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 BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE and Democratic Senate hopeful Theresa Greenfield running 3 points behind their Republican opponents.

The poll from Monmouth University found President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal 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 ErnstGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization More Republicans call on Biden to designate Taliban as terrorist group Top Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal 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.


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 ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports 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.


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.