Bernie Sanders Takes a Bigger Lead in the Race to Win the Iowa Caucuses

We are three days away from the Iowa Caucuses, and Bernie Sanders has taken a significant lead in terms of the political betting odds. Sanders was +175 to win the Iowa Caucuses in December, but his steady rise in the polls has led to the Vermont senator becoming the odds-on favorite to claim the first primary of the 2020 election cycle. A win for Sanders would be huge as he is widely expected to win in New Hampshire the following week, and that would establish Sanders as the early frontrunner in 2020.

WHO WILL WIN THE 2020 IOWA DEMOCRATIC CAUCUSES?

BERNIE SANDERS -200
JOE BIDEN +275
PETE BUTTIGIEG +800
ELIZABETH WARREN +1000 +700
ANDREW YANG +2200
AMY KLOBUCHAR +5000
TOM STEYER +10000
TULSI GABBARD +10000


Sanders became the favorite to win in the Hawkeye State immediately after the first 2020 poll from the Des Moines Register was released. Sanders polled at 20 percent in that poll, and that placed him three points ahead of the other major contenders. Subsequent polls from Emerson College, Change Research, Civiqs, YouGov, and the New York Times have given Sanders an even larger lead, leading to his odds to win Iowa ballooning.

Despite his performance in those polls, Iowa is still too close to call, and Sanders shouldn’t be this much of a favorite. FiveThirtyEight’s composite model gives Sanders just a little over a third of a chance to win Iowa, and while that’s better than any other candidate, it’s not good enough to justify a bet at these odds. He has fallen behind Biden in other recent polls, and the nature of caucuses might work against the Vermont senator. Sanders might not be the second choice of many voters, and second choices often carry the day in caucuses.

CAN THE FORMER FRONTRUNNER PULL OFF THE UPSET?

Joe Biden is the most likely candidate to defeat Sanders in Iowa. Biden has recovered after slipping in the polls, and he is the frontrunner in the Hawkeye State according to Monmouth University, Suffolk University, and other pollsters. The former Vice President of the United States has taken his lumps on the campaign trail, but his ties to Barack Obama make him popular among centrist Democrats, and he has benefitted from the sharp decline in the polling numbers of Pete Buttigieg.

Biden could benefit from the nature of the caucuses. He is seen as the best moderate candidate in the race, and that could lead to voters throwing their support behind the former VP instead of Sanders when asked to make a second or third choice.

BUTTIGIEG’S DECLINE

In December, Pete Buttigieg was the favorite to win the Iowa Caucuses per the election betting odds. His energy and enthusiasm led to a surge in support for the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana among younger voters, but that support has evaporated over the last month. Buttigieg’s numbers have dipped since his national profile has risen, as many are concerned with the lack of diversity within his campaign. His lack of experience has also hurt his chances, but he could become a kingmaker if he throws his support behind Biden or another candidate.

HOW WILL SENATOR WARREN FARE IN IOWA?

Elizabeth Warren has had an up and down last three months. She was the national frontrunner for parts of October and November, but her star has risen and fallen more than any other frontrunner. That has some pundits believing that she can surprise on Monday, but it’s far more likely that her supporters end up supporting Sanders, bolstering his chances.

CAN ANY OF THE LONGSHOTS WIN?

Three of the four longshots have no chance of doing anything significant in Iowa. Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard just don’t resonate with Iowa voters, but Amy Klobuchar has seen her poll numbers rise considerably in the last few weeks. Klobuchar’s performance in the most recent Democratic Debate has given her campaign life, and she could come out of left field as a compromise candidate. As a senator from Minnesota, her personality seems to resonate in the Midwest, so she has more of a chance than the 50-1 odds indicate.

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