DES MOINES – The latest poll numbers released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows a very tight race for U.S. Senate in Iowa between Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst.
PPP’s newest Iowa Senate poll continues to find a tight race with Joni Ernst slightly ahead of Bruce Braley. Ernst is ahead 44/42 when all the third party candidates are included, and 45/43 in a straight head to head. The 45/43 advantage for Ernst is identical to what we found on our last poll of the race in late August.
Even though the horse race numbers haven’t changed much, this is the first time we’ve found Ernst with a better net favorability rating than Braley. Ernst is at -4 with 42% of voters rating her favorably to 46% with a negative opinion, numbers that are up from a -10 spread at 36/46 in August. Meanwhile Braley’s numbers continue their slow decline- he has a -7 rating with 37% rating him favorably and 44% holding an unfavorable opinion, down from -4 at 37/41 last month. Braley’s favorability has dropped a net 17 points from where it was when we first polled a Braley/Ernst match up in July of 2013 and he was at +10 (34/24).
Both candidates have a pretty good lock on their party base. Only 5% of Democrats are crossing over to support Ernst, and just 8% of Republicans are crossing over to support Braley. The key for Ernst is with independent voters- she has a 45/35 advantage with them.
The Governor’s race in Iowa does not appear to be making any move towards being competitive. Terry Branstad leads Jack Hatch 50/36 with the full field of candidates and 52/38 in a straight head to head. Branstad is up 20 points with independents at 51/31, and is winning over 17% of the Democratic vote while losing just 6% of Republicans. The horse race numbers pretty closely track with Branstad’s approval numbers at 53/38. Feelings about Hatch are divided three ways with about a third rating him favorably, a third unfavorably, and a third having no opinion either way.
The closest race down ballot continues to be the one for Secretary of State. Republican Paul Pate leads Democrat Brad Anderson 36/33, with 25% of voters remaining undecided. Also in the range of being competitive is the race for Auditor- Republican Mary Mosiman has a 41/35 advantage over Democratic challenger Jonathan Neiderbach there.
The other three statewide contests don’t appear they’ll be competitive this year. Democrat Tom Miller leads 53/33 for reelection as Attorney General, Republican Bill Northey is up 49/29 in his bid for another term as Agriculture Commissioner, and Michael Fitzgerald has a 47/35 advantage in his run at keeping the Treasurer’s job.
Other notes from Iowa:
-Charles Grassley remains easily the state’s most popular politician with 57% of voters approving of him to only 29% who disapprove. He would lead a hypothetical reelection contest against former Governor Tom Vilsack (also generally popular with a 46/36 favorability rating) 51/42. Tom Harkin is on positive ground with a +10 net approval rating at 47/37 as well. The only states besides Iowa in recent years where we’ve found the Governor and both Senators in a state all with +10 net approval ratings are Mississippi and Wyoming.
-Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are tied in a hypothetical 2016 match up in Iowa at 43%. Clinton leads the rest of the Republican field by 4-8 points. It’s 45/41 over Chris Christie, 46/42 over Mike Huckabee, 47/42 over Rand Paul, and 47/39 over Ted Cruz. We’ll have early numbers on who Democrats and Republicans want as their 2016 nominees tomorrow.