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Something for everyone

By Christopher W. Larimer, University of Northern Iowa Professor of Political Science.

Putting aside the issues with the reporting of results, the entrance polls from last night’s caucuses give the top five candidates and their campaigns something to talk about as they shift gears to New Hampshire.

  • For Joe Biden (alphabetical order): Polls coming into caucus night suggested he performed particularly well among older voters. According to entrance polls taken last night, caucus turnout among those 65 and older was up five percentage points over what entrance polls recorded in 2008 (the last time we had such a crowded field), and indeed Biden was leading among this group last night.
  • For Pete Buttigieg: In addition to finishing second in every age bracket except those 65 and over (by only 1 percentage point), among the 30 percent of caucus-goers who identified as “moderate,” Buttigieg was tied with Biden for the most support. On the “electability” issue, for the 61 percent of caucus-goers who “would rather see the Democratic Party nominate a candidate who can beat Donald Trump” (rather than agree on “major issues”), Buttigieg also had the most support.
  • For Amy Klobuchar: On “electability” and being a more moderate alternative to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Klobuchar had the second highest level of support from three key groups: those 65 and over; those who identified as moderate (after the tie between Biden and Buttigieg); and college graduates (versus non-college graduates).
  • For Bernie Sanders: The reverse of Biden, Sanders did extremely well among 17-29 year-olds, with 48 percent compared to just 3 percent for Biden. This is notable as the proportion of caucus-goers in this age bracket was up two points over what it was in 2008. Health care was the top policy issue for entrance poll respondents, and Sanders and Buttigieg tied with the most support from this group.
  • For Elizabeth Warren: She finished tied with Buttigieg with the most support among the 68 percent of caucus-goers who identified as “liberal” (compared moderate or conservative), and she finished third in three key age brackets (17-29; 30-44; and 45-64), suggesting a broad base of support. Among the 18 percent of caucus-goers who said “income inequality” was important to their candidate choice, Warren had the second-highest level of support behind Bernie Sanders.
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