the wealthy. About 64 percent of Democrats said hiking taxes on the highest earners was very important to them, compared with 57 percent who said it was very important that the nominee backs “Medicare for All” and 41 percent who said impeaching was very important.
 
About three-quarters of Democratic voters said it was very or somewhat important that the party nominate a candidate who backs the Green New Deal.

Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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