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New results on Biden, Trump and Kennedy in the presidential race

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  • Trump leads Biden 50% to 32% among likely voters in Iowa.
  • Biden’s approval rating among all Iowans has remained low at 28%.
  • Iowans overwhelmingly believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.

© Copyright 2024, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

Two weeks after he was convicted of multiple crimes in a New York courtroom, former Republican President Donald Trump still holds a double-digit lead over Democratic incumbent Joe Biden in Iowa.

A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll shows Trump with a 50% to 32% lead over Biden among likely voters.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who says he has qualified for the presidential election in Iowa, earns 9%. Another 2% of likely voters in Iowa are choosing Libertarian presidential candidate Chase Oliver, 3% say they would vote for someone else, 1% wouldn’t vote and 3% aren’t sure.

The results come less than five months after Election Day and before either candidate formally accepts their party’s nomination at their respective national conventions this summer.

They also come just weeks after Trump was found guilty of 34 felonies related to hush money payments he made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

But the horse race numbers are largely unchanged from an Iowa poll in February, when Trump led Biden among likely voters by 48% to 33%. Another 15% said they would vote for someone else.

Donald Share, a 63-year-old Waterloo resident and poll respondent, said he became a Republican because of Trump and plans to vote for him in November.

“I like that he doesn’t take any jokes from anyone, that he puts America first,” Share said. “You know, we need to take care of ourselves before we worry about everyone else.”

He said Trump’s criminal conviction only strengthened his decision to vote for him.

“His convictions on these charges are part of the reason I reached this decision,” Share said. “The more they try to get him out of the picture, the stronger they make him. I, for one, believe the allegations are false.”

Of likely voters who name a first-choice candidate, 67% say they have made up their minds, while 29% say they can still be convinced and 3% do not name a first-choice candidate.

Among Trump supporters, 76% say they have made up their minds. Another 24% say they can still be convinced.

Biden’s supporters are slightly more locked in, with 81% saying they are firm in their choice and 19% saying they can be convinced.

Although the sample size is small, the number of supporters of other candidates who are not incarcerated is significant. Among Kennedy supporters, 82% say they can be convinced. This includes 87% of Oliver’s supporters and 60% of those supporting someone else.

The survey of 806 Iowa adults was conducted by Selzer & Co. from June 9 to 14. from Des Moines and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The questions from 632 likely voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Biden’s approval rating continues ‘constant decline’

As the candidates enter the general election season, Biden’s approval rating among all Iowans remains low at 28%. Another 67% disapprove of his performance as president, and 5% are unsure.

That’s down from the 29% approval he earned in February 2024 and his 30% in March 2023.

Pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., said the numbers are symbolically important because they represent a “consistent decline” over time.

“It’s not like there’s much change,” she said. “It’s just that the direction is consistently downward.”

Seventy-seven percent of Democrats approve of Biden’s performance, and 97% of Republicans disapprove.

Independents lean more than 2-to-1 toward disapproval, with 69% disapproving of the president’s performance and 24% approving.

Biden performs best among people 65 or older, although a larger share disapproves than approves. Of that group, 46% say they approve and 52% say they disapprove.

That contrasts with those under 35, who are Biden’s worst demographic. Only 15% of those under 35 approve of Biden’s job performance, while 76% disapprove. That’s slightly worse than in February, when 21% approved and 76% disapproved.

Biden’s approval ratings are also low when it comes to a range of issues facing the country.

Iowans rate the president highest for his handling of abortion, with 32% saying they approve and another 52% disapproving.

Danielle Goedken, a 23-year-old Cedar Falls resident and poll respondent, said she plans to vote — reluctantly — for Biden this fall.

“In a sense, I chose the lesser of two evils,” said Goedken, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but I felt like (Biden) was the closest fit to my values.”

She especially agrees with the way he handles issues surrounding abortion.

“President Biden, I think, really aligns well with the Democratic Party (and) he has made his position very known,” Goedken said..

She is among the 68% of Iowans who disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration. Another 24% agree.

“Trump and Biden — despite what Biden campaigned on — their policies are very similar,” she said.

Biden continued to work on “the wall that Trump started and could not complete. “Biden has rolled back Trump’s executive orders on immigration, but (Biden) has also recently created new executive orders and policies that are pretty much the same things he was trying to get rid of.”

When it comes to inflation, 25% of Iowans say they approve of Biden’s job, while 69% disapprove.

And 23% approve of his handling of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, while 64% disapprove.

Overall, Biden is viewed favorably by 33% of Iowans and unfavorably by 66%.

Among members of his own party, he remained stable from 87% in February to 86% today.

Trump maintains favorable numbers, but struggles with independent women

Biden is performing substantially lower than Trump, who is viewed favorably by 51% and unfavorably by 47%.

The former president has maintained his popularity among Republicans, 86% of whom view him favorably, unchanged from February.

Among independents, 48% view him favorably and 50% view him unfavorably. That’s an improvement from February, when it was 42% to 53%.

But there are stark differences in the way independent women and independent men view the former president.

Of men who say they are independent, 54% have a positive image of Trump and 43% an unfavorable image.

For independent women, the situation is reversed: only 41% of them say they have a positive view of Trump, while 58% have an unfavorable view of Trump.

‘Double haters’ in Iowa prefer third-party candidates over Biden, Trump

Biden and Trump each have large shares of Iowans who view them unfavorably.

At 66%, Biden has the highest unfavorable rating of all politicians tested in the Iowa Poll. That includes 50% of Iowans who say they have a very unfavorable view of him.

At 47%, Trump has the highest unfavorable rating of all Republican politicians tested in the poll. This also includes 37% who say they have a very unfavorable view.

Thirteen percent of likely voters say they have an unfavorable view of both candidates. Pundits and analysts have focused on this group of so-called “double haters,” who are turned off by both candidates.

According to the poll, Iowa’s double haters lean toward Biden over Trump, 26% to 16%.

Only 26% go for Kennedy, 11% for Oliver and 14% for someone else.

Iowans believe the nation is heading in the wrong direction

Iowans overwhelmingly believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Seventy-seven percent say things in the country have gone in the wrong direction, while only 17% say things are going in the right direction.

That includes 96% of Republicans who believe the country is going in the wrong direction, and 45% of Democrats.

It continues a streak of historically low ratings under the Biden presidency.

In July 2022, just 10% of Iowans said they thought things were going in the right direction — the lowest point in the history of the Iowa Poll. The previous record was 18% during the Great Recession of 2008.

As of July 2022, no more than 20% have said they believe the country is moving in the right direction.

Des Moines Register reporter Samantha Hernandez contributed to this report.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the Des Moines Register’s chief politics reporter. She also covers the 2024 presidential race for USA TODAY as a senior national campaign correspondent. Reach her out [email protected] or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

About the Iowa Poll

The Iowa Poll, conducted June 9-14, 2024, for The Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. from Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 806 Iowans aged 18 or older. Interviewers from Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and mobile phone numbers provided by Dynata. The interviews were conducted in English. Responses were adjusted by age, gender and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent estimates from the American Community Survey.

Questions based on the sample of 806 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. This means that if this study were repeated 19 out of 20 times with the same questions and the same methodology, the findings would not differ from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Results based on smaller samples of respondents – for example based on gender or age – have a larger margin of error.

Republishing the copyrighted Iowa Poll without credit and, on digital platforms, links to the original content on The Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited.