Clinton Well Ahead, Warren and Biden Round out Top Three, Loras College Poll Finds

Hillary Clinton continues to run well ahead of the field according to the new Loras College Poll released today that surveyed 1,000 likely caucus participants across Iowa. Within that total sample, 501 indicated they would be participating in the Republican caucus, with 491 indicating they would participate in the Democratic caucus.

“While Clinton continues to dominate the nascent field, there is certainly an element within the Democratic electorate that is hoping Senator Warren enters the race. Now that Clinton has officially kicked off her campaign, we will see if she is able to cement her status and capture Iowa,” said Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D. “The Hawkeye state has not always been kind, and I imagine the 2008 campaign still lingers in the mind of some. However, as of now there does not appear to be as strong a field of challengers to the presumptive frontrunner as there was in 2008.”

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 57.0  percent Hillary Clinton 71.9  percent
Elizabeth Warren 14.7  percent Elizabeth Warren 30.8  percent
Joe Biden 5.9   percent Joe Biden 27.7  percent
Martin O’Malley 2.4   percent Bernie Sanders 7.5  percent
Bernie Sanders 2.0   percent Martin O’Malley 7.1  percent
Jim Webb 1.2   percent Jim Webb 2.2  percent
Lincoln Chafee 0.0  percent Lincoln Chafee 0.8  percent
Undecided 16.7 percent

To gauge the level of discontent with some of the potential nominees, likely Democratic Party caucus participants were asked whether or not there was a candidate they absolutely would not vote for. The result of this question for the Democratic field is as follows:

Absolutely Would Not Vote For*
Joe Biden                    10.2 percent
Lincoln Chafee           5.9 percent
Hillary Clinton            5.7 percent
*all others below 4 percent

“There is good news in these numbers for Clinton and for the Democratic Party. While some caucus-going Iowa Democrats might still be mulling their options for a nominee, it is clear that there is little fundamental opposition to a Clinton candidacy,” Budzisz remarked.  “I do imagine that the Clinton campaign would like to see higher first choice numbers for her, but as of right now most likely caucus goers on the Democratic side don’t automatically reject a Clinton candidacy. Things would definitely be more troublesome if a larger percentage of the caucus electorate claimed they absolutely would not vote for her,” Budzisz concluded.

Impact of a Clinton Candidacy
All of those polled, regardless of party affiliation or caucus preference, were asked to consider what role Hillary Clinton’s gender would/should have on the general election race if she was the Democratic Party nominee. Results were:

  • 71.5 percent said her status as the first major-party presidential candidate would have “a lot” or “some” impact on people’s vote in the general election.
  • 41.9 percent said it should have “a lot” or “some” impact on people’s vote in the 2016 general election.
  • There appears to be a partisan divide on this issue, as 23.9 percent of registered Republicans polled indicated that her status will have “a lot” of impact on people’s vote, whereas 45.8 percent of registered Democrats polled said that it will have “a lot” of impact.
  • The partisan divide continues when considering the question of what impact her status should have. Only 7 percent of registered Republicans indicate it should have “a lot” of impact, whereas 30.2 percent of registered Democrats think so. Likewise, 71.5 percent of registered Republicans think it should not have much impact, compared to 30.7 percent of registered Democrats.

A few other noteworthy results from the poll of likely Democratic caucus participants include:

  • A majority (50.5 percent) of the likely participants in the Democratic caucus polled identified as “very liberal” or “liberal.”
  • Hillary Clinton finds support from across the ideological spectrum, from the very liberal to the conservative. Elizabeth Warren draws the highest percentage of her support from the very liberal/liberal segments of those polled.
  • When asked what factor was most important in choosing a candidate for the caucus, 53.3 percent indicated a candidate’s position on the issues was most important, while 27.5 percent indicated experience was most important.

For toplines and crosstabs related to today’s release, please click here.

Note on Methodology: The Loras College Poll surveyed 1,000 likely 2016 caucus participants.  Results with full sample have a +/- 3.1 percent margin of error. The subsample of likely Republican caucus participants is 509, with a +/- 4.3 percent margin of error. The subsample of likely Democratic caucus participants is 491, with a +/- 4.4 percent margin of error. 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).

  • Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters (drawn from 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 a further screen question regarding their general interest in politics.  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 standard demographic variables such as age and gender and divided evenly across Iowa’s four congressional districts.
  • 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.