Poll: Iowans Like Branstad, Maybe Time for Someone Else

By James Lynch

CEDAR RAPIDS – Enough, already, seems to be Iowa voters' message for Gov. Terry Branstad.

They like him -- 51 to 33 percent, but a poll released this morning found that by a 46 to 43 percent margin they don't think he deserves a sixth four-year term, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,256 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. Live interviewers called land lines and cell phones July 15-17.

While Branstad's favorability numbers are up from 49 to 31 percent Quinnipiac found this past winter, the percentage of voters saying he's served long enough also has increased from 43 to 42 percent then to the 46-43 split more recently.

Branstad, a Republican, has yet to formally announce he's running for an unprecedented sixth non-consecutive term, but has amassed more than $2 million in his campaign treasury and has hired campaign staffers.

Although the favorability and "long enough" numbers are not good news for the governor, the poll results are not all doom and gloom for the governor.

"Iowans have a nuanced opinion about their off and on-again governor, who has spent a total of 19 years in office," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But by the barest of majorities -- 50 percent -- they like Branstad and think he does a good job, but at the same they time think he has been in office long enough.

"The question, should the governor seek another term, is whether their support for Branstad will in the end supersede voters' view that it's time for him to go," Brown said.

Although by 26 to 14 percent voters say Branstad's length of time in office makes them less likely rather than more like to vote for him, 58 percent say it does not matter to their vote.

Also working to the governor's advantage is that the field of potential challengers is composed of unknowns about whom four out of five voters don't know enough to have an opinion.

The three Democrats who are potential 2014 candidates for governor all face substantial efforts to introduce themselves to Iowa voters. The number of voters who don't know enough to form an opinion of Sen. Jack Hatch, Rep. Tyler Olson or Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal ranges from 77 percent to 92 percent.

"Not being well-known is a problem for candidates because in addition to having to sell their policy agenda they need to introduce themselves to the voters and that will require lots of money," said Brown.

Branstad's 51 to 33 percent approval rating includes the expected partisan splits but almost no gender gap. His score compares to a 49 to 31 percent rating in Quinnipiac University's May 23 survey.

Approval is 77 to 8 percent among Republicans and 50 to 33 percent among independent voters. Democrats disapprove 57 to 25 percent. Men approve 53 to 31 percent and women agree 48 to 34 percent.
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