Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton maintained small leads in the Iowa caucus presidential races, but the races remain fluid in this last weekend before the caucus, according to a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll released Saturday.
The closely-watched pol, co-sponsored by the state’s most influential media outlet, can have impact on the race. It tells voters who may have momentum and whether their candidate needs a last minute boost.
Among Republicans, Trump led with 28 percent, up from 22 percent in the last poll in early January. Next was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at 23 percent, down from 25 percent.
Trailing was Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at 15 percent, up 3 percentage points, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 10 percent, down 1 percentage point. The outcome, though, remains difficult to predict, as 45 percent say they can still be persuaded.
Insiders had seen Cruz, a favorite target of his rivals at Thursday’s debate, perhaps staggering. But the poll showed him still within striking distance of Trump, and if his evengelical base turns out in huge number, he could come closer, said Ann Selzer, poll director.
Rubio also is poised to gain. A favorite mainstream Republicans, Rubio could surge if candidates supporting similar hopefuls, such as Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, and Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, see them as sinking. Rubio got the most poll mentions as a second choice.
In the Democratic race, Clinton, the former secretary of state, was the choice of 45 percent. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who’s eaten into Clinton’s once-formidable lead, had 42 percent. Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, had 3 percent. The race remains volatile, as 30 percent said they could still be persuaded.
Clinton was up 3 percentage points from early January. Sanders gained 2.
Voters under 45 gave Sanders a big edge, while Clinton won among older voters. A possible problem for Sanders: Only about one-third of voters are projected to be first-time caucus goers, compared to 60 percent in 2008, when Barack Obama surprised Clinton by winning the caucus.
The poll was conducted January 26 to 29. Margin of error in both parties’ poll was plus or minus 4 percentage points.