A new Siena College/New York Times Upshot poll shows that Congressman David Young (R-Iowa) and his Democratic challenger Cindy Axne are in a dead heat in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District race.

The poll conducted on September 27-30, 2018 surveyed 502 likely voters in the district using landlines and cell phones. The margin of error is +/- 4.6 percent. 

Axne currently leads Young by one percentage point, well within the margin of error, 44 percent to 43 percent. Thirteen percent said they did not know who they were voting for or planned to vote for someone else. Bryan Jack Holder is the Libertarian nominee running in this race, and then two other candidates collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot.

Axne has a wide lead among Des Moines voters – 60 percent to 28 percent, but the two are tied in Polk County at 43 percent. Young leads Axne among voters in the rest of the district 52 percent to 37 percent. 

Young leads among men – 46 percent to 38 percent. Axne has a 10 point lead among women 50 percent to 40 percent. Young holds a four-point lead among independents – 43 percent to 39 percent. Each leads voters among their party by practically identical margins. Republican voters favor Young 89 percent to 4 percent while Democratic voters favor Axne 88 percent to 4 percent. 

Young has a negative 38-40 percent favorability rating, compared to a 35-30 percent favorability rating for Axne.

Voters say by a 48 to 42 margin they would prefer to see Democrats hold the majority in the House and President Donald Trump has a 41 percent approval rating among Third District voters with a 53 percent disapproval rating. 

The make-up of the poll sample was unusual, and it could cause problems with the poll. They made calls to a stratified weighted sample. They then note:

A likely-to-vote probability was computed for each respondent based on their stated likelihood to vote as well as by virtue of the imputation of a turnout probability score based on past voting behavior. This combined probability to vote score was applied as a weight along with a weight that considered party, age, race/ethnicity, education, region within the district and gender.

Ok, the thing is, they don’t include any of the above information in the cross-tabs. But what I see with their sample gives me pause. 

Based on the September voter registration numbers which are the ones that would have been available for this poll. Republicans made up 33.3 percent of all registered voters, Democrats made up 33.3 percent of all registered voters, and everyone else made up 33.4 percent. Democrats in October took a slight voter registration edge, but not enough to really make a statistical difference. 

So, why does this poll’s sample include 27 percent Republicans, 31 percent Democrats, and 40 percent independents and others? What are they basing this on? Needless to say, if I were in the Young camp, I would not be discouraged by this poll, and if I were in the Axne camp, I wouldn’t get too excited.

Regardless, practically speaking, it shouldn’t make a difference. The Iowa 3rd Congressional District race is a close race, and each campaign is going to treat it as such.

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