Braley Leads in Iowa Senate Race

Braley Leads in Iowa Senate Race
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Despite President Obama’s low approval rating in Iowa, Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley has a double-digit lead over most of his likely Republican challengers in the U.S. Senate race, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. Looking to 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly leads the pack of possible Republican challengers.

Obama’s approval rating stands at just 39 percent in Iowa, with 57 percent of voters disapproving of his performance. A December Quinnipiac poll showed the president’s numbers in roughly the same place.

While many election analysts have suggested that Obama’s low ratings could hurt Democratic candidates throughout the country, this doesn’t appear to be true in Iowa. Braley leads three of his most likely Republican challengers by at least 10 percentage points. Only businessman Mark Jacobs comes closer than 10 points, losing a hypothetical matchup, 40 percent-31 percent.

However, the contours of the Senate race could change drastically over the coming months. Forty-six percent of Iowa voters don’t have an opinion about Braley, and between 77 and 85 percent of have no opinion of the various Republican candidates.

In hypothetical 2016 matchups throughout various swing states, Hillary Clinton maintains solid leads over most Republicans, and Iowa is no exception. She leads embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by 48 percent-35 percent. (In a December poll, taken before the Bridgegate scandal erupted, Christie led Clinton, 45-40.) Clinton also leads Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, by double digits.

“Politics is a team sport and the head of the blue team, President Barack Obama, isn't doing well in the eyes of Iowans,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “But that doesn't seem to be hurting teammate Hillary Clinton, who swamps potential 2016 Republican competitors among the same electorate.”

The survey of 1,411 registered voters was conducted March 5-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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