If you listen to leading national forecasters, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Kim Reynolds are in no danger of losing this November. Inside Elections, the Cook Political Report, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball all put Iowa’s elections for Senate and governor in the “solid” or “safe” Republican category.
But last week, Mike Franken’s Senate campaign released partial results from an internal poll showing the Democrat within striking distance of Grassley. And the only poll of the governor’s race released this year showed Reynolds ahead of Democrat Deidre DeJear by just 8 points.
In past election cycles, media organizations commissioned more frequent political surveys. For instance, Survey USA tracked approval ratings for Iowa’s senators and governor on a monthly basis during the 2000s.
Unfortunately, polling has been another casualty of newsroom budget cuts. While campaign coverage should not focus excessively on the horse race, occasional independent snapshots of public opinion are important. Otherwise conventional wisdom can lead to genuinely competitive races being overlooked.