Suffolk University's new poll of Iowa "likely voters" shows Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton by 41 percent to 40 percent in a two-way race and by 37 percent to 36 percent in a field including Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson (6 percent) and the Green Party's Jill Stein (3 percent). Suffolk's news release noted that 53 percent of respondents expect Clinton to win the election, while 31 percent think Trump will win, and 16 percent were unsure. A higher share of respondents thought Trump was "honest and trustworthy" (34 percent) than said the same of Clinton (29 percent). Johnson did best in Iowa's southwest counties, while Stein had 9 percent support among respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, a group presumably including a lot of Bernie Sanders backers.
After the jump I've posted a few more numbers that caught my eye from Suffolk's full results and cross-tabs, along with excerpts from Jason Noble's reports for the Des Moines Register this week on the likely paths to victory for Trump and Clinton in Iowa.
Suffolk found U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley ahead of Democratic challenger Patty Judge by 52 percent to 42 percent--the same margin as in the Marist poll released Tuesday. However, the Marist survey indicated a slight lead for Clinton in the presidential race. Grassley's favorability numbers in the Suffolk poll were good for an incumbent on the ballot: 54.4 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable. Judge was not nearly as well known, with 32.4 percent of respondents expressing a favorable opinion and 27.8 percent an unfavorable one.
Suffolk surveyed 500 respondents who "indicated they were very or somewhat likely to vote in the 2016 general election" between August 8 and 10, using live telephone interviews. The statistical margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
You can read the full questionnaire here.
President Barack Obama's approval numbers were lower (43 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove), than Marist found in its latest Iowa survey. History suggests that the president's approval ratings affect the chances of his party retaining control of the White House.
Favorability ratings for Clinton and Trump were roughly the same in Suffolk's survey: 37.8 percent favorable/57.2 percent unfavorable for Clinton, and 36 percent/55 percent for Trump. Without question, these are the most unpopular major-party nominees in recent history.
The gender gap was huge, with Clinton leading a two-way race with Trump by 50 percent to 36 percent among women respondents, and Trump leading among men in the sample by 47 percent to 29 percent. In the Senate race, Grassley led Judge by 47 percent to 46 percent among women but by 58 percent to 38 percent among men.
Trump led self-identified independents by 37 percent to 31 percent, with 29 percent undecided. In a four-way race, independent respondents split 32 percent for Trump, 24 percent for Clinton, 8 percent for Johnson, and 2 percent for Stein.
Polls have repeatedly shown non-college-educated whites as a strong base of support for Trump. Iowa Republicans see traditional working-class areas as critical this fall. From Jason Noble's August 10 story, "Disaffected workers, disenchanted Democrats key for Trump in Iowa."
“Day-to-day workers — farmers and machinists, guys who work at John Deere and get their hands dirty everyday — feel like they’ve been left out,” state Sen. Mark Chelgren [of Ottumwa] said. “They no longer feel like they have a voice, and they’re frustrated.”
Trump, Chelgren said, “is saying the right things to that constituency.” [...]
They’re union workers and union retirees, factory workers and tradesmen, campaign aides and Iowa operatives say. And they’re largely found in eastern Iowa: small manufacturing cities like Newton, Ottumwa and Marshalltown and Mississippi River towns from Dubuque in the north through Clinton, the Quad Cities, Muscatine and Burlington in the south.
“I would spend every bit of time in the Lee counties of the world, the places with manufacturing and union households,” said Jeff Boeyink, a Republican operative who ran Gov. Terry Branstad’s 2010 campaign. “I’d be in every blue-collar, building-trade county in the state.” [...]
Beyond identifying new Republican voters, Trump must also shore up Iowa’s socially conservative GOP base and lock down votes across its rural agricultural expanses. [...]
“The question becomes: Will they turn out and go to work for candidate Trump?” Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats said. “It’s not just about winning Sioux County or Lyon County or O’Brien or Plymouth County. It’s about driving up the numbers in those counties.”
Nationally and in Iowa, Clinton is beating Trump among voters with college degrees. That's one reason I expect her to outperform President Barack Obama in suburban areas, even in a very close statewide election. Noble's August 9 report focused on suburbs as the key to Clinton's "path to victory" here. I particularly enjoyed this wishful thinking from Iowa GOP leader Jeff Kaufmann.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann acknowledged that suburban voters and women in particular may be “skeptical” of Trump, but he said the GOP candidate’s emphasis on security and record of promoting women in his business empire could help change minds.
“If Trump’s message to suburbans is, ‘I look at talent, not gender, and I want to protect your kids,’ I can't think of a stronger message than that to change some skeptical minds of suburban soccer moms,” Kaufmann said.
The prosperous and well-educated communities surrounding Iowa’s urban centers — think Ankeny and Waukee in the Des Moines metro and Marion or Hiawatha outside Cedar Rapids — are seen as perhaps the key battlegrounds in the entire state. Suburban moms will be a key focus of the Clinton campaign’s outreach to female voters, while independent and even Republican-leaning suburbanites of either gender are seen as winnable if Clinton can draw the right contrast with Trump.
Good luck selling Trump's message to suburban women as "I look at talent, not gender, and I want to protect your kids." Trump continually demeans women. When asked to name potential female cabinet secretaries, he couldn't name anyone other than his daughter Ivanka. He also suggested last week that if a woman is sexually harassed at work, the answer is to find another job. I've never seen a major-party candidate as repellent to women as Trump.