In a recent poll conducted by Hill Research Group for the Iowa First Foundation, former Governor Terry Branstad beat current Iowa Governor Chet Culver in a head-to-head match-up by 19 points. Branstad was supported by 53% of respondents, while Governor Chet Culver only garnered 34%. Branstad was the only prospective Republican general election candidate who beat Governor Culver in a head-to-head matchup.
The results of the Iowa First Foundation poll validate the findings of TheIowaRepublican.com poll that was conducted in early July. In TheIowaRepublican.com poll last month, Branstad beat Governor Culver in a head-to-head match-up by 53% to 37%. The troubling news for Governor Culver and his re-election team isn’t that a potential GOP candidate beats him by nearly 20 points, it’s that Culver’s polling numbers continue to slide.
In both the Iowa First Foundation Poll and TheIowaRepublican.com poll, Branstad was supported by 53% of respondents. Governor Culver’s numbers however have slipped from 37% in a head-to-head with Branstad to 34% in the Iowa First Foundation poll. Making matters worse, Culver’s level of support has slipped against the lesser know GOP gubernatorial candidates too.
In TheIowaRepublican.com poll, Culver garnered the support of 46% in head-to-head match-ups verses Rep. Chris Rants and 48% against Bob Vander Plaats. Now a month later, Culver’s polling numbers have dipped to 45% versus Rants and 44% against Vander Plaats. While Culver’s numbers only dropped by 1% in a match-up over Chris Rants, the four point drop in his match-up over Bob Vander Plaats is outside the poll’s margin of error, meaning it is a significant drop in support.
While Culver defeats the all the other GOP gubernatorial candidates in head-to-head matchups, he has not once broken the 50% threshold. In the Iowa First Foundation poll Culver is only able to garner 46% of the vote, which he did verses Rep. Rob Roberts and Christian Fong.
The Iowa First Foundation Poll also shows that that the generic ballot is now working against Governor Culver. For the first time in almost a decade, more people would rather vote for a Republican candidate for governor than a Democrat candidate.
Question: If the election for Governor were held today, and you had to make a choice, would you be voting for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate?
Thirty-eight percent chose the Republican candidates, while 35% chose the Democratic candidate. In the Iowa First Foundation Poll this past March, Democrats edged Republicans by a 37% to 33% margin, a dramatic reversal in just four months.
There is no way that Governor Culver, his re-election team, or Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan can spin Culver’s poll numbers. Knowing that, they have instead decided to attack the validity of the Iowa First Foundation and TheIowaRepublican.com polls. Media types, like Todd Dorman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register, have also tried to disregard the Iowa First Foundation’s polls because it included an over-sample of 200 Republican voters.
A poll containing an over-sample doesn’t mean that the poll is skewed. TheIowaRepublican.com poll contained an over-sample of 200 Republican primary voters just like the Iowa First Foundation poll used. There can be many reasons for over-sampling, but the main reason is that the pollster wants to ensure that enough members of the targeted group are included in the poll/survey to be statistically significant. In the case of TheIowaRepublican.com poll, an over-sample of Republicans was used to make sure the poll has a statistically significant group of Republican primary voters. If an over-sample wasn’t used the primary ballot test would have been unreliable because the sample size would have been small creating a margin of error near seven. The same is likely true for the Iowa First Foundation’s poll.
We now have seen the results of two separate polls from two reputable polling firms. Both polls showed Governor Chet Culver’s inability to even reach the 50% threshold in head-to-head match-ups against the most unknown GOP gubernatorial candidates.
Culver’s re-election is in serious trouble. He has advanced an agenda that is out-of-step with most Iowans, he has failed to address the state’s financial crisis that he has created, and he has lost the trust of many Iowans who simply don’t think he is competent or up to the job. With the current trend of his poll numbers, it will not be long until Culver’s support in head-to-head match-ups drops below 40%.
While former Governor Terry Branstad already has a comfortable 19 point lead over Governor Culver, by the first of next year, it is likely that other GOP gubernatorial candidates could also poll within the margin of error. Unless there is some sort of miraculous economic turnaround in the next twelve months, Governor Culver will be the first incumbent governor to be voted out of office in 46 years.
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