Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the way in the Democratic race in Iowa, even though he hasn't officially joined the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
The first official poll from the Des Moines Register, assessing candidates for the Iowa Caucus set to take place just a little under a year from now, shows Biden in the lead with 25%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a close second with 25% of the vote, and the rest of the field far behind. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has around 9% of likely caucus-goers' support, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a miserable 7%.
The Des Moines Register is the best tracking resource for Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus, and although it's only one of several early primaries for the Democratic field, it has a lasting impact on the nomination contest. In 2016, Sanders' narrow loss to Hillary Clinton set up a narrative for the full 2016 primary season, ultimately leaving Sanders fans disenfranchised and convinced that Clinton had stolen the nomination from the more popular candidate.
The contest between Biden and Sanders seems no different, though Biden's experience and overall political ideology polls well with Iowa voters — a good sign that Biden would have a significant base of support if and when he jumps into the race.
"Seventy percent of respondents say they believe Biden’s political views are neither too liberal nor too conservative, but instead, are “about right” — the highest percentage of any candidate tested," the Register reports. "And 64 percent — including a majority in every demographic group — say they think Biden’s experience is an asset and he should enter the race. About a third of respondents say his time has passed and he should not run."
Biden has reportedly made some pickups in other early primary states, including New Hampshire and South Carolina, and a rumor that surfaced this week seemed to indicate that Biden plans to launch his campaign nationwide the first week of April, just around 20 days away.
"The New York Times reported on Thursday that Biden’s advisors are offering campaign positions and looking at sites for headquarters. His strategist, Steve Ricchetti, is telling Democrats that Biden is 95 percent of the way to deciding to run, the Times said," according to the Des Moines register last week. "A person familiar with Biden's plans told CBS anonymously that 'There's an element of Biden that takes his time. But he's much more confident than he was previously.'"
The question for Iowa residents at this point is whether name recognition is coming into play. The rest of the field is polling far behind both Sanders and Biden to the degree that it almost seems pointless for Warren, Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and others to compete, particularly Warren, who seems barely able to keep her head above water.