Elections

Blum leads Vernon in latest First District poll

U.S. House candidates Rod Blum and Monica Vernon.
U.S. House candidates Rod Blum and Monica Vernon.

DUBUQUE — A new poll from Loras College shows U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, R-1st District, maintaining a lead in his bid for a second term against Democratic opponent Monica Vernon.

The poll gives Blum an edge of 6 points, 47 percent to 41 percent. But with just three days until the election, 12 percent are undecided.

“In an otherwise volatile election year, it appears that Iowa’s two first-term incumbents hold the advantage going into Election Day,” Loras College Poll Director Christopher Budzisz said of Blum and U.S. Rep. David Young, R-3rd District.

Budzisz added, “Plenty of undecideds remain, so the campaigns will be pushing for votes until the very end.”

Vernon, a former Cedar Rapids City Council member, campaigned in Waterloo Saturday afternoon with former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack as the poll was released. The get-out-the-vote rally was her second stop in as many days. Blum made a high-profile stop with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday and plans another event in Waterloo Monday afternoon.

The poll, conducted Nov. 1-3, surveyed 415 Iowans who are likely voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percent. The poll mirrors one Loras College conducted in September, where Blum led by 7 points, with 16 percent undecided.

Blum’s campaign made clear it will taken nothing for granted between now and Election Day, despite the positive poll numbers.

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“The Loras Poll shows that Eastern Iowans are continuing to respond to Congressman Blum’s message of reforming Congress, reigniting the economy, and protecting Social Security and Medicare — while rejecting Mrs. Vernon’s negative Washington-style campaign,” added Blum for Congress spokesman Daniel Sunne.

Vernon’s spokeswoman Michelle Gajewski noted, however, the polls in Iowa’s 1st District have been up and down throughout the election cycle, with a recent poll showing Vernon with a slight lead. Another poll conducted for Blum’s campaign has him up by 11 points.

“The one thing we know for sure is that this will be a close race,” Gajewski said. “We hear on the doors every single day that Monica’s message of growing an economy that works for all of us is resonating.”

She added, “What voters know is that Congressman Blum puts his tea party agenda ahead of middle class families.”

The poll also showed that voters have a slightly more unfavorable view of Blum — 36.2 percent view him favorably to 37.6 percent who view him unfavorably. Vernon, meanwhile, has 37.1 percent who view her favorably to 34.5 percent who view her unfavorably. About an equal percentage of people, nearly 25 percent, have no opinion of the two candidates.

Loras’ poll also found a close race at the top of the ticket, in the contest between presidential nominees Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. The poll, which surveyed 500 people statewide, gave Clinton her first lead since the end of August 44 to 43 percent, with a 4.4 percent margin of error.

It shows third-party candidates Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein both at 3 percent, and 7 percent undecided.

“It looks like things may come down to the wire here in Iowa,” Budzisz said of the presidential race. “Given Trump’s advantage with those people who have not yet voted, this election may come down to the relative size of the early vote compared to the size of the turnout.”

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