Steve King

Representative Steve King (R-IA)

If Rep. Steve King enters the race for the open Iowa Senate seat he would start out as an early favorite in the Republican primary. A Wenzel Strategies poll found King would have a 15 point lead over Rep. Tom Latham in an eight-way contest. Similarly, Public Policy Polling found King with a large lead in every possible primary field combination they tested. From PPP:

We tested three different iterations of the GOP candidate field for next year, and King leads by at least 19 points in each one of them. In a four candidate scenario he gets 41% to 22% for Tom Latham, 10% for Kim Reynolds, and 9% for Bob Vander Plaats. In a three candidate field that doesn’t include Reynolds he gets 42% to 23% for Latham and 19% for Vander Plaats. And in a head to head with Latham he leads 50/27.

King’s substantial lead over Latham has a lot to do with his appeal to ‘very conservative’ voters- they prefer him by a 61/19 margin. But even with moderates King edges Latham 37/35. And it’s not really about name recognition- the 75% of primary voters familiar with King is only a little more than the 64% who know Latham.

While King is an early favorite among Republicans, his long history of extremely conservative stances and statements would be extremely problematic in a general election. PPP found King is trailing all potential Democratic candidates by a respectable margin.

Iowa could turn out to be an interesting test case to see if the Republican establishment is able to stop ultra-conservative primary winners from costing them control of the Senate. King could easy end up the 2014 equivalent of Todd Akin or Christine O’Donnell. Karl Rove has started a new group¬†with the aim of stopping this problem, but it is still too early to see what if any impact it will make.

Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons License