Fred Hubbell holds an 11-point lead over Nate Boulton in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the Des Moines Register’s just-released poll shows, but Hubbell isn’t yet breaking the 35% needed to avoid a convention. That gives every candidate hope that they can still maneuver their way to the nomination in case no one gets enough to win outright on June 5.
Here’s the level of support the poll found for each candidate among likely Democratic primary-goers:
Fred Hubbell: 31%
Nate Boulton: 20%
Cathy Glasson: 13%
Andy McGuire: 5%
John Norris: 5%
Ross Wilburn: 3%
That 24% remaining undecided vote is good news for Hubbell, who would only need to capture a fraction of it to get up to 35%. That shouldn’t be too difficult as he’ll continue to have a spending advantage in the final weeks and is traveling the state extensively. And the poll shows he has a 54% favorable rating among Democrats, along with the lowest percentage of people with no opinion of him: 33%.
However, the bad news is that Hubbell only leads his closest competition by 11 points despite outspending the rest of the field by a substantial margin. They may need to reassess their TV and messaging strategy if the millions they’ve spent on the airwaves have only gotten Hubbell to 31%.
These numbers will also only embolden someone like Norris, who has become increasingly willing to lob tough attacks Hubbell’s way in the final weeks. Hubbell has largely avoided any major public criticism during the race from his fellow Democrats until the debate this past week. That evening saw Boulton, Norris, Glasson and the moderators challenge Hubbell on a host of topics that most Democratic voters may not have known about previously. It’s questionable how many of those lines of attacks will really erode his support, but any major controversy that was heavily covered by the Iowa press might raise enough questions to stall his momentum.
The other candidates will also have more TV ads airing in the final weeks. Boulton’s campaign has been down from the airwaves the previous two weeks, but the Building Trades union now has ads in support of Boulton in two media markets that only Hubbell had been present in. Still, no one may have the funds – or willingness – to go after Hubbell with negative TV ads. That would mean any attacks would need to be salient enough to gather sufficient press coverage for enough voters to actually see it.
And the poll also found that several of the other candidates had relatively low name ID, with 66% not having an opinion about Norris and 64% with no view on McGuire. That gives many of them the potential to move up if voters like what they see as people increasingly tune in during the last weeks.
Among other interesting findings in the poll, Hubbell leads by a wide margin among rural voters, perhaps in part due to Hubbell’s extensive traveling around the state (something that has occasionally gone unnoticed by most). It could also be because he’s advertised more than the other candidates in the media markets with more rural counties. He also does better when asked who has the best shot of taking on Kim Reynolds. Hubbell has made a point in debates and forums that he’s well-suited to winning the general election by reaching out to swing voters and even some Republicans.
Boulton leads among younger voters, as the poll found he wins the under-45 crowd with 24% compared to Glasson’s 22% and Hubbell’s 16%. Much of Boulton’s chances in the primary may depend on expanded turnout, pushed in part by his labor support.
Overall, the poll shows a primary that is most certainly not a done deal, especially with 75% of respondents saying they could still change their vote. The race is set to only be more competitive and contentious as we play out the final two and a half weeks.
by Pat Rynard