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Trump Maintains Small Lead; Slight Gain for Dem in Senate

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020

Dems ahead in statewide House ballot

West Long Branch, NJ – There have been small shifts in the presidential and U.S. Senate races in Iowa according to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. While these changes are not statistically significant, the current results suggest that Donald Trump may be solidifying support in what remains a tight race with Joe Biden. At the same time, it appears the Democratic challenger could be pulling ahead for the Senate seat. It is unclear what role the potential confirmation process of a Supreme Court nominee would have on this race, although slightly more voters oppose doing this before the election than support it. Democrats have also pulled ahead cumulatively in the statewide U.S. House contests. In other findings, the poll turns up few Iowans who are seriously considering a vote for one specific independent candidate.

 Among all registered voters in Iowa, Trump is supported by 50% and Biden is supported by 44%. Another 2% say they will vote for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, 1% will vote for another candidate, and 2% are undecided. Trump led Biden by 48% to 45% among registered voters in August.

The race tightens when different likely voter models are applied. A model based on a higher level of turnout than 2016 puts the race at 49% Trump and 46% Biden while one reflecting lower turnout produces an identical 49% Trump and 46% Biden result. These margins are similar to August’s poll, which had Trump ahead 48% to 46% in the high turnout scenario and a tied race at 47% each in the low turnout model.

The registered voter results include 45% who say they are certain to vote for Trump – which is up from 38% in August – and 36% who are certain to vote for Biden – identical to 36% last month. At the other end of the spectrum, 45% say they are not at all likely to vote for the incumbent – identical to 45% in August – and 50% say the same for challenger – up from 46%.

“Trump’s overall voter support has broadened slightly while Biden’s has held steady. However, this does not seem to be translating to a significantly wider lead for the incumbent among those most likely to vote in November. It is still a very tight race,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. Trump won Iowa by nine points in 2016.

 The challenger has lost his small edge in 13 counties where the vote margins were closest in the 2016 presidential election. The race is currently 51% Trump and 44% Biden among registered voters in these swing counties* which Hillary Clinton took by a combined one-point margin. Biden had a 52% to 45% lead in these counties last month.

Biden has a strong 61% to 31% lead in three counties – including the state’s largest, Polk – that as a group went for Clinton by 17 points in 2016. He led by 62% to 31% there in August. Trump also maintains his sizable margin in in the counties he won by a combined 30 points four years ago (59% to 35% now versus 59% to 34% in August).

IOWA: PRESIDENT VOTER MODELS
 Registered
voters
High likely
turnout
Low likely
turnout
September   
Trump50%49%49%
Biden44%46%46%
Jorgensen2%2%2%
Hawkins/Other1%2%2%
Undecided2%2%2%
    
August   
Trump48%48%47%
Biden45%46%47%
Jorgensen3%2%2%
Other<1%<1%<1%
Undecided3%3%3%
 Source:  Monmouth University Poll, Sep. 18-22, 2020

– Senate and House races –

In the election for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Joni Ernst (47%) and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield (47%) are locked in a tight battle. Ernst had a slight 48% to 45% edge among registered voters last month. Libertarian Rick Stewart earns 1% and another 4% are undecided. The race remains close, but with a nominal lead for the Democrat, when looking at likely voters under either a high turnout (49% Greenfield and 46% Ernst) or low turnout (48% Greenfield and 47% Ernst) scenario. Last month, Ernst had 48% and Greenfield had 47% in both voter models.

Iowa voters are divided on the prospect of a quick confirmation for a new Supreme Court justice. Specifically, just under half (47%) approve of Trump trying to fill the vacancy before the election while 50% would disapprove of this. The results are similar when voters are asked about the president trying to fill the seat before the end of his term if Biden wins the election – 48% approve and 49% disapprove.

IOWA: SENATE VOTER MODELS
 Registered
voters
High likely
turnout
Low likely
turnout
September   
Ernst (R-i)47%46%47%
Greenfield (D)47%49%48%
Stewart (L)1%1%1%
Herzog (I)<1%<1%<1%
Undecided4%4%4%
    
August   
Ernst (R-i)48%48%48%
Greenfield (D)45%47%47%
Stewart (L)2%2%2%
Herzog (I)1%1%1%
Undecided3%3%2%
 Source:  Monmouth University Poll, Sep. 18-22, 2020

Among voters who firmly support Ernst for reelection, 93% would approve of a confirmation vote before Election Day. A similar number of certain Greenfield voters would disapprove (95%). Among soft supporters and voters who are undecided, the scales tip more toward disapproval (51%) than approval (41%) of any move to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat before the election.

“This is going to be an interesting decision for Ernst. There are enough persuadable voters out there to swing this race in either direction. Whether a Supreme Court vote would be a decisive factor for them remains to be seen,” said Murray.

