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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would nearly double his margin of victory in Iowa over incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden if a rematch of their 2020 contest were held now, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows.

In an early test of the expected matchup, Trump leads Biden by 15 percentage points among likely voters, 48% to 33%.

Another 15% of poll respondents would vote for “someone else,” 1% would not vote and 2% are not sure.

In 2020, Trump defeated Biden in Iowa by about 8 percentage points.

“Donald Trump’s a businessman, he’s not a career politician,” said Gregory Wrobleski, a 44-year-old Dubuque resident and poll respondent who has supported Trump since 2016. “When he was in office, back to his first term, our economy was booming. There were no wars across the world. Our border was getting secured. We were taking care of our own people. … It was a better place to live.”

The findings come as Iowa Democrats prepare to release the results of their first-ever mail-in caucus Tuesday evening, and as 15 other states and one territory vote in Super Tuesday primary elections.

Biden is not facing serious challengers and is expected to win Iowa’s Democratic caucuses and once again claim his party’s nomination. But his reelection effort comes as Democrats raise new alarms about Biden’s ability to hold together his winning 2020 coalition and overcome voters’ fears about his age.

Trump soundly won Iowa’s Republican caucuses in January, and he is on pace to easily clinch the Republican Party’s presidential nomination over former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Iowans’ desire for change in the White House is reflected in their dismal approval ratings of Biden’s job performance.

Fewer than one-third of all Iowans, 29%, say they approve of the job Biden is doing in office, and 69% disapprove.

At the same time, 79% of Iowans say things in the country have gotten off on the wrong track, while just 17% say things are going in the right direction. Another 4% are not sure.

Almost all Republicans (95%) share that negative outlook, but Democrats are more divided.

Forty-five percent of Democrats say things are headed in the right direction, but a majority (52%) think things are on the wrong track.

Among independents, 80% say things are on the wrong track, and just 16% say things are going well.

The poll of 804 Iowa adults was conducted Feb. 25-28 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The questions of 640 likely voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Joe Biden’s age is a concern for a greater share of Iowans than Donald Trump’s age

If either Trump or Biden is elected president in November, he would be the oldest person to ever be sworn in to the Oval Office. But a greater share of Iowans say they are concerned about Biden’s age than Trump’s age.

More than half of Iowa adults — 56% —say Biden, at 81 years old, is too old to serve a second term. A quarter say Biden’s age is “somewhat of a concern,” and 17% say his age is not a concern. Another 1% are not sure.

Even many Democrats express concern about Biden’s age.

A third — 33% — say his age is not a concern. But a plurality of 39% say it’s somewhat of a concern and 27% say Biden is too old to serve a second term.

Majorities of both Republicans (75%) and independents (57%) say Biden is too old to serve another term.

President Joe Biden is facing serious questions about whether he is too old to serve another term.

President Joe Biden is facing serious questions about whether he is too old to serve another term.

Lisa Wells, a 58-year-old Burlington resident and poll respondent, is among the Democrats who expressed concerns about Biden’s age.

“I just think that physical and cognitive abilities should be taken into consideration as candidates are aging,” she said. “I don’t know that their priorities align with people in the population.”

Wells said she plans to vote for Biden despite those concerns, primarily because she can’t stand to see Trump in office again.

“I just definitely don’t want Trump,” she said.

Although Trump is just a few years younger at 77, a smaller share of Iowans say they are concerned about his age.

According to the poll, 42% of Iowans say Trump’s age is not a concern, 35% say it’s somewhat of a concern and 22% say he’s too old to serve a second term. Another 1% are not sure.

A majority of Republicans — 61% — say they are not concerned about Trump’s age. Another 31% say it’s somewhat of a concern, and 8% say he is too old.

A plurality of Democrats (40%) say Trump is too old to serve a second term.

And a plurality of independents (40%) say Trump’s age is just somewhat of a concern.

Fewer Iowans say they are concerned about former President Donald Trump being too old to be president.Fewer Iowans say they are concerned about former President Donald Trump being too old to be president.

