image A poll was conducted for the American Action Forum of 400 likely voters in Iowa’s Third Congressional District on August 16-18 by Ayres, McHenry & Associates, Inc.  They found that even though State Senator Brad Zaun’s name id is less (71%) than incumbent Congressman Leonard Boswell’s (D-IA) (98%) Zaun still leads Congressman Boswell by 10 points.  They also found that among those surveyed 62% said that it was time for somebody else to represent the district.

This indicates a three point increase in his lead from the polling done earlier this month by the Polk County Republicans, and reflects the same margin from internal polling the Zaun campaign conducted in June.

Some key results that the polling firm found were:

1. The economy is the most important issue in a top-of-mind question, while controlling government spending is similarly important in a close-ended question. In response to an open-ended question, 47 percent of voters name the economy as the most important issue (9 percent name government spending and 8 percent name health care reform). When presented with seven options in a closed-ended question, 25 percent of voters say “creating new jobs” is most likely to affect their vote for Congress, 25 percent say “controlling government spending,”and 18 percent say “making Washington, DC more accountable.”

2. Voters associate the positive characteristics tested with Zaun. Voters say “will work to get government spending under control” (48 to 17 percent), “will fight to keep taxes low” (46 to 17 percent), “has new ideas that will change our country for the better” (44 to 14 percent), “will promote policies that are good for the economy” (39 to 23 percent), “will do the right thing to fix the health care reform bill” (37 to 27 percent), and “is honest and trustworthy” (32 to 24 percent) better describe Zaun than Boswell.

3. Boswell’s sponsorship and comment regarding earmarks are his greatest tested weakness. Forty-four percent of voters say they would be much less likely to support Boswell because he “sponsored nearly one hundred fifty million dollars in earmarks as the federal budget deficit rose to record levels, and said, ‘If there is someone that doesn’t want an earmark, give it to me,’” (15 percent say somewhat less likely and 32 percent say it has no real effect), 41 percent would be much less likely to support him because he “voted for ObamaCare, the Democratic health care reform bill” (12 percent say somewhat less likely and 42 percent say no real effect), and 40 percent would be much less likely to support him because he “voted for bailouts of the banking and auto industries, which could cost taxpayers billions of dollars” (18 percent somewhat less likely and 38 percent no real effect).

4. Voters in the district view Barack Obama unfavorably and give Nancy Pelosi a two-to-one unfavorable rating. President Obama draws a 43 to 52 percent favorable to unfavorable rating, while Speaker Pelosi draws a 28 to 60 percent rating.

This polling was done before the Des Moines Register hit piece last week, and Zaun’s statement in response.  We don’t know how much that will impact the race, but even so things are looking good for Zaun as people are looking for a change, only 31% of those surveyed believed that Boswell deserved to be reelected.  If the three polls released this summer indicate the true state of the race (and I believe they do) it’s not surprising that dirt is flying.  It isn’t like Boswell can run on his record or the issues.    Another thing that jumped out at me is that only 8% were undecided.  That’s slightly more than a 50% decrease compared to the last poll  with undecided voters (with 27% undecided the poll before that) it appears that this race is tightening up.

Also interesting is that Zaun leads among men (56% to 36%) and women (47% to 46%).  He also leads among independents (48% to 36%).  Both Zaun and Boswell had some of their own party go for the other guy (10% and 9% respectively).

Of those surveyed 31% identified themselves as Republican, 41% identified themselves as Independent (with 11% leaning Republican, 10% leaning Democrat), 25% identified themselves as Democrat.  51% identified themselves as conservative, 27% as moderate, and 20% identied themselves as liberal.  Gender was split 50/50.  A critique of this poll would be that it is heavier on self-identified Republicans and conservatives, while those numbers are growing I’m not convinced that the numbers accurately reflect the district.  Even so, the Polk County Republican poll which had more Democrats still showed Zaun leading.

As with any poll, ultimately the only one that counts is the one that takes place in November.

*Originally posted on 8/26/10 at 8:00p and has been updated.

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