A highly respected poll in Iowa shows Hillary Clinton's lead in the key state has fallen dramatically as Sen. Bernie Sanders has climbed to within 7 percentage points of the front-runner.
The Iowa Poll, sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg and conducted by pollster Ann Selzer, shows Clinton at 37% and Sanders at 30%. Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering getting into the race, is at 14% and the remaining three candidates are in the low single digits.
That's a big drop for Clinton from May, the last time the poll was conducted, and it's the first time the former secretary of state has fallen below 50%. "It looks like what people call the era of inevitability is over. [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," said Selzer.
Selzer added that the coalition backing Sanders resembles the one that led Barack Obama to an upset victory over Clinton in 2008 in Iowa, which holds the first presidential nominating contest. Sanders has nearly doubled Clinton's support among Iowa caucus-goers under 45, and leads among self-described liberals and first-time caucus-goers.
Part of Clinton's decline comes from a growth in support for Biden as he more aggressively explores a run. But with the vice president removed as an option, the gap between Clinton and Sanders remains roughly the same, at 43-37.
Sanders' support may be more intense than Clinton's as well, with a higher percentage holding very favorable views of him than Clinton. Still, Clinton remains popular among Iowa Democrats overall, who say they are still confident she could win the general election. And just 2% of Sanders backers say they support him because they dislike Clinton.
Sanders has come within striking distance or is even ahead of Clinton New Hampshire, depending on the poll. The state holds the second nominating contest.
Selzer is considered the gold standard pollster in Iowa, having correctly predicted the 2008 Democratic primary, the 2012 Republican primary, and the margin of the 2014 Senate race when many other polls were trending in different directions.