PPP's newest Iowa poll finds Joni Ernst in the driver's seat with the Republican Senate primary right around the corner. Ernst leads the field with 34% to 18% for Mark Jacobs, 14% for Sam Clovis, and 6% for Matt Whitaker. Compared to our last poll in February Ernst has gained 21 points and Clovis has moved up 6 points, while Jacobs has actually seen his support decline by a couple points.
Ernst is doing well with every segment of the Republican electorate. She's in the 32-37% range with moderates, conservatives, men, women, and seniors alike. One thing working to her benefit is that she's the only candidate with over 50% name recognition among GOP voters. 58% are familiar with her compared to 49% for Jacobs, 41% for Clovis, and 27% for Whitaker.
Although there's been a lot of movement in the primary over the last three months, the general election picture remains pretty much unchanged. Bruce Braley led Ernst by 6 points in February at 41/35 and he continues to lead by 6 points now at 45/39, with the undecided pool shrinking some as Ernst has become better known. Braley has leads of 6-9 points against the other Republican contenders as well- it's 42/36 over Jacobs, 43/36 over Whitaker, and 43/34 over Clovis. Braley's average lead of 7 points over the Republican field is identical to what it was on our last poll.
Braley leads right now despite Barack Obama being quite unpopular in the state, with a 41/53 approval rating. Whether Obama's struggles in Iowa will prove to be a bigger problem for Braley in the fall remains to be seen.
In the Governor's race Terry Branstad's lead continues to be in single digits after having been over 10 points earlier in the year. Branstad leads Democratic challenger Jack Hatch 48/40. Voters are closely divided on Branstad's job performance with 42% approving and 43% disapproving. Hatch remains unknown to 60% of voters in the state. Branstad has nothing to worry about with his primary challenge next month- he leads Tom Hoefling 66-12.
Other notes from Iowa:
-PPP finds the strongest level of support it ever has for gay marriage in Iowa, with 48% of voters in favor of it to 42% who are opposed. Among voters under 45 there is 59/32 support, the only reason the overall numbers are remotely close is because seniors continue to oppose it 33/53.
-And no matter how bad they might be, Iowa remains ever loyal to the Cubs. 39% of voters in the state identify themselves as Cubs fans to 12% for the Twins, 11% for the Cardinals, 7% for the Yankees, and 6% for the Royals.
Full results here