Iowa voters are pretty evenly divided on Terry Branstad's job performance as Governor. 45% of them approve of the job he's doing and 44% disapprove. But Branstad would nevertheless start out as a pretty substantial favorite against most of the Democrats being mentioned as possible candidates next year.
In a rematch of his 2010 contest with Chet Culver, Branstad would start out ahead 50/40. Culver continues to be relatively unpopular in the state with 34% of voters holding a positive opinion of him to 46% with a negative one. Branstad's up 53/28 with independents and his overall 10 point lead is similar to the margin he won by last time. Branstad also has double digit leads over another pair of Democrats who have expressed interest in running: it's 48/33 over State Senator Jack Hatch and 47/31 over State Party chair Tyler Olson.
3 other Democrats we tested come closer to Branstad, but none of them seem like particularly likely candidates. If Tom Vilsack wanted to make a return to his former office, he would trail Branstad only 47/46. Bruce Braley, who seems much more likely to be a Senate candidate, trails 47/41. And Dave Loebsack would be at a 48/38 deficit.
Other findings from Iowa: