Elections

Judge 'very encouraged,' despite trailing Grassley in Senate race

New poll shows incumbent Iowa senator's approval rating below 50 percent

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic challenger Patty Judge.
Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic challenger Patty Judge.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Despite trailing, Patty Judge is “very encouraged” by a new poll on the Iowa U.S. Senate race.

A Public Policy Polling poll shows Sen. Chuck Grassley leading Judge 46 percent to 39 percent with more than four months until Election Day.

“Seven points, that’s a horse race,” Judge said in Cedar Rapids Tuesday.

The poll showed that for the first time Grassley, a six-term Republican, is under 50 percent in general election support and in his approval rating.

That may look like a horse race to Judge, but Grassley campaign manager Robert Haus pointed out that in five other battleground states PPP — Judge’s primary campaign pollster — found Democrats leading or within a percentage point or two of the incumbent Republican senator.

“Even with a bogus survey, she’s the weak link,” he said.

Judge, who said her campaign did not commission the most recent poll, also takes encouragement from the poll’s finding that 40 percent of the 897 registered voters surveyed June 22-23 are less likely to vote for Grassley because of his refusal to hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

“And there’s more undecided voters” than in an early June poll, which Judge called “good news for a challenger.”

“Now I have to work very hard to close the gap,” she said.

The Republican Party of Iowa has been chiding Judge for not working hard at all. Since winning the four-way Democratic primary with 48 percent of the vote, the former lieutenant governor “has returned to her favorite pre-primary spot: off the campaign trail,” according to the party.

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“Patty Judge is fond of saying she is the judge you can’t ignore, but the problem is nobody could find her if they tried,” RPI Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said.

“I didn’t know I was hiding,” Judge said. She’s keeping a busy schedule meeting with Democrats “and a fair number of independents” around the state. She was in Sioux City and Council Bluffs Monday, and Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Tuesday.

“I haven’t slept in the same place more than a night for a week or 10 days,” Judges said.

She’s doing the same things as in previous statewide campaigns for Secretary of Agriculture and lieutenant governor.

“I’m going to coffee shops and businesses, talking to people and shaking hands,” Judge said. “This is still a retail politics state.”

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