CEDAR RAPIDS — At the same time the race for governor was heating up, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ approval rating from Iowans ticked upward.
The Morning Consult poll, conducted over the past three months, found the Republican’s favorability ranking rose from 40 percent in the April-May-June quarter to 43 percent in the July-August-September quarter. Reynolds’ disapproval numbers fell from 39 percent to 38 percent. Voters who said “don’t know” fell from 21 percent to 19 percent, according to the poll of registered voters from July 1 through Sept. 25.
The poll, which covered September when much of the fight over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh took place, found that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s approval rating stayed steady at 45 percent.
The new numbers are good news for Reynolds, who is locked in a tight race with Democrat Fred Hubbell. The race is rated “toss up” and recent polls have shown him with a 2-percentage-point lead — within the margin of error.
Her 43 percent approval rating reflects Iowans’ belief that under Reynolds’ leadership “Iowa is headed in the right direction,” campaign spokesman Pat Garrett aid.
“She signed into law the largest tax cut in Iowa history, wages are up, the budget is balanced and we’ve put more money away into the state’s rainy day fund,” he said. “No wonder USA Today calls Iowa one of the best-run states in the nation.
“The race is close, but support is breaking our way because Gov. Reynolds is the best candidate to ‘Keep Iowa Moving,’” he said.
But the Hubbell campaign called the numbers “weak” for an incumbent.
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“Gov. Reynolds still has one of the lowest approval ratings of any governor in the country,” said Hubbell spokeswoman Emilie Simons. Although more than half of governors have approval ratings lower than 50 percent, only 11 governors have lower approval ratings than Reynolds.
“She has failed to recognize the issues facing Iowans, let alone address them,” Simons said, referring to the privatization of Medicaid management, a lack of mental health care, and a K-12 education system rated “C.” “Iowans want a leader who listens, and most importantly, as Fred Hubbell has promised to do, bring the needed change they deserve.”
The Morning Consult poll approval number is an improvement on Reynolds’ numbers from the first quarter of the year when 42 percent of registered Iowa voters approved, but her disapproval number also increased from 35 percent.
Despite the increase in approval, the Washington Post rates Iowa governor’s office as the ninth-most likely to flip Nov. 6 based, in part, on the unpopularity of President Donald Trump’s trade policies and tariffs among farmers. Although Reynolds was not in the top 10 for approval ratings, for the seventh quarter in a row, the 10 most popular governors in the country are all Republicans. Seven of the 10 governors with the lowest approval numbers also are Republicans.
Approval ratings for Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst, both Republicans, have remained stable this year. Grassley’s had a 45/38 percent approval/disapproval rating. His approval rating has been at 45 percent for three quarters and Grassley’s disapproval number has fluctuated from 38 to 39 percent.
Ernst’s approval rating has remained steady at 42 percent this year and her disapproval rating has gone from 37 percent of 38 percent and back to 37 percent.
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