Sanders, Carson rising in Iowa polls

The latest Des Moines Register poll is out today and it gives a boost to the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Dr. Ben Carson.

Sanders inched closer to Hillary Clinton 37-30 while Ben Carson drew nearer to Donald Trump 23-18. A significant result in the poll shows Carson and Trump tied when you factor in voters' first and second choices combined.

The poll result on the Democratic side will add a couple of levels of anxiety for Democrats over the sinking Hillary Clinton campaign, which now appers close to being in free fall.

Poll results include Vice President Joe Biden as a choice, although he has not yet decided whether to join the race. Biden captures 14 percent, five months from the first-in-the-nation vote Feb. 1. Even without Biden in the mix, Clinton falls below a majority, at 43 percent.

"This feels like 2008 all over again," said J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Iowa Poll.

In that race, Clinton led John Edwards by 6 percentage points and Barack Obama by 7 points in an early October Iowa Poll. But Obama, buoyed by younger voters and first-time caucusgoers, surged ahead by late November.

In this cycle, Sanders is attracting more first-time caucusgoers than Clinton. He claims 43 percent of their vote compared to 31 percent for Clinton. He also leads by 23 percentage points with the under-45 crowd and by 21 points among independent voters.

Sanders, a Vermont U.S. senator, has become a liberal Pied Piper in Iowa not as a vote against Clinton, but because caucusgoers genuinely like him, the poll shows. An overwhelming 96 percent of his backers say they support him and his ideas. Just 2 percent say they're motivated by opposition to Clinton.

Back in January, half of likely Democratic caucusgoers were unfamiliar with Sanders, who has been elected to Congress for 25 years as an independent. He has jumped from 5 percent support in January to 30 percent. Clinton, a famous public figure for decades, has dropped in that period from 56 percent to 37 percent.

"These numbers would suggest that she can be beaten," said Steve McMahon, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns dating to 1980.

"But," he added, "it's still early, and Hillary Clinton's done this before. She knows what it takes to win."

On the GOP side, Rubio and Walker are tied for third with 8% while Bush and Cruz are tied for fifth with 6%. 

Carson is riding positive perceptions of his personality and his outspoken religious faith to surge ahead of rivals like Bush and Walker. 

The survey found that Carson is buoyed in Iowa by his likable public persona and his vocal Christian faith.
It said that 79 percent likely GOP caucus-goers view the retired neurosurgeon favorably, the highest score in the GOP’s entire 2016 field.
He also leads the hunt for Iowa’s evangelical demographic with 23 percent of their support.
Sanders is massively outgunned by Clinton, who has organized in all 1700 precincts in Iowa while Sanders is riding the crest of favorable coverage in free media. We've seen this before - in 2008, although Obama was better funded than Sanders back then. But it was Hillary's machine versus Obama's insurgency and the rebel came out on top.
The same thing could happen this cycle. As has been pointed out many times, leaving your nice, warm house on a cold Iowa winter's night to attend a boring caucus requires a level of commitment that doesn't appear to be present in the Clinton campaign. If she's not careful, Sanders will repeat the Obama miracle of 2008.


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