Longtime Governor Not Most Popular In State

By John Celock

The nation’s longest serving governor is not the most popular politician in his state according to a new poll.

A poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling shows that U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) is the most popular politician in Iowa, beating both Gov. Terry Branstad (R), U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R) and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R). Branstad has served as governor off and on since 1983.

The PPP poll shows that 53 percent of Iowa residents surveyed approve of Grassley’s job performance, while 44 percent approve of Branstad’s job performance. Thirty two percent of those surveyed disapprove of Grassley’s job performance, while 44 percent disapprove of Branstad. Ernst, who was first elected last year has a 40 percent job approval rating with 41 percent of those surveyed disapproving of her job performance. The poll showed that Reynolds, a second term lieutenant governor, is largely unknown in the state with 56 percent of those surveyed not knowing much about her. The poll showed that 22 percent of those surveyed who were familiar with Reynolds’ job performance approved.

The poll indicated that former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), now the U.S. agriculture secretary, has a 48 percent approval rating in Iowa with 34 percent disapproving of his job performance. Vilsack, who was a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, served as Iowa’s governor from 1999 to 2007.

Branstad and Grassley have dominated Iowa Republican politics since the early 1980s. Grassley was first elected to the Senate in 1980 following three terms in Congress. He currently serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Aging Committee.

Branstad is on track to become the longest serving governor in American history in 2016, following his reelection to a sixth term last year. He was first elected governor in 1982 and served until 1999. He made a comeback to the governor’s mansion in 2010. Prior to his 1982 gubernatorial election, Branstad served one term as Iowa’s lieutenant governor. Branstad would break the gubernatorial longevity record of former New York Gov. George Clinton, who served 21 non-consecutive years ranging from 1777 to 1804.

Branstad became Iowa’s youngest ever governor at the age of 36 when he was first elected.

Branstad is term limited and cannot seek reelection in 2018. Reynolds, who is Branstad’s fourth lieutenant governor, is considered a potential candidate to succeed him in 2018.

The poll also showed that 50 percent of Iowa residents support gay marriage, while 41 oppose it. The poll also showed that 57 percent of those surveyed support raising the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour while 32 percent oppose the wage hike.