Only 42 percent of Iowa voters have a favorable view of Senator Chuck Grassley and a majority disagree with the Senate Judiciary Committee chair’s refusal to give U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland hearings and a confirmation vote, according to a new poll Seung Min Kim reported exclusively for Politico today. Hart Research Associates surveyed 400 Iowa voters and conducted “101 additional interviews with registered independents in the state” between April 22 and 24 on behalf of the Constitutional Responsibility Project and the League of Conservation Voters. Geoff Garin’s two-page polling memo is available here.
While Grassley’s favorable/unfavorable ratings were 42/30 in the new poll, a Hart survey two years ago showed 60 percent of Iowa respondents responded positively to Grassley and just 19 percent negatively.
A couple of caveats:
Hart hasn’t polled frequently in Iowa. In addition, although the full questionnaire is not available at this writing, respondents appear to have been “primed” to evaluate Grassley by his stand on the Supreme Court vacancy. For instance, asked “Which of these two statements about Chuck Grassley’s decision to refuse a hearing to Merrick Garland do you agree with more?”, 34 percent of respondents (31 percent of independents) chose “After 42 years in Congress, Chuck Grassley is showing that he is still an independent voice for Iowa.” 53 percent of respondents and the same percentage of independents said “Chuck Grassley is engaging in the same partisan politics that prevent things from getting done in Washington.”
After giving respondents a series of statements supporting and opposing Senator Grassley’s position on the Supreme Court nomination, we ask them for a final takeaway on their senior senator. Here, 60% of all voters, including 63% of independents, agree with this conclusion:
Instead of taking an independent stand as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley is letting Republican Party leaders like Mitch McConnell call the shots and is acting like a follower, not a leader.
Moreover, 44% of all Iowa voters say they are less likely to support Grassley for reelection this year as a result of his opposition to considering any Supreme Court nominee, including Merrick Garland. One in five voters who otherwise might be inclined to support Grassley indicates that this issue could drive them away from him, and half of undecided voters also say this issue would make them less likely to be with Grassley in November.
I’ll be more inclined to believe Grassley’s approval has taken a hit if his ratings fall in Selzer & Co’s next Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register. During election years, Selzer typically conducts a survey for the Register in May. Soon after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February, Selzer measured Grassley’s approval rating at 57 percent among Iowa adults.
In early March, Public Policy Polling found that Grassley’s “47/44 [approve/disapprove] spread is down considerably from what we usually find for him as he loses crossover support from Democrats because of his intransigence on the Supreme Court issue.”
P.S.- Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim reported today on the Senate’s historically light work load in 2016: “The chamber is in session for the fewest days in 60 years.”