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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