Trump still leads Iowa; Clinton in good shape

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new Iowa poll finds Donald Trump continuing to lead in the state with 24% to 17% for Ben Carson, and 13% for Carly Fiorina. In single digits but getting decent levels of support are Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio at 8%, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee at 6%, the now departed Scott Walker at 5%, and Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul at 4%. Rounding out the field are John Kasich at 2%, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum at 1%, and Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore, and George Pataki all at less than 1%.

Trump’s recent comments about President Obama waging a war on Christianity don’t hurt him much with the GOP base. 69% agree with the sentiment that the President has waged a war on Christianity, with only 17% disagreeing. Trump’s probably not hurting himself too much with his negativity toward Muslims either- only 49% of Republicans think the religion of Islam should even be legal in the United States with 30% saying it shouldn’t be and 21% not sure. Among Trump voters there is almost even division with 38% thinking Islam should be allowed and 36% that it should not.

Not everything Trump’s said recently goes over well in Iowa. 59% of GOP voters think his comments about Carly Fiorina’s appearance are inappropriate to only 13% who think they’re alright. And 49% think his comments about Columba Bush are inappropriate to only 22% who think they’re alright. But all things considered Trump is in as good or a better position than he was when we polled Iowa right after the first debate. His 24% standing is up from 19%, and his 48/38 favorability rating is slightly better than its 46/40 standing in August.

Ben Carson is by far and away the most well liked of the Republican candidates in Iowa. 77% view him favorably to only 11% with an unfavorable opinion, with the next most popular GOP hopeful having only a 62% favorability. He has just continued to get more popular after posting a 69/10 favorability last month, and his support for the nomination is up from 12% to 17%.

The second most broadly liked of the Republican hopefuls is Carly Fiorina, who has a 62/15 favorability rating. In addition to moving into third place overall, she is also the most frequent second choice of GOP voters with 16% picking her to 14% for Carson with no one else in double digits. Fiorina’s rise comes even as most Republicans aren’t really sure what to make of her performance at Hewlett Packard- 46% say they have no opinion about whether she did a good or bad job running the company, with 42% saying she did a good job and 12% a bad one.

Other notes from Iowa:

-Mitt Romney is not going to be the GOP’s savior. We tested him as a hypothetical candidate in this year’s field and all he manages is a tie for 5th place at 7%. Trump gets 24%, Fiorina 14%, Carson 17%, and Cruz 10% ahead of him, Rubio gets 7% as well, Bush and Huckabee get 6%, and Walker gets 4%. There don’t appear to be a lot of Republicans yearning for his return.

-Other than the departed Scott Walker, Jeb Bush has had the biggest fall over the last month in Iowa from 4th place at 11% to a tie for 6th place at 6%. Perhaps more concerning for Bush is that voters continue to just not even like him- he has a 38% favorability rating with 40% of voters seeing him negatively. His big struggle continues to be with voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative’- his favorability rating with them is 29/45, and just 2% support him for the nomination which puts him in 10th place with that group. Admitting in the debate Wednesday night that he had smoked marijuana in the past probably isn’t Bush’s problem at least- 59% of GOP voters say they don’t care one way or another about that, and 7% actually say it makes them more likely to vote for him.

-If there was a winner of the kids table debate on Wednesday night it looks like it was Bobby Jindal. He has a 56/19 favorability rating, which makes him the 5th most popular of the GOP contenders in the state. And his 4% standing at least puts him in the top 10 in Iowa and ahead of main stagers Kasich and Christie. We’ll see whether this boost for him is a broader thing or just Iowa.

-Rand Paul (4% compared to 3% last month) and Chris Christie (1% both this month and last month) aren’t seeing much of an increase in their support in Iowa. But their favorability numbers are at least headed in the right direction. Christie’s at +11 (43/32) compared to -10 (34/44) last month, for a net 21 point improvement. And Paul’s at an identical 43/32 spread, up from his -14 last month (31/45), for a net 25 point improvement. If they’re ever going to make a run having positive images will be a key first step on the way there. 

-Trump is doing pretty poorly in head to head match ups in Iowa, and that’s something to keep an eye on as more people drop out of the race. He leads Bush 51/37 but beyond that he trails Carson 60/33, Fiorina 54/36, Rubio 53/38, and he trailed Walker 51/37. Walker supporters preferred Carson over Trump 68/26, Rubio over Trump 66/31, Fiorina over Trump 59/28, and even Bush over Trump 48/36. As more people drop out there may be a closing of the field around Trump’s remaining foes.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is in pretty good shape. She leads with 43% to 22% for Bernie Sanders, 17% for Joe Biden, 3% for Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, and 2% for Lincoln Chafee. Among Biden’s voters 43% say Clinton would be their second choice to only 15% for Sanders. Reallocate them to their second choice and Clinton would lead Sanders 50/25, almost identical to the 52/25 lead we found for her last month when we didn’t include Biden.

Sanders does lead Clinton 49/33 among voters describing themselves as ‘very liberal.’ But Clinton has substantial advantages over Sanders with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (56/16) and moderates (38/16), both of which are larger ideological groups than the ‘very liberal.’ Biden actually finishes ahead of Sanders with both of those groups as well. Clinton has a large lead over Sanders with women (48/19), while it is narrower with men (36/28). And while younger voters are almost evenly split (33% Clinton, 32% Sanders) she has a large lead with seniors (49/15).

Full results here

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