Iowa wide open: Dem voters undecided, conflicted, overwhelmed in final caucus stretch

DES MOINES -- With just two-and-a-half weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential nominating calendar, Logan Cardani says she's “kind of undecided.”

“It’s between a couple of people. I just have to make some final decisions,” the West Des Moines resident shared.

Cardani’s far from alone.

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The two latest polls in Iowa indicate plenty of voters likely to take part in the Democratic presidential caucuses on Feb. 3 are undecided or could possibly change their minds on whom they’re backing.

The Iowa Caucuses display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, on Jan. 15, 2020

The Iowa Caucuses display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, on Jan. 15, 2020

A Monmouth University survey indicated that four in 10 say there’s at least a moderate chance they’ll switch their support to another candidate by caucus night. And a Des Moines Register/CNN poll showed that just four in 10 say they’ve definitely made up their minds.

Both polls – conducted before Tuesday’s Democratic presidential nomination debate in Des Monies – pointed to a four-way fight for the top spot between former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Longtime Iowa-based Democratic consultant Jeff Link, a veteran of  numerous presidential and Senate campaigns, told Fox News that “this is the first time I can remember that it’s plausible that any one of four candidates could win and any one of four candidates could get fourth place.”

'Warren, Biden, and it used to be Bernie, but it’s now between Bernie and Pete.'

— Iowa voter Logan Cardani, on which candidates she's leaning toward

And Iowa Radio news director O’Kay Henderson – who’s been covering the caucuses for over 30 years – said that “you really have a sort of a four-way tie here and if Sen. Amy Klobuchar can get some momentum, you’ll have a five-way tie.”

The lunchtime crowd arrives at the Scenic Route Bakery in the East Village neighborhood of Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 15, 2020

The lunchtime crowd arrives at the Scenic Route Bakery in the East Village neighborhood of Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 15, 2020

Cardani – who was interviewed while having lunch at the popular Des Moines eatery the Scenic Route Bakery – said when it comes to her candidate choice, “I want to make sure their stances on things that I feel passionately about.”

While she remains undecided, she shared that she’s leaning toward “Warren, Biden, and it used to be Bernie, but it’s now between Bernie and Pete.”

Des Moines resident Laura Smidt, who was also having lunch at the eatery, had a similar conundrum.

“I have not made up my mind yet,” she said.

Her problem – the size of the still-large, but shrinking, field of Democratic White House hopefuls: “It’s still too big of a field for me to concentrate on it.”

Like many Democratic voters across the country, Smidt stressed that beating President Trump in November’s general election is priority number one.

As for whom she’s leaning toward, she said that Andrew “Yang is my number one, my policies align with him. I like Elizabeth Warren and I think that Bernie is good but I think that he’s too far left to do much. But I like his look on life.”

Smidt was sharing a table with her friend Jake Jass, who said he’s “still undecided.”

While electability’s a factor in his decision, Jass stressed that “for me it’s more about leadership than the policies … it really hinges for me on who can make a difference in the country the best.”

One table away sat twins Luke and Mark Ehrhardt – who both have yet to make up their minds.

Luke Ehrhardt said that after watching the debate, “I was extremely impressed with Mayor Pete’s ability to articulate clearly, his platform. There’s a realism about his campaign and sort of presentation that resonated with me.”

But he noted he was also impressed with Warren and billionaire environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer, who’s repeatedly emphasized that combating climate change is his top priority.

“Prioritizing climate change is a big thing for me,” he explained.

His brother Mark was also captivated by Steyer, saying: “I really like what I heard Tom Steyer saying. … He was the only one on the stage willing to say climate change is his number one priority.”

Mark, a liver transplant recipient, emphasized that health care and specifically prescription drug prices are a top issue.

“The biggest deal is having the opportunity for negotiations for drug costs,” he noted. “I am a liver transplant recipient so what that means for me is for the rest of my life I take these anti-rejection medications.”

Like many Democratic voters hankering to see Trump defeated in November, Mark Ehrhardt acknowledged that “I’m a realist. I’m a pragmatist. So at the end of the day, we have to have a candidate in the Democratic Party who’s able to get elected.”