Political polls have been much-maligned in recent years and for mostly good reasons. But political polling as an institution is still valuable — otherwise, candidates wouldn’t be shelling out millions of dollars a week for the best of them.
One of the best and most consistently accurate polls is the Des Moines Register Iowa state poll. Conducted in partnership with media giant Mediacom, the Register poll downplays the horse race aspect of their poll in trying to discern the reasons voters are thinking the way they are.
Pushing back against the notion that it’s “too early” for presidential polling, the Register poll is useful because it gives us a snapshot of what people are thinking about, worried about, angry about.
And right now, Iowans are very angry at Joe Biden.
In the new survey, 51% of likely Iowa voters in the 2024 election would vote for Trump, a Republican, while 40% say they would vote for Biden, a Democrat. Another 4% say they would not vote for either candidate, and 5% are not sure.
The poll comes as Biden’s approval rating among Iowans sits near its lowest ebb since he took office in January. Meanwhile, Iowans view Trump more favorably than they did while he was in office, according to a September Iowa Poll.
It’s constantly pointed out — mostly by Democrats — that Iowa is a terrible bellwether state because it’s just too damn — excuse me — white. Not enough POC’s, you see? So radical Democrats have been agitating to take the first-in-the-nation primary away from the Hawkeye State for that reason.
But the Democrat’s dirty little secret — the secret they won’t share with most of their voters — is that they need rural white voters to win. The results in Virginia should have taught them that lesson. And Iowa has plenty of white, conservative voters like they do in Virginia. So Iowa is of great interest to both parties.
Democrats can feel Iowa slipping away. Barack Obama won Iowa narrowly in 2008 and 2012, but Donald Trump reclaimed the state for Republicans in 2016. And Trump won by a comfortable eight-point margin in 2020.
Biden down double digits to a Republican three years from election day does not mean it’s time for Democrats to hit the panic button. But they should certainly sit up and take notice and begin asking the question, “what are we doing wrong?”
Trump’s lead in the poll is not exactly what it appears to be. In fact, the pollster points out that the numbers leave considerable room for another Republican to challenge Trump — at least in Iowa.
But the poll found that among Iowans who identify as Republicans, 61% say they are more aligned with the party compared to 26% who say they are more aligned with Trump. The margin of error for that question is plus or minus 6 percentage points.
That preference for the party over Trump is shared by a majority of every demographic group among Republicans, including those in rural areas and evangelical Iowans — two of Trump’s strongholds.
“It opens the door a bit for Iowa,” [pollster Ann] Selzer said.
Trump is ahead with large margins among evangelical and rural Iowans. He carries evangelicals 76% to 15%, and he carries rural likely voters 64% to 26%.
Biden’s approval ratings in Iowa are underwater as they are everywhere, and on individual issues like Afghanistan withdrawal (68% disapproval), immigration (64% disapproval), and the economy (61% disapproval), his policies are historically unpopular.
Yes, it’s three years out from the 2024 presidential election. And no one is even sure if Trump is running or not. But Joe Biden is getting dangerously close to “Anyone But Biden” territory with the voters and in the end, it may not matter if Trump runs at all.
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