Photo credit: Dave Davidson –
Photo credit: Dave Davidson -
Photo credit: Dave Davidson –

A Loras College Poll released today shows that State Senator Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak) is the clear frontrunner in the Iowa GOP U.S. Senate Primary leading 2nd place Mark Jacobs by 12 points.  In the previous poll completed by Loras College Ernst and Jacobs were tied.

“State Senator Ernst has captured momentum in this race and has opened up a substantial lead, according to our polling.  Whether it was from her recent notable ad campaigns and endorsements, or not, she is the clear frontrunner now,” said Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D.

Budzisz further commented that, “The Iowa GOP Senate Primary election appears to be a two person race at this point between Ernst and the trailing Jacobs, and it is highly unlikely that we are looking at a convention to decide the nomination.”

The poll results are:

  1. Joni Ernst 30.8 percent
  2. Mark Jacobs 19.3 percent
  3. Sam Clovis 9.5 percent
  4. Matt Whitaker 7.3 percent
  5. Scott Schaben 2.3 percent

29% of Iowa Republicans surveyed said they were still undecided.  The poll was conducted on May 12-13, 2014 surveying 600 likely Iowa GOP primary voters.  The poll has a 4% margin of error.

Budzisz noted that Ernst has dramatically increased her name recognition and favorables since the last poll was taken in early April.   Then only 24% had heard of her.  This new poll 52% of Republicans recognized her name.  Her favorability has increased from 24% to 51%.  He also noted that Jacobs still has the highest name recognition with 83% having heard of him, but he also has the highest unfavorable rating with 14%.

I would be interested to see Sam Clovis’ polling after this week’s endorsements by Steve Deace, Bob Vander Plaats, and Rick Santorum.  I would assume that he would have some movement.  He still struggles with name recognition with 48% of Iowa Republicans not recognizing his name.  Looking at this objectively with the primary a little over three weeks away it doesn’t look good for the Clovis or Whitaker campaigns.  I think if this were a caucus and not a primary things might be different, but with a primary money and TV ads do matter.

  1. Grassroots matter too and Sam Clovis has the Gravitas, the experiences, the activists and the ground game to win not just this but the general election also! Something Joni and Jacobs would be questionable at accomplishing with their inability to provide solid conservative answers straight from the heart! From reasoned examination of our founding documents Dr Sam Clovis has formed opinions and positions that define the principles by which his answers and debate responses are guided! These principles trump the talking points that Joni and Mark Jacobs are limiting themselves to and that will not work when the media hounds are unleashed! Sam Clovis can and will shock the establishment duo above when he earns the win!

    1. Yes grassroots do matter. They matter more with caucus turnout or with low-turnout elections. With primaries you need the grassroots (which by the way doesn’t just consist of Clovis supporters), name ID, fundraising, and a good organization. Unfortunately Clovis doesn’t have all of those components. I’m not trying to lift Ernst up, but if you’re objective (sorry you’re not) you can see that the grassroots support/endorsements is not translating into higher polling numbers. The simple fact is this – a good chunk of likely Iowa voters simply do not know who Sam Clovis is. You don’t vote for people you haven’t heard of or know anything about.

      Will his polling go up after this week? Perhaps. Will it overcome a 23 point lead with three weeks left? I highly doubt it. So I’m not saying I wish this were the case, and I’m open to the possibility he could out perform his poll numbers… But that still won’t account for being down 23 points. I think Clovis’ best shot right now (and where grassroots could really come into play) is if Ernst or Jacobs don’t reach 35% and it goes to convention.

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