The latest Quinnipiac University poll finds Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leading GOP nominee Donald Trump by 47 percent to 44 percent in Iowa.
Since Clinton’s three-point lead is within the margin of error, the poll suggests the candidates are effectively tied. But the same survey also find that 97 percent of Iowa Democrats say they are supporting Clinton, and only 85 percent of Republicans say the same of Trump.
"Activating your base, or keeping your base together has been a really important strategy for Democrats and Clinton," says Donna Hoffman, head of the University of Northern Iowa's Department of Political Science. "It's been less effective for the Trump campaign because they're losing some of their Republicans, they're losing some of their base."
Hoffman says this suggests Clinton might find success in Iowa by courting Republican voters, especially because she has a more developed ground game in the state compared to Trump. Because this poll shows Trump and Clinton neck-and-neck, she adds the state may end up playing a prominent role in each campaign’s strategy.
Quinnipiac also surveyed Iowans on the U.S. Senate race, and Sen. Chuck Grassley's reelection odds still look bright, in spite of the fact other GOP U.S. Senate candidates seem to be suffering, due to Trump's lagging in recent polls. He leads Democratic challenger former Lt. Gov Patty Judge by nine points.
"Grassley is basically an institution in the state, and Iowa tends to be a state that likes its incumbents," says Hoffman. "If Trump continues the downward trajectory of his popularity, Grassley may need to distance himself from Trump. He hasn't done that up to this point, and certainly these polls indicate that he doesn't need to."
Hoffman says for Judge to have chance of beating the six-term incumbent, she needs to make inroads with independents. Those who identify as no-party voters currently favor Grassley by 20 percent.
The U.S. Senate race in Iowa also includes Libertarian Charles Aldrich of Clarion and independent Michael Luick-Thrams of Mason City. Neither candidate appears among the recent poll's results.