2016 Caucus

February 26th, 2015

Parsing the Polls: The Presidential Primary and What’s Branstad’s Popularity Now?

Scott Walker iowa freedom summit

Political polling is tricky. Often times, during the midst of a polling session or before the results are published, something happens that makes the poll obsolete. Such is the case with a new Iowa poll conducted by Quinnipiac University.

The new Q-poll, released on Tuesday, showed Governor Branstad with a 59 percent approval rating in Iowa. If Quinnipiac waited another week to conduct the poll, those numbers might be significantly different. Branstad and his Republican colleagues in the Iowa House and Senate have drawn a lot of ire over the past 48 hours.

Many conservatives are outraged that the Iowa Legislature rammed through a 10-cent per gallon gas tax increase on Tuesday and that Governor Branstad quickly signed the bill Wednesday. Branstad’s action allows the tax increase to go into effect almost immediately.

Starting this Sunday, March 1, Iowans will be paying more at the pump. The net result is basically a billion dollar tax increase spread over the next five years. Average Iowans will pay an additionally $130 or so at the pump per year.

The anger from Iowa conservatives is not just due to the tax increase, but also the heavy-handed way it was rammed through in the House. The lack of attempts to find alternatives to raising taxes and the expeditious manner in which Governor Branstad signed the bill are also eliciting plenty of criticism.

Will Terry Branstad’s approval rating still be over 50 percent if Iowans are polled next week? It’s hard to say, but it is highly unlikely Branstad’s popularity remains nearly as high. There would likely be a dramatic shift in support from Republicans.

Meanwhile, the presidential polling in Iowa is nothing short of schizophrenic. Although Scott Walker is the odds-on favorite to win the First-in-the-Nation caucuses at the moment, there is not even a consensus on that matter.

Out of the four major Iowa Caucus polls taken over the past 30 days, Walker leads three of them. Mike Huckabee led in the NBC/Marist poll, with Walker in third place, behind Jeb Bush.

The results ranking the rest of the field are a jumbled mess. Huckabee earns double-digit support in three of the polls, but just seven percent and a tie for fifth place in the Gravis Marketing survey. Rand Paul is among the leaders in three polls, but in fifth place according to NBC/Marist.

Ben Carson is tied for third in the Quinnipiac poll, seventh in Gravis, tied for fifth according to NBC/Marist and fourth according to the Register/Bloomberg survey.

What does it all mean? Basically, nothing. They might be fun to talk about, but the polls are fairly irrelevant at this point. Scott Walker has the edge in Iowa right now, but the race is wide open. Most GOP caucusgoers have not settled on a candidate and it is a long time until the 2016 Iowa Caucuses take place.

Neither Mike Huckabee nor Rick Santorum were anywhere among the leaders until late in the races in 2008 and 2012. Somehow, they emerged from the pack and won Iowa.

National presidential polls are even more meaningless. The GOP leader for most of 2007 was Rudy Giuliani. The top Democrat was Hillary Clinton. Giuliani never came close and Clinton finished third in Iowa. So, although Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leads the pack in Iowa and nationally right now, being on top might not be the most enviable position for a presidential contender at this point.

Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for TheIowaRepublican.com.

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