Register poll finds lowest-ever approval for Obama, Grassley, Harkin

President Barack Obama and Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin registered record low approval number in the latest Iowa poll by Selzer and Co. for the Des Moines Register. The poll was in the field from January 31 to February 3 and surveyed 805 Iowa adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

The Sunday Des Moines Register reported,

Forty-six percent of Iowans approve of Obama's handling of his job, according to the poll taken Jan. 31 to Feb. 3. That's down from 49 percent in November. [...]

In Iowa, views of Obama's handling of key domestic issues remain a problem for him. No more than 40 percent of Iowans approve of his performance on the economy, health care and the budget deficit, although the rates are essentially unchanged since the Register's last poll, taken in November.

What has changed: The fractions of independents who support Obama's handling of all three of these issues have shrunk in the past three months.

One-third of independents now say they approve of his work on the economy, about 30 percent on health care and less than a quarter on the budget deficit. Obama pledged during his State of the Union address in January to make jobs, health care and spending cuts top priorities this year.

The Register's poll did find that 60 percent of Iowans approved of Obama's work on "relations with other countries," and 54 percent approved of how he's handling "the fight against terrorism." However, I expect economic issues to dominate the mid-term election campaign.

Research 2000 polled 600 likely Iowa voters last week for KCCI-TV and found only slightly better numbers for Obama:



BARACK OBAMA 52% 41% 7%

QUESTION: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as President?


ALL 49% 46% 5%

MEN 45% 50% 5%

WOMEN 53% 42% 5%

DEMOCRATS 82% 12% 6%

REPUBLICANS 13% 83% 4%


The Sunday Register also included new approval numbers for Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin. The link doesn't appear to be on their website yet, but I will add that when it becomes available later today. (UPDATE: Here is that link.) Grassley is at 54 percent approval/28 percent disapproval. Harkin's numbers are 51/34. Those are all-time lows for both senators, the Register reported. I don't ever recall seeing Grassley with such a slight advantage over Harkin in terms of overall approval.

The Sunday Register didn't publish full crosstabs from the poll but reported that Grassley's approval among Republicans "fell to 68 percent in the new poll, down from 76 percent in the November Iowa Poll and from 80 percent in September." It sounds as if Harkin's main drop came from independents; in November 52 percent of independent respondents in the Register's poll approved of Harkin's work, but now only 44 percent do.

Harkin won't be on the ballot again until 2014 (if he runs for a sixth term), but Grassley faces re-election this year. Compared to where a lot of incumbent senators are, 54 percent approval isn't too bad, but for Grassley this is a surprisingly low number. I had wondered whether his support would rise as public opinion of the health insurance reform bill soured, but it appears that isn't the case so far. I hope Grassley's declining support among Republicans prompts many conservatives to stay home in November. A lot of them also aren't wild about the likely Republican nominee for governor, Terry Branstad.

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