Iowans have cut their governor a little more slack since we last polled the state three months ago. 41% approve and 44% disapprove of Terry Branstad’s performance, up from 39-47. But that makes him 29th out of 42 sitting governors we've polled, and voters still would only narrowly prefer him to the Democrat he ousted from office last fall, Chet Culver.
In a hypothetical do-over, Branstad would prevail, 48-44, when he actually won by a 53-43 margin. The problem for Culver is that Branstad wins over twice as many Democrats (a huge 18%) as he won last fall. On top of that, even though the third of voters who say they are independents disapprove, 36-46, they prefer Branstad to Culver, 46-41. That is down, however, from the 51-41 margin reported by exit polls.
As the only Midwestern state where it is legal, Iowa is becoming increasingly favorable to same-sex marriage. 46% think it should be legal, and 45% illegal. But when civil unions are included as an alternative, giving gay couples the same rights as marriage, 40% still prefer full marriage equality, 30% favor civil unions, and only 29% think there should be no recognition of these relationships at all. When we asked the same question in April, the breakdown was 35-29-33. Democrats, Republicans, and independents are all more in favor of both marriage and civil unions than before, but particularly Republicans, 14% of whom favor marriage and 36% civil unions now, versus 10-28 four months ago. For Democrats, it is 63-23 versus 57-25, and for independents, 40-31 versus 35-36.
With Iowa losing a congressional seat after the census, the new map has double-bunked two incumbent Republicans, and should favor Democrats. On top of that, voters prefer Democrats for Congress by a 44-40 margin over GOP candidates. Democrats, at 88-4, are slightly more united than Republicans (85-5), but independents just barely prefer the GOP, 36-34.
52% of Iowans see their senior senator Chuck Grassley favorably, and 33% unfavorably. They are not as hot on Tom Harkin, giving him a 46-40 mark, but that still puts him in a tie for 50th out of 86 senators on which we've polled. Grassley is tied for 25th. The two are equally popular with their own bases, but Grassley, at 39-45 with Democrats, is way more popular across the aisle than is Harkin (a still healthy 23-64 with Republicans). Grassley also bests Harkin with independents, 50-34 versus 39-45.
Full results here.