Fewer Iowans say they are concerned about former President Donald Trump being too old to be president.

Andrew Gull, a 27-year-old independent voter, said he voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 but would likely support somebody other than Trump or Biden in 2024.

“Part of it is due to their age,” he said. “I don’t really think either of them are fit mentally or capably for being able to muster the important position of public office, and I don’t think they can really properly handle the strain that it brings on people.”

Donald Trump consolidates Iowa Republican voters’ support after divisions of caucuses

Despite facing a bevy of challengers ahead of Iowa’s Republican caucuses in January, Trump ultimately sailed to a nearly 30-point victory over his closest challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, earning 51% of the vote.

Still, Trump’s detractors argued that nearly half of Iowa Republicans registered their preference for someone else. Former United Nations Ambassador and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who remains in the race going into Super Tuesday, has said this makes Trump a weak general election candidate.

But the Iowa Poll results show that Trump still consolidates the support of a large majority of likely Republican voters in this early test of a general election matchup.

According to the poll, 89% of likely Republican voters say they would vote for Trump over Biden.

Trump also retains a majority of those who voted for him in 2020, with 91% saying they plan to vote for him again in November. Another 5% say they will vote for someone else, and 2% say they will vote for Biden.

Biden is about on par with Trump among members of his own party, earning the support of 88% of likely Democratic voters.

But he retains a smaller share of his voters from 2020 compared with Trump.

Among those who said they voted for Biden in 2020, 79% say they plan to vote for him again in November. Seventeen percent say they will vote for someone else, and 2% say they will vote for Trump.

But Trump leads with independents, 37% to 31%. Another 27% of independents say they would vote for “someone else.”

Gull, the independent poll respondent, said he hopes to see a viable third-party candidate on the ticket in November.

That’s because, despite voting for Trump twice, he now finds him “morally repulsive” following the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol, his routine denial of the 2020 election results, and the string of 91 felony charges currently leveled against him.

But he also thinks Biden has failed to deliver on key campaign promises around issues such as student loan forgiveness, and he thinks Biden is wrong to offer “blind support” for Israel in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“I mean, if it really came down to a sole choice between Biden and Trump, I kind of hate the comparison of lesser evils — I don’t love Joe Biden by any means, but I think he’s done a decent job, everything considered.”

Joe Biden sees ‘continuing decline’ in favorability ratings while Donald Trump gets ‘sizable jump’

Pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., said the poll shows “a continuing decline” in Biden’s favorability numbers as well as “a sizable jump” in Trump’s popularity.

Biden has the lowest favorability ratings of his presidency, with 31% of Iowans saying they have a favorable view of him, which is down from 34% in March 2023. And 68% say they have an unfavorable view of him, up from 64% a year ago.

Meanwhile, Trump is performing better than he was a year ago.

Today, 49% of Iowans say they have a favorable view of the former president, up from 42%. And 48% say they have an unfavorable view, down from 57%.

Haley, who is still in contention for the Republican nomination for president, is much better known now than she was in March 2023.

Last year, Haley was unknown to 44% of Iowans, and that’s dropped to 11% today.

But last year, more Iowans viewed Haley favorably (31%) than unfavorably (25%). That’s flipped today, with 36% viewing her favorably and 54% viewing her unfavorably.

Haley, who finished third in the Iowa caucuses, dramatically trails Trump in the delegate race. But she remains well funded, and she has not said whether she intends to continue campaigning beyond Super Tuesday.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Des Moines Register. She is also covering the 2024 presidential race for USA TODAY as a senior national campaign correspondent. Reach her at [email protected] or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

About the Iowa Poll 

The Iowa Poll, conducted Feb. 25-28, 2024, for The Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 804 Iowans ages 18 or older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cell phone numbers supplied by Dynata. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age, sex and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent American Community Survey estimates.

Questions based on the sample of 804 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Results based on smaller samples of respondents—such as by gender or age—have a larger margin of error.

Republishing the copyright Iowa Poll without credit and, on digital platforms, links to originating content on The Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: More Iowans concerned about Biden’s age than Trump’s, Iowa Poll finds

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