Does Elizabeth Warren Really Have a Double-Digit Lead in Iowa? - Rolling Stone
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Does Elizabeth Warren Really Have a Double-Digit Lead in Iowa?

A new poll shows Elizabeth Warren vaulting to an 11 point lead in Iowa, but the survey’s methods don’t inspire tons of confidence

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks in 2019Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks in 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks in 2019

Nati Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock

An eye-popping new poll shows Elizabeth Warren vaulting to an 11 point lead in Iowa — hitting 28 percent support, while Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have dropped back, tied for second at 17 percent. 

But something seems off about the Iowa survey, which comes from a pollster called Change Research. The outfit conducts surveys online, has a middling reputation, and isn’t included, for example, in Real Clear Politics’ average of polls. The company’s description of its methodology, moreover, doesn’t inspire confidence:

The survey was conducted online, using Change Research’s Bias Correct Engine. Change Research reaches collects [sic] survey responses through targeted online solicitations placed as advertisements on websites and social media platforms. The Bias Correct Engine establishes and continuously rebalances advertising targets across region, age, gender, race, and partisanship to dynamically deliver large samples that accurately reflect the demographics of a population.

It seems fair to treat this one poll with a shaker of salt. But if the margin may be off, the poll seems at least directionally right. (The same pollster’s May survey had Warren at 12 percent.) Warren, fresh off a polished debate performance in Detroit, and bringing her engaging retail politics to the stump in Iowa and New Hampshire, is gaining momentum.

A new Economist/YouGov poll placed Warren neck and neck with Biden, nationally, trailing the former vice president (23 percent) by only three points at 20 percent. Other recent surveys have Warren trailing Biden by just four points in California (an early vote state in 2020) and seven points in Pennsylvania, the vital swing state that Biden claims as a second home base. 

Biden appears to have a more durable advantage in South Carolina — up 19 points in a poll this week — while Sanders has a six point edge in New Hampshire.

The impression Warren is creating right now is that she is the frontrunner in waiting. Biden, despite a passable debate in Detroit, has been unsteady on the trail — whether mistakenly claiming he was vice president during the Parkland massacre last year or angering activists by telling undocumented immigrants to “get in line” — leaving his campaign in constant damage control. At least one adviser has lofted the idea of cutting back Biden’ campaign schedule, telling The Hill that the 77-year-old Biden “has to pace himself” — an idea that drew a quick rebuke from a fellow veteran of the Obama White House:

If the former vice president continues apace, we’re likely to see more results like the Change Research survey’s soon.


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