Monmouth Poll: Miller-Meeks leads Hart in state’s tightest congressional race

American flag flying with U.S. Capitol in the background.
A flag flies near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in file photo from Dec. 18. 2019. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The race between Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Democrat Rita Hart in Iowa’s Second District is the closest among the Iowa’s congressional races, according to a Monmouth University Poll released Thursday.  

Iowa state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is running for Congress in District 2. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Senate)

Miller-Meeks, a state senator, led Hart, a former state senator and candidate for lieutenant governor, 47% to 44% among registered voters. The candidates are vying to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack.

The next-closest race in the poll of registered voters was first-term Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne’s rematch with Republican former U.S. Rep. David Young, who lost to Axne two years ago. Axne was up 6 percentage points in the poll.

The same poll found Democrat Abby Finkenauer with a 10-point lead over challenger Ashley Hinson, and Republican Randy Feenstra up by 20 points against Democrat J.D. Scholten in the race to replace Rep. Steve King, who lost to Feenstra in the primary.

Randy Feenstra is an Iowa state senator who is running for office in Iowa’s 4th House race. (Photo by: Iowa Legislature)

“At the current stage of the race, voters seem willing to give both Democratic incumbents a second term,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “It looks like Republicans can breathe a sigh of relief in the Fourth District with Steve King out of the picture,” he added.

The poll of 1,665 registered voters was taken July 25 to Aug. 3 via phone and online and has a margin of error of 4.4 to 5.1 percentage points.

Miller-Meeks is running for the Second District seat for the fourth time. She came within 5 points of beating Loebsack in 2010 and 2014, Monmouth noted.

Democrat Rita Hart is a candidate for Congress in Iowa’s second district. (Photo courtesy of Hart campaign)

Hart topped Miller-Meeks in the poll by 8 percentage points, 50% to 42%, in nine counties where Loebsack won by 23 points in 2018, Monmouth reported. Those were Cedar, Clinton, Des Moines, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Muscatine, Scott and Wapello.

But Miller-Meeks led 61% to 27% in counties that Loebsack lost by a combined 14 points, the polling staff reported.

Men backed Miller-Meeks, 60% to 33%, while women supported Hart, 55% to 33%. 

Head shot of Cindy Axne
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is a Democrat who represents Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

In the Axne-Young rematch, Axne led by 6 percentage points, 48% to 42%, among registered voters. 

The poll showed Axne gaining ground in Polk County, home to the state capital of Des Moines. Registered voters gave Axne a 21-point lead, 56% to 35%, in Polk County, where she won by 16 points when she flipped the seat to Democratic in 2018. 

David Young is a Republican running in Iowa’s 3rd congressional District. (Photo courtesy of the David Young campaign)

Young showed a 14-point lead, 52% to 38%, in the rest of the district. He won in that area by 17 points two years ago. 

Young drew support from 49% of men to Axne’s 41%. Women supported Axne, 57% to 34%.

Democrat J.D. Scholten is running for Congress in Iowa’s fourth district. (Photo courtesy of Scholten campaign)

In the Fourth District, where 20-year congressional veteran King lost to Feenstra by nearly 10 points in the primary, Scholten returned after losing to King by three percentage points in 2018.

In the Monmouth poll, Feenstra’s 54-34 lead includes a 40-point edge in a group of counties King won by 17 points two years ago. In six counties Scholten won by 17 points against King — Boone, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Story, Webster and Woodbury — the Monmouth poll found Scholten leading by 7 points.

Ashley Hinson is a Republican running for Iowa’s 1st District House seat. (Photo submitted by: Ashley Hinson campaign)

In the first congressional district, first-term Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer outpolled state Rep. Ashley Hinson, 51% to 41%.

U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer is a Democrat who represents Iowa’s 1st District. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s office)

Finkenauer fared better in the polls, with an 18-point advantage, in four counties she won by a bit more than 13 points in 2018. Those were  Black Hawk, Dubuque, Linn and Winneshiek. The candidates are in a virtual tie in the rest of the district, with Hinson at 43% and Finkenauer at 42% in the poll.

Men were narrowly divided among the candidates, with 46% supporting Hinson and 44% choosing Finkenauer. The majority of women, 58%, supported Finkenauer, with 34% picking Hinson.