HUFFPOLLSTER: Bernie Sanders Is Within Half A Percentage Point Of Hillary Clinton In Iowa

Although he still lags far behind nationally, Sanders has momentum.
Bernie Sanders is averaging 45.5 percent support compared to Hillary Clinton's 46.1 percent.
Bernie Sanders is averaging 45.5 percent support compared to Hillary Clinton's 46.1 percent.

The HuffPost Pollster average shows a nearly tied race on the Democratic side in Iowa. A candidate's religiosity matters to GOP voters, but less so when Trump is the candidate in question. And Ted Cruz might have peaked too soon. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, January 27, 2016.


SANDERS HAS CAUGHT UP TO CLINTON IN IOWA - With the addition of a new poll from Quinnipiac showing Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points, the HuffPost Pollster average now shows that Sanders has pulled just about even with Clinton, with 45.5 percent support, compared to her 46.1 percent. The results from Quinnipiac are steady -- their last poll in early January also showed a Sanders advantage. However, three of the last five Iowa polls show Sanders ahead. [Quinnipiac]

Sanders continues to climb in national horserace polls. - Dan Balz and Scott Clement: “Hillary Clinton holds a double-digit, but narrowing, lead nationally over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.” The 19-percentage point lead Clinton has in the Washington Post/ABC News poll is slightly larger than other new national polls. Morning Consult shows a 17-point advantage for Clinton, and NBC/SurveyMonkey reports a 15-point gap. Clinton remains 15 points ahead in the HuffPost Pollster average. [WashPost, Morning Consult, NBC/SurveyMonkey, HuffPost]

Clinton is viewed better on national security, but Sanders seen as more honest - More from Balz and Clement: Clinton is seen as more electable and stronger on most issues but has a deficit against her rival on the question of honesty and trust….Although the Vermont senator is running as the politician who would shake up the status quo, slightly more Democrats (49 percent to 42 percent) say Clinton would bring needed change to Washington….Sanders, however, has widened his advantage on the issue of who is more honest and trustworthy. In October, the two were at parity on this question. That became a six-point advantage for Sanders in December. Today, it is a 12-point advantage, with 48 percent saying he is more honest and trustworthy to 36 percent for Clinton.” [WashPost]


TRUMP SEEN AS LESS RELIGIOUS THAN HIS RIVALS - From a Pew Research survey released Wednesday morning: "The new survey finds that Trump is widely viewed as a potentially 'good' or 'great' president by GOP voters in spite of the fact that, compared with other leading candidates, relatively few Republicans think Trump is a particularly religious person. Overall, 44% of Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party say Trump is a ‘very religious’ (5%) or ‘somewhat religious’ (39%) person, while 47% say he is ‘not too religious’ or ‘not at all religious.’ By contrast, fully eight-in-ten GOP voters say they think Ben Carson is a religious person, three-quarters view Ted Cruz as a religious person, and seven-in-ten say the same about Marco Rubio….But many Republicans think Trump would be a good president despite his perceived lack of religiousness. Of the 56% of GOP voters who think Trump would be a good or great president, a substantial minority of them (17% of Republican registered voters overall) say they think Trump is not religious. The pattern is very different for the other leading GOP candidates." [Pew]

Endorsement highlights Trump's unusual appeal to evangelicals - Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr. endorsed Donald Trump on Tuesday. Greg Sargent (D), earlier this month: "I recently talked to Robert Jones, the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, who has been studying evangelical opinion for many years. His research has led him to believe that Trump is very good at speaking to evangelicals’ sense of a lost, mythical golden age in America that predates the political and cultural turmoil of the 1960s. Recent PRRI polls have shown that large majorities of evangelicals think the American culture and way of life have 'mostly changed for the worse'...Trump appears to be consciously trying to appeal to those sentiments, and tie them to a sense that Christianity itself is besieged." [WashPost] 

Trump gaining on Cruz with Iowa evangelicals - YouGov's Will Jordan highlights an uptick in the business mogul's support in the latest CBS Battleground Tracker, some of it seemingly at Ted Cruz's expense [@williamjordann]

TED CRUZ MAY HAVE PEAKED TOO EARLY IN IOWA - On the Republican side, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seems to be falling as businessman Donald Trump picks up steam. But don’t count him out yet -- Harry Enten explains: "We’re less than a week away. But anything can still happen … there’s still plenty of time … right? Sort of. It’s true that even the final Iowa polls are sometimes way off. But it’s also true that every caucus winner since 1980 was either within about 10 percentage points of the leader or showing at least some momentum in the polls by this point. Right now, only two candidates on both the Democratic and Republican side are even close to the lead. In the Republican race, Donald Trump seems to have some momentum over Ted Cruz, though Cruz remains within striking distance.” [538]

Cruz’s favorability has dropped nationally - Frank Newport: "Ted Cruz's image among Republicans has deteriorated in recent days. [I]n late December/early January….Cruz's net favorable rating was the most positive image of any of the GOP candidates Gallup is tracking. Now, Cruz's positives are falling and his negatives rising, and his net favorable rating has plummeted 16 percentage points down to +32...One factor that undoubtedly has played a part in the process is Cruz's public fighting with Donald Trump, resulting in Trump criticizing the Texas senator over such things as his not being born in the U.S…a candidate's image in Republicans' eyes does not necessarily predict how successful that candidate is at motivating people to come out and vote for them." [Gallup]  

TRUMP AND CLINTON ARE MORE RECOGNIZABLE THAN RUBIO AND SANDERS - Dylan Matthews: "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are by far the most recognizable faces in the 2016 race, a poll conducted by Morning Consult and Vox has found. Ninety-six percent of respondents to the online poll...correctly identified a photo of Donald Trump, and 97 percent correctly identified a photo of Clinton. By comparison, only 61 percent and 54 percent correctly identified Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio respectively, and only 69 percent correctly ID'ed Bernie Sanders. Why poll recognizability? Because it can be easy for political junkies who have been following the campaign closely for months to forget how many voters really haven't been paying close attention, and how hard it is for the campaigns to get their messages across to those who don't already want to hear them. It's a useful reality check to know that with less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, more than four in 10 Americans can't pick Marco Rubio out of a crowd. [Vox]


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WEDNESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data: 

-Voters' anxieties about the economy and immigration fuel Trump's lead. [WashPost]

-Aaron Blake finds the American electorate isn't much angrier than usual. [WashPost]

-Brendan Nyhan explains why Michael Bloomberg isn’t likely to become president. [NYT]

-Nate Cohn maps out where support for “establishment” candidates is the strongest. [NYT]

-Obama hits his highest approval rating on the economy since 2009. [WashPost]

-Mark Mellman explains the importance of conducting and learning from poll autopsies.  [The Hill]

-Foreign policy is unlikely to be a major issue in the 2016 elections, but the elections will have plenty of effect on foreign policy. [Monkey Cage] 

-Yanna Krupnikov and Samara Klar explain why “independent” has become the most popular party identification. [HuffPost]

-A new Heartland Monitor poll finds that most Americans think hard work and determination lead to success more than favorable economic conditions. [CNN Money]

-Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of businesses taking action on societally important issues. [Global Strategy Group (D)]

-A new study shows that smarter people are more likely to see discrimination as a problem

but are no more likely to support specific policies designed to improve racial equality. [WashPost]

-Football and baseball are still Americans’ favorite sports. [Harris]

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