Clinton and Trump tied in Iowa, Grassley opens strong lead, Loras College Poll finds

DUBUUQUE, Iowa – The new Loras College Poll of Iowa finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump deadlocked in the Hawkeye State as attention turns to the first presidential debate today. The statewide live-caller survey of 491 likely voters was conducted between Sept. 20-22, including both landline and cell phone phones.

“Any advantage Clinton had over the summer has certainly evaporated,” said Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D., associate professor of politics and director of the Loras College Poll. “Donald Trump has been able to widen his appeal in the past several weeks, and many see Iowa as a prime electoral pick-up opportunity for the Republican candidate.”

Candidate preference four-way matchup

Hillary Clinton   38 percent
Donald Trump   38 percent
Gary Johnson     9 percent
Jill Stein     1 percent
Undecided   13 percent

(Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

Change in support, four-way matchup—June to September Loras Poll
The results from the current poll mark a sharp contrast from the last Loras College Poll of Iowa in June. Then, Clinton held a 13-point edge over Trump.

“Times have certainly changed in the presidential race here in Iowa, and Trump has come from behind to draw the race even,” Budzisz said. “Iowa will continue to draw attention as it presents one of the few states either candidate could win come November.”

June 2016 September 2016 Difference
Hillary Clinton 44 38   -6
Donald Trump 31 38   +7
Gary Johnson 6 9    +3
Jill Stein 2 1    -1
Undecided 15 13   -2

Satisfaction with candidate choice and net favorability
Before likely voters were asked for their specific candidate preferences, they were asked about their satisfaction with the choices they have available to them in the November presidential election.

Satisfaction with candidates in presidential election

Satisfied  38 percent
Dissatisfied  58 percent
No Opinion  4 percent

Likely voters were also asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidates. The results below indicate candidate net favorability (percentage favorable opinion minus percentage unfavorable opinion). Positive numbers indicate a net favorable view, whereas negative numbers indicate a net unfavorable opinion.

Net favorability

Candidate Net Favorability
Hillary Clinton -16
Donald Trump -34

“Large numbers of Iowans remain critical of the candidates on the ballot, with partisans more likely than independents to find a candidate they like,” Budzisz said.

A closer look at the electorate
Turning to how the candidates fare among the various groups within the electorate, important patterns emerge. Clinton holds an edge among female voters, 42 percent to 33 percent, while Trump commands a similar advantage among males, 44 percent to 33 percent. In terms of age, Clinton fares better than Trump with voters 18-34 (41 percent to 33 percent), while Trump holds the advantage with those 64 years or older (45 percent to 34 percent). Clinton has an advantage with those holding a college or graduate degree, 44 percent to 32 percent.  Trump holds a similarly strong edge with those with only a high school degree, 47 percent to 34 percent.

U.S. Senate election
Beyond the battle for the White House, the control of the U.S. Senate is at stake this year, with Democrats hoping to regain the chamber. Incumbent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is facing Democrat Patty Judge.

Candidate Preference U.S. Senate     

Chuck Grassley   54 percent
Patty Judge   37 percent
Undecided   9 percent

“Grassley, despite some concerns in the summer about the possible impact of Trump at the top of the ticket, and issues such as the refusal to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, has opened a significant lead,” Budzisz said. “Democrats may have to look elsewhere to pick up one of the seats they need to take the Senate.”

Other noteworthy results from the poll:

  • President Obama’s job approval rating stands at 49 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove.
  • A clear majority (57 percent) of likely voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, with less than a third of respondents (28 percent) indicating they believe the country is on the right track.
  • 43 percent of voters expect Clinton will become the next President with 30 percent expecting Trump. These expectations have changed since the June Loras College Poll. In June 57 percent expected Clinton to win, with 23 percent expecting Trump.
  • Looking at issues, voters trust Clinton most to address terrorism (45 percent to 43 percent), while voters trust Trump most to address economic issues (49 percent to 43 percent).
  • 57 percent of Clinton supporters say their vote is more for Clinton than against Trump, whereas 42 percent of Trump supporters say their vote is more for Trump than against Clinton.
  • Voters were asked about their level of comfort with Trump’s disclosure of his taxes. Fifty-five percent indicated they were uncomfortable with Trump’s level of disclosure, while 35 percent indicated they were comfortable. Of those uncomfortable with Trump’s level of disclosure, 29 percent said the issue will make a difference to their vote.
  • Voters were asked about their level of comfort with Clinton’s disclosure of her health information. Fifty-one percent indicated they were comfortable with Clinton’s level of disclosure, with 40 percent saying they were uncomfortable. Of those uncomfortable, 27 percent said they thought this issue will make a difference to their vote.
  • Many voters have yet to make up their mind on Democratic Senate Candidate Patty Judge. Twenty-nine percent have no opinion of her, while only 12 percent indicated that they have no opinion of the longtime incumbent Grassley.

Note on methodology
The Loras College Poll surveyed 491 likely Iowa voters. The survey was conducted Sept. 20-22. Margin of error for full sample results is +/- 4.4 percent. Margins of error for subgroups are higher.  All results calculated at a 95 percent confidence interval. 

  • The survey was conducted with a random sample of registered voters (phone numbers drawn from official Iowa Secretary of State voter files).
  • The statewide sample was balanced for standard demographic variables, with party composition to approximate 2012 turnout.
  • Survey included both landlines and cell phones (58 percent and 42 percent, respectively).
  • Screen for likely voter is report of “definitely,” or “very likely” to vote in presidential election in November.
  • The survey was conducted using live operator interviews through a contracted professional call center.
  • Script development and methodology used for the survey received input from Republican campaign consultant Brian Dumas and Democratic campaign consultant Dave Heller.

For toplines and crosstabs related to today’s release, see:

The Loras College Poll is conducted several times a year, in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  Loras College faculty and student researchers work as part of the survey research team to develop poll questions, analyze and interpret data, and assist with sharing the final results with local, regional and national media.

Visit for more on the Loras College Poll or follow @LorasPoll or @ChrisBudzisz.

For more information about Loras College, visit, call 563.588.7100 or (800) 245-6727. Or like Loras College on Facebook or follow @lorascollege.

About Loras College
Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. Loras is ranked 11th out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges, according to the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings and the 11th Best Regional College, according to Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges.

Dr. Christopher Budzisz, Associate Professor of Politics
Office: 563.588.7279

Thomas Jensen, Public Relations Manager
Office: 563.588.7179 | Cell: 919.930.1997

The Loras College Poll