Iowa Republicans have seen more advertising against former President Donald Trump this year than GOP voters anywhere else in the country.
The Win It Back PAC, a super-PAC with “close ties” to the conservative advocacy group Club for Growth, spent more than $4 million over the summer to run six different television commercials in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City markets. The Republican Accountability PAC kicked in $1.5 million on its own series of tv ads in Iowa. AFP Action, an arm of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity network, has sent numerous mailings with anti-Trump messages to Iowa households and paid for dozens of Facebook ads seeking to convince Iowans the former president is unelectable. New groups have popped up to fund direct mail in Iowa attacking Trump on issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to COVID-19 policies to crime.
Nevertheless, Trump is as well positioned for the 2024 caucuses as ever, according to the latest Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register, NBC News, and Mediacom. Among those likely to attend the GOP caucuses in January, 43 percent support Trump, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley are tied for second place at 16 percent. No other candidate was in double digits.
Selzer’s findings are consistent with other recent polls of Iowa Republican caucus-goers, showing Trump ahead of DeSantis by at least 20 points and in most cases by more than 30 points.
One could argue the barrage of anti-Trump messages dented the front-runner’s appeal. His numbers in Iowa are lower than his support nationally, where he’s been hovering at or above 55 percent lately in presidential GOP primary polls.
But any early success from the television, direct mail, and digital ad blitz seems to have dissipated. Selzer’s polling suggests Trump’s level of support held steady among likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers: 42 percent in August, 43 percent in October. His lead over the second-place candidate grew from 23 points in August to 27 points this month. Trump’s supporters are also more enthusiastic and “locked in” than those leaning toward other presidential candidates.
The latest Iowa Poll validates the conclusions of research Win It Back PAC conducted this summer: most ads seeking to drive Republicans away from Trump either have no effect or increase his support among the target audience.