Braley leads among Senate hopefuls in new poll

But poll also shows Iowans prefer GOP control of Senate

James Q. Lynch
Published: December 18 2013 | 10:26 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:01 am in
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Iowa voters prefer Republican control of the U.S. Senate, but presumptive Democratic Senate nominee Rep. Bruce Braley leads all GOP contenders in a poll conducted earlier this month.

Braley, a four-term congressman from Waterloo, earned the support of between 43 and 46 percent of 1,617 registered voters surveyed Dec. 10-15 by the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Despite the 46 to 41 percent preference for GOP control of the Senate, that they want the Republican Party to control the U.S. Senate six potential opponents. Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker came closest – 43 to 40 percent – in a head-to-head match-up with Braley.

Against other declared candidates for the GOP nominations, Braley led:

• 44 to 38 percent over Sen. Joni Ernst;

• 46 to 37 percent over businessman Mark Jacobs;

• 44 to 36 percent over former U.S. Senate aide David Young;

• 45 to 34 percent over radio commentator Sam Clovis.

Quinnipiac also posed a Braley-Bob Vander Plaats match-up, and the Waterloo attorney came out ahead 46 to 40 percent. Vander Plaats has indicated he might consider entering the race.

The survey also asked about President Obama and found that Iowans continue to sour on the second term president. His approval numbers have dropped from 41 to 55 percent approval in July to 35 to 39 percent including thumbs down from 15 percent of Democrats.

“Obama twice carried Iowa and it was the Iowa caucuses which began his march to the presidency, but if he were on the ballot here today he would be toast,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

His overwhelmingly negative job approval rating from Iowans likely will be a drag on Democrats on the ballot, Brown said.

“Half of the voters say their Senate vote will have nothing to do with Obama, but among the other half, twice as many say it is a vote against the president rather than for him,” Brown said.

Looking at the Senate race, 29 percent said they see their vote as a vote against Obama, while 14 percent say it is a vote for Obama and 54 percent say Obama is not much of a factor, according to Quinnipiac.

Among the other findings:

• Independent voters go Republican 41 to 34 percent.

• 52 percent of those polled are less likely to back a candidate who supports the 2010 Affordable Care Act, with 25 percent more likely and 20 percent who say it makes no difference to their Senate vote;

• 45 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports stricter gun control laws, with 33 percent more likely and 20 percent saying no difference;

• 46 percent are less likely to back a candidate who supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with 24 percent more likely and 27 percent saying no difference.

Working for the Democrats, Brown said, is that 52 percent of voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the government shutdown.

“Even though Democrat U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley defeats his potential GOP opponents in trial heats, when asked about what they want in the views of their next U.S. senator, voters appear to be leaning toward the GOP agenda,” Brown said. “Iowa voters say 2-1 they want a senator who opposes Obamacare and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and by a plurality want someone opposed to stricter gun control.”

For more information, visit http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.

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