afp-nro-iowa-us-senate-debate
GOP U.S. Senate candidates at the AFP/NRO debate. From Left: Sam Clovis, Joni Ernst, Matt Whitaker, Paul Lunde, AFP Iowa State Director Mark Lucas, Scott Schaben, and David Young (Not pictured: Mark Jacobs).

The Conservative Intelligence Briefing released a poll that suggests Republicans running for Iowa Senate will have a tighter general election race that previous polling has indicated.

The poll conducted on November 23-24, 2013 by Harper Polling of 985 likely voters has a margin of error of +/- 3.12%.

On the generic ballot those polled preferred a Republican over a Democrat candidate 42.01% to 37.95%.  14.95% of those polled said they were not sure.

Name recognition will be the primary weakness for Republican candidates.  Only 18.96% of those polled never heard of Bruce Braley.  Contrast that with 58.48% who had never heard of Sam Clovis, 54.83% for Joni Ernst, 52.71% for Mark Jacobs, 53.59% for Matt Whitaker, and 65.38% for David Young  (the percentages were high even among Republicans polled with every over 40%, Young had the least name ID).  Scott Schaben and Paul Lunde were not included in the poll.

Head to head match ups show Braley ahead in every contest, but by smaller margins:

  • Braley leads Clovis by almost six points – 40.25% to 34.81% (24.94% are unsure)
  • Braley leads Ernst by a little over seven – 41.91% to 35.96% (22.12% are unsure)
  • Braley leads Jacobs by little under five points – 41.48% to 36.51% (22.01% are unsure)
  • Matt Whitaker polls the closes with Braley leading Whitaker by a little over 3 points just outside the margin of error – 40.87% to 37.50% (21.63% are unsure).
  • Braley leads Young by seven points – 41.06% to 35.01% (23.93% being unsure)

While this seems like good news I can’t get excited about this poll and here’s why.

Here is the party affiliation of those polled: Republican 37.77%, Democrats 34.62%, and Independent/Other Party 27.61%.

Here is the November voter registration numbers: Republicans – 616,918, Democrats – 616,295, No Party – 714,426.  Republicans and Democrats should be pretty much even.  It’s weighed too heavily towards Republicans.  If anything it should have been weighted towards independents/other party.  The ideal breakdown would have been Republicans 31.68%, Democrats 31.66% and Independent/Other Party – 36.68%.  Admittedly they’re factoring in possible voter turnout, and mid-term elections usually favor the party that doesn’t hold the White House, but I’m still not confident of this poll.

That said, the Public Policy polling was also skewed, slightly, the other way – Democrats – 38%, Republican – 37% and Independent/other – 25%.  In Iowa it’s definitely the independents who can make or break a general election.

All that to say, I have yet to see polling I trust for this particular race.

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