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January 19th, 2010

Leaked Republican Primary Poll Shows Branstad with Big Lead

Branstad RPIA strategic polling memo that was intended to be shared with donors of former Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign was leaked to a few media outlets, including yesterday afternoon.

The memo, which was written by Branstad campaign manager Jeff Boeyink, discloses internal polling data that was collected from January 10th through January 12th. The polling data shows Branstad garnering 63% of the primary vote, while his closest primary challenger, Bob Vander Plaats received support of 18% of respondents. The poll shows Chris Rants with 4% of the vote and Rod Roberts with 2%.

The poll results are surprising because many people have assumed that Bob Vander Plaats would be supported by a greater percentage of primary voters. In poll in June, Branstad was supported by 35%, while Vander Plaats finished a close second with 31%.

The dynamics of the Republican gubernatorial primary have changed substantially since the TIR poll was taken. The biggest changes are that Branstad is now an actual announced candidate and the field of candidates has shrunk from seven candidates down to four.

The memo states that the poll was conducted by Hill Research. That is the same firm that conducted the poll for the Iowa First Foundation. Hill is a respectable pollster who has long-time connections to Branstad and the state of Iowa. In addition to the strong numbers in support of Branstad, the other number that jumps out is the survey size.

A sample size of 750 is much larger than most statewide polls. Typically statewide samples are 500 to 600 people. Most national polls have a survey size of 1000. The 750 likely primary voters provides very reliable sample.

While Vander Plaats numbers in this poll may be lower than they actually are, the most troubling aspect for his campaign is that Rants and Roberts combine to garner less than 10% of the vote. For Vander Plaats to win the June primary, he will need Chris Rants and/or Rod Roberts to garner a significant percentage of the vote. There is no doubt in my mind that Vander Plaats can easily pull 30 to 35% of the vote in the primary, but that’s not going to be enough if Rants and Roberts only combine to garner 25 to 30% of the vote.

Even if Vander Plaats garners 35%, and Rants and Roberts split another 25%, Branstad would lilkey win with 40% of the vote. While Vander Plaats might not have any problem getting to 35%, finding another five to ten percent might be very difficult, especially given the perception that he is a one issue candidate.

Below is the leaked memo that was written by Branstad’s campaign manager Jeff Boeyink.

As you are aware, we have been in the field with a poll of primary voting Republicans to test the current four-way race in the gubernatorial primary.


Hill Research Consultants
Survey dates: 1/10 through 1/12
N=750 Iowa Republicans who are very likely to vote in the June 8 primary

Here are the top-line results:

Four Way Primary Test

Terry Branstad 63%
Strongly 42%

Bob Vander Plaats 18%
Strongly 10%

Christopher Rants 04%
Strongly 02%

Rod Roberts 02%
Strongly 00%

I will have additional top lines and cross tabs to share with you later in the week. However, as we are kicking off the official start of the campaign this week I wanted to share this encouraging news.

Combine these results with the unprecedented fund raising accomplished in 2009 and our campaign has certainly started off in the right direction and with great momentum.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the kick-off event tomorrow and later in the week as we hold events in your respective areas.

Please give me a call if you have any questions.

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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