While the first primary contests of the 2016 presidential election are growing competitive, a newly released NBC/SurveyMonkey national poll indicates that Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are still firmly leading their respective parties in the race.
The weekly poll, released on Jan. 19, shows that the Trump campaign’s momentum has not slowed and that Clinton maintains a comfortable lead over her main rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Trump leads the GOP race with 38 percent among Republican voters. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whose public relationship with the business mogul turned from chummy to nasty in the last GOP debate, comes in second with 21 percent, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 11 percent.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson continues to slide from his strong national standing in fall 2015, now in fourth with 8 percent of the vote. The rest of the Republican field are stagnating with 4 percent or less.
Meanwhile, Clinton firmly remains the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination with 52 percent of Democratic voter support. Sanders is polling at 36 percent while former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is flailing with an abysmal 1 percent of the party vote.
While Trump and Cruz battle it out to take the Iowa caucus, Sanders has been surging in the Hawkeye state, threatening to derail Clinton’s status as the inevitable nominee. Winning the early caucuses can shift the national narrative of an election.
Sanders’ campaign has shockingly closed the gap between himself and Clinton in Iowa.
"Let me talk about polling,” Sanders said during the Jan. 17 Democratic debate, according to Politico. “As Secretary Clinton well knows, when this campaign started, she was 50 points ahead of me … Guess what, in Iowa, New Hampshire, the race is very very close.”
However, while winning a caucus can cause a domino effect throughout the primary process, Iowa has hardly been a good predictor of a party’s nominee.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania took Iowa in 2012 and former Minnesota Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Hawkeye State in 2008. Neither of them became the GOP nominee and today their presidential campaigns don’t qualify for the main debate stage, TIME reports.
However, an upset in Iowa has paid off before. The 2008 Democratic race took a pendulum swing when young Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois pulled off an upset victory in the Hawkeye State. He would go on to defeat the presumed frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, on a national scale.