Why a Top-Rated Poll From Iowa Spells Disaster for Joe Biden in November

AP Photo/Luca Bruno

The season of poll-watching is upon us, and I already hate it. After the disastrous state-level polls of the 2022 cycle, it's hard not to be cynical about the entire polling industry. Have those issues been fixed? Is Trump's lead genuine or another "red-wave" mirage? 

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I can't answer those questions definitively, but some pollsters do still have their reputations intact. One of those is Selzer, which is not only the gold standard in Iowa but is perhaps the most accurate survey in the country. On Monday, the outfit released its first poll of the campaign season, and it's really bad news for Biden. 

I know what you're thinking. "Iowa was never in play so what does it matter?" You'd be right about that, but there's more than meets the eye here. 

Two weeks after he was convicted in a New York courtroom of multiple felony counts, former Republican president Donald Trump still holds a double-digit lead over Democratic incumbent Joe Biden in Iowa. 

A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows Trump leads Biden 50% to 32% among likely voters.  

For comparison, Trump won Iowa by just eight points in 2020. His lead at this point in the 2024 cycle has stretched to 18 points. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also remains a factor, eating up nine points in the survey. But again, why does this matter if Iowa isn't a swing state? It matters because if Trump is winning Iowa by that much, then Minnesota is absolutely in play. 

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There have been several recent polls suggesting the neighboring state is no longer a lock for the incumbent president, but ample skepticism was deserved. While Biden only won Minnesota by seven points in 2020, the state has long been a white whale for the GOP. With as much correlation as there is between Iowa and large parts of Minnesota, though, it may just not be any longer. 

When you compare 2016 and 2020, what you see is that as Trump does better in Iowa, he also does better in Minnesota. That's because while they are separate states, they are regionally connected in ways that cause them to track politically in a somewhat linear fashion. If Trump were only up six to eight points in Iowa, he'd have no shot in Minnesota. If he's up 18, though, suddenly the map is expanded. 

This also portends good things in Wisconsin. 

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Of course, this is a snapshot in time. It's only mid-June, and there's plenty of time for the dynamics of the race to shift. For now, though, you'd rather be Donald Trump, even with the polling failures of 2022 still in the rearview mirror. 

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