Last week, Rasmussen Reports released polling results from its recent survey on the Iowa gubernatorial race. The poll showed that Branstad continues to lead Governor Culver in a head-to-head matchup by 16 points. Branstad’s numbers were unchanged from Rasmussen’s previous survey.
Branstad has now maintained a double-digit lead over Culver for the better part of a year. Branstad’s strength in the polls is now being complimented by the campaign organization that he has been putting in place since the beginning of the year.
While Branstad’s numbers remained steady, the results for both Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts changed. Rod Roberts drew closer to Culver. The incumbent Governor leads Roberts by only two points. The poll shows momentum for Roberts, confirming what many Iowa political insiders have speculated about for the past month or so. The Des Moines Register poll in February showed Culver with a five-point lead over Roberts.
Since that time, Roberts has been running radio ads and has released an impressive list of legislative endorsements. He also has ratcheted up his rhetoric on the campaign trail. At the Mahaska County GOP event last Saturday, Roberts delivered the most forceful campaign speech I have seen him give this entire election cycle.
Bob Vander Plaats saw his numbers verses Governor Culver dip in the Rasmussen poll. In the February survey, Vander Plaats led Culver by six points, a number outside of the poll’s margin of error. In the latest survey, Vander Plaats only led Culver by two points.
While Roberts is picking up momentum and Branstad is maintaining his lead over Culver, the Rasmussen poll indicates that Vander Plaats campaign has stalled. It should come as no surprise that Vander Plaats’ slip in the polls coincides with his campaign’s shift in focus from social issues, such as life and gay marriage, to jobs and the economy.
Culver’s improved performance against Vander Plaats in the poll could also indicate that the Governor has solidified his numbers as he positions himself for the fall campaign. With an uneventful legislative session now behind him, Culver can now focus entirely on his re-election campaign.
Whether or not Culver can right the ship will depend on how the public perceives his key legislative priority, the I-Jobs program. While Republicans rightfully claim that that the proposal is nothing more than a big government borrowing scheme that hasn’t created any jobs, the public doesn’t really know what I-Jobs is.
That means that, if Republicans are not careful, Culver and the Democrats could spin perception of the program to aide them in the November elections. The January TIR-Concordia Group poll asked if people approved or disapproved of Governor Culver’s infrastructure bonding program. Only seven percent of the people approved of the program, while eleven percent disapproved. A stunning 82% didn’t know what the program was or hadn’t heard of it.
The survey then presented the respondents with two different positions on I-Jobs. One suggested that I-Jobs has created jobs, strengthened the economy and made Iowa a stronger, greener and smarter state. The other suggested that Iowa should always use a “pay as you go” system for all infrastructure, and that I-Jobs borrows a billion dollars without creating any sustainable private sector jobs and has saddled us with a billion dollars in new debt that our grandchildren will have to pay back. When given those two options, 27% thought I-Jobs is a good thing, while 40% say that it created debt and wasteful spending. Twenty-six percent remained undecided.
Governor Culver has very few things to tout while on the campaign trail. That’s why it’s critical for Republicans, especially our gubernatorial candidates, to continue to define Governor Culver’s key accomplishment as a boondoggle that has plunged Iowa into debt to the tune of $1 billion and created hardly any jobs.
While the legislative session just came to a conclusion yesterday, it’s more important than ever for Republicans to continue to define and expose Governor Culver’s horrendous record as this state’s chief executive. Failure to keep the focus on Culver between now and the primary could allow Culver the chance to recover from his poor polling numbers.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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