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