Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks, Oct. 7, 2015, during a campaign stop at the Westfair Amphitheater in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Photo by Nati Harnik/AP

Hillary Clinton picks up steam in Iowa, new poll shows

Hillary Clinton is picking up steam in the early voting state of Iowa, with a new poll showing the former secretary of state beating her Democratic presidential rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, by 11 points.

Just more than half of likely Democratic-caucus goers — 51% — said they supported Clinton, compared to 40% who said they backed Sanders, according to the Quinnipiac survey released on Friday morning.

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It’s a significant lead for Clinton, who was essentially tied with Sanders last month. At that point, Sanders garnered 41% compared to Clinton’s 40%. 

Pollsters attributed Clinton’s boost in the Hawkeye State to a strong debate performance earlier this month, in addition to a widening gender gap. While Sanders leads Clinton 51% to 39% among men, she up with women 59% to his 33%. 

“A strong debate performance doesn’t always translate into better poll numbers, but it sure did for Hillary Clinton,”  said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. 

The survey was taken Oct. 14-20 —  before Vice President Joe Biden announced that he would not make a bid for the Oval Office and before Clinton testified about the 2012 Benghazi attacks in front of a Republican-led panel. Those two recent events are likely to help Clinton even more. Biden’s decision is expected to benefit Clinton in terms of support. Meanwhile, Clinton steered clear of giving Republicans any ammunition to use against her when she was grilled by lawmakers for more hours on Thursday. 

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus four points.