CEDAR RAPIDS | Seventy-five days before the poll that matters, both candidates in Iowa’s 1st District open seat race are finding good news in polling done for their campaigns.
Democratic State Rep. Pat Murphy was out first with a poll showing him with an 11-point lead over Republican Rod Blum.
Blum released his own poll Thursday showing that although Murphy is ahead, he leads among likely voters who "definitely" support one candidate or the other.
Blum and Murphy, both from Dubuque, are competing for the seat held by Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley in the northeast Iowa district that President Barack Obama carried by 14 points. According to Roll Call, which rates the race "safe Democrat," the 1st is the most Democratic district in Iowa.
Murphy's poll of 400 likely general election voters July 31 to Aug. 4 by Myers Research & Strategic Services, found he led 51 to 40 percent.
Blum's poll of 401 likely voters conducted Aug. 11-12, by The Polling Co. Inc., found Murphy ahead, but by only 5 percentage points — 40 to 35 percent.
The Murphy poll found that while both candidates began with near equal levels of name recognition — 61 percent for Murphy, 59 percent for Blum — Murphy is seen more favorably by voters.
Murphy's lead narrows to 53-43 percent in a simulated model, in which undecided voters are allocated based on their self-described partisan leanings. When voters are told about the candidates in what Myers called a "positive, balanced message," Murphy's lead grew to 56-42 percent.
Blum campaign spokesperson Keegan Conway found some encouragement in those numbers that showed as voters learn more about "career politician Pat Murphy's radically liberal positions … we are confident (voters) will side with Rod and his common-sense ideas."
Blum's poll found that when voters were asked if they prefer a candidate with Blum's background — small businessman with no previous political experience — or a candidate with Murphy’s background — someone who has spent his career in politics — Blum's background was preferred 41 percent to 19 percent.
The candidates were tied at 41 percent on the candidate’s biography ballot test. Blum led 29 percent to 16 percent among definite voters on this question.
Bottom line, according to Murphy campaign manager Aaron Bly, "Two polls now show that voters are supporting Pat Murphy because they know he will defend Iowa's seniors and middle class families, and that they are rejecting Rod Blum because he has the wrong priorities."
Both polls had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.