Poll: Trump, Ernst lead Democratic challengers by 3 points in Iowa

Democrats are within striking distance in both the presidential and Senate contests in Iowa, according to a poll released Wednesday that shows former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Fox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio MORE and Democratic Senate hopeful Theresa Greenfield running 3 points behind their Republican opponents.

The poll from Monmouth University found President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE with a narrow lead in the Hawkeye State, garnering 48 percent of the vote to Biden’s 45 percent. In the Iowa Senate race, Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll The power of incumbency: How Trump is using the Oval Office to win reelection Poll: Trump opens up 6-point lead over Biden in Iowa MORE (R) also captured 48 percent support, while Greenfield matched Biden at 45 percent. 

In both races, the Democratic candidates’ deficits are well within the poll’s 4.9 percentage point margin of error.

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Biden holds the edge in 13 counties where the vote margins were the closest in 2016, according to the Monmouth poll. In those so-called swing counties, the former vice president leads Trump 52 percent to 45 percent. Four years ago, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio Trump, Biden court Black business owners in final election sprint The power of incumbency: How Trump is using the Oval Office to win reelection MORE won those counties by a combined 1-point margin.

Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said those figures suggest that Iowa has become more competitive than it was in 2016, when Trump carried the state by a nearly 10-point margin.

“Iowa looks to be more competitive than four years ago. There is a lot of parity between Trump and Biden in both the strength of their support and the preferences of key demographic groups,” Murray said.

Taken together, the close margins in both the presidential race and Senate race are a boon for Democrats who until recently had believed that Iowa was sliding further out of reach for them. 

But the state has become more competitive in recent months as Trump’s lead over Biden has narrowed considerably. Three months ago, the FiveThirtyEight polling average in Iowa showed Trump with a 3.5-point advantage over Biden. As of Wednesday, that lead has shrunk to just 1.2 points.

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Ernst is also facing an increasingly competitive race against Greenfield, with several recent polls showing her trailing her Democratic rival. A Des Moines Register-Mediacom Iowa survey released in June showed Greenfield with a 3-point advantage in the state.

“Ernst won a competitive open seat contest six years ago. Greenfield is giving the incumbent a run for her money to hold onto it,” Murray said.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, moved the race between Ernst and Greenfield into its toss-up column late last month, putting it among the most competitive Senate fights in the country, along with races in Colorado, Maine, North Carolina and Montana.

The Monmouth University poll is based on interviews with 401 registered Iowa voters conducted from July 30 to Aug. 3. It has a margin of sampling error of 4.9 percentage points.