Branstad job approval, re-election numbers improve in new polls

Fifth-term Republican would handily defeat challengers if election were today

James Q. Lynch
Published: December 17 2013 | 6:25 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:56 am in
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Gov. Terry Branstad appears to have received a double-barreled shot of Christmas cheer with the release of a pair of polls indicating his re-election prospects are strong and improving.

By 58 to 32 percent, Iowa voters approve of the way fifth-term Republican is doing his job, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

Perhaps even better news to Branstad, who is expected to formally announce his re-election bid next month, Quinnipiac found Iowans say 50-41 percent that he should be re-elected.

Those numbers are improvements from a July Quinnipiac poll that showed Iowans approve of Branstad’s job performance 51 to 33 percent and by 46-43 percent said he did not deserve re-election.

“Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad enters his re-election year in better shape than when we looked five months ago,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “He defeats his three potential Democratic opponents by 16 points or more and has the kind of job approval that usually goes along with comfortable re-elections.”

In head-to-head match-ups, Branstad would defeat Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines 49 to 33 percent if the election were today, Quinnipiac found. The governor would win 50 to 32 percent against Rep. Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids and 49 to 31 over former state lawmaker Bob Krause of Des Moines.

The poll was taken before Olson dropped announced Dec. 17 that he was dropping out of the race.

The Hatch campaign portrayed the poll results as nothing more than a snapshot of voters views nearly a year before the November 2014 general election.

“Campaigns are a marathon and not a sprint,” said Hatch campaign manager Grant Woodard. “A lot can change between now and the election.”

The poll numbers suggest to Woodard that Branstad’s support “is very thin.”

“We look forward over the next few months amassing the resources that will allow us to hold Terry Branstad accountable and talk about the great opportunities ahead for Iowa,” he said.

He’s right that anything is possible with 11 months until Election Day, Brown said.

“But with 71 percent of Iowa voters satisfied with the way things are going in the state, and more than six in 10 seeing the governor as honest and a strong leader, whoever emerges from the Democratic field will face an uphill climb to the governor’s mansion,” Brown added.

Backing another term for Branstad are Republicans 81 to 11 percent and independent voters 50 to 40 percent, with Democrats opposed 72 to 19 percent. There is a large gender gap as men say four more years 58 to 36 percent while 43 percent of women say “yes” and 45 percent say “no.”

The new poll numbers are good news for the governor. In July, Iowa voters said they liked him -- 51 to 33 percent, but Quinnipiac found that by a 46 to 43 percent margin they don’t think he deserved a sixth four-year term.

That poll also found that while Branstad’s favorability numbers had improved from 49 to 31 percent since the previous winter, the percentage of voters saying he’s served long enough increased from 43 to 42 percent then to the 46-43 split more recently.

The Quinnipiac poll coincides with the release of an Iowa Poll showing that Iowans believe the state is on the right track and 58 percent approve of the job Branstad is doing as governor. One-third disapproved of his performance.

Quinnipiac conducted its poll from Dec, 10-15, calling land lines and cellphones to survey 1,617 registered voters. It has a margin of error of +/-2.4 percentage points.

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