A new poll has warning signs for Democrats in Iowa who are working to win back the voters they lost to Donald Trump in 2016. According to a recently released poll from Monmouth College, 63% of voters in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District who backed Trump in 2016 after previously voting for Barack Obama in presidential elections are still supportive of Trump. And 51% of them said they’d vote for Republican congressional candidates in 2018.
One of the biggest questions for the future of Iowa politics is whether Trump’s big win in 2016 was a one-off anomaly or the start of a long-term realignment to a red state. As most folks remember, Iowa swung further than any state in the country from Democrats to Republicans on the presidential level that year.
Part of that was because more Republicans turned out. Some of it was because a portion of the Democratic base stayed home. But a significant factor was voters who used to back Democrats flipping to Trump and most of the rest of the Republican ticket.
Monmouth’s poll seems to indicate that those voters aren’t flipping back to the Democratic Party just yet. The poll found that 45% of 1st District Obama/Trump voters “definitely” plan to vote for Trump again in 2020, while an additional 18% “probably” will vote for him. More concerning to Democrats for the immediate future is that 51% would vote for the Republican congressional candidate, while 25% said they’d back the Democrat. Iowa’s 1st District will be a top target for Democrats in Iowa and nationally.
Of course, not all of the Obama/Trump voters were solid Democrats to begin with. Party loyalty can fluctuate a lot in Iowa, especially in the swingy Northeast Iowa area. 37% of the Obama/Trump voters in the poll identified as Republicans; 42% said they were non-partisan. And there was a lot made in the 2008 election about longtime Republican voters who decided to support Obama.
But it would certainly be helpful to Democrats if they could reclaim most of those voters who have swung back and forth between the parties’ presidential nominees before. There were places like Dubuque County where those voters helped swing the county to Republicans for the first time in over 60 years in 2016.
The poll also asked Obama/Trump voters several other questions that were interesting. Asked which constitutional amendment is more important, the 1st or the 2nd Amendment, 44% said the 1st, 40% chose the 2nd. Only 26% said that a business owner’s political beliefs would affect their decision of whether or not to shop there – that probably shows that most of these people aren’t super-partisan to the point of boycotting stores over political controversies.
The one policy issue that these voters were particularly interested in was the border wall. 64% said they support expanding the border wall with Mexico. And interestingly, only 24% of them said that controversies and accusations over Trump’s personal life made them less supportive of him. 49% said it didn’t make a difference and 27% said it actually made them more supportive of Trump.
The poll was conducted from April 21 to 23, surveyed 329 Obama/Trump voters and has a margin of error of 5.2%.
by Pat Rynard