Two polls show small Trump lead in Iowa

Donald Trump is slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton among likely voters in Iowa, according to two polls that were in the field this week. The latest Simpson College/RABA Research poll shows Trump beating Clinton by 44 percent to 41 percent in a five-way race, with 5 percent of respondents supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson, 2 percent each for the Green Party's Jill Stein and independent Evan McMullin, and 6 percent unsure. Head to head, Trump leads Clinton by 46 percent to 44 percent.

Today Emerson College released Iowa numbers showing Trump ahead in a four-way race by 44 percent to 41 percent, with 5 percent for Johnson, 4 percent for Stein and 5 percent undecided. Emerson does not appear to have polled a two-way race.

Strangely, neither survey shows a large difference between men's and women's voting preferences in Iowa, despite data (and common sense) indicating that this year's presidential race is shaping up to have the largest gender gap in history. RABA Research found men break for Trump 46-37 in a five-way race and 50-40 head to head, while women support Clinton 44-42 in a larger field and 47-43 against Trump alone. Emerson College's results: a 45-41 advantage for Trump among men and a 44-42 lead for Clinton among women. I find those numbers very difficult to believe.

I enclose below more findings and notes on methodology from the new polls. Most disturbing, from Simpson College/RABA Research: only 66 percent of respondents said "Americans are ready for a woman to be president." Some 20 percent said Americans are not ready, the rest were unsure. The cross-tabs show 37 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of Iowans over age 65, and 26 percent of those without a college degree say the country isn't ready for a woman president.

Don't forget to enter Bleeding Heartland's election prediction contest.

At least a third of Iowans who will vote this year have already returned their ballots. Click here for tables showing the latest early vote totals. Iowa Democrats will go into election day with a significant absentee ballot lead, but smaller than the cushion Barack Obama had in 2012.

From the Simpson College/RABA Research memo:

“Donald Trump’s base is sticking with him, even after the recent tape revealing his lewd comments about women,” said Kedron Bardwell, chair of Simpson’s political science department. “His lead with non-college voters and men surpasses Clinton’s lead with college-educated voters and women. If GOP turnout holds up, those groups will be key to the party’s chances in Iowa.”

While Trump generally is viewed as struggling with young voters, the poll found that one-third of Iowa voters under age 30 are supporting Trump – and that number grows to 4 in 10 in the two-way race.

Clinton has a modest lead with women, younger voters, and college educated voters. Trump enjoys a 9-point lead among men, and a 13-point lead among Iowa voters without a college education.

“Iowa is again proving to be one of the closest states in the country,” said Republican Tim Albrecht, a RABA Research partner based in Des Moines. “This is a margin-of error race, right down to the wire. We could be in for a late night on Tuesday.”

The survey indicates that Iowans, who until 2014 had never elected a woman to the U.S. House or Senate, largely support the idea of a woman president, with 66% saying the country is ready, and 20% saying it is not. Among Republicans, however, more than 56% would not say definitively that the United States was ready for a woman president. College-educated voters are far more likely to say that America is ready for a woman president (60-point net) than those without a college education (32-point net).

Despite a national conversation about the possibility of the elections being “rigged,” 74 percent of Iowa voters have confidence in the fairness and accuracy of the Iowa contest. The only subgroup to have significant concerns with the election’s integrity seems to be voters under 30, with 1 in 4 saying they’re not confident that the results will be fair.

When respondents were asked whether the political parties represented their views better than a third party could, 64% of respondents agreed, while 23% believe neither party represents their views as well as a third party would. Notably, 41% of young voters said a third party would better represent their views than the Democrats or Republicans.

The statewide poll was taken Nov. 1 and 2, entirely after the latest revelations from the FBI concerning Hillary Clinton. 1,076 likely voters were contacted on landlines via IVR technology, with live calls to cell phones and additional cell phone-only households surveyed online. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

From the Emerson College polling memo:

Trump leads Clinton 44% to 41%, with Gary Johnson at 5%, Jill Stein at 4% and 5% of voters still undecided.

Voter sentiment has barely budged since an Emerson poll in early September found Trump leading by 5 points, 44% to 39%. Clinton’s 2-point gain since then has come from a reshuffling of Stein and Johnson supporters and Undecided voters.

Trump and Clinton are closely splitting the Independent vote, with Clinton winning 40% to Trump’s 37%. The gender gap is also very modest. Men prefer Trump over Clinton, 45% to 41%, while women favor Clinton 44% to 42%. However, voters’ opinion of Trump is more positive. He has a net -4 favorability rating compared to Clinton’s net -28.

Emerson College poll methodology:

The Emerson College poll for Iowa was conducted November 1-3 under the Supervision of Professor Spencer Kimball. The sample consisted of only likely general election voters, n=700, with a margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.6 percentage points. The Iowa data was weighted by 2012 election results, party affiliation, age, and district. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age and party breakdowns carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only. The full methodology and results can be found at

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