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The final Des Moines Register poll — the one they decided not to release — shows Joe Biden in fourth place: report
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The final Des Moines Register poll — the one they decided not to release — shows Joe Biden in fourth place: report

Bad news for Biden

An unreleased final poll shows Democratic national front-runner Joe Biden in fourth place ahead of the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses Monday night.

The CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, often called the "gold standard" of Iowa polling, was expected to release its much-anticipated last official poll results ahead of the caucuses.

But on Saturday, after a respondent issued a complaint about the way the poll was administered, saying one of the candidate's names was omitted when they were asked to name their preferred candidate, the Des Moines Register and partners decided to cancel its release.

"While this appears to be isolated to one surveyor, that could not be confirmed with certainty," said the news outlet. "Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, the partners made the difficult decision not to move forward with releasing the poll."

What were the results?

After news of its cancellation, the results of the unreleased poll were allegedly leaked and circulated on Twitter.

On Monday, FiveThirtyEight.com confirmed the results, which show Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the lead with 22% of the vote, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in second with 18%, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third with 16%, and the former vice president all the way back in fourth with just 13%.

FiveThirtyEight noted that Selzer and Co., the pollster in charge of the Iowa Poll, has an A+ on its Pollster Rating.

Why does it matter?

News of Sanders' surge in the Iowa polls had been widely reported in the lead-up to the caucuses, but the RealClearPolitics polling average showed Biden hanging in there at or near second place.

Had the respected poll been released Saturday showing Biden nearly 10 points back and in fourth place, the media narrative surrounding the caucuses would have been greatly influenced.

"Imagine the news cycle that would have been, with national front-runner Biden making such a poor showing in the last, highest-profile poll before the caucuses," said FiveThirtyEight in its report.

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