DUBUQUE — A new poll from Loras College shows Republican incumbent Rod Blum, a Republican, leading his Democratic opponent Monica Vernon in his bid for a second term to represent Iowa’s 1st District in the U.S. House.
“Even in this remarkable and unique election year, it appears that incumbency remains an important advantage,” said Christopher Budzisz, associate professor of politics and director of the Loras College Poll.
The poll shows Blum with 45 percent to Vernon’s 38 percent, with 16 percent of voters in the 1st District undecided. The margin of error for the full sample in the 1st District is plus or minus 5.1 percent.
More voters have a favorable opinion of Blum, 43 percent to Vernon’s 35 percent. Both have an unfavorable rate of 27 percent. More voters have no opinion or had not heard of Vernon, a former Cedar Rapids City Council member and small businesswoman.
The live-caller survey was conducted between Sept. 20 and 22, including landline and cellular phones, with 368 likely voters in Iowa’s 1st District, which covers 20 counties in northeast Iowa. More information is available at www.loras.edu/poll.
The poll is the second available for the 1st District. The Polling Company released a poll conducted on behalf of Blum’s campaign in August that also showed the Dubuque businessman ahead in the 1st District contest, 50 percent to 43 percent.
Vernon’s campaign manager Michelle Gajewski said in a statement voters are just starting to learn about Blum.
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“While we keep hearing about plants across northeast Iowa closing -- more Iowans losing their jobs -- all we get from Congressman Blum is more tea party political talk instead of real results for the middle class,” Gajewski said. “As more voters learn about Blum’s tea party priorities, they won’t be voting to send him back to Congress.”
Blum spokesman Daniel Sunne said the poll shows Washington, D.C., pundits are getting the race wrong, and “proving that voters aren’t buying Mrs. Vernon’s negative campaign.” Several outlets consider the 1st District race one of the most-watched in the country, and several list Blum as one of the most vulnerable incumbents.
“Congressman Blum will take absolutely nothing for granted and will continue working hard to win in November,” Sunne said.
Budzisz said it is still early in the congressional contests -- the poll also looked at voters in the 3rd District -- but voters are still focusing most of their attention on the race for the White House.
“We also find large numbers of undecided in both of these closely-watched congressional races,” Budzisz said. “The next six weeks will be very interesting here in Iowa as the battle for Congress concludes.”
The survey also showed the 1st District choosing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Republican nominee Donald Trump by a margin of 42 percent to 33 percent. Polls of the state have mostly shown Trump leading throughout September, though the Loras Poll shows the candidates tied.
“Across the country, it has become more and more unusual to see Hou se and Senate elections go in a different direction than the choice for president. Right now, Congressmen Blum and (3rd District Republican David) Young are bucking this trend,” Budzisz said.