Looking at today’s Iowa Poll we can say one thing for certain.  Things are not looking good for Governor Chet Culver (and that may be an understatement).  His approval rating is only at 40%, and he is behind in two head to head match-ups with former Governor Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats.

In a head to head match-up Branstad leads Culver by 23 pts – 57% to 33%.  Branstad leads with independents and even has the support of one out of five Democrats.  Vander Plaats leads Culver by a closer margin of 8 points – 45% to 37%.  Looking at the Des Moines Register graphic below we see that he isn’t in good shape with other candidates either.

Even against Representative Chris Rants and Christian Fong he only polls at 42% with an 7 and 8 point lead respectively.  Well, based on my title you are probably wondering how in the world could this be bad news for Branstad?  It isn’t.  The Branstad campaign has every right to feel confident in a general election.

My contention is that this poll also puts a hole in an argument seen prior to Branstad getting into the race – that he was the only one who was electable.  Clearly this poll shows that Vander Plaats can also win.  Rants and Fong, while behind in a head to head, are not that far behind, and with 18% not sure how they would vote in a Culver – Rants match up, as well as, 20% not sure with a Culver-Fong match-up – there’s a lot of voters up for grabs.

Clearly Branstad’s strength is name recognition, but he also has of the Republican candidates the highest unfavorable rating (22%).  The problem is that most people don’t know Vander Plaats (64% are unsure of him), Rants (75%) and Fong (84%).  They don’t currently have name recognition, but how might that change in the weeks and the months to come?

So for now it looks like Branstad’s toughest challenge will be winning the primary, and his primary argument looks a little less convincing.

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  1. All the Democrats in the State being in favor of Branstad won’t benefit him in the Republican Primary! As a Republican, it is a question of whether I want a “new” candidate or a “retread” candidate! My experience with “retreads” is that eventually that tread comes apart and falls off! 🙂 Hopefully we get a series of Debates to better see the comparison between them.
    I am getting tired of Politicians taking polls to see what we care about and running on those issues, then when they get elected they become themselves again, but I don’t know what we can do about fixing that!

    1. @Don, Well, I agree with you to a point… those who deal in mostly pragmatic fashion will say – he’s got the best chance to win. It depends on how many of those folks make out to the polls when the primary rolls around.

      I don’t think having a “throwback” candidate is the way forward either, and as far as taking polls… well this particular one was done by The Des Moines Register. I think candidates will always do polling because it helps them determine whether or not they are hitting the right issues. That’s why you have to go beyond sound bytes and actually get to know the candidates, go to their website, go to events and talk with them. Figure out whether they share your principles.

      The best candidates are the ones out there meeting people… and so far Branstad isn’t doing much of that either. It’ll be interesting when they actually have a debate, I hope they do.

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