Chuck Grassley leads Mike Franken in U.S. Senate race, Iowa poll finds

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Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has taken a double-digit lead over Democrat Mike Franken in the final days of the U.S. Senate race in Iowa, according to a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll.

Grassley leads Franken 53% to 41% among Iowans who have already voted or say they will definitely vote, according to the poll. Another 3% would vote for someone else, 2% aren’t sure and 1% say they’ve already voted but don’t want to say so.

“It’s a seemingly insurmountable lead, even though anything can happen,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co. his base. And Franken, by comparison, is more lukewarm among his base.

The poll of 801 likely voters was conducted Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 by Selzer & Co., with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Grassley has widened his advantage since October when the Register’s Iowa poll showed him leading Franken by just 3 percentage points.

The new poll shows that demographic groups that have traditionally formed the base of the Iowa Republican Party have coalesced around Grassley, as well as independent voters who have leaned towards the senator.

Nationally, political analysts and other polls suggest the effects of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning abortion rights have faded as voters focus more on issues such as inflation.

Grassley continued to pound on economic issues, arguing he could act as a drag on Democrats in Congress while suggesting his opponent would be a “rubber stamp” for Democratic President Joe Biden.

After:Hear What Chuck Grassley and Mike Franken Say About Abortion and Inflation in Iowa’s U.S. Senate Race

His 12 percentage point lead is comfortable, but it continues to suggest Grassley could see his narrowest margin of victory since he was first elected to the US Senate by 8 percentage points in 1980.

Grassley, 89, is seeking an eighth term in the Senate this year. Franken, 64, is a retired US Navy admiral who has never held public office before.

‘Notoriously fickle’ independents turn to Grassley

Franken and Grassley have the support of their party members, with 94% of Republicans backing Grassley and 94% of Democrats choosing Franken.

But likely independent voters have now swung in favor of Grassley. He wins their support 47% to 41%.

That’s a reversal from October, when independents backed Franken 46% to 35%. In July, they were almost evenly split, with 38% backing Franken and 37% backing Grassley.

“Indies are notoriously fickle,” Selzer said.

Troy Donner, a 53-year-old poll respondent from Creston, said he plans to vote for Grassley this year.

“I think he’s going to vote again for a drill and fracking policy and hopefully do everything to bring down fuel prices, which fuels our economy,” said Donner, a truck driver. independent.

Still, he thinks Grassley “probably should have retired a long time ago”.

“I think there’s a point where you maybe get too old to serve,” Donner said. “I think there should be term limits. I don’t think senators and congressmen should be able to serve there and make a career out of it.

Grassley’s longevity, however, was not enough to persuade Donner to change his vote. He said he doesn’t think one party should control the House, Senate and presidency, as Democrats have done for the past two years.

“I just think Grassley is a better choice than the Democrat,” he said. “I don’t think the Democrats should control the Senate, and I don’t think they should control the House right now. I think if we had a different president, it might be OK.

Terry Murdock, a 60-year-old resident of Evansdale and a registered independent, said she plans to vote for Franken in the next election. Murdock said she thinks politicians should all be subject to term limits, and she said Grassley’s long tenure was a big factor in her decision.

“They spend so much time making sure they stay there instead of doing what they need to do to get things done,” she said. “And, for me, Grassley has been around too long.”

Murdock said that after watching some of Franken’s commercials on television, she thinks “he’s someone who might actually be able to accomplish something.”

U.S. Senate candidate, retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken, left, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley meet for a debate at Iowa PBS in Johnston, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.

Republican base comes home for Grassley

Since the October poll in Iowa showed Grassley a slim lead, there has been little additional outside spending for the race by either party. But the poll result sent a jolt through political circles, bringing national attention to a race that many had ignored from the start.

The October poll revealed some of the senator’s underlying weaknesses, particularly with regard to his age. According to the poll, 60% of likely voters in Iowa said Grassley’s age was a concern, including 86% of Democrats, 64% of Independents and 37% of Republicans.

National election forecasters downgraded Grassley’s chances of being re-elected from a “sure” or “solid” bet to a “likely” bet.

In the weeks that followed, support for Grassley grew among demographic groups that had traditionally made up the base of the Iowa Republican Party.

His support among evangelicals has risen from 73% in October to 79% today. Among rural residents, it fell from 61% to 66%.

Among those who live in the 4e Congressional District support jumped from 52 percent to 62 percent. And among men, it went from 56% to 59%.

Franken is more “lukewarm” with the groups that traditionally make up the Democrats’ base, Selzer said, particularly among women.

“There’s a big lead for Grassley with the men, almost 2 to 1,” she said. “What I see most often in the data is that men and women are more or less compensating each other equally. And Franken’s lead with women is only 4 points.

Women prefer Franken 50% to 46% over Grassley. That’s down slightly from the 54% of women who favored Franken in October.

Franken does better with those with no religious affiliation, scoring 70%. He also does well with those with at least a university degree (48%), those who live in cities (50%) and the small group of those who live in the suburbs (48%).

But Selzer noted that he doesn’t get a majority from any of the groups except those with no religious affiliation.

Grassley leads in all four of Iowa’s congressional districts, with its biggest lead in the 4e Congressional District.

Likely voters say Grassley is a stronger leader, a better reflection of Iowa values

In addition to his overall advantage, Grassley leads Franken in each of the seven character traits tested by the Iowa poll.

A majority or plurality of likely voters say they believe Grassley is a stronger leader, more honest, better reflects Iowa values, better understands issues in depth, better able to get Iowa’s needs across before party loyalty, is a better role model and is better at defending the US Constitution.

Grassley is rated highest for being a better reflection of Iowa values, with 56% of likely voters saying he best embodies that trait, compared to 35% saying Franken does. Even 11% of Franken supporters agree that Grassley better reflects Iowa values.

Grassley’s lowest score is with the 46% who say he is more honest. Franken gets 37%. Three percent of Grassley supporters say Franken is more honest.

Selzer said the numbers paint a strong picture for Grassley.

“There is no hidden vulnerability there that shows up in this data,” she said.

After:Iowa Poll shows Mike Franken within striking distance of Chuck Grassley. Could he really win?

Des Moines Register reporter Francesca Block contributed to this article.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the Register’s chief political reporter. Join her at[email protected] or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at@brianneDMR.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the registry. He can be contacted by email at[email protected] or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at@sgrubermiller.

About the survey

The Iowa poll, conducted Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, 2022, for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 801 Iowans age 18 or older who say they ‘they will definitely vote or have already voted in the 2022 general election for Governor, US Senate and other positions.

Quantel Research investigators contacted 1,118 adults in Iowa with randomly selected landline and cell phone numbers provided by Dynata. The interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted for age, gender, and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent census data.

Questions based on the sample of 801 likely Iowa voters have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and methodology, 19 times out of 20, the results would not deviate from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Results based on smaller samples of respondents – for example by gender or age – have a larger margin of error.

Republication of copyright Iowa Poll without crediting The Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited.

Iowa Poll Methodology