ELECTION 2020

Republican poll shows Iowa 1st District House race tied

No more debates planned between Abby Finkenauer and Ashley Hinson

Incumbent Democratic congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (left) and Republican challenger Ashley Hinson (right).
Incumbent Democratic congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (left) and Republican challenger Ashley Hinson (right).

A new poll in Iowa’s 1st District shows the race for the U.S. House seat in a dead heat.

The poll — conducted for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that seeks to elect Republicans to the House — shows incumbent Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer and her GOP challenger, state Rep. Ashley Hinson, tied at 45 percent each.

Hinson has “room to grow” based on voters’ hard opinion — the sum of those who view her favorably and those who view her unfavorably, according to the pollster, Basswood Research of Maryland.

Hinson has a 6 percentage point advantage with independents, according to Basswood, which also found that the 10 percent of voters who are undecided favor GOP President Donald Trump over former Vice President Joe Biden by 5 percentage points and favor Republicans on a generic ballot by 10 points, leaving Hinson “well-positioned to win.”

Finkenauer campaign spokesman Jason Noble called the poll “an unreliable push poll from a pollster with a history of inaccurate results.”

Basswood received a B/C grade in pollster ratings by fivethirtyeight.com, a website focusing on opinion poll analysis.

No more debates

Finkenauer and Hinson, who engaged in a Labor Day debate on Iowa PBS, apparently won’t be meeting for future debates.

The Aug. 10 derecho and House schedule in September “precluded us from holding additional debates before the start of early voting in Iowa” Oct. 5, Finkenauer said in a Thursday statement, noting the “most pressing issues” were covered in the Labor Day PBS debate.

Finkenauer has declined media invitations for another debate because she is “too busy,” according to KCRG-TV.

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Hinson said Finkenauer, by refusing to debate, “has decided to disrespect the very voters that sent her to Washington. The congresswoman should explain what exactly is keeping her so busy because it’s pretty clear right now that Washington is getting nothing done.”

Election handicappers have included Finkenauer among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents. The University of Virginia’s Crystal Ball on Thursday moved the race from “toss up” to “leans Democratic” based, in part, on gains Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has made in Iowa.

Declining additional debates may indicate Finkenauer realizes she’s out of touch, Hinson campaign manager Jimmy Peacock said.

The Basswood poll, Peacock said, found that 43 percent of 1st District voters called Finkenauer liberal, but only 19 percent of those polled identify as liberal.

The poll, with a 4.9 percent margin of error, sampled 400 likely voters Sept. 26-28 by live interviewers, half by landline and half by cellphone. Interviews were geographically distributed to reflect actual voting patterns in 20-county northeast Iowa district that includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown.

According to Oct. 1 numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State, 35 percent of 1st District voters are registered Democrats, 30 percent are Republicans.

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

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