The poll also finds that Democrats have made gains in voter preference for the U.S. House of Representatives. Cumulatively across Iowa’s four congressional districts, Democratic candidates lead the Republicans by 49% to 45% among registered voters, by 49% to 44% in a high turnout scenario, and by 49% to 45% in a low turnout scenario. This is a flip from August when the GOP held a nominal statewide lead for Congress – 47% to 44% for the Democrats among registered voters, 47% to 45% in the high turnout model, and 47% to 46% in the low turnout model.

“It’s an interesting situation where Trump continues to hold a very slight edge in the presidential contest, but the Democrats appear to be gaining ground in the congressional races,” said Murray.

– Other issues –

Iowa voters continue to be divided on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak – 51% say he has done a good job and 47% say bad job – although this is slightly better than last month’s 49% good and 49% bad rating. Gov. Kim Reynolds does slightly better at 53% good job and 43% bad job, but this is down from her 58% to 39% rating on handling the pandemic in August. Just over half (53%) of Iowa voters say they are at least somewhat confident that Trump can put the country on the road to recovery from the pandemic. Only 41% say the same about Biden.

Overall, 49% of Iowa voters have a favorable opinion of Trump (up from 45% in August) and 49% have an unfavorable one (similar to 50% last month). Biden gets a 41% favorable and 49% unfavorable rating (similar to 43% – 49% in August). Similar numbers of voters say either Trump (50%) or Biden (46%) understands the day to day concerns of people like them a great deal or some.

More Republican voters say they are very optimistic about the 2020 presidential election (48%, up from 36% in August) compared with Democrats (31%, similar to 28% last month). Republicans have also caught up to Democrats on enthusiasm. Over half (53%, up from 34% in August) now say they feel more enthusiastic about this contest compared to past elections, which is similar to the number of Democrats who feel the same (54%, up from 46%).

Iowa is one of the few states where rapper Kanye West will appear on the ballot as an independent candidate for president. Fully 90% of Iowa voters say they are not at all likely to vote for West. Just 4% say they might vote for him – although just half of this group insists this is something they are seriously considering in response to a follow-up question. Among the reasons given by these voters for their potential Kanye support are, in their own words:

“I think he’s a genius.”

“Both Trump and Biden are only concerned for themselves and it’s just a protest vote.”

“He’s a Christian and I think he’s got a pastor’s license.”

“It would irritate Taylor Swift.”

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 18 to 22, 2020 with 402 Iowa registered voters. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

  * 2016 presidential margin by county groupings:

Swing (31% of turnout) – 13 counties where the winning margin for either candidate was less than 10 points, with a cumulative vote of 46.7% Clinton and 45.7% Trump (Black Hawk, Cerro Gordo, Clinton, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Jefferson, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Poweshiek, Scott, Winneshiek).

Clinton (23% of turnout) – 3 counties where Clinton won by more than 10 points, with a cumulative vote of 54.5% to 37.3% (Johnson, Polk, Story).

Trump (46% of turnout) – 83 counties where Trump won by more than 10 points, with a cumulative vote of 61.7% to 32.0%.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1.If the election for President was today, would you vote for … Donald Trump the Republican, Joe Biden the Democrat, Jo Jorgensen the Libertarian, Howie Hawkins of the Green Party, or another candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Donald Trump or Joe Biden?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)Sept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Donald Trump50%48%
Joe Biden44%45%
Jo Jorgensen2%3%
Howie Hawkins<1%n/a
Another candidate1%<1%
(VOL) No one0%<1%
(VOL) Undecided2%3%
(n)(402)(401)

[1A.  If Trump/Biden voter, ASK: Are you certain about your vote choice, or might you change your mind before election day?]

[QUESTIONS 2 & 3 WERE ROTATED]

2.What is the likelihood that you might vote for Donald Trump in November – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Certain for Trump (from Q1/A)45%38%
Very likely 1%4%
Somewhat likely 6%8%
Not too likely3%6%
Not at all likely45%45%
(VOL) Don’t know0%0%
(n)(402)(401)

3.What is the likelihood that you might vote for Joe Biden in November – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Certain for Biden (from Q1/A)36%36%
Very likely 4%3%
Somewhat likely 6%9%
Not too likely5%7%
Not at all likely50%46%
(VOL) Don’t know0%0%
(n)(402)(401)

4.If the election for U.S. Senate was today, would you vote for … Joni Ernst the Republican, Theresa Greenfield the Democrat, Rick Stewart the Libertarian, or Suzanne Herzog the independent? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Joni Ernst or Theresa Greenfield?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)Sept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Joni Ernst47%48%
Theresa Greenfield47%45%
Rick Stewart1%2%
Suzanne Herzog<1%1%
(VOL) Other<1%0%
(VOL) No one<1%1%
(VOL) Undecided4%3%
(n)(402)(401)

