Theresa Greenfield holds a significant lead in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, a new poll out today finds. With three weeks to go until the June 2 election, Greenfield garners 43% of Democratic primary voters, compared to 12% for Michael Franken, and 4% each for Kimberly Graham and Eddie Mauro. Another 36% say they are unsure.
The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling, the same outfit that found Greenfield in a dead heat with Sen. Joni Ernst for the general election last week. This one was commissioned by the Gerald Huff for Humanity Fund, a pro-Universal Basic Income organization, and surveyed 849 Iowa Democrats from May 5 to 6.
The poll also asked about that UBI idea that gained new prominence during Andrew Yang’s run for the White House. Many UBI backers and some Democratic members of Congress are pushing for a temporary $2,000/month recurring payment to Americans to be included in the CARES-2 relief package.
This poll found 60% of Iowa Democratic primary-goers supported the $2,000/month stimulus benefit for six months. 21% opposed the plan. When asked if they’d support a permanent $1,000/month UBI for all Americans over the age of 18, there were 43% of Democrats in favor and 35% opposed. Among 18 to 45-year-olds, there was 54% support.
While largely a fringe idea before the 2020 race, the idea of some form of basic guaranteed monthly income from the government has quickly gained traction as a way to reduce inequality and provide financial stability to Americans struggling in an unbalanced economic system.
For the Senate primary, the results are encouraging news for Greenfield and confirmation of where most political analysts have pegged the race. Greenfield has dominated the field in big-name endorsements both at the state and national level, fundraising and advertising support from outside groups. She’s pitched her background of growing up on a farm, business leadership and personal history with Social Security survivor benefits as ways she’ll match up well against the first-term Ernst.
But the primary could prove particularly unpredictable as it heads into the final three-week stretch.
As of today, a staggering 198,523 Iowans have requested a Democratic primary absentee ballot. Just 180,841 total voted in the 2018 Democratic primary, which was a record at the time. In the last presidential-year primary, when the party had another contested U.S. Senate race, 101,098 Democrats participated.
No one is entirely sure what the massive increase in turnout will mean for various races, or how an expanded electorate will engage in these contests that have gotten little mainstream news coverage amid the Iowa Caucus and coronavirus pandemic. Tens of thousands may well make up their minds during personal online research in the final days before the election.
On the advertising front, Greenfield has been boosted on the airwaves since late February, with introductory biography ads running about her in heavy rotation statewide. One spending tracker has Greenfield receiving close to $5 million in advertising support, largely by Senate Majority PAC, the main Democratic Senate super PAC, though some of that may be for future advertising.
Franken, a retired admiral, did a little bit of TV late last year, then has been on the airwaves in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids media markets since about mid-April. His latest this week highlights his endorsement from the Des Moines Register, and this poll seems to suggest his efforts (he also has an active online volunteer network) has put him in a better position to challenge Greenfield for the nomination.
Mauro launched his TV ads this week, starting off with a comparative spot against Greenfield, spending about a half-million dollars on media, his campaign said last week. Graham, who has a strong social media presence and progressive backing, has not done any TV or significant Facebook advertising yet, though she did raise just under $100,000 in the latest fundraising quarter.
A brief scan of the Facebook political ad archive shows the following spending on the social media platform by each campaign (these numbers don’t always show the full picture, but it’s what is available now):
The poll was run before the Mauro TV ads got going, so it’s likely that his numbers will quickly improve as voters start seeing them. And things could change significantly as this expanded universe of voters open up their ballots and start their research on the race.
Still, Greenfield begins this final stretch of the primary campaign in a very strong position that will be challenging for the rest of the field to overcome.
by Pat Rynard
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