By Chris Kahn
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Iowa’s Democrats entered their party’s caucuses on Monday, defeating President Donald Trump in November’s election was at the top of their minds when considering which candidate to support for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, according to preliminary findings by the National Election Pool (NEP).
The NEP, a consortium of news organizations including Reuters that runs election-day polling through Edison Research, found most caucus-goers were simply looking for a winner instead of someone who agrees with them on the issues.
Here are some highlights from the entrance poll based on interviews with 1,512 Iowa Democrats as they headed into the caucuses that kick off what could be a months-long nominating fight. The results will be updated as more interviews are collected.
— Sixty-two percent of caucus-goers said they were looking for a Democratic nominee who they think can beat Trump. Thirty-six percent said they wanted a nominee who agrees with them on major issues.
— Fifty-seven percent said they supported “replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone,” an initiative known as Medicare for All, based on the government healthcare plan for older Americans. Thirty-eight percent said they opposed it. The results may be a good sign for progressive candidates U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who have championed Medicare for All on the campaign trail.
— Thirty-seven percent said they were attending the Iowa caucuses for the first time, which appears to be below that of 2016. Four years ago, 44% of people attending the Iowa caucuses said they were doing so for the first time. In 2008, 57% said they were new to the Iowa caucuses.
— Thirty-five percent of Democrats said before entering the caucuses that they picked their candidate in the last few days. That appears to be higher than the number of late deciders in 2016. Four years ago, 16% of caucus-goers said they had made their choice in the last month or earlier.
— Forty-one percent of Iowa caucus-goers said healthcare was the issue they cared most about when thinking about picking a nominee. Twenty-two percent said it was the climate, 17% said it was income inequality and 14% said foreign policy.
— The entrance poll also asked Democrats about which candidate they were supporting for the nomination. The selections are not predictive of the outcome, however, given that many Democrats will change their preferences if their chosen candidate does not win enough support in the caucuses.
Edison, a Somerville, New Jersey-based exit polling firm, has been providing election-day poll data to a consortium of news organizations through the National Election Pool since 2004.
(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Peter Cooney)