Clinton up by 4, Grassley by 10 in new Iowa poll (updated)

The first public poll of Iowa since the Republican and Democratic national conventions shows Hillary Clinton slightly ahead of Donald Trump by 41 percent to 37 percent. Marist surveyed 899 registered voters for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal between August 3 and 7, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent. In last month’s Marist poll of Iowans, Clinton led by 42 percent to 39 percent.

When the 2016 presidential race is expanded to four candidates – including Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein – Clinton and Trump are tied at 35 percent each in Iowa, with Johnson at 12 percent and Stein at 6 percent. (Last month in the state, Clinton and Trump were tied in the four-way horserace at 37 percent.)

Historically, third-party presidential candidates have received far fewer votes in November than their summer poll numbers would suggest. But even assuming Marist is greatly overstating support for Johnson and Stein, those candidates could set records for their respective parties in Iowa. No Libertarian presidential candidate has ever surpassed 1 percent of the vote in our state. The Green Party’s best showing in a presidential election here was roughly 2.2 percent, which Ralph Nader received in 2000.

Both major-party presidential candidates are underwater among Iowa voters on favorability. Some 36 percent of Marist’s respondents have a favorable view of Clinton, 58 percent unfavorable. Those would be terrible numbers if Trump weren’t in even worse shape at 31 percent favorable, 64 percent unfavorable in the same poll. Without seeing more detailed results, it’s hard to tell which candidate has more room to grow support. Some recent surveys have found that remaining undecided voters “lean toward being [Bernie] Sanders holdouts,” which could mean more potential growth for Clinton than for Trump. That said, I’m 100 times more confident that Clinton will win 270 electoral votes than I am of her carrying Iowa. She is generally polling better in states that are more diverse than Iowa, where more than 86 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites.

UPDATE: Nate Cohn pointed out that Iowa is the state “where Democrats are most dependent on less [educated] white voters.” Non-college-educated whites were a big part of Barack Obama’s winning coalition here. According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 26.4 percent of Iowans who are at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education.

Marist found U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley leading Democratic challenger Patty Judge by 52 percent to 42 percent. That’s a smaller lead for Grassley than he has enjoyed in most of his re-election campaigns, but better than the single-digit leads other pollsters found for the senator earlier this summer. Iowa Republicans will be encouraged to see Grassley above the 50 percent mark. The senator confirmed to Radio Iowa today that he is still supporting Trump for president, citing scheduling conflicts to explain his absence from the GOP nominee’s rallies in Davenport and Cedar Rapids on July 28 and in Des Moines on August 5. In a statement I enclose below, Judge demanded that Grassley explain “exactly what Donald Trump meant” when he said today at a North Carolina rally, “If she [Hillary Clinton] gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know” (full comments here).

In related news, Senator Joni Ernst’s office has not yet responded to my request for comment on the extraordinary public letter released yesterday by 50 former high-ranking national security officials in Republican administrations, explaining why they will not vote for Trump. Ernst has repeatedly depicted Trump as the best candidate to keep America safe, but the former security officials warned Trump “would be a dangerous President,” lacking the requisite “character, values, experience,” or “temperament,” while displaying “little understanding of America’s vital national interests” and “alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics.”

SECOND UPDATE: Added below some other findings from the Marist poll; click here for full results.

Patty Judge campaign press release, August 9:

Patty Judge Statement on Donald Trump’s Dangerous Comments on Gun Violence
Judge calls on Grassley to explain Trump’s comments to Iowans

DES MOINES, Iowa – Patty Judge issued the following statement in response to Donald Trump’s comments this afternoon promoting gun violence at a rally in North Carolina:

“Like most Americans, I’m horrified and appalled by Donald Trump’s apparent call for Americans to resort to gun violence as a solution to disagreements. These comments are more than just reckless – they’re dangerous and do not represent the values we share as Iowans. This is not a joke or matter of simple politics. As one of Donald Trump’s strongest and most consistent supporters, Chuck Grassley owes Iowans an explanation of exactly what Donald Trump meant when he said ‘Second Amendment people’ might be able to stop Hillary Clinton’s appointment of a Supreme Court justice. On a day when Chuck Grassley has once again reaffirmed his support for Donald Trump, it’s the least he can do.”

