Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the popularity contest among Democrats at the Iowa State Fair, edging out Hillary Clinton 49 percent to 45 percent in an informal poll on favorability, The Hill reports. The numbers, which were posted on the Iowa Secretary of State website, show that Sanders and Clinton had just over 1,000 votes combined. Republicans swept the fair, garnering 3,400 votes in their collective favor. Donald Trump maintained his usual wild lead, followed by Ben Carson and Ted Cruz.
While Sanders spoke at the Des Moines Register Soapbox and Clinton did not, the poll is still something of a big shift in numbers, coming on the heels of a recent poll in the early primary state of New Hampshire, which had Sanders leading 44 percent to Clinton's 37 percent. Still, these interesting stats might not mean anything yet. Let FiveThirtyEight data whiz Nate Silver explain:
In Sanders, Clinton has drawn an opponent who is relatively well suited to New Hampshire and Iowa. The reason is simple: Sanders' support comes mostly from white liberals, and the Democratic electorates in New Hampshire and Iowa have lots of white liberals. Furthermore, Iowa and New Hampshire are small states, which makes it easier for candidates who don't have Clinton’s financial resources to compete there. But we've seen this movie before. Based on current polling averages, Sanders would almost exactly replicate [Bill] Bradley's performance in 2000, losing Iowa by double digits, giving Clinton a close call in New Hampshire, then losing badly once the calendar turned to more populous and diverse states. [Five Thirty Eight]