DES MOINES — The Democratic presidential race in Iowa remains knotted in a virtual three-way tie just two weeks before the Feb. 8 caucuses, according to a new poll released Sunday, increasing the likelihood that no clear winner will emerge from the first major electoral battle of 1988.
The Des Moines Register's latest Iowa Poll of voters likely to attend the state's Democratic caucuses found that Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and Illinois Sen. Paul Simon are in a virtual tie for first place in the Democratic race.
Gephardt, who has staged a remarkable comeback in several major polls in the last week or so, was the first choice of 19% of the voters. He was slightly ahead of Dukakis, who was the choice of 18% of likely caucus-goers, while Simon was right behind him with 17%. The Register poll had a margin of error of 4.9%, indicating that the three front-runners were in a statistical tie.
While Gephardt, Dukakis and Simon all still have an opportunity to move away from their rivals in Iowa, it may be difficult for any of the three to declare a clear-cut victory if the outcome on Feb. 8 is as close as the major polls now suggest. All could then continue on to New Hampshire and the South as serious contenders.