Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin enjoys a huge lead in his bid for a fifth consecutive term as junior Senator from the Hawkeye State, according to a new poll released this weekend by KCCI-TV / Research 2000.
The survey of 600 likely voters gave Harkin leads of between 29 and 39 points against three potential GOP nominees—none of which are particularly well known statewide:
- Harkin 57 percent, former State Representative George Eichorn 28 percent
- Harkin 58 percent, businessman Steve Rathje 23 percent
- Harkin 59 percent, businessman Christopher Reed 20 percent
Harkin was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, winning by 11.8 points over Roger W. Jespen. Unlike his colleague, Iowa Senior Senator Republican Charles Grassley, Harkin has not enjoyed particularly comfortable re-election campaigns to date: winning by 9.1 points in 1990 (over Thomas J. Tauke), by 5.1 points in 1996 (over Jim Lightfoot), and 10.4 points in 2002 (over Greg Ganske). Grassley, by contrast has won his four re-election campaigns by 32.4 points, 42.4 points, 37.9 points, and 42.3 points in 2004.
Grassley also enjoys favorability ratings in the mid-60s, making him one of the most popular Senators across the country, while Harkin's rating usually lingers in the mid-50s. The new KCCI-TV poll finds Harkin with a 53 percent favorability rating.
The Iowa Senate race should tighten to within at least 15 to 20 points after the GOP selects their nominee.