The First Iowa Poll

Rep. Tom Latham | Rep. Steve King

Rep. Tom Latham                                  Rep. Steve King

Harper Polling surveyed the field in Iowa, and found that early suppositions pertaining to next year’s open Senate race may already be proving true. Many believe, that on the Republican side, Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4) has an advantage for the nomination but Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) is a better general election candidate. The Harper numbers show such a conclusion.

According to their Jan. 29 poll of 523 registered Iowa voters, Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1) leads King 39-33 percent, but trails Latham 33-36 percent. In the statewide Republican primary, though understanding that the sample size is a very low 200 registered Republicans, King has a 46-29 percent advantage over Latham if the two were to face each other in a stand-alone battle.

Adding two other potential Republican candidates, former gubernatorial contender Bob Vander Plaats and state senator and former congressional candidate Brad Zaun, King also places first. He would lead this field 35-22-20-3 percent over Latham, Vander Plaats, and Zaun, in consecutive order.

In terms of personal popularity, Rep. King scores a dead even 35:35 percent favorable to unfavorable pertaining to the respondents’ perceptions of him. Rep. Latham’s index was 37:24 percent; Braley’s 32:24 percent. Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D), as a point of reference, registered 48:40 percent positive to negative before this particular sampling universe.

It is important to note, in addition to the Harper study having a low polling sample, that the universe also has a slight Republican skew. In Iowa at-large, 29.2 percent of the registered voters are affiliated with the Democratic Party, versus 29.0 percent who align themselves with the Republicans. In this sample, however, 38.2 percent self-identified as Republican and 35.0 percent claimed to be members of the Democratic Party.

This is obviously the first of what will be a plethora of polls conducted in the Hawkeye State throughout the 21 months of the 2014 election cycle. At this early point in the campaign, none of the aforementioned potential candidates have made any public statement expressing a firm desire to run for the Senate, but it is presumed that most, if not all, will eventually declare for the seat.

Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11) may look strong in early polling, but her fundraising is telling a different story. The just-released Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports for the year-end 2012 period show that the former congresswoman has banked only $25,900 from the period beginning Oct. 1, 2012. Her cash-on-hand, however, is a bit stronger at $44,467.

Halvorson’s totals stack up poorly against her major Democratic opponents, who are all battling for the right to succeed resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District. The special Democratic primary is scheduled for Feb. 26, with the subsequent general election tabbed for April 9.

In just a one-month period, beginning Dec. 1, the leading fundraiser in the race, former Cook County CEO Robin Kelly raised $200,008. State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who opened her campaign committee on Nov. 27, obtained $135,992. And a third contender, Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale, also out-performed Halvorson on the money raising circuit, gathering $44,900. The trio also show almost all of their raised funds remaining in their campaign accounts.

If Halvorson expects to pull the upset later this month, she will have to make a considerably stronger effort to obtain necessary campaign resources. Making things even more difficult for her, as previously reported here, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC, which promotes the gun control issue, has launched a negative television air attack against Halvorson. Their ads publicize her strong National Rifle Association rating, attempting to create a negative image of her with inner city Chicago voters.

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