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July 9th, 2009

53% of Iowans Want a New Governor

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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culverpoll1A new statewide poll shows that 53% of Iowans are ready to give someone else the opportunity to lead the state as Iowa’s Governor. Only 36% of those surveyed feel that Governor Chet Culver deserves to be re-elected. The poll was conducted by Voter/Consumer Research and was commissioned by in conjunction with Concordia Group LLC, an Iowa based public affairs company. The poll surveyed 500 Iowans on July 2nd, and July 5-6th.

The news of Governor Culver’s political vulnerability comes on the heels of a report from the Legislative Services Agency that shows a $161 million deficit for the fiscal year 2009 budget, which came to a close at the end of last month. Governor Culver has refused to address the state’s budget issues directly like Tom Vilsack did in 2001 when he faced a similar budget deficit as Governor. Unlike Vilsack, Governor Culver has taken a “wait and see” approach in hopes that the economy will rebound.

While Governor Culver can wait until September before he is forced to deal with the state budget mess he created during his first term in office, doing so may cost the first-term Governor dearly at the ballot box next November. Despite being seen as likeable leader by those surveyed, Iowans are ready to give the reins of leadership to someone new.

Question: Please tell me whether you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Governor Chet Culver.

Favorable: 48%
Unfavorable: 41%

The 48% favorable number for Governor Culver is comprised of 13% who were strongly favorable and 35% were somewhat favorable. His 41% unfavorable number is comprised of 24% were strongly unfavorable and 17% somewhat unfavorable. Any time an incumbent governor has a favorability rating of under 50%, he is in trouble.

While a number of job approval polls have shown Governor Culver’s job approval rating to be as low as 42%, poll shows Governor Culver with a 53% approval rating. Just like the Governor’s favorability rating, the vast majority of people who approve of the job he has done only somewhat approve.

Question: Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the job done by Chet Culver as Governor?

Approve: 53%
Disapprove: 41%

Only 10% of respondents strongly approve of the job Governor Culver has done, while 43% somewhat approve. Twenty-two percent of respondents strongly disapprove of Culver’s performance, and 19% somewhat disapprove.

While some may see this as a positive sign for the Governor, a majority of Iowans have had enough of Chet Culver and are ready to make a change in leadership.

Question: Do you believe Chet Culver has performed his job as Governor well enough to deserve re-election or is it time to give someone else the chance to do better?

Deserves Re-Election: 36%
Give Someone Else the Chance: 53%
Don’t Know: 10%
Other: 1%

This number is especially damaging to Governor Culver. While people might feel that the Governor is a nice guy and might not blame him for everything the state has had to deal with during his time in office, when asked if they want to let someone else have a chance to lead the state, a majority of Iowans opt for someone other than Culver. To further understand why respondents could give Governor Culver a positive job approval rating but overwhelmingly not want to re-elect him, one only need to look at the unpopular agenda Governor Culver has pushed.

Question: Under Chet Culver, state spending has increased over 20 percent, leaving the state with a $1 billion deficit.

Support: 8%
Against: 71%
Issue Doesn’t Matter, Don’t Know, DNR: 17%

Fifty-three percent of respondents polled were strongly against the increase in spending under Culver’s watch.

Question: Chet Culver tried to end Iowa’s right to work laws and other issues pushed by labor unions, who were big contributors to his campaign.

Support: 17%
Against: 50%
Issue Doesn’t Matter, Don’t Know, DNR: 32%

Question: Under Chet Culver student performance in math and science is now lower than most other states, including New Jersey.

Support: 6%
Against: 58%
Issue Doesn’t Matter, Don’t Know, DNR: 36%

Question: Traditionally Iowa has had a pay-as-you-go policy on new projects, but Chet Culver has borrowed $1 billion to fund new infrastructure and other state projects pulling Iowa further into debt.

Support: 15%
Against: 63%
Issue Doesn’t Matter, Don’t Know, DNR: 22%

With Culver’s agenda being opposed by a majority of Iowans, its no wonder that most people think that the state is headed in the wrong direction.

Question: As of right now, do you believe things in Iowa are going in the right direction or have they gotten off the wrong track?

Right Direction: 36%
Wrong Track: 47%
Mixed: 5%
Other: 12%

It seems apparent that Iowans want to support Governor Culver, but the agenda he has adopted and his unwillingness to deal with the state’s budget problems have given them no other option but to look to someone else to lead the state.

Bob Haus, a longtime GOP activist and Iowa campaign advisor said, “Iowans have come to the conclusion that Chet Culver is sort of affable, but not very capable. Iowans want a leader, someone who can guide us out of the worst economic crisis in a generation. What they see is not a leader, but someone who acts like an impetuous teenager turned loose with a billion dollar credit card.”

Iowans have not voted out an incumbent Governor since 1962. Many in the media believe this is a result of the power of incumbency in Iowa. While incumbency brings a number of advantages, the political success of Iowa’s previous leaders should be attributed to their ability to build consensus and trust with the people of Iowa.

The poll results are very clear; Governor Culver has failed to put forward an agenda of which the people of Iowa approve. Making matters worse, Governor Culver has created budget deficits and failed to take the necessary steps to make state government live within its means.

With a bad economy, an unresolved budget deficit from last year, and a billion dollar budget gap in the current budget, Governor Culver’s re-election effort is in serious trouble. Not only have Republican and Independents seen enough to want to go in a new direction, but a considerable amount of Democrats have turned away from the first-term Governor. Iowans could be poised to do something they have not done in almost 50 years, throw out an incumbent Governor.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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