Polling shows tight race in Iowa's 1st District

U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer speaks in 2018 in Hiawatha. The Democrat is running for re-election in November in a House rac
U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer speaks in 2018 in Hiawatha. The Democrat is running for re-election in November in a House race most analysts see as a toss-up. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — More than seven months ahead of the 2020 election, Republicans are touting polling that indicates they may be able to flip a U.S. House seat in Iowa.

A poll of 400 Iowa 1st District voters found that freshman Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque and GOP challenger, state Rep. Ashley Hinson of Marion, are virtually tied.

“This poll confirms that Iowa voters are not fooled by Abby Finkenauer’s empty rhetoric,” said Bob Salera, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which commissioned the poll of 400 voters in the 20-county northeast Iowa congressional district. “Finkenauer’s support of Nancy Pelosi’s socialist agenda is massively unpopular back home and will cost her a seat in Congress.”

The Republican poll, conducted March 3-5 by Public Opinion Strategies, showed Finkenauer leading Hinson 45 percent to 44 percent with a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Brooke Goren, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman, was dismissive of the poll.

“Washington Republicans can play politics all they want for their handpicked candidate,” she said about Hinson, who has a primary election opponent, Thomas Hansen, a Winneshiek County farmer, “Rep. Finkenauer is getting things done for Iowans as our country confronts an unprecedented global crisis.”

Republicans hope to return the seat to the GOP column after Finkenauer, a former two-term Iowa House member, defeated Rep. Rod Blum by about 5 percentage points in the 2018 Democratic wave election.


They point out the result of the NRCC poll is similar to a recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll conducted March 2-5 that showed an unnamed Republican candidate leading an unnamed Democrat 45 percent to 44 percent with a margin of error of more than 3.8 percent.

In the NRCC poll, when voters were asked a generic ballot question, an unnamed Republican led 44 percent to 37 percent.

Among the 50 percent of the voters who had heard of both candidates, the NRCC poll found Hinson in front 48 percent to 44 percent.

Also, the NRCC poll found that 1st District independent voters preferred a GOP candidate 37 percent to 25 percent; 51 percent of all voters approved of President Donald Trump’s job performance and preferred him to likely Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, 49 percent to 43 percent; and 33 percent had a favorable opinion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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