Trump Holds Slight Lead in Final Iowa Caucus Poll; Clinton in Tight Race With Sanders

Trump holds a slight 5-point lead over Ted Cruz.

When voters were asked who was most likely win a general election, Trump leads Cruz 35 percent to 24 percent, and in the category of which candidate would be feared the most by enemies to the U.S., Trump is ahead of Cruz by nearly 30 points.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said earlier this month that he wanted Cruz defeated because of his position on ethanol, but those comments don't seem to have had a major impact on the race, with 77 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in this poll saying it didn't sway their thoughts on Cruz.

"Maybe the folks who were deciding among the Rubio-Christie-Bush thing think Rubio has the best chance," Schwarm said, referring to GOP establishment voters in Iowa. "Rubio is hot and this is the time to be hot. He had a good debate again."

For the Democrats, Clinton held a 2-point lead over Sanders in the last Des Moines Register poll taken on January 14 and is at a 3-point lead in this poll, so there was no meaningful change.

Democratic strategist Jeff Link said that a key figure in the poll was that 34 percent of the people questioned identified themselves as first-time caucus-goers.

"Back in 2008 it was something like 60 percent. I think it needs to be a lot closer to 60 percent for Sanders to really get over the top," Link said.

"The one thing that's not knowable is what is the ultimate turnout," he said. "We can make guesses based on those numbers, but if it gets over 200,000 I think sanders can win."

Link said Iowa isn't a must-win for Sanders, because if he does well in the state -- which it looks like he will -- he can raise support online and is currently the frontrunner in New Hampshire.