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Branstad approval rating, lead over Hatch narrow

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:00 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Iowans approve of the job he’s doing, but Gov. Terry Branstad’s lead over his Democratic challenger has shrunk since late 2013.

A Quinnipiac University Poll released this morning found Iowans approve of the job the five-term Republican governor is doing by a 55 percent to 35 percent margin – a slightly thinner margin than the last Quinnipiac Poll in mid-December. Then Iowans gave Branstad thumbs up by a 58 to 32 percent margin.

A key finding of the poll, however, is that Branstad’s lead in a head-to-head matchup with presumptive Democratic challenger Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines is slightly less than three months ago.

In the poll of 1,411 registered voters done March 5-10, Branstad’s lead was 46 to 35 percent over Hatch – down from 49 to 33 percent lead in December.

The poll done by live interviewers calling land lines and cellphones found:

• Branstad leads 86 to 4 percent among Republicans and 46 to 28 percent among independent voters

• Hatch takes Democrats 77 to 10 percent

• Branstad also leads 50 to 31 percent among men

• Women go 43 percent Republican and 39 percent Democrat

Overall, the numbers are good for Branstad, who is seeking a sixth term, according to Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Iowans are quite happy with the way things are going in their state,” he said. “History doesn’t have a lot of examples of voters firing their governor when they are so satisfied with the status quo.”

Hatch, Brown added, “can take solace in Branstad not crossing the magic 50 percent threshold in the horse race.”

On the downside for Hatch, “the governor does much better than that when voters are asked if he is a strong leader, if he is honest and if he understands the problems of average folks.”

Perhaps a bigger challenge for the Hatch, a 22-year lawmaker, is the fact three in four voters don’t even know enough about Hatch to have an opinion of him, Brown said.

In the eyes of Democrats, that may present an opportunity, “but probably more a sign of how much work he still has before him,” Brown added.

The Quinnipiac poll seems consistent with a recent Public Policy Polling poll showing Branstad led Hatch 48 to 36 percent despite Hatch having only 31 percent name recognition among Iowa voters. Undecideds in that late February poll skewed Democratic, PPP said.

Another key Quinnipiac finding for the Branstad campaign is that the Quinnipiac poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent, found that 71 percent of Iowa voters are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the way things are going in the state, and a total of 70 percent say the state’s economy is “excellent” or “good.” That’s the highest satisfaction and economy score of any of the states in which Quinnipiac University asks these questions.

In an open-ended question, 27 percent of Iowa voters list the economy or jobs as the top priority for the governor and state legislature, followed by 12 percent who list education or education funding and 7 percent who list tax-related issues.

Overall, voters approve 54 to 35 percent of the way Branstad is handling the state economy and give him good character marks, saying:

• 61 – 29 percent that he is honest and trustworthy

• 68 – 25 percent that he has strong leadership

• 53 – 39 percent that he cares about their needs and problems.

Quinnipiac also asked whether Branstad’s longevity – he’s the nation’s longest-serving governor – is a factor in voters’ decision-making. It found 28 percent of Iowa voters are less likely to vote for him, but 15 percent are more likely and 55 percent says it doesn’t make a difference that he’s been in office nearly 20 years.

For more information, visit http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.

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©2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Visit The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at thegazette.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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