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GOP straw polls show two-man gubernatorial race
Christian radio host Steve Deace has begun compiling results from gubernatorial straw polls held at numerous Republican caucuses around the state Saturday, and while the results bare no true weight they do confirm that a little more than five months before the primary it’s shaping up as a two-man race.
In the eight counties that Deace was able to find results (not all counties held a gubernatorial straw poll), in only one did a candidate other than Bob Vander Plaats or Terry Branstad garner more than 20 percent of the vote. Branstad was victorious in three of the counties, with Vander Plaats winning the other five.
The results, as posted on Deace’s blog:
Appanoose County: Vander Plaats 62 percent, Branstad 47 percent, and Roberts 1 percent.
Cerro Gordo County: Branstad 46 percent, Vander Plaats 44 percent, and Roberts 12 percent.
Hancock County: Vander Plaats 74 percent, Branstad 20 percent, Roberts 5 percent, and Rants 1 percent.
Howard County: Vander Plaats 76 percent, Branstad 24 percent.
Lee County: Branstad 42 percent, Vander Plaats 26 percent, Roberts 22 percent, and Rants 9 percent.
Madison County: Vander Plaats 50 percent, Branstad 44 percent, and Roberts 0.5 percent
Mahaska County: Vander Plaats 71 percent, Branstad 24 percent, Rants 4 percent, and Roberts 1 percent.
Marshall County: Branstad 40 percent, Vander Plaats 38 percent, Roberts 19 percent, and Rants 3 percent.
In an e-mail to Deace, Vander Plaats’ campaign manager Eric Woolson said these results show that the poll leaked by the Branstad campaign last week showing the former governor with a commanding lead among likely voters “might as well have been drawn up on the back of a cocktail napkin during happy hour in some bar because it certainly doesn’t reflect what real Republican voters had to say at their caucuses.”
Caucuses are traditionally dominated by each party’s base, which in the case of Republicans means social and religious conservatives. The strategic importance of the events in a non-presidential year comes from the fact that caucuses attendees choose delegates to the county, district and state party conventions. If no candidate in an Iowa primary election receives at least 35 percent of the vote, those delegates decide who will be the party’s nominee.
Of the eight straw polls verified by Deace, Vander Plaasts may have won the majority but Branstad won the three largest: Cerro Gordo, Marshall and Lee counties.
The results do offer some hope to state Rep. Rod Roberts, who garnered respectable totals in Cerro Gordo, Lee and Marshall counties. Some have speculated that Roberts could benefit from Branstad and Vander Plaats focusing their attacks on each other, especially following the controversy earlier this month surrounding the Iowa Family Policy Center’s endorsement of Vander Plaats and pledge to sit out the fall campaign if Branstad is the nominee.
State Rep. Chris Rants garnered no votes in five of the counties and never topped 3 percent in those he did get support in. However, none of the straw polls were from counties in western Iowa, where Rants would be more well known.