Public Policy Polling went to Iowa to test the potential Senate candidates and confirmed what Harper Polling had previously concluded: the Democrats are generally in better position statewide; Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4) is the stronger Republican primary candidate; and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) fares better than King against all Democratic potential contenders.
PPP’s poll (Feb. 1-3; 846 registered Iowa voters; 326 self-identified “usual” Republican primary voters) shows similar levels of strength when comparing Democrats Tom Vilsack, the former governor and current US Agriculture Secretary, with Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1).
Vilsack would defeat King 49-39 percent, and Braley outpaces his Republican congressional colleague by a similar 49-38 percent. But against Rep. Latham, the margins tighten. Vilsack tops the Des Moines area Congressman 46-42 percent, and Braley only has a 44-41 percent lead.
A third Democrat, defeated one-term Gov. Chet Culver, who is publicly considering seeking a re-match with five-term Gov. Terry Branstad (R), is weaker in the statewide Senate contest. He leads King 48-41 percent, but trails Latham 41-45 percent.
In the Republican primary, King would place first in a four-way race at 41 percent, followed by Latham with 22 percent. If Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and ex-gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Platts join the field, they would score 10 and 9 percent, respectively. In a stand-alone King-Latham Republican primary contest, the former is strongly ahead of the latter 50-27 percent.
Ironically, the Iowa congressional districts reflect Democratic strength in numerical order. Below is the percentage Pres. Barack Obama scored in the 2012 presidential race along with the Democratic congressional candidate:
|District||Obama ’12||D Congressional Candidate ’12|
|1||56.2||56.9 (Bruce Braley)|
|2||55.8||55.6 (Rep. David Loebsack)|
|3||51.4||43.6 (former Rep. Leonard Boswell)|
|4||45.3||44.8 (Christie Vilsack, wife of Tom)|
This chart gives further credence that Latham, running in his new 3rd District of which he previously represented only 17 percent of the constituency, is the strongest Republican potential candidate in the general election. In defeating fellow Rep. Boswell, Latham held the Democrat 7.8 percentage points under President Obama’s total.
It is important to note that none of the aforementioned individuals has yet indicated that he or she will run for the Senate. But, all are certainly thinking about making the race.