DUBUQUE, Iowa— Hillary Clinton continues to hold a sizeable advantage over her nearest rivals according to the new Loras College Poll released today. The news is not all positive for Clinton, however, as her level of support has decreased since the last Loras Poll in April.  Perhaps more importantly, the latest poll shows the support for her nearest rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has risen dramatically. 
“Clinton continues to hold the advantages in public support, organization in the field and support within the Democratic Party establishment,” commented Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D. “But, this summer has been very good for Senator Sanders. He has drawn large and enthusiastic crowds in the state and across the country. We have seen substantial positive movement for Sanders in our polling.  With the emergence of such a challenge, as well as the continued possibility of a late entry by Vice President Biden, this fall will be more interesting than many would have originally thought,” Budzisz concluded.
Candidate Preference
Results among likely Democratic caucus attendees are as follows:

Candidate Support
(as first choice)
     Candidate Support
     (as first or second choice)
Hillary Clinton 48.2 percent Hillary Clinton 73.5 percent
Bernie Sanders 22.9 percent Joe Biden 47.4 percent
Joe Biden 16.3 percent Bernie Sanders 39.4 percent
Martin O’Malley 4.0 percent Martin O’Malley 9.8 percent
Lincoln Chafee 0.6 percent Jim Webb 1.6 percent
Jim Webb 0.4 percent Lincoln Chafee 1.2 percent
Undecided 6.4 percent

In looking at the second choices of voters, it appears that if Joe Biden decides not to run for the nomination, Hillary Clinton will be the beneficiary of that decision. Of the voters who chose Biden as their first choice, 54.9 percent indicated Hillary Clinton was their second choice, while only 20.7 percent indicated they supported Bernie Sanders as their second choice. Overall, Joe Biden was the most popular second choice candidate, being selected by 31.1 percent of all likely voters.
Likely Democratic caucus-goers tend to think highly of the Democratic candidates. While some of the bottom tier candidates remain unknown by many in Iowa, Clinton and Sanders score well with voters in terms of favorability. Clinton is viewed favorably by 77.5 percent of respondents, and Sanders by 60.8 percent. Neither candidate is viewed unfavorably by many likely voters, with Clinton’s unfavorable rating at 16.5 percent and Sanders at 14.5 percent. While nearly all respondents had a formed opinion on Clinton, 21.3 percent indicated they had no opinion on Sanders. 
“Clinton is universally known and people have largely developed an opinion on her, whereas Sanders has more opportunity to shape the views voters have of him. His campaign needs to capitalize on this opportunity,” Budzisz remarked.
Clinton and Sanders Supporters
The two top candidates do have different strengths within the electorate. One such point of difference is in family income levels. In the most recent Loras Poll, Clinton garnered the support of 55.0 percent of those with a family income below $50,000, whereas Sanders only received the support of 20.6 percent of these same voters. Sanders does very well with those with college or graduate degrees, however; 64.3 percent of those who select Sanders as their first choice candidate have a college or graduate degree, whereas only 47.9 percent of Hillary supporters hold such degrees. Furthermore, Clinton captures 56.0 percent of all the likely Democratic caucus-goers whose highest educational attainment is high school, while Sanders secures 13.0 percent of the same part of the electorate.
Clinton and Sanders have comparable appeal to the liberal elements within the Democratic electorate, but Clinton is stronger than Sanders with the moderate and conservative sections of the party. Clinton leads Sanders 45.1 percent to 40.2 percent among those who label themselves very liberal. This constituency does make up a greater percentage of Sanders supporters than Clinton, however: 28.7 percent of those whose first choice was Sanders label themselves as very liberal, whereas the number is 15.3 percent for Clinton.
“In all, it appears Sanders draws his support most from among those with the highest levels of formal education, of liberalism, and those with middle and upper income levels. Clinton does better with those with lower levels of education and of lower income status, as well as moderate and conservative likely Democratic caucus-goers,” Budzisz remarked.
Clinton also captures the first-choice support of 54.2 percent of females, with Sanders capturing 21.4 percent. However, within the ranks of those identifying him as their first-choice candidate, Sanders receives roughly equal support from males and females (51.3 percent and 48.7 percent respectively). Clinton supporters are more imbalanced. Among those who chose her as their first-choice candidate, 58.7 percent are female, 41.3 percent male.
Difference from April Loras College Poll
Clinton has witnessed a decline in support from the last Loras College Poll conducted in April, whereas Sanders has seen a roughly 10-fold increase in his support since the spring.

April 21-23 Poll
(First Choice)
August 24-27 Poll
(First Choice)
Point Change
Clinton 57.0 percent 48.2 percent – 8.8
Biden 5.9 percent 16.3 percent + 10.4
Sanders 2.0 percent 22.9 percent + 20.9

*Note: In the previous Loras College Poll, Senator Elizabeth Warren was offered as a choice.  She was not included in the current poll.
A few other noteworthy results from the poll of likely Democratic caucus participants include:

  • Unlike Republicans surveyed in the same poll, Democrats are supportive of their national party leadership: 66.5 percent agreed with the statement, “I generally approve of the job performance of national Democratic leaders, and we need to support them.”  Only 23.7 percent indicated a change in party leadership was needed.
  • There is widespread support for President Obama, as 80.9 percent indicate they approve of his job performance. The Democratic electorate is also more positive than Republicans when it comes to the direction of the country: 54.4 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers indicate they believe the country is headed in the right direction (compared to only 8 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers).
  • Forty-nine percent of those likely Democratic caucus-goers polled indicated they were either very liberal or liberal.

For toplines and crosstabs related to today’s release, please click here.
Note on Methodology:
The Loras College Poll surveyed 1,004 likely 2016 caucus voters (502 likely Republican caucus-goers, 502 likely Democratic caucus-goers). The survey was conducted August 24-27, 2015. All results calculated at a 95 percent confidence interval. Both subsamples of party caucus participants include no-party registrants who passed likely voter screen (see below). Margin of error for full sample results is +/- 3.09 percent, while for the party subsamples, the margin of error is +/- 4.37 percent. 

  • Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters (drawn from official Iowa Secretary of State official voter file) who voted in either the 2012 or 2014 general election or who had registered since December 1, 2014.
  • Likely caucus voter was defined as those indicating they were “definitely or very likely” to vote in the 2016 Iowa Caucus. Those indicating they were “somewhat likely” were subjected to further screen question regarding their general interest in politics. Only those indicating they were “very interested” in politics were then accepted within the sample as a likely caucus voter.
  • The statewide sample was balanced for gender and divided evenly across Iowa’s four congressional districts. Age was balanced to match past caucus entrance polling.
  • Survey included both landlines and cell phones (approximately 70 percent and 30 percent, respectively).
  • The survey was conducted using live operator interviews through a contracted professional call center.
  • Script development and methodology used for the survey received input from Republican campaign consultant Brian Dumas and Democratic campaign consultant Dave Heller.

The Loras College Poll is conducted several times each year. Loras College faculty and student researchers work as part of the survey research team to develop poll questions, analyze and interpret data, and assist with sharing the final results with local, regional and national media.  Surveys are administered by professional, live callers through a contracted call center. 
Capitalizing on its location in the politically vital and vibrant state of Iowa, the Iowa Presidential Caucuses serves as a cornerstone of the Loras College Poll, with additional surveys focused on current events, social issues, economic issues, politics and more. For more information, please visit or follow @LorasPoll or @ChrisBudzisz on Twitter.