With only nine days to go in Iowa, a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely caucusgoers has a new frontrunner—and he's no moderate. The survey of 1,689 registered Iowa voters puts Bernie Sanders in the lead at 25%, ahead of center-left hopefuls and a high-profile liberal. The poll has Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden sparring at 18% and 17%, respectively, while Elizabeth Warren—who led in an October poll with 22%—has slumped to 15%, and Amy Klobuchar is stuck at 8%. The Sanders surge is reflected in other recent Iowa polls, which CNN crunches down to Sanders at 21% and Biden 19%, followed by Buttigieg (17%), Warren (16%), and Klobuchar (7%).
But Iowa polls can be unreliable at this stage, partly because the caucus process involves two voting rounds at each site, per Politico. What's more, almost 40% of voters in the Times poll said they might be persuaded to switch to another candidate. And 55% say they'd prefer someone who's "more moderate than most Democrats," compared to 38% itching for a more liberal candidate. But if Sanders wins Iowa and New Hampshire, where he also tops the polls, he could gain powerful momentum. "Bernie's authentic," says an Evansdale voter. "Pretty much everything he's saying—I can't put it better than he can." (Hillary Clinton recently made headlines with her thoughts on Bernie, then walked them back.)