Right now the race to become the Democratic Nominee and face Donald Trump in the general election is white hot.
But before everyday citizens go and vote for their favorite candidate, polling companies contact individuals asking how they will vote in the next election. This helps the media and members of the public see how many voters plan on voting for each candidate.
In the primary process the Democratic (or Republican) candidates spend significant time in the few states that vote for the nominee before others. The first state to vote was Iowa on February 3rd.
Although the results from Iowa have not been officially released, individual candidates have released their own internal results from their campaigns.
Because Iowa is the first real sign of how political candidates are doing in the race, many polls have been focused on trying to project how the electorate in Iowa will vote.
Recently different polling organizations have come out with contrasting results to who has the most support right now in the primary.
Some projections had Sen. Bernie Sanders winning Iowa, while others have Former Vice President Joe Biden in the lead. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg were trailing by only slight margins and were within the margin error that they too could have won the first state.
These conflicting polls are indicative of a very competitive primary election. Each candidate that still remains, believes and has supporters that believe that they are the best candidate to run against President Donald Trump. But their approaches and policies are very different as has been uncovered over the last few months of campaigning and debates.
The results of Iowa vote and the remaining early states have a profound impact upon the future of the Democratic Party and the general election and later in 2020. This is why releasing the official results of Iowa is important in determining who won.
A win for Bernie Sanders would show a huge shift towards more progressive policy within the Democratic voters.
Sanders and Warren have campaigned on more progressive policies such as a wealth tax and medicare for all. Winning in Iowa would be a strong rebuttal to the senators' critics.
Political experts and analysts have consistently pointed out that a politician that campaigns on a platform of democratic socialism is too far to the left and could alienate potential voters. This first few wins would combat this narrative.
On the other hand a win for a more moderate candidate like former Vice President Joe Biden or Mayor Pete Buttigieg would show that democratic voters prefer a more middle of the road candidate.
In 2008, President Barack Obama won Iowa and took that momentum to win the democratic primary nomination and general election with the "Obama Coalition." The coalition was based on moderate liberal policy and getting African-Americans, Hispanics, women, independents, millennials and those with a college education out to vote. Both the Biden and Buttigieg campaigns have a strategy that is very similar to that of the former president.
Specifically if Joe Biden won, it would be a rebuttal to the critics that have said the former Vice President is too old and out of touch with the voters that would need to turn out in order to beat President Donald Trump. The former Vice President is the most recognizable face in the primary currently and a win early on would go a long way to propel his campaign forward.
It's important to note that Iowa does not decide who will be the nominee. Even if Sen. Sanders wins in Iowa and the next earliest state New Hampshire, the next two earliest states like Nevada and South Carolina are leaning heavily towards Joe Biden. And then comes Super Tuesday when democrats in fourteen states as well as abroad vote for their preferred candidate.
The Democratic candidates try to win these early states because it acts as momentum for Super Tuesday on March 3rd. The overall winner of Super Tuesday has gone on to win the nomination in every election since 1988.
That is why these polls are so important, because they provide the first glimpse into the democratic challenger for President of the United States.