Donald Trump has surged to a 7-point lead over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton among Iowa voters, firmly establishing the Republican presidential nominee as the favorite to win the state’s six electoral votes on Tuesday.
Trump is the top choice for 46% of Iowans who have already cast a ballot or plan to do so on Election Day, according to the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, compared with 39% who say they’re for Clinton.
That makes the state Trump’s to lose, political analyst Amy Walter said.
“The bigger surprise on election night would be if he lost Iowa, not that he won it,” said Walter, national editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
To Walter, the numbers suggest Iowa Republican leaders' support of Trump is helping sway Republicans and independent voters, who are undeterred by questions about his character and temperament. Such factors are critical, she said, because Trump’s path to the White House likely depends on an Iowa victory.
“Donald Trump can’t afford to lose Iowa, and Hillary Clinton can,” she said. “There are multiple paths for Hillary Clinton to get to 270 electoral votes, and many of us who are watching the map have expected that Iowa may not be part of that calculus for her.”
Trump leads among several key demographic groups, including men, self-identified independents, young and middle-aged voters and those without a college degree.
Forty-one percent of independents support Trump, compared with 34% who back Clinton. Trump likewise leads by 5 percentage points — 43% to 38% — among voters under 35.
Poll respondent Shawna Brown, a 35-year-old waitress from Peru, Iowa, said she’s backing Trump because of his business experience and her gut-level distrust for Clinton.
“He’s a businessman, and I think he understands how the country should be ran better than Hillary,” said Brown, an independent voter. “I don’t trust her. There’s something about her; I just feel like she truly is lying.”