As Donald Trump heads to Iowa, what does the Iowa Poll say Iowans are thinking about him?

Katie Akin
Des Moines Register

© Copyright 2020, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

With three weeks to go before the election and Iowa's votes hanging in the balance, President Donald Trump is headed to Des Moines. 

Trump will hold a rally Wednesday evening at the Des Moines International Airport following appearances in Florida and Pennsylvania. Trump is resuming in-person campaigning after being hospitalized with COVID-19.The outdoor rally will begin at 6 p.m. at the airport.

A September Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll Iowa Poll showed Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden locked in a dead heat, each with 47% support among likely voters. 

Here's where Trump stands in the Hawkeye state ahead of Wednesday's rally:

Men support Trump, women support Biden

Although Biden and Trump were tied in overall support, the Iowa Poll found a gendered divide among likely voters. Trump led by 21 percentage points with men, 57% to 36% over Biden. And Biden led by 20 percentage points with women, 57% to 37% over Trump.

“I don’t know that there’s any race in the history of presidential polling in Iowa that shows this kind of division,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., the firm that conducted the poll, said at the time.

Each candidate also had strong support within their party: 95% of Democratic likely voters said they would vote for Biden and 90% of Republicans will vote for Trump. Biden leads among Independents, 50% to Trump's 38%.

Four in five Iowans had made their choices

Eighty-four percent of likely voters said their minds were made up on who to vote for. Trump supporters were more likely than Biden supporters to say their mind was made up, with 92% of Trump voters being firmly decided compared to 84% of Biden voters.

Just 4% of likely voters said they were either unsure of who to vote for or did not choose a candidate.

The September poll was the second Iowa Poll in a row showing a very tight race in Iowa. In June, Trump led Biden 44% to 43%.

“We've had two polls in a row putting it very, very close,” Selzer said in September. “I think all eyes will be on Iowa.”

The most recent poll was conducted Sept. 14 through 17 and includes responses from 803 Iowa adults, including 658 likely voters. Questions asked of Iowa adults have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Those asked of likely voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

More:Watch live: President Trump's campaign rally in Des Moines, plus find full coverage

Trump leads among voters concerned about economy, law and order

Likely voters were asked what their most important issue was as they decided for whom who to vote. The top three issues were the economy (31%), law and order (18%), and the COVID-19 pandemic (15%). 

Trump led among likely voters who said the economy was the most important issue, with 74% support. He also had 90% support among those who said the most important issue was law and order.

Likely voters who said COVID is the most important issue of the election support Biden by a large margin, with 91% support among that group. 

Majority of all Iowans disapprove of Trump's COVID-19 response

The Des Moines rally will be one of Trump's first campaign events since he was hospitalized with the coronavirus on Oct. 2, less than 2 weeks before the event. Trump's physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Saturday that Trump is “no longer considered a transmission risk to others."

The rally also comes just days after Iowa surpassed 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. Earlier this month, White House experts warned state officials that Iowa continues to see more than twice the rate coronavirus infections as the national average.

A majority of poll respondents, 53%, said they disapproved of Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Slightly fewer Iowans approved of Trump's management of the pandemic in September than they did in June, 43% compared to 45%.

Democratic leaders in Iowa, including U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, have criticized Trump for holding a large event as COVID continues to spread. Cownie said he was concerned the outdoor rally would become "a super-spread event."

Attendees will be given masks and encouraged to wear them at the event.

However, the September Iowa Poll found consistent mask-wearing was split among party lines: Seventy-eight percent of Democrats said they almost always wear a mask in indoor public places, whereas only 40% of Republicans said they did so.

More:Iowa Poll: Iowans are wearing masks more often to ward off the coronavirus, especially if they're Democrats

About this poll

The Iowa Poll, conducted September 14-17 for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 803 Iowans ages 18 or older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cellphone numbers supplied by Dynata. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age, sex and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent American Community Survey estimates.  

Questions based on the sample of 803 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, and questions based on the sample of 658 likely voters in the 2020 general election have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.5 or 3.8 percentage points, respectively. Results based on smaller samples of respondents — such as by gender or age — have a larger margin of error.  

Republishing the copyright Iowa Poll without credit to the Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited. 

Katie Akin is a retail reporter for the Register. Reach her at kakin@registermedia.com or at 515-284-8041. Follow her on Twitter at @katie_akin.

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