Survey USA finds record low approval for Iowa leaders

The Bean Walker, Iowa’s copycat version of The Drudge Report, was thrilled to link to the latest approval numbers from Survey USA yesterday:


Pres. Obama: 45 / 51

Sen. Grassley: 54 / 34

Sen. Harkin: 49 / 38

Gov. Culver: 36 / 51

This statewide poll of 600 adults was conducted on August 26 and 27 and is said to have a margin of error of 4 percent. It’s the first time any pollster has found the president below 50 percent approval in Iowa, and the first time any pollster has found the governor’s approval in the 30s. For more details about various demographic groups in this poll, you can find Culver’s chart here, charts on Harkin and Grassley here, and Obama’s chart here.

Looking at Survey USA’s trendlines for Culver since he took office, I noticed that Culver’s disapproval number is basically unchanged this summer, but his approval number has dropped significantly from 42 percent in June and 44 percent in July to 36 percent in late August.

Before anyone panics, remember that Survey USA’s approval numbers for Culver tend to run low compared to other pollsters. In early July, the poll commissioned by The Iowa Republican blog found Culver’s approve/disapprove numbers to be 53 percent/41 percent. Later the same month, Hill Research Consultants’ poll for the Iowa First Foundation found Culver’s favorability at 52 percent. (The Iowa First Foundation did not release the governor’s approval number from that poll, but you better believe they would have if the number had been in the 30s or even the low 40s.) Meanwhile, Survey USA pegged Culver’s approval at 44 percent on July 20.

Survey USA’s numbers for Obama, Harkin and Grassley are also noticeably down in the latest poll. Obama is at a record low in Iowa. Grassley’s approval of 54 percent is the lowest Survey USA has found in at least four years. I couldn’t find a similar graph for Harkin’s numbers, but it’s been a long time since I can remember seeing his approval rating below 50.

Of course, it’s possible that the recession and the health care debate have affected Iowans’ view of all political leaders. Still, I would like to see these numbers confirmed by some other pollster. Even with the best sampling techniques, approximately 1 in 20 polls is wrong just by chance (“wrong” meaning that the true state of public opinion lies outside the margin of error for that poll). Right now this poll looks like an outlier.

I also agree with Steve Singiser that if Culver were this unpopular in Iowa, Democrat Curt Hanson probably would not have won yesterday’s special election in House district 90 (a swing district). The Republicans ran at least two television ads linking Hanson to Culver (see here and here).

I’m looking forward to the next Selzer and Associates poll for the Des Moines Register, which probably will come later this month or in early October.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

  • No bump blues

    Regardless of SUSA’s flaws in methodology, one thing that this poll shows is that Culver got absolutely no summer bump this year.

    As we’ve talked about before, the last two summers Culver has enjoyed a nice lazy summer bump of about 5-7% in his favorable ratings. Mostly, it’s just because he trades in fighting with the legislature for judging pies at the State Fair. (Even with the flood last summer, he got the “summer bump”.)

    But this year…nothing. So that means he’s going to go into the legislative session (where he typically loses support) without a summer bump to burn through. That’s going to hurt, especially if he’s going to be walking into a budget firefight.  

    • alternatively

      Culver and the Democratic statehouse leaders will realize that with Branstad in the governor’s race, they have to get their act together and stop pointing fingers/blaming each other for stuff that doesn’t get done.

Login or Join to comment and post.