Thursday, October 09, 2014

Loras College Poll finds Braley and Ernst tied

DUBUQUE, Iowa— With less than a month to go, the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is all tied up according to the results of the new Loras College Poll released today. The first October Loras College Poll of the U.S. Senate race in Iowa yielded the following result:

Bruce Braley              42.1 percent
Joni Ernst                  42.4 percent
Other Candidate         3.7 percent
Undecided                  11.8 percent
These new results from a survey conducted October 1-3, 2014, indicate a rise in support for Ernst since the Loras College Poll taken at the beginning of September. That poll showed Braley with the advantage.

Name Identification and Favorability—Comparison of Loras College Poll Results

Bruce Braley                          October                      September                  June              

Heard of, favorable                 37.0 percent                36.3 percent                35.8 percent  
Heard of, unfavorable             35.8 percent                33.7 percent                25.7 percent
Heard of, no opinion               18.8 percent                20.3 percent                25.0 percent
Never heard of/refused             8.4 percent                  9.6 percent                13.5 percent              

Joni Ernst                              October                      September                  June              

Heard of, favorable                 42.5 percent                36.9 percent                42.2 percent
Heard of, unfavorable             37.2 percent                39.5 percent                29.2 percent
Heard of, no opinion               14.7 percent                16.8 percent                20.3 percent
Never heard of/refused             5.6 percent                  6.8 percent                  8.3 percent

“Our latest results indicate that State Senator Ernst has recaptured some of the momentum she possessed at the beginning of this important race for control of the U.S. Senate,” commented Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D.

“Ernst’s favorability ratings have returned to levels we found immediately following the June primary. While our September poll found Ernst’s unfavorable rating higher than her favorable rating, this most recent poll finds Ernst has righted that ship. It is important to note that despite the campaign advertising, Congressman Braley has managed to always have his favorable rating above his unfavorable in our poll results. That is impressive given the media barrage on both candidates,” said Budzisz.

Preferences of No-Party Registrants

The Loras College Poll asked respondents to identify their party registration and their sense and strength of partisan affiliation.

“Braley and Ernst displayed similar patterns of support from their respective parties, with both enjoying strong support from the party faithful. The battle appears to be for those who are registered as No-Party. Traditionally, this segment of the Iowa electorate accounts for around a quarter of all voters in a midterm election,” Budzisz commented.

Of those all-important, No-Party registrants (comprising 21.5 percent of our random sample), the results for the U.S. Senate race were as follows:

No-Party Registrants

Braley                          34.1 percent
Ernst                            42.6 percent
Other Candidate           6.2 percent
Undecided                  17.1 percent

Beyond the No-Party registrants, Democratic and Republican registrants may view themselves more as independents than partisans, and still others may respond that they are unsure as to which party they see themselves belonging.

“Amongst all those voters who responded that they view themselves as politically independent or with an unsure affiliation, regardless of their specific registration, the news for Congressman Braley is better as he and Ernst exactly split this group 37.7 percent to 37.7 percent,” said Budzisz.

Sentiments of voters on President Obama’s performance in office and the direction of the country serve as an important backdrop to this midterm election. The Loras College Poll surveyed likely voters in Iowa on both of these issues.

Job Performance of President Obama
Comparison of Loras College Poll Results

October                       September                   June               
Approve                      40.8 percent                40.7 percent                42.5 percent
Disapprove                  52.2 percent                53.0 percent                54.2 percent
Unsure/Refused            7.0 percent                  6.4 percent                  3.4 percent

President Obama’s job performance ratings remain virtually unchanged from previous polls.

“Many Iowans remain critical of President Obama, and it is clear that this fact is having an impact on the Senate campaign from ads and mailers to campaign talking points,” Budzisz remarked. “The same general persistent negative pattern holds for the assessment of the direction of the country as it has for President Obama’s job approval.”

Direction of Country
Comparison of Loras College Poll Results

                                    October                       September                   June               
Right Track                 27.5 percent                24.8 percent                30.7 percent
Wrong Direction         58.0 percent                59.5 percent                58.5 percent
Unsure/Refused          14.5 percent                15.7 percent                10.9 percent

Military Action and the Islamic State

Given President Obama’s recent deployment of U.S. military forces in coalition operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, the Loras College Poll asked voters whether they support this military action and whether or not they believe that the current strategy will be successful in defeating this organization.

Current U.S. Military Action against Islamic State/ISIS

Support Action                                   66.0 percent
Oppose Action                                    15.3 percent
Unsure/No Opinion                             18.7 percent

While a clear majority of respondents support the current military action, a plurality (43.3 percent) of respondents do not expect the current strategy to succeed in defeating the Islamic State.  Nearly a third more are unsure of the strategy’s expected success.

Expectation that Strategy will succeed

Yes, expect it will succeed                 24.8 percent
No, expect it will not succeed            43.3 percent
Unsure/No Opinion                             31.8 percent

The Loras College Poll surveyed 600 likely 2014 general election voters; statewide results have a 4 percent margin of error.  The survey was conducted October 1-3, 2014.

·         Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters (from official Iowa Secretary of State voter file) who voted in the 2012 general election or who have registered since the 2012 election.
·         Likely voter was defined within the sample drawn 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 party.
·         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.

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