It was a bit of a shock, and also may illuminate the power of television advertising.
A poll published this week showed Fred Hubbell with a commanding lead in the race to be Iowa Democrats’ nominee to face Gov. Kim Reynolds in this fall’s election.
The poll results were surprising given what Democrats on the ground have been saying about the race and its candidates, and the results — if reliable — may speak to the influence television advertising can have on voters.
The poll showed Hubbell was chosen by 46 percent of likely Democratic primary voters; the next-best showing was Nate Boulton at 20 percent. No other candidate broke double digits.
The poll was conducted by Kansas City-based Remington Research Group for KBUR radio in Burlington, Iowa. Remington, which is headed by national Republican consultant Jeff Roe, surveyed more than 2,300 likely Iowa Democratic primary voters over May 5 and May 6, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Remington only called land lines for the poll; no voters were contacted via mobile phone. Such an approach could tilt the results toward older voters.
At candidate forums and party events, Iowa Democrats have expressed support for a wide array of choices in the six-candidate field, and many more have said they are undecided on a candidate.
The other Democratic candidates are Cathy Glasson, John Norris, Andy McGuire and Ross Wilburn.
Many Democrats and political observers have said they think the support is so divided that no candidate will reach 35 percent in the June 5 primary election, in which case the party’s nominee would be chosen instead at its state convention a few weeks later.
But in the KBUR/Remington poll, Hubbell’s support easily clears that threshold for a primary victory on Election Day, and only 18 percent of respondents said they are undecided.
There has been precious little polling on the gubernatorial primary. Way back in November, the liberal political news website Iowa Starting Line published a poll, conducted by 20/20 Insight. That poll also showed Hubbell with a lead, with 22 percent of the support to Boulton’s 13.
If both polls were accurate, Hubbell took the early lead and has since expanded it.
If that is the case, Hubbell’s ability to get on TV early and often may be one of the biggest factors in his success, especially in a race in which the entire field started with little name recognition among most Iowa voters.
Hubbell raised more than $3 million in 2017, far more than any of the other candidates. And his campaign ads have been on TV consistently since this past fall.
“The strong lead for Hubbell is likely related to his advantage in TV advertising which boosts name recognition,” Robin Johnson, a political science professor at Monmouth College in the Quad-Cities and host of KBUR’s “Heartland Politics,” said in a media release announcing the poll results.
Whether the poll represents an accurate snapshot of the race remains to be seen. The poll is tough to judge with a dearth of polling against which to compare.
Ann Selzer, you’re up.
REYNOLDS HAS ANOTHER AD
Speaking of advertising in the gubernatorial campaign, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ second TV ad went on the air this week.
Titled "Longer," the 30-second spot highlights Reynolds balancing family and work, as lieutenant governor at the time, while obtaining her degree from Iowa State University.
SCOTT WALKER BACKS ZUMBACH
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed Dan Zumbach in the Republican primary for Iowa secretary of agriculture, the Zumbach campaign announced this week.
Zumbach supported Walker’s presidential campaign in 2015.
The other Republican ag secretary candidates are Mike Naig, Crag Lang, Chad Ingels and Ray Gaesser.
Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.