David Yates Jun. 19, 2014, 8:38pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad currently holds a nine-point lead over his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jack Hatch.

Iowa voters favor Branstad over Hatch by a 47-38 percent margin, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

A March poll showed Branstad led Hatch by a 46-35 percent margin.

"Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's 11-point lead in March now stands at nine points. Pollsters call that two-point change 'statistically insignificant,' but the incumbent no longer has a 'double-digit' lead," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll.

"Disappointing from State Sen. Jack Hatch's point of view is how little headway he is making in introducing himself to Iowa voters. Three months ago, 74 percent of Iowans didn't know enough about him to have an opinion. Now it's 64 percent. If that pace continues until November, it will be difficult to win. The fact that more say they will vote for Sen. Hatch than have an opinion of him reflects his getting the Democratic base. But he trails by double-digits among independent voters, the largest group."

The poll shows that a total of 21 percent of Iowa voters say the economy and jobs are the most important issue in deciding how they will vote for governor, with 12 percent who list education and education funding, followed by 5 percent each for taxes and budget/spending.

Iowa's economy is "excellent" or "good" 76 percent of voters say. Of that group, 73 percent give Branstad "a lot" or "some" of the credit, the poll states.

"Gov. Branstad has two big things going for him: Iowans like him personally and they like his performance," Brown said.

"Gov. Branstad also benefits from what most Iowans see as a good economy. Three out of four say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in Iowa and a similar number rate the economy as good or excellent. History doesn't bring to mind many governors or presidents who lost a reelection while riding satisfaction and economic numbers that good."

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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