New Poll: Joni Ernst Only Up 1 In Reelect Race

Photo by Julie Fleming

By Pat Rynard

May 4, 2020

A new poll out this morning shows the Iowa Senate race in a dead heat for a potential November matchup between Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. Ernst leads Greenfield by a single point, 43% to 42%, in a survey from Public Policy Polling released this morning that was conducted April 30 to May 1. That margin is obviously within the margin of error in this poll of 1,222 Iowans.

Greenfield, a businesswoman from Des Moines, is one of five Democrats competing in the June 2 primary. She’s drawn the support of state leaders and national Democratic groups, has raised the most money in the primary and is generally seen as the most likely candidate to emerge as the nominee.

Perhaps more troubling for Ernst than the initial matchup numbers is her sinking approval rating. Just 37% of Iowans approve of Ernst in this poll, compared to 43% who disapprove. It’s significantly below President Donald Trump. This survey finds Trump with a 49% approval and 47% disapproval in Iowa.

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The presidential race is also close in Iowa, which is essential for Democrats to score a win in the Senate race and other down-ballot contests. Joe Biden trails Trump here by two points, 46% to 48%.

Democrats’ primary for the Senate has largely been overshadowed by the Iowa Caucus contest and now the coronavirus pandemic. Advertising began only recently for some of the candidates, with Greenfield getting a statewide boost from TV ads run by the Senate Majority PAC, the main Democratic Senate super PAC. While that has certainly helped Greenfield’s name ID, these Democratic candidates have not gotten too much attention from the broader news media in the state.

For Ernst to start off this poorly before much of Iowa knows the Democratic alternatives may serve as another warning sign for her.

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In recent months, Ernst has largely kept to the Republican talking points of blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak and has pushed for a quick reopening of the United States. That position puts her at odds with most Iowans. And this new poll also finds that only 36% of Iowans believe meatpacking plants should be reopened now in order to avoid disruption to the nation’s food supply, something Ernst has advocated for lately. 53% prefer they remain closed until health officials can ensure the workplace is safe for workers.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 5/4/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.



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