New Register poll sees Branstad cruising in GOP primary

About 57 percent of likely Iowa Republican primary voters support Terry Branstad, according to a new poll by Selzer and Co. for The Des Moines Register. Just 29 percent plan to vote for Bob Vander Plaats, and 8 percent plan to vote for Rod Roberts. The Des Moines Register poll surveyed 1,793 Iowans at least 18 years old, and the sub-sample of Republican primary voters included 501 people. (That included independents who said they planned to vote in the GOP primary; Iowa allows people to change their party registration on primary election day.) The poll was in the field from June 1 through June 3, and results for the likely Republican voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Two other recent Iowa polls by Public Policy Polling and Research 2000 for KCCI have found Branstad comfortably ahead of Vander Plaats and Roberts but below 50 percent. In the 2002 Republican primary, Vander Plaats did much better than his final poll numbers, but he benefited that year from a highly negative campaign between Steve Sukup and Doug Gross.

This primary might have played out differently had Vander Plaats had more resources to make his case. About 34 percent of likely Republican primary voters weren’t sure whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Vander Plaats, and 60 percent said the same about Roberts. Branstad not only is much better known, he also scored highest on attributes like “best ideas for bringing new jobs to Iowa” and “best able to curb government spending” (which is laughable when you consider Branstad’s record on fiscal issues).

I will never understand why the Club for Growth and other national right-wing organizations decided not to get involved in the Iowa governor’s race. Given the way the national conservative movement pushed Marco Rubio against Florida Governor Charlie Crist, you’d think they would have some issues with Branstad (who received a “D” grade from the Cato Institute when he was governor).

Selzer’s poll for the Des Moines Register also asked likely Republican primary voters several questions about gay marriage. While 77 percent of them agreed that “Iowans should have a chance to vote on changing the constitution to specifically ban gay marriage,” I was surprised to see that 20 percent of likely Republican voters disagreed with that statement.

Meanwhile, only 50 percent of likely GOP primary voters agreed that “Iowans should vote to remove current Supreme Court justices from their office because of their decision on gay marriage.” An amazing (to me) 45 percent disagreed with that statement. Regarding the statement, “Some Iowans have overreacted to this issue, and having gay marriage in Iowa is just not that big a deal,” 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters agreed, while 62 percent disagreed.

Share any thoughts about the Des Moines Register’s poll in this thread.

About the Author(s)


  • I started to comment here

    but my small comment began to substantially increase in size and scope.

    Thus, I just created a diary.

    • watch out

      Once upon a time I almost never wrote diaries, just comments on other people’s blogs…expanding those comments into diaries can become habit-forming.

  • You're right dmd

    I guess the Club for Growth figured that BVP wasn’t as up to date on the issues as other candidates out there like Rubio so it wasn’t worth their time.  They may not have been able to find a reason as to exactly why endorse BVP over Rod Roberts who actually has a record and has had to make actual decisions.  

  • So Branstad appears to be pulling it off after all


    When I saw the earlier poll numbers I let out a low whistle and thought maybe, just maybe he was toast.  This, though, looks a little more like what I’d expect.  Still not good numbers for such an established candidate, but enough to get him the nomination.  Culver’s best hope is to paint Branstad as the ultimate insider.

    I imagine the Club for Growth figured it would be folly to take on a 4-term governor.  Given the numbers, perhaps in hindsight they should have tried…

    • this is a the guy

      who almost lost the 1994 GOP primary despite being a three-term sitting governor. He only beat Grandy by 52-48. I think with a well-funded, sustained effort, Branstad could have been beaten in this primary.

    • Pots and Kettles

      The senator’s son painting the four-term governor as the ultimate political insider? The pot calling the kettle black.  

      • fair enough

        I think the better arguments against Branstad are that he wasn’t a good governor, didn’t follow through on what he promised in previous campaigns, isn’t honest about his record (like implying he cut state government in half and was a net tax cutter). Also, he looked out for the interests of wealthier Iowans (cutting estate tax, income taxes) but was happy to raise taxes that disproportionately hit lower-income people.

        This is the guy who campaigned against tax and spend Democrats and then asked the legislature to raise the sales tax within days of his first inauguration. But when we had surpluses thanks to the Clinton economic boom, Branstad wanted to pass tax cuts that mainly helped wealthy people.  

        • The Register Set Culver Up

          They ran negative story after negative story on Culver, and then, surprise, surprise, they endorse Branstand. I doubt many of those on the DMR staff were even around when Branstad was governor. Hogs and gambling and two sets of books: that was Branstad’s Governorship.

          He’ll give tax breaks that Iowa can’t afford to indifferent corporations that pollute Iowa’s streams and rivers, and he’ll cut back on staff who check on our water quality and any other corporate misdeed.

          People think they long for the good, old days when Branstad was Governor. It’s just that times were better for the unions and the middle class back then. Any “better times” weren’t Branstad’s doing.

          Iowa is doing better than most states. Why would we let a corporate newspaper influence our decisions?  

          • You realize the Register endorsed Branstad in the Republican primary?

            They have endorsed Branstad only in the primary, not the general election where he MAY be the one running against Culver.

            • I wouldn't be surprised

              if they endorse Branstad in the general. I would put money on them endorsing Grassley. The DMR governor’s race endorsement could go either way. They will probably endorse Democrats in the rest of the statewide offices and in at least three of the five Congressional districts.

              • I wouldn't argue with your Governor or Senator endorsement predictions.

                But I would fully expect the DMR to endorse all but Latham in the statewide House races.