5.If the election for U.S. House of Representatives in your district was held today, would you vote for …?  [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward …?] [CANDIDATE NAMES WERE READ FOR EACH CD]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)Sept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Named Republican45%47%
Named Democrat49%44%
Other1%1%
(VOL) No one0%1%
(VOL) Undecided5%7%
(n)(402)(401)

[QUESTIONS 6 & 7 WERE ROTATED]

6.Is your general impression of Donald Trump very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Very favorable32%26%
Somewhat favorable17%19%
Somewhat unfavorable8%5%
Very unfavorable41%45%
No opinion2%6%
(n)(402)(401)

7.Is your general impression of Joe Biden very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Sept.
2020
Very favorable19%18%
Somewhat favorable22%25%
Somewhat unfavorable10%11%
Very unfavorable39%38%
No opinion9%8%
(n)(402)(401)

[QUESTIONS 8 & 9 WERE ROTATED]

8.How much does Donald Trump understand the day to day concerns of people like you – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Great deal31%
Some19%
Not much10%
Not at all38%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(402)

9.How much does Joe Biden understand the day to day concerns of people like you – a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Great deal22%
Some24%
Not much15%
Not at all36%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
(n)(402)

10.Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the 2020 presidential election? [Is that very or somewhat optimistic/pessimistic]?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Very optimistic33%28%
Somewhat optimistic32%34%
Somewhat pessimistic17%17%
Very pessimistic12%14%
(VOL) Neither, don’t care2%2%
(VOL) Don’t know4%4%
(n)(402)(401)

11.How motivated are you to vote in the November election for president – very motivated, somewhat motivated, or not that motivated?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Very motivated87%83%
Somewhat motivated10%13%
Not that motivated3%4%
(VOL) Don’t know0%0%
(n)(402)(401)

12.Compared to past elections, are you more enthusiastic than usual, less enthusiastic, or about the same as past elections?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
More enthusiastic46%35%
Less enthusiastic13%15%
About the same41%51%
(VOL) Don’t know1%0%
(n)(402)(401)

[QUESTIONS 13 & 14 WERE ROTATED]

13.Has Donald Trump done a good job or bad job handling the coronavirus outbreak? [Is that very or somewhat good/bad?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Very good30%27%
Somewhat good21%22%
Somewhat bad7%8%
Very bad40%41%
(VOL) Don’t know2%2%
(n)(402)(401)

14.Has Governor Kim Reynolds done a good job or bad job handling the coronavirus outbreak? [Is that very or somewhat good/bad?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Aug.
2020
Very good30%28%
Somewhat good23%30%
Somewhat bad12%14%
Very bad31%25%
(VOL) Don’t know4%3%
(n)(402)(401)

[QUESTIONS 15 & 16 WERE ROTATED]

15.How confident are you that Donald Trump can put the country on the road to recovery from the pandemic – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Very confident35%
Somewhat confident18%
Not too confident10%
Not at all confident37%
(VOL) Don’t know0%
(n)(402)

16.How confident are you that Joe Biden can put the country on the road to recovery from the pandemic – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Very confident17%
Somewhat confident24%
Not too confident15%
Not at all confident42%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(402)

[QUESTIONS 17 & 18 WERE ROTATED]

17.Would you say Donald Trump respects our military troops and veterans a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Great deal44%
Some18%
Not much11%
Not at all26%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(402)

18.Would you say Joe Biden respects our military troops and veterans a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Great deal40%
Some27%
Not much16%
Not at all14%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(402)

19.Is anyone in your household currently serving in the armed forces or is a military veteran?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Yes, currently serving 4%
Yes, veteran 19%
Yes, both 2%
No, no one75%
(n)(402)

20.Have you ever heard of Kanye West, or not?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Yes89%
No11%
(n)(402)

21.What is the likelihood that you might vote for Kanye West as an independent candidate for president this year – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Very likely 1%
Somewhat likely 3%
Not too likely7%
Not at all likely90%
(n)(402)

[Questions X1-2 added after interviewing started on 9/18; n= 331, m.o.e.= +- 5.4%]

X1.There is now a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Would you approve or disapprove of President Trump trying to fill the vacancy before the election?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Approve47%
Disapprove50%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
(n)(331)

X2.If Joe Biden wins the election in November, would you approve or disapprove of Trump trying to fill the vacancy before his term ends in January?

REGISTERED VOTERSSept.
2020
Approve48%
Disapprove49%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
(n)(331)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 18 to 22, 2020 with a statewide random sample of 402 Iowa voters drawn from a list of registered voters. This includes 177 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 225 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for party registration, age, gender, race, education, and region based on state voter registration list information and U.S. Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on the full voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
REGISTERED VOTERS
 
Party Registration
34% Republican
32% Other/none
34% Democrat
 
Self-Reported Party
31% Republican
43% Independent
26% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
22% 18-34
23% 35-49
26% 50-64
29% 65+
 
91% White, non-Hispanic
  9% Other
 
68% No degree
32% 4 year degree

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs