Joe Biden has regained some of his strength in Iowa, but his three closest rivals for the Democratic nomination remain clustered at his heels, according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday.
The poll, published three weeks before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation nominating contest, found the former vice president with support from 25% of likely Democratic caucusgoers, a bump of 5 percentage points since Monmouth’s most recent Iowa poll, in November.
Biden’s three closest competitors are clumped together in a statistical tie, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont earning 18% support, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, 17%, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts earning 15%. The poll had a 5-point margin of error.
Sanders has leapt 5 points since the last Monmouth poll of the state, Buttigieg experienced a 5-point drop, and Warren experienced a 3-point drop.
The Monmouth poll’s results differ somewhat from those of a CNN/Des Moines Register poll released late last week that showed Sanders atop the Democratic field, with 20% support. That poll, which was taken in the days just before the Monmouth poll was conducted, found Biden at just 15%.
Taken together, those polls — while conflicting — affirm the general impression that this race remains competitive for each of the four leading candidates, at least in the first two nominating states. All have robust field operations in Iowa and have consistently polled in the double-digits there since early fall. And in New Hampshire, which will hold the country’s first primary just a week after the Iowa caucuses, polls suggest that all four candidates have a viable shot at winning.
The Monmouth poll was taken from Thursday to Sunday, of 405 likely caucusgoers. It found that a slim majority of Democratic voters still have not firmly decided on a candidate, meaning that there is still a great deal of fluidity in the state.
It was conducted before the departure of Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who dropped out of the race Monday and who pulled 4% support in the poll.
Under the rules of the Iowa caucuses, many voters who support less popular candidates will have to back someone other than their top choice in the final balloting. Warren has strength in this regard: She is by far the most popular second-choice pick among voters, with 23% naming her as their personal runner-up, according to the poll. No candidate enjoys a higher favorability rating than Warren, who is seen positively by 73% of likely caucusgoers.
Still, when voters were asked to choose from among only the top four candidates, it was Sanders and Buttigieg who benefited the most. In this scenario, Biden, Buttigieg and Sanders were all bunched up in the mid-to-high 20% range, while Warren’s support was at 16%.
The Iowa Democratic electorate remains focused mostly on domestic issues, with 45% calling health care their top concern and another 18% naming either jobs or income inequality, according to the Monmouth poll.
But with President Donald Trump embroiled in a tense standoff with Iran this month, some voters have also turned more attention to foreign policy. The share of likely caucusgoers who named international affairs as their main focus jumped by 10 points since November, to 16%.