Bernie Sanders leads in closely watched Iowa poll

Bernie Sanders leads in closely watched Iowa poll

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a town hall at Keokuk Middle School in Keokuk, Iowa, U.S. December 15, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Acker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders leads in the latest poll of Iowa voters released on Friday and conducted by the state’s largest newspaper, one of the most watched surveys in the state, which holds the first presidential primary contest next month.

Sanders received 20% in the poll, which was released by The Des Moines Register and conducted by Selzer & Co, an Iowa polling firm.

The poll found a clear top tier of four candidates competing in Iowa. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren placed second with 17%, followed by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third with 16%, which was a drop of 9 percentage points from the previous poll by the same group.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s support was unchanged from the November poll, placing fourth with 15%.

The poll is conducted in conjunction with CNN and cable company Mediacom.

Iowa Democrats will conduct caucus meetings on Feb. 3, the first state to kick off the primary contests that will decide which of the 13 Democratic candidates will challenge Republican President Donald Trump in November.

Finishing among the top three in Iowa has been crucial for candidates in past presidential elections, with those who fail to do so often finding their campaigns ending before voters in New Hampshire head to the polls for the second nominating contest.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Leslie Adler

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