Bruce Braley leads four potential Republican opponents in a potential bid for the U.S. Senate, according to the first significant poll on the 2014 race.
The national polling outfit Public Policy Polling surveyed 846 Iowa voters as well as 326 “usual Republican primary voters” from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3 and found Braley, the Democratic Congressman from Iowa’s 1st District, leads all four potential Republican opponents in a potential race to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, who announced recently he will not run for re-election in 2014.
The polling outfit, which has a Democratic lean but posted sparkling accuracy in the 2010 and 2012 elections, conducted one of its more expansive polls by testing head-to-head four Democratic candidates against four Republicans, producing 16 results. The Democrats were Braley, former Iowa governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver, and 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack; the Republicans were Congressmen Steve King and Tom Latham, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats.
Braley and Vilsack, not surprisingly, emerged as the strongest Democratic candidates. Braley, who is widely expected to run for the Senate seat, leads Latham by three points, Reynolds by seven, King by 11 and Vander Plaats by 18.
Vilsack leads by four points over Latham, eight points over Reynolds, 10 over King and 17 over Vander Plaats.
Democrats enjoyed leads in 14 of the 16 head-to-head matchups, the exceptions being Latham over Culver and Loebsack.
The Republican results showed King with a dominating advantage in any primary, but a distinct disadvantage in any general election matchup. King, a staunch conservative from Iowa’s 4th District, leads the other three Republicans by at least 19 points, but trails each of the four Democrats by at least seven. King trails each of the two most likely Democratic candidates by double digits.
“Steve King is the darling of Republican primary voters while simultaneously having no appeal to voters in the middle,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “It’s the story of the last two election cycles for GOP Senate hopes.”
Latham is clearly the Republicans’ best bet in a general election, at least according to the PPP poll. He trails Braley by just three points and Vilsack by four.