Photo courtesy of Congressman Rod Blum's office.
Photo courtesy of Congressman Rod Blum’s office.

Congressman Rod Blum (R-Iowa) leads his Democratic challenger Monica Vernon 52 percent to 36 percent in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District race according to a new poll released on Monday.

The poll, commissioned by Blum’s campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee, was conducted by The Polling Co, Inc. conducted September 29 – October 1st. The survey consisted of 400 registered voters and has a margin of error of +/-4.9 percent.

A source told me that the polling methodology was similar to the Loras College poll. In that poll Democrats made up 35.9 percent of those polled, Republicans made up 31.8 percent, and independents made up 29.9 percent. As with the Loras College poll I will say I believe independents are being under sampled are over 18,000 more registered independent voters in the 1st district than there are registered Democrat voters.

The Loras poll that was taken a week earlier showed Blum leading Vernon by 7 points – 45 percent to 38 percent. The last internal poll the campaign released in August showed Blum ahead of Vernon also by seven points – 50 percent to 43 percent. This poll, if accurate, indicates 1. undecided voters are breaking for Blum and 2. Vernon has lost support.

I am typically skeptical of internal polling, especially when it shows a bounce like this. The cross tabs are not made available to me so I can’t confirm this, but if this poll is accurate the shift has to have occurred among independents.

I am not surprised that Blum is leading Vernon however whether it is by seven points or 16.

In 2014 Blum only beat Pat Murphy by 2.3 percent with 6,617 votes separating the two candidates in a contest over an open seat.  Some will point to the closeness of this race and assume we’ll have a repeat. Some dynamics are different in 2016. First, Blum is an incumbent and Iowa rarely sends incumbents packing – especially after one term. Secondly, Vernon does not have the name recognition among voters in the district. In 2014 Murphy had the advantage of being the former Iowa Speaker of the House so he was better known throughout the district. That just isn’t the case with Vernon.

Back to the poll.

48 percent of those polled gave Blum approve of the job he is doing in Congress while only 24 percent disapprove. Vernon’s favorability rating by contrast is lower with only 29 percent of voters having a favorable opinion of the Democratic candidate. 26 percent held an unfavorable opinion of her.

Blum is outpolling Donald Trump in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. Trump trails Hillary Clinton by two points in the district. Clinton has 39 percent while Trump has 37 percent. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson polled at 10 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein had three percent. As unpopular as Clinton is, it is not good news for Vernon that she is under performing compared to the Democratic presidential nominee.

U.S. Senator Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) enjoys a 59 percent to 36 percent lead over former Lt. Governor Patty Judge (D-Iowa) in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District when voters polled was asked about the U.S. Senate race.

“These numbers show that despite our opponent’s completely negative campaign, Congressman Blum is in a strong position to be reelected just 36 days before Election Day,” Blum campaign spokesman Daniel Sunne said in a released statement. “Congressman Blum and our team will take nothing for granted and will keep working hard every day to win this race so he can continue being an independent voice for Eastern Iowans in Congress.”

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