Monday, September 08, 2014

Braley holds lead in Loras poll as Ernst's favorabilty numbers plunge

Senator Joni Ernst
Congressman Bruce Braley
DUBUQUE — Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley holds a 4.8 percent edge over Republican State Senator Joni Ernst in one of the key races for control of the U.S. Senate. The post-Labor Day Loras College Poll of the U.S. Senate race in Iowa yielded the following result:

Bruce Braley              45.3 percent
Joni Ernst                  40.5 percent
Undecided                  14.2 percent

These new results show a decline in support for Ernst from the Loras College Poll taken immediately after the primaries in June. That poll showed Ernst leading the race 48.0 percent to 41.7 percent.

The U.S. Senate race in Iowa has garnered national attention, with two competitive candidates vying for the open seat created by the retirement of Democratic Senator Tom Harkin.

“Most analysts have had the Ernst-Braley race as a ‘toss-up,’ and our new poll finds Congressman Braley with a slight edge, with the trend in his direction,” said Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D. “It’s clear that the heavy negative advertising has taken its toll on Ernst.  In June, 42 percent of likely voters viewed her favorably, while just 29 percent had an unfavorable view. Her unfavorable rating has now jumped to over 39 percent and exceeds her favorable rating. Both candidates have seen their unfavorable rating increase, but Ernst’s is a more notable increase,” Budzisz remarked.

Comparison of September and June Loras College Poll Results

Bruce Braley                          September                              June______

Heard of, favorable                 36.3 percent                            35.8 percent              
Heard of, unfavorable             33.7 percent                            25.7 percent
Heard of, no opinion               20.3 percent                            25.0 percent
Never heard of/refused             9.6 percent                            13.5 percent              

Joni Ernst                              September                              June______

Heard of, favorable                 36.9 percent                            42.2 percent
Heard of, unfavorable             39.5 percent                            29.2 percent
Heard of, no opinion               16.8 percent                            20.3 percent
Never heard of/refused             6.8 percent                              8.3 percent

Beyond favorability, the Loras College Poll asked respondents to choose which candidate best represents the values of the respondent and whose position on issues is closest to their own.

Candidate Who Best Represents Your Values

Braley                                      38.6 percent
Ernst                                        37.6 percent
Undecided/Refused                23.9 percent

Candidate Whose Positions on Issues Closest to Your Own

Braley                                      39.8 percent
Ernst                                        37.8 percent
Undecided/Refused                22.3 percent

“Looking at the values and issue position question, it appears that neither candidate has a clear advantage,” Budzisz remarked.

Looking at specific issues, however, differences clearly emerge between Braley and Ernst supporters, as well as the undecided. The Loras College Poll asked respondents to rate the importance of a number of issues as they consider the upcoming election. Below is the percentage of a candidate’s self-reported supporters who rated the specific issue as “critically important” or “very important.”  Complete issue results available by clicking here.

Illegal Immigration—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          42.9 percent
Ernst                            65.8 percent
Undecided                  53.2 percent

National Debt—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          46.6 percent
Ernst                            80.5 percent
Undecided                  61.4 percent

Income Equality—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          52.5 percent
Ernst                            20.6 percent
Undecided                  32.2 percent

Environmental Issues—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          59.3 percent
Ernst                            23.0 percent
Undecided                  32.7 percent

Foreign Affairs and National Security—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          74.4 percent
Ernst                            81.3 percent
Undecided                  66.1 percent

Jobs and Economy—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          79.9 percent
Ernst                            77.0 percent
Undecided                  73.1 percent

“We found the differences in issue importance largely track with established partisan lines.  Within the results you can also see reflected some of the recent heightened attention on foreign affairs and national security, as well the continued mixed economic news and sentiment,” said Budzisz. “While jobs/economy is traditionally the most important issue voters list, foreign affairs and national security is certainly on the minds of Iowans. Over the past several months, there has been substantial media attention on international developments and national security, and I think we are finding that this is impacting Iowans as they consider the upcoming election.”

While the survey sample was balanced for standard demographic variables such as age, gender and geography, it was not weighted for partisanship/party registration. Respondents were asked to self-identify their partisan affiliation and its strength.

Self-identified partisan affiliation within random survey sample:

Strong Democrat                     23.8 percent
Not Strong Democrat               8.8 percent
Not Strong Republican             8.8 percent
Strong Republican                  21.4 percent
Independent                           33.8 percent
Unsure/Refused                        3.3 percent

The Loras College Poll surveyed 1,200 likely 2014 general election voters; statewide results have a 2.82 percent margin of error.  The survey was conducted September 2-5, 2014.
·         Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters who voted in the 2012 general election or registered since the 2012 election.
·         Likely voter was defined as those self-indicating they were “extremely likely” or “very likely” to vote in the 2014 election.
While the sample was balanced for standard demographic variables such as age, gender and geography, it was not weighted for partisanship.
Survey included both landlines (80 percent) and cell phones (20 percent).
The survey was conducted using live operator interviews through a contracted professional call center.
Script development and methodology used for the survey received input from Republican campaign consultant Steve Grubbs, and Democrat campaign consultant Dave Heller.

For more on today’s announced results, please click here.  Results for the gubernatorial election will be released on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, followed by results from the congressional races on Wednesday, September 10, 2014.

The Loras College Poll is conducted several times each year. Loras College faculty and student researchers work as part of the survey research team to develop poll questions, analyze and interpret data, and assist with sharing the final results with local, regional and national media.  Surveys are administered by professional, live callers through a contracted call center.

Capitalizing on its location in the politically vital and vibrant state of Iowa, the Iowa Presidential Caucuses serves as a cornerstone of the Loras College Poll, with additional surveys focused on current events, social issues, economic issues, politics and more.

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