As Republicans continue to distance themselves from Donald Trump, including Republican Senator Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley reiterated today that he would stand firm in his support.

UPDATE: A few findings caught my eye from the full results from the Marist poll. First, the sample of 899 registered voters included 32 percent Democrats, 33 percent Republicans, 35 percent independents, and 1 percent some other affiliation by “party registration.” But in terms of “party identification,” the sample broke down as 28 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican, 45 percent independent, and 1 percent other. This could reflect the fact that many no-party voters changed their registration earlier this year to participate in either the February 1 caucuses or the June 7 primaries.

About 51 percent of the respondents said their household income was less than $50,000 (close to the median for Iowa), while 49 percent said their household income was higher than that. Although that proportion is representative of the state’s population, I doubt it will be representative of the general electorate, since voter turnout tends to be higher among the wealthy than among the poor. Clinton led among respondents with a household income below $50,000 (43 percent to 34 percent), while Trump led among those whose incomes exceed $50,000 (42 percent to 40 percent).

About 34 percent of Marist’s Iowa respondents have a college degree, but only 26.4 percent of Iowans over age 25 do, according to the latest Census Bureau data. On the other hand, people with higher education levels are more likely to vote, so having a larger share of college graduates in the sample doesn’t necessarily mean the sample doesn’t represent Iowans who will participate in the November election. Consistent with other polls around the country, Clinton is doing much better with college graduates (leading Trump 54 percent to 28 percent) than with those who have no college degree (trailing Trump by 42 percent to 35 percent).

Nearly two-thirds of the interviews were conducted via cell phones rather than landlines. Clinton and Trump were tied among respondents reached by cell phone (39 percent each), while Clinton led by 45 percent to 34 percent among those reached by landline, presumably a group that skewed older.

Among all registered voters, 45 percent approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, 43 percent disapprove, and 12 percent were unsure.

Democrats did better among the subsample who said they will “definitely” vote. Clinton led Trump by 46 percent to 39 percent, compared to her 41-37 advantage among all the registered voters surveyed. Grassley led Judge by only 48 percent to 47 percent among “definite” voters.

Given only the choice of Clinton or Trump, 88 percent of Democrats supported Clinton, but in the four-way race, just 76 percent supported Clinton, while 8 percent picked the Green Party’s Stein and 5 percent the Libertarian Johnson. Some 83 percent of Republican respondents backed Trump in a head to head against Clinton, but given the other options, Trump got 80 percent of that group, while 8 percent picked Johnson and 2 percent Stein.

The Marist poll points to some problems for Clinton with Bernie Sanders holdouts. 82 percent of Democratic respondents had a favorable opinion of the nominee, 14 percent unfavorable; her numbers were far worse with respondents identifying themselves as very or somewhat liberal (66 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable). A related phenomenon: Clinton’s favorability ratings among 18 to 29 year olds (who heavily preferred Sanders) were worse than in any other age range. Although she was underwater with every age group, she had the best favorable ratings from respondents over age 60.

On the flip side, 25 percent of Republicans had an unfavorable view of Trump, as did 39 percent of those identifying themselves as conservative or very conservative. His favorability ratings were terrible in every age group, but were almost as bad among those over 60 (27 percent favorable) as among those between 18 and 29 years old (24 percent favorable).

Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine was viewed favorably by 32 percent of the registered voters, while 25 percent viewed him unfavorably, 12 percent had never heard of him, and 30 percent were unsure.

Trump’s running mate Mike Pence’s numbers were similar: 36 percent favorable, 25 unfavorable, 12 percent never heard of him, and 26 percent unsure.

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