New poll shows Hubbell ahead of Reynolds, but just barely

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Gov. Kim Reynolds and Fred Hubbell — photo courtesy of the Republican Governors Association. Photo by Zak Neumann

A new statewide poll found Democrat Fred Hubbell leading incumbent Kim Reynolds in the race for governor. But that lead was small enough to fall within the margin of error of the poll conducted by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom.

In the poll published on Saturday, 43 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Hubbell, while 41 percent backed Reynolds. Libertarian candidate Jake Porter was the choice of 7 percent, and 9 percent were undecided. According to the polling company, the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.

Probably a worse sign for Reynolds than Hubbell’s narrow lead is the increase in her disapproval rating. In January, 38 percent of likely voters disapproved of Reynolds’ job as governor. That number has now grown to 46 percent. Even 49 percent of Reynolds supporters surveyed disapproved of how she has handled the problems with the state’s privatization of Medicaid.

It’s worse for Reynolds among independent voters, with 69 percent calling her handling of Medicaid a problem. Overall, the poll found Hubbell leading Reynolds among independents, 40 percent to 34 percent. Independents, or voters registered with no party preference, constitute the largest segment of Iowa voters. According to the most recent numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, there are 779,099 voters registered as independents, 681,063 Republicans and 668,876 Democrats.

But independents strongly disapprove of how Hubbell handled the issue of his income taxes. While Reynolds released 10 years of her income taxes online, Hubbell only provided reporters with a summary of his 2017 state and federal taxes, and 68 percent of independents described this limited disclosure as a problem. Even among those who said they supported Hubbell, 57 percent disapproved.

The poll found a certain degree of softness in support for both candidates, with 32 percent of Hubbell supporters and 28 percent of Reynolds supporters saying they could still be persuaded to vote for a different candidate.

The poll of 801 Iowa adults was conducted by phone, both landline and cell phones, from Sept. 17-20.

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