7/16: Tossup for U.S. Senate in Iowa, Governor Branstad Leads in Re-Election Bid
Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst are tied in their bid to win the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Senator Tom Harkin. About one in seven voters are undecided in this contest. Not surprisingly, there is a strong partisan divide. Braley overwhelmingly carries Democrats, and Ernst distances her opponent among Republicans by a similar margin. Independent voters split between the two candidates. A gender gap also keeps this a close matchup. Braley is ahead among women, and Ernst leads among men. A notable proportion of Iowans have yet to form an opinion about each of these candidates. Both, Braley and Ernst, have similar favorability ratings statewide. Incumbent Governor Terry Branstad has a double-digit lead over his competitor, State Senator Jack Hatch. A strong majority of Iowans approve of the job Governor Branstad is doing in office, and he is well liked in the state. Half of Iowans are not familiar enough with Democratic challenger, Jack Hatch to offer an opinion of him. A majority of Iowa residents disapprove of President Obama’s job performance.
“The contest to replace five-term Senator Tom Harkin is neck and neck,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Iowa, right now, represents a chance for the GOP to pick up a Democratic seat in their quest to gain the majority in the U.S. Senate.”
- Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst are locked in a close battle for U.S. Senate, 43% to 43%, among registered voters in Iowa, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. 14% of voters are undecided.
- Braley and Ernst have secured similar shares of their base voters. Braley has the support of 84% of Democrats, and Ernst is backed by 85% of Republicans. Independents divide, 41% for Braley and 39% for Ernst.
- Braley leads Ernst among women, 45% to 37%. Ernst is ahead of Braley, 48% to 40%, among men.
- Both Senate candidates have ground to cover in building favorable name recognition among Iowans. 36% of state residents do not offer an opinion of Braley, and 31% are not familiar with Ernst. Right now, each candidate’s favorable rating approximates their unfavorable score.
- Incumbent Republican Governor Terry Branstad has a strong lead over his Democratic opponent Jack Hatch, 53% to 38%, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. Nine percent of voters are undecided.
- Incumbent Governor Branstad has an approval rating of 58% from residents in the state including 85% of Republicans, 58% of independents, and 36% of Democrats. 51% of Iowans have a favorable impression of the governor. 50% are not familiar with his Democratic opponent, Jack Hatch.
Majority Disapprove of President Obama, Congressional GOP More Unpopular
- 51% of Iowans disapprove of the job President Obama is doing in office. 36% approve.
- The Congressional Republicans are not held in high esteem. 63% of adults statewide disapprove of their job performance, and only 21% approve.
- Nearly two-thirds of Iowans, 66%, think the country is off on the wrong track compared with 26% who describe it as on the right path. A majority of Democrats, 52%, believe the nation is on course. But, 88% of Republicans and 69% of independents think the nation’s trajectory is misguided.
Mixed Bag on President’s Agenda
- 49% of Iowans describe the Affordable Care Act as a bad idea including 42% who hold this opinion strongly. Just 31% of adults statewide have a positive view of the health care plan including 22% who strongly feel this way.
- Nearly half of state residents, 49%, want to require companies to reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming even if utility costs are passed on to consumers. 40% oppose such limits on business. Women are more likely to support the measure with 51% in favor and 35% opposed. Men are split, 48% back limits and 46% do not.
- A pathway to citizenship for foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States divides Iowans. 48% oppose creating an opportunity for citizenship for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally even if they have a job, and 46% support this proposed legislation.