Congressmen Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and David Young (R-Iowa)
From right: Congressmen Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and David Young (R-Iowa)

Loras College’s latest poll of Iowa 1st and 3rd Congressional District voters show that incumbent Congressmen Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and David Young (R-Iowa) currently lead their Democratic challengers. Iowa’s 1st Congressional District race and Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District race are considered to be among the most competitive in the country.

Blum currently leads Monica Vernon 45% to 38% with 16% undecided in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District race. Young leads Jim Mowrer 46% to 36% with 15% who are undecided in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District race. The live-caller survey was conducted between Sept. 20-22, including both landline and cell phones, with 368 likely voters in the 1st District (MOE:+/- 5.1 percent) and 327 in the 3rd District (MOE:+/- 5.4 percent).

“Even in this remarkable and unique election year, it appears that incumbency remains an important advantage—including for first term incumbents like Blum and Young,” said Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D., associate professor of politics and director of the Loras College Poll. “It’s still early in these congressional contests, however, as most voter time and attention remains focused on the race for the White House. We also find large numbers of undecided in both of these closely-watched Congressional races. The next six weeks will be very interesting here in Iowa as the battle for Congress concludes.”

What is remarkable in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District poll is that 35 percent of those surveyed identified as Democrats compared to 31 percent identifying as Republicans. This is reflective of the district where Democrats hold a current registration advantage just shy of 21,000. Only 29 percent polled identified as “no party.” This is not reflective of the district however as this is the largest group of voters. There are over 18,000 more registered independent voters in the 1st district than there are registered Democrat voters. One of my chief complaints about the Loras College poll is that they always under sample this group.

I am not surprised that Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in the 1st district – 41.8 percent to 32.9 percent, it leans Democrat. The primary reason Rod Blum won in 2014 was the independent vote, and that group of voters is in flux. According to the cross tabs. 41.8 percent of independents say they definitely or probably plan to vote for Blum. 35.4 percent say they they will definitely or probably vote for Vernon. However, 21.8 percent of independents, according to the Loras poll, are undecided. Which way those voters swing is key.

In the 3rd district polls there were more self-identified Republicans than Democrats – 37.7 percent to 33.1 percent. This again is reflective of the district who has currently just shy of 11,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. This district actually has less independent registered voters than Democrats and Republicans. Independents make up 28.8 percent of those polled in the district.

Among independents Young leads Mowrer 43.6 percent to 37.2 percent with 18 percent undecided. In Polk County Mowrer leads Young 44.1 percent to 41.9 percent with 12.7 percent undecided. In 2014 Staci Appel beat Young in Polk County 47.5 percent to 46.4 percent and still lost by over 10 points. Mowrer will need a significant lead among independents and wider margin in Polk County in order to defeat Young.

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