2016 Caucus

August 31st, 2015

Thoughts on the latest Republican Iowa Poll


Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

The latest Iowa Poll from the Des Moines Register came out this weekend. The results for the Republicans and Democrats are equally fascinating. Below I will share some of my thoughts on the poll, but before we do that, I think it’s appropriate to look back at where things stood four years ago.

In late August of 2011, a Rasmussen Reports poll showed Texas Governor Rick Perry with an eleven-point lead over Michele Bachmann. Perry led Bachmann 29 to 18 percent. The Rasmussen poll also had Romney at 17 percent, Ron Paul at 17 percent and the eventual caucus winner, Rick Santorum, was polling at 4 percent.

What’s interesting to remember is that after Perry peaked in Iowa in late August, Herman Cain led the Iowa polls for most of October and November. Newt Gingrich was polling on top of the field by late November and December, and Romney and Paul took turns leading polls in the final three weeks before the caucuses.

To say the Iowa polls were volatile during the lead up to the 2012 caucuses would be an understatement. Still, the polls coincided with what was transpiring on the ground here in Iowa. That can also be said about the most recent Iowa Poll.

Where things currently stand:

Trump 23%
Carson 18%
Walker 8%
Cruz 8%
Rubio 6%
Bush 6%
Fiorina 5%
Huckabee 4%
Paul 4%
Christie 2%
Jindal 2%
Kasich 2%
Perry 1%
Santorum 1%

Some Quick Thoughts 

Donald Trump is his own self-fulfilling prophecy. By now we are used to The Donald telling us that he’s the greatest or that Hispanics, women, or even evangelical voters “love him.” Laugh all you want, but Trump is dominating the polls, and he has somehow found away to turn around a -41 favorability rating in January to a +26 favorability rating.

What’s more amazing than the turnaround of his polls numbers is the fact that Trump did it all while trashing everyone from John McCain to Megyn Kelly.

Dr. Ben Carson is the antithesis of Trump in his demeanor and how he campaigns in Iowa. Carson enjoys the best favorability numbers in the field with 79 percent of people having a favorable opinion of the retired neurosurgeon, while only 8 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. Carson is essentially undefined and likable. Carson is a big problem for social conservative candidates who are looking to mount a challenge to Trump like Texas Senator Ted Cruz or former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

The establishment is toxic. Slice up the poll however you wish, but the candidates who have never held public office, Trump, Carson, and Fiorina, garner 46 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich account for only 14 percent in the latest Iowa Poll. Ouch.

Grassroots organizing is always under represented in early polls. This is good news for the campaigns of Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul. Each of these campaigns have their own issues to overcome, but they have all invested in grassroots organizations in Iowa, which will pay dividends as the caucuses near.

Baffled by Walker’s poll numbers. The Iowa Poll has Walker tied for third place with eight percent. I understand that. I have long thought that the Walker campaign had squandered the early momentum they once enjoyed. It’s when you look closer that things get confusing.

Walker’s favorability is sky-high, the highest it’s ever been in the poll at 71 percent. His unfavorable number has inched up to 14 from 11 back in May, but that still gives him a +56 favorability rating. So if you believe the poll, people still like Walker, but his support has been cut in half. It’s odd, but so is this entire caucus season. 

I see opportunity for an establishment candidate not named Bush in Iowa. Bush’s favorable rating has gone from +28 in January to -5 today. The latest Iowa Poll shows that 50 percent of respondents have an unfavorable opinion of him. While it may seem like 2016 is going to be anti-establishment year, there is still plenty of mainstream Republican voters who are looking for a candidate to get them excited. There is an opportunity to capitalize on in Iowa for candidates like Rubio or Kasich. If neither of them makes a play for Iowa, they essentially are kicking the door open for Carly Fiorina.


About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, 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 TheIowaRepublican.com 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, TheIowaRepublcian.com. 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.

blog comments powered by Disqus