Obama Trails Romney in Iowa

Obama Trails Romney in Iowa

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - July 14, 2011

A new poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading President Obama in a hypothetical general election matchup in Iowa, a state that swung for the president by nearly 10 points in the 2008 election.

According to a new Mason-Dixon poll, 47 percent of likely Iowa 2012 general election voters support Romney while 44 percent back Obama. The president holds a one-point edge over Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has surged to the front of the GOP pack in Iowa in recent weeks.

Bachmann edges Romney, 32 percent to 29 percent, among likely Republican caucus-goers. The Mason-Dixon poll is the third in the past week to show Bachmann leading the field. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty placed a distant third with 7 percent support. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 6 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul garnered 3 percent followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 2 percent and businessman Herman Cain with 1 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman received less than 1 percent support from Iowa Republicans.

While Bachmann and Pawlenty are competing aggressively in Iowa, it's not yet clear how much Romney will focus on the Hawkeye State. He announced last month that he wouldn't compete in the Aug. 13 Ames Straw Poll.

Obama's win in the Iowa caucuses four years ago was considered an integral part of the then-senator's rise to the White House. With record Democratic turnout, he took 38 percent of the vote, edging the second place finisher, former Sen. John Edwards, by roughly eight percentage points. In the general election, he went on to win the state, which had supported President George W. Bush in 2004. (Former Vice President Al Gore squeaked by Bush in the 2000 election by less than half a percentage point.)

But the Mason-Dixon poll suggests the economy might be dampening support for the president. Forty-seven percent of likely voters rate the economy as "poor" while only 12 percent rate it as "good." The majority (55 percent) of likely voters say their personal financial situation hasn't changed in the past year, though 27 percent say it has gotten worse. Only 18 percent say their financial situation has improved. Thirty-eight percent of likely voters think the economy will remain the same over the next year, while 36 percent think it will get better, and 19 percent fear it will get worse. However, Iowa voters have a more dismal outlook for their children: 54 percent say American children will be worse off in the future than they are now while 33 percent say the opposite.

The survey was conducted by Mason-Dixon for the non-profit Every Child Matters Education Fund from July 5 to July 7. The poll included 629 likely voters in Iowa and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent. The margin of error for the 300 likely Republican caucus-goers was plus or minus 5.7 percent.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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