By Christopher W. Larimer, University of Northern Iowa Professor of Political Science.
If the 2020 general election were held today, two recent polls suggest the races to win Iowa’s six Electoral College votes, the U.S. Senate, and the First Congressional District would all be extremely competitive.
As James Lynch reported on June 5, a Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll put both the presidential race and the U.S. Senate race within the margin of error. Now, just this week, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll has done the same, with President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden within 1 point, and Senator Ernst and Theresa Greenfield separated by just 3 points.
While the Iowa Poll used the “generic ballot” question for the four congressional districts, the difference in the First Congressional District (CD1) was just six points, the closest of the four and within the margin of error. This fits with the ratings of national organizations such as the Cook Political Report, RealClearPolitics, and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball who put CD1 in the tossup category.
My colleague, Donna Hoffman, and I have made the case that even after the 2016 presidential election, Iowa was still very much a swing state in terms of presidential politics (our research can be found here). Yet, going into the 2020 campaign, Iowa was rarely included in this category. More polling is certainly needed, but if the average of polls continues to show the race within the margin of error come late summer or early fall, expect this rating to change.
If nothing else, these polls suggest that if you are a fan of competitive politics, Iowa, particularly northeast Iowa, is the place to be.