Political newcomer Matt Schultz leads incumbent Secretary of State Mike Mauro in TheIowaRepublican.com Battleground Poll. Schultz leads Mauro 33% to 30%, but the poll also shows that 35% of those surveyed have not made up their minds about the race.
Schultz told TheIowaRepublican.com, “These numbers are encouraging, but it won’t change what I’m doing. I have always campaigned as if I am 20 points behind, and I won’t stop working hard.”
Schultz’ surprising strength in the poll can be attributed to Mauro’s obscurity across the state. As a first term incumbent, Mauro hasn’t built the name ID that Attorney General Tom Miller and State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald have during their three decades in office. On top of that, Mauro has done very little since being elected in 2006 to introduce himself to voters outside of Polk County.
When you look at the break down of the polling results by congressional district, Schultz beats Mauro in three of the five districts. He beats Mauro in the 1st, 4th, and 5th congressional districts, while Mauro wins in the 2nd and 3rd districts. Democrats have a strong voter registration advantage in areas where Mauro is the strongest. Mauro also served as the Polk County Auditor for nine years before being elected Secretary of State, so one would expect him to do well in the 3rd District.
Still, Mauro only beats Schultz in the 3rd District by a few points, which is surprising. However, if you look at the numbers broken down by media market, Schultz narrowly outperforms Mauro in the Des Moines market, a clear sign that the incumbent is in serious trouble. Mauro’s strongest support is found in Iowa’s 2nd District, where he leads Schultz by over 12 points.
For all intents and purposes, Republicans should look at this race as an open seat instead of a challenger race. Mary Ann Hanusa, the Republican nominee for Secretary of State in 2006, garnered 45% of the vote that year, despite not starting her campaign until mid-August.
As we all know, 2006 was a horrible year for Republicans, but Hanusa ran strong against the better-funded Mauro. She also performed better at the ballot box than Jim Nussle, who was the Republican gubernatorial nominee that year.
Mauro is an incredibly weak incumbent who was swept into office during the Democratic wave of 2006. Making matters worse for Mauro is that he now faces a young, energetic opponent in Schultz who has shown a willingness to confront him on a set of fundamental issues that speaks right to the electorate.
When speaking with TheIowaRepublican.com, Schultz highlighted some of the issues he has been talking about on the campaign trail. “This campaign is about real issues and what’s right and wrong. My opponent supports giving felons the right to vote and is against requiring a photo ID when we vote at the polls. While voter fraud continues to threaten the security of our elections, Mauro is more interested in protecting his salary. Iowans want leadership and are tired of career politicians who are out of touch,” Schultz said.
While Schultz is also unknown , he is aided by the current political landscape that favors Republicans this fall. He is also a more effective campaigner that Hanusa was during her campaign. Schultz added, “Iowa needs a Secretary of State who is committed to fighting to protect our elections and advocate for jobs and business. When I am elected Secretary of State, I will fight for accountability in our elections by requiring a photo ID when we vote.”
Schultz’s message of securing our elections by requiring people to show a photo ID to vote and implementing a voter fraud hotline plays well with people following the ACORN corruption that is still fresh in people’s minds following the 2008 elections.
While Schultz has a slim lead over Mauro in the polls, he also has a lot of work to do before November. The reason why Schultz fares better in his poll than Findley and Jamison did is because Schultz’s opponent is basically as unknown as he is. That means that, if he has the ability to build his name ID across the state, he is the most likely down-ballot statewide Republican candidate to win this November.
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