88ºF

Early entrance polls show Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren leading with Iowa caucusgoers

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign stop at Hiatt Middle School, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign stop at Hiatt Middle School, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Early entrance polls show former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren leading with Iowa caucusgoers.

Health care was the most important issue for choosing a nominee among Iowa Democratic caucusgoers, according to the entrance polls conducted Monday before caucuses began. Two in five chose health care, and about a quarter said climate change, while fewer chose foreign policy or income inequality.

About three in five Iowa Democratic caucusgoers support replacing private insurance with a government plan. Only about a third oppose that. Sanders and Warren have called for replacing private insurance with "Medicare for All," while other candidates like Biden, Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have called for a public option while maintaining existing private insurance systems.

Still, electability mattered to caucusgoers. About two-thirds of Iowa caucusgoers say they would prefer a nominee who can beat President Donald Trump over a candidate who agrees with them on the issues.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

About a third of Iowa caucusgoers had never attended a caucus before, down from 44% in the 2016 caucuses and 57% in the 2008 caucuses. About two-thirds had caucused before.

Young Iowans overwhelmingly back Sanders

About half of Iowa caucusgoers under 30 years old supported Sanders, significantly higher than any other candidate among young voters, according to preliminary entrance polls. Around one in five caucusgoers fell in that age group, steady from past years. Less than one in five back Buttigieg and one in 10 support Warren.

Roughly a third of Democratic Iowa caucusgoers are over 65 years old, up from 28% in 2016 and 22% in 2008. A third of them support Biden, one in five back Buttigieg and one in 10 support Warren.

'Very liberal' voters choose Sanders and Warren

Caucusgoers who described themselves as "very liberal" went overwhelmingly for Sanders and Warren. Two in five support Sanders; about a quarter support Warren. Fewer, around one in 10, support Buttigieg.

Among moderate Democratic caucusgoers, a third support Biden. About a quarter said they back Buttigieg and around one in 10 support Klobuchar and Sanders each.

Overall, about two in five identified as somewhat liberal, a quarter as very liberal and a third as moderate.

A quarter of caucusgoers made their minds up late

Around a quarter of Democratic caucusgoers decided who to support in the last few days or today.

Almost half decided who to support before January, while fewer than one in five made up their minds during January.

The Democratic entrance poll estimates how much support a presidential candidate has at the start of the caucus process and will more closely reflect the first round of voting. It does not reflect the final caucus result, which is used to calculate the state delegate equivalents that a candidate is expected to win.

The top finisher in the Iowa Democratic caucuses has gone on to win the nomination in 7 of 9 contested races since 1976.

Entrance polls were conducted among Iowa caucus-goers as they entered precincts Monday night. Edison Research conducts the poll for the National Exit Pool, a consortium of news organizations.