Ernst Clear Frontrunner in Iowa GOP U.S. Senate Primary Race, Loras College Poll Shows

The Loras College Poll released results Thursday showing a substantial lead for State Senator Joni Ernst in the U.S. Senate GOP primary, with 29 percent remaining undecided with less than three weeks to go.  In the previous Loras College poll in early April, Ernst and Mark Jacobs were tied.
“State Senator Ernst has captured momentum in this race and has opened up a substantial lead, according to our polling.  Whether it was from her recent notable ad campaigns and endorsements, or not, she is the clear frontrunner now,” said Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D.
Budzisz further commented that, “The Iowa GOP Senate Primary election appears to be a two person race at this point between Ernst and the trailing Jacobs, and it is highly unlikely that we are looking at a convention to decide the nomination.”  In order to avoid a convention, at least one candidate has to receive 35 percent of the vote. These next final days will be critical for the candidates as they attempt to persuade the remaining undecided and persuadable voters.
“Regardless of who wins the GOP primary, the possibility of a GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate in the fall ensures the Iowa race will be of national interest,” Budzisz remarked. The Loras College Poll will monitor the race up to Election Day in November. For more on today’s announced results, please click here.
In the U.S. Senate GOP Primary, the results are:
Joni Ernst 30.8 percent
Mark Jacobs 19.3 percent
Sam Clovis   9.5 percent
Matt Whitaker   7.3 percent
Scott Schaben   2.3 percent
Undecided 29.2 percent

Budzisz offered the following additional observations from the survey results:
  • Ernst has dramatically increased her name recognition and favorables since the last Loras College Poll in early April (only 24 percent have not heard of her now compared to 52 percent in our previous poll), and on favorables she has increased to 51 percent from 24 percent.
  • Jacobs, who registered the highest name recognition in the previous Loras College poll (65 percent had heard of him in early April), continues with the highest name recognition (83 percent have heard of him now), but also the highest unfavorables at 14 percent to Ernst’s 10 percent in the current poll.
  • 87 percent of GOP primary likely voters approve of the performance of Governor Terry Branstad.  While Branstad has recently been under scrutiny in the media, his strong approval amongst GOP faithful remains unchanged from the April Loras College Poll (in April he received 86 percent approval).
The Loras College Poll surveyed 600 likely Iowa GOP primary voters; statewide results have a 4 percent margin of error.  The survey was conducted May 12-13, 2014 using telephone interviews.
  • Survey includes both landlines (80 percent) and cell phones (20 percent). 
  • Lists for the sample included only those who voted in the 2010 Republican primary or 2012 Republican primary. 
  • In addition, the survey was balanced using historical voting patterns for age, gender and geography.  Script development and methodology used for the survey received input from Republican campaign consultant, Steve Grubbs, and Democrat campaign consultant, Dave Heller. 
The Loras College Poll will release survey results on the District 2 GOP primary as well as statewide support for traditional marriage in the GOP platform on May 16.  Results from the congressional primaries will continue on May 19 (District 3 GOP), May 20 (District 1 Democratic) and May 21 (District 1 GOP).  A complete copy of all the survey results will be released on May 21.
The Loras College Poll is conducted several times each year.  Loras College faculty and student researchers work as part of the survey research team to develop poll questions, analyze and interpret the data and assist with sharing the final results with local, regional and national media.
Capitalizing on its location in the politically vital and vibrant state of Iowa, the Iowa Presidential Caucuses serves as a cornerstone of the Loras College Poll, with additional surveys focused on current events, social issues, economic issues, politics and more.
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