Pollster sees Iowans evenly split in governor choices

Reynolds wins in rural areas, Hubbell in urban; suburban voters key

JOHNSTON — It’s the physics, stupid.

The apparent political phenomenon of Iowa voters swinging from supporting Barack Obama in two elections to giving Donald Trump a 9 percentage point win in 2016 to being evenly split today between the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor may be explained by Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics, according to Iowa’s leading political pollster.

“I think that it’s a little bit of Newton’s Law about for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Co. said Friday during taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press.”

Trump, according to Selzer, whose West Des Moines-based Selzer & Co. polls for Bloomberg and the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll, succeeded in 2016 not only because voters were angry and wanted change but because there was a “drop-off of interest in voting among Democrats.”

Hillary Clinton wasn’t a perfect fit for Iowa Democrats, which created a situation in which there was “less of an inclination to show up.”

Fast forward to today.

Selzer’s polling shows Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell’s 43 percent to 41 percent lead over GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds to be within the margin of error.

“I feel that with Gov. Reynolds and with Fred Hubbell both parties feel good about their candidates and that, I think, changes the tone and tenor of the race,” Selzer said. “I feel like it’s going to be a higher turnout because of it.”

There is much speculation that the key to Democratic success in the Nov. 6 election is among suburban voters, especially women, who are trending heavily toward Democratic candidates.


Selzer’s national polling supports that theory. Although she doesn’t break out suburban voters in her Iowa polling, Selzer has found that Reynolds wins in rural areas and Hubbell wins in urban or non-rural areas.

It’s hard to predict how Iowa suburban voters will cast their ballots, Selzer said, because many suburbanites are former rural Iowans.

“I think that is why suburbs sort of, kind of, are this flippy-floppy kind of area because often that is where the rural voters are moving,” she said, “They’re sort of moving to the edge of cities where that is a hybrid of kind of rural, kind of city.

“But I don’t have any particular data that would explain that the reason you move to the city is because you want to be around people who think more like you. It could go either way.”

“Iowa Press” can be seen at 7:30 p.m. today (Oct. 26) and noon Sunday on IPTV and at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on IPTV World. It is available online at

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