Iowa voters would back former President Donald Trump by 11 percentage points over President Biden if a general election were held today, according to a new poll out Thursday.
The Emerson College survey showed 49% of Hawkeye State voters supporting Trump in 2024, with 38% supporting Biden. Another 10% said they would not vote for either, and 3% remained undecided.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced his presidential bid Wednesday night, has a slightly smaller lead over the incumbent president in Iowa, with 45% backing DeSantis and 38% backing Biden. Another 11% said they would support someone else and 6% said they were undecided.
Among Republican caucusgoers, Trump has 62% support, more than triple DeSantis’ 20% support — with former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Gov. and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley level at 5% support.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who announced his campaign Monday, came in with 3% support.
“Trump’s lead in the caucus reflects his numbers in Emerson’s March New Hampshire primary poll, where he held a 41-point lead over DeSantis,” said Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling.
“The former president’s base continues to be voters under 35: 75% of whom support Trump, and voters without a college degree: 70% support Trump. DeSantis’s support is higher among voters with a postgraduate degree, with 29% support, still trailing Trump’s 37% with this group.”
The poll also found Biden’s job approval among Iowans languishing at just 35%, with 54% disapproving. However, more than three-quarters (76%) of Democratic caucus-goers said they approved of Biden, with 69% vowing to back him over Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (11%) and Marianne Williamson (10%).
“Heading into the 2024 primary season, President Biden is in a comfortable position,” Kimball went on. “Compared to his performance in the state in [the] 2020 [caucuses] where he received about 16% of the final vote, less than a third of Democratic caucus voters are looking to another candidate in 2024.
“Biden’s support is stronger among voters with a college degree than those without: 78% to 59%,” he added.
Iowans say their most important issues in 2024 are the economy (31%), education (15%), “threats to democracy” (15%), immigration (10%), abortion access (9%) and health care (8%).
A majority of those voters (54%) also say Biden’s 2020 victory was legitimate, but 46% say it was not.
Of those polled, 37% say voter fraud is the greatest threat to legitimate elections, 24% say voter suppression, 13% say foreign interference, 7% say malfunctioning voting machines and 10% say other unidentified threats. Just 9% say there are no threats to election legitimacy.
“Ninety-one percent of Democrats and 57% of independent voters think Biden’s victory in 2020 was legitimate, while 78% of Republicans think it was not legitimate,” Kimball also said.
“This reflects the numbers we saw among Kentucky Republican primary voters, 79% of whom believe Biden’s win was not legitimate. Among these voters who think the election was not legitimate, 66% think voter fraud presents the greatest threat to elections.”
Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Iowa voters also believe the state’s status as the first to hold a presidential nominating contest is “very” or “somewhat” important to preserve, while 16% say it is “not very” important and 11% say it’s “not at all” important.
More Republicans (86%) than Democrats (62%) said it was important to keep Iowa as the first nominating state, while 92% of both Republican and Democratic caucus-goers said it was important for candidates to debate before the caucuses are held.