Register poll finds "no honeymoon" for Branstad

The Des Moines Register’s first statewide poll since Governor Terry Branstad returned to office shows that 45 percent of respondents approve of the job Branstad is doing, 35 percent disapprove and 20 percent are not sure. Selzer and Co surveyed 800 Iowa adults between February 13 and 16, and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. Ann Selzer commented in the Des Moines Register over the weekend, “Iowans are giving Gov Branstad no honeymoon.”

Elected officials never like to see their approval ratings below 50 percent, but the Register poll numbers are better for Branstad than Public Policy Polling’s latest Iowa survey. Just 40 percent of Iowa voters polled by PPP in January had a favorable opinion of Branstad, while 44 percent had an unfavorable opinion. Those low numbers probably don’t reflect a big drop in support for Branstad since November, but they underscore how strongly the 2010 voter pool skewed Republican in Iowa.

The Register’s new poll indicates that most Iowans don’t expect Branstad to fulfill key campaign promises. Asked about various goals Branstad mentioned while running for governor, respondents who were “mostly skeptical” the governor could accomplish the goal outnumbered those who were “mostly confident” he would succeed on every question.

Cut state spending by 15 percent over 5 years: 47 percent mostly confident, 49 percent mostly skeptical

Cut regulations that hamper business growth: 44 percent mostly confident, 49 percent mostly skeptical

Cut corporate income tax rates: 39 percent mostly confident, 52 percent mostly skeptical

Cut commercial property tax rates: 36 percent mostly confident, 57 percent mostly skeptical

Add 200,000 jobs within five years: 21 percent mostly confident, 76 percent mostly skeptical

Raise family incomes 25 percent over five years: 13 percent mostly confident, 84 percent mostly skeptical

The Register’s Tom Beaumont noted in his write-up of the poll,

Some Iowa economists said during the campaign that Branstad’s goals were unrealistic. The number of jobs in Iowa has grown by 233,000 since 1981, according to the Iowa Department of Workforce Development.

Family incomes in Iowa grew by 21.7 percent from 1999 to 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although Iowa has experienced months of economic and job growth, respondents for the Register’s new poll still see signs of economic distress. About 47 percent of respondents said Iowa is on the wrong track, compared to just 40 percent who see the state headed in the right direction. Some 47 percent of respondents said they are “personally still feeling the effects of a recession” and 41 percent said they are not personally feeling a recession but are “seeing it affect others” around them. Those numbers were almost identical to findings from the Register’s Iowa poll from January 2009, when the economy was by various measures in worse shape.

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