It’s been a tumultuous week in the Democratic primary to take on Congressman David Young in Iowa’s 3rd District, but a poll conducted just before the chaos and shared with Starting Line showed Cindy Axne with a narrow lead in the race.
The Axne campaign commissioned a poll through ALG Research (John Anzalone’s firm), which ran from March 12 to 14. It included all six of the Democrats who were in the race at that point and found the following breakdown in support among likely primary-goers:
Cindy Axne: 14%
Eddie Mauro: 12%
Theresa Greenfield: 10%
Pete D’Alessandro: 6%
Austin Frerick: 3%
Paul Knupp: 1%
The campaign didn’t provide the full cross-tabs, but they did share a summary of some of the interesting findings listed in the polling memo. Axne led among women (16% Axne to 11% Greenfield), in suburban Polk County (21% Axne to 10% Mauro) and outside of Polk County (14% Axne to 10% Greenfield). One would guess that Mauro had a strong showing in Des Moines proper.
Axne, a small business owner who also used to work for the DNR, lives in West Des Moines and has been engaged in community activism there for many years.
She also was ahead with both people who caucused for Clinton (21% Axne to 15% Mauro) and Sanders (13% Axne to 10% Mauro). Since not everyone voting in the primary attended the caucus, that probably indicates that Axne has higher support among your more-engaged grassroots activists. The poll also found that 41% of people who had heard about Axne were planning on voting for her.
Of course, the horserace polling results may mean very little with the current shake-up in the 3rd District race. Both Frerick and Knupp exited the primary last week, and Greenfield may be out of the race too depending on a potential legal opinion after she came up short in her last-minute effort to get all new signatures. Greenfield is currently waiting on guidance from the Attorney General’s office on whether an obscure part of the Iowa Code allows the Democratic Party to still place her name on the ballot. Still, it’s interesting to see where things originally stood.
“Theresa Greenfield has shown incredible grit, courage, and grace through this very unfortunate series of events – just as she has shown over the course of this entire campaign,” Axne said in a statement to Starting Line. “I have enjoyed getting to know Theresa on the campaign trail, and know that we share the same values and commitment to improving life for working families here in Iowa. As my campaign moves forward into this next phase of the election, I am encouraged by recent polling showing me in the lead – even among the more crowded field that had included Greenfield, Austin Frerick, and Paul Knupp.”
With 53% undecided, as well as the exit of potentially half the primary field, there’s still going to be a lot of movement in the race. None of the candidates were particularly well-known heading into the race. Greenfield, Axne and D’Alessandro are all first-time candidates. Mauro’s family is well-known in Des Moines politics, and he challenged Representative Jo Oldson in a primary for a statehouse seat last cycle, but he still didn’t have a district-wide profile.
While some of the campaigns have been running online ads, no one has gone on TV yet, which likely accounts for the huge number of undecideds. Once that phase of the campaign arrives, voters’ opinions will become a little more clear. Axne’s campaign has, however, had a very noticeable, robust field effort that has locked down support from a lot of local activists.
“As part of my effort to build a winning campaign, I’ve hosted 75 house parties and spoken one-on-one with hundreds of primary voters listening to their concerns, answering their questions, and sharing my plan to never stop fighting when it comes to doing the right thing. I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations and communicating with even more voters on a much larger scale in the coming weeks and months as they decide which Democrat is the best choice to take on David Young in the fall.”
The poll surveyed 400 likely 3rd District Democratic primary-goers and had a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.9%.
by Pat Rynard