Government

Iowa voters give edge to Sen. Joni Ernst, President Donald Trump, AARP poll finds

Nearly half of state's registered voters are 50 and older

Vice President Mike Pence waves with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst during the Aug. 13 launch of Farmers & Ranchers for Trump Coal
Vice President Mike Pence waves with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst during the Aug. 13 launch of Farmers & Ranchers for Trump Coalition in Des Moines. A new AARP poll shows Ernst with a 5 percentage point lead over Theresa Greenfield, her Democratic challenger in the Nov. 3 general election. (Associated Press)

Sen. Joni Ernst leads her Democratic challenger by a 5-point margin, but the gap narrows slightly among older voters who make up the bulk of the Iowa electorate.

A statewide poll conducted for AARP Iowa found that the Iowa Republican, who is running for a second term, leads Theresa Greenfield, 50 percent to 45 percent, among likely voters.

Her lead shrinks to 50 percent to 46 percent among voters 50 and older but still is outside the 3.5 percent margin of error.

The poll also found President Donald Trump leading Democratic challenger former Vice President Joe Biden, 47 percent to 45 percent — within the poll’s margin of error. Among voters 50 and older, the gap remained the same, 48 percent for Trump to 46 percent for Biden.

Data from the Iowa Secretary of State Office shows Iowans 50 and older are more likely to be registered to vote and more likely to participate in elections.

Nearly half — 49 percent — of the nearly 2.2 million Iowans registered to vote are at least 50 years old.

More than 80 percent of 50-plus voters cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election compared to 70 percent for voters ages 35 to 49 and about 55 percent for Iowans 18 to 34, the data shows.

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Republican Party of Iowa spokesman Aaron Britt suggested the poll is a reflection of a U.S. Senate race “that is shifting in Ernst’s favor.”

While the incumbent has been out meeting with voters on the campaign trail and as part of her annual 99-county tour, he said, Greenfield has been following the game plan of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — “dodging tough questions from reporters, dodging forums and dodging the people of Iowa.”

“It isn’t going to work,” Britt said.

Greenfield spokeswoman Izzi Levy said the campaign has known from the start the race would be one of the closest in the country.

“By voting to dismantle Iowa’s Medicaid expansion and refusing to apologize for pushing dangerous and debunked conspiracies attacking our health care heroes, Sen. Ernst has become one of the most vulnerable incumbent politicians in the country,” Levy said.

“Theresa is going to continue holding Sen. Ernst accountable and working day and night to compete for every single vote.”

The poll of 800 likely Iowa voters was conducted between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5 by Fabrizio Ward and Hart Research by landline and cellphones.

The full results of the poll will be released by AARP on Tuesday.

In a poll for AARP Iowa in July, Ernst’s approval rating among older voters was 11 points underwater — 42 percent to 53 percent. Trump’s numbers were similar — 45 percent approval to 52 percent disapproval.

Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds had a 56 percent approval rating to 38 percent disapproval, and Sen. Chuck Grassley’s rating was 54 percent approval and 41 percent disapproval.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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