An Iowa State University poll indicates South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg is surging ahead of his Democratic rivals in Iowa, the 2020 field by at least 5 points ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses.

It was  the second poll this month to indicate Buttigieg is the leader.

The Iowa State University/Civiqs poll released Thursday indicates 26% of Iowans now say Buttigieg is their first choice for the nomination. Massachussetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren comes in second at 19% while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is in third with 18% and Vice President Biden, who maintains a lead in national polling, is in fourth with 12%. 

Both Sanders and Biden maintained their support from the October edition of the same poll, but Buttigieg saw a significant increase while Warren's numbers declined by nearly 10 percentage points.

Dave Peterson, an Iowa State professor who helped conduct the poll, suggested that media dynamics are playing a role in the candidates' relative positions.

Democratic presidential hopefuls (L-R) Senator Cory Booker, US Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg were among 10 candidates in the latest Democratic debate Democratic presidential hopefuls (L-R) Senator Cory Booker, US Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg were among 10 candidates in the latest Democratic debate Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB

“Warren has seen heightened scrutiny this past month, while Buttigieg has received mostly positive attention,” Peterson said. “A little over 60% of the people who supported Warren in October still support her now, and those who switched went to Buttigieg.”

Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has yet to officially announce he is running for president, received the support of 1% of voters. Bloomberg earlier this week, he filed paperwork to get on the Texas ballot, one of three Super Tuesday states he has targeted so far. He also has filed to be on the Arkansas and Alabama ballots March 3. 

Peterson suggested media coverage will continue to play a role in who leads Iowa.

“What this tells me, is that there is a segment of Iowans backing the candidate getting the most positive coverage,” he said. “If we start seeing more scrutiny of Buttigieg, then his lead might prove to be temporary as well.”

According to the RealClearPolitics aggregation of national polling, Biden retains a national lead with 29.8% of voters backing him while Sanders is at 19.3%, Warren at 18.5% and Buttigieg at 7.8%. The same aggregation for Iowa shows Buttigieg at the lead with 23.5%, Warren at 17.8%, and Sanders and Biden at 17%.