Half of Iowans give Branstad thumbs up in new poll

Governor hasn't indicated if he will seek another term

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CEDAR RAPIDS — If Gov. Terry Branstad runs for another term in 2018 — he hasn’t ruled it out — he would start from a weaker position than when he ran and won an unprecedented sixth term in 2014.

In the spring of 2014, a Quinnipiac University Poll found Iowans approved of the job the Republican Branstad was doing by a 55 percent to 35 percent margin.

A Morning Consult poll published this morning shows the governor’s approval rating has sunk to 50 percent, with 41 percent of Iowans not approval of the job he’s doing. Nine percent are unsure and the margin of error is 3 percent.

That’s slightly better than his position four years ago, when Public Policy Polling found Iowans backed Branstad over a hypothetical challenger by a 49 percent to 40 percent margin. In 2014, Branstad defeated Sen. Jack Hatch 58 percent to 37 percent.

In 2014, his plan to privatize the management of the state’s Medicaid program and close two underutilized mental health institutes, as well as opposition to his school funding level, were cited as reasons for his low support among voters. The Medicaid management plan remains unpopular.

The governor’s spokesman, Ben Hammes, said it’s not Branstad’s practice to comment on polls. However, he did say Branstad is “focused on bringing more jobs and higher incomes for working Iowa families, improving our education for Iowa children, and reducing the size and cost of government.”

Eight of the 10 lowest-scoring governors were Republicans, with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at 71 percent disapproval and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in third place with 68 percent disapproval.

Seven out of the 10 governors with the highest approval ratings are Republicans with Govs. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota at 74 percent, and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, both at 70 percent.

The GOP holds 31 governor’s offices nationwide.

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