Hillary Clinton’s support in a key early state is suddenly crumbling

Hillary Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a campaign event on the campus of Des Moines Area Community College on August 26, 2015 in Ankeny, Iowa. Carlos Barria/Pool photo via AP

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is losing major ground in the key early state of Iowa.

A new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll released on Saturday shows Clinton’s support among likely Iowa caucus-goers at just 37%, only 7% higher than liberal insurgent challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

That’s down dramatically from the 50% support the former secretary of state enjoyed in the same poll conducted in June and a 20% drop from her standing in May.

“It looks like what people call the era of inevitability is over,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said in a press release. “[Clinton] has lost a third of the support that she had in May, so anytime you lose that much that quickly it’s a wake-up call.”

Clinton’s image also continue to sink.

The percentage of Democratic Iowa caucus-goers who said that they had a mostly favourable view of Clinton dropped 11% from July, while her unfavorable numbers rose 9 points.

The drop coincides with Sanders’ rise in popularity. Thirty per cent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers now say they back him as their first choice, up 6 points from June.

But though Sanders has continued to rise in the polls, its still unclear whether he can reach a broader base of support.

Polling experts have repeatedly pointed out that while Sanders could feasibly pull of an upset in Iowa and/or New Hampshire, he still faces serious electoral challenges in states like South Carolina, where white liberal voters — Sanders’ base of support — make up a smaller share of the electorate.

Iowa is a particularly sensitive spot for the Clinton campaign.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama’s upset win over Clinton in 2008 was a major setback to her campaign. Clinton had been viewed as a likely front-runner for the nomination, but ultimately came in third in Iowa — behind Obama and former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina).

The Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll also found a jump in standing for Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a late entry into the race. He would grab 14% of the vote from likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers, the poll shows, and he’s viewed more favourably than Clinton.

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