DES MOINES — Slightly more than two months before Iowans begin voting, polling shows the open-seat race in the U.S. House 2nd District as a dead heat.
In a live poll of 406 likely voters by Harper Polling, Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Democrat Rita Hart each had the support of 41 percent of the respondents. Sixteen percent of those polled were undecided, according to the poll commissioned by the Congressional Leadership Fund, which supports Republican candidates.
“Dr. Miller-Meeks is fighting to win and has made Iowa’s 2nd District a top pickup opportunity for Republicans this fall,” said Calvin Moore, CLF communications director. “Voters are clearly recognizing that sending Rita Hart to Congress would have devastating consequences for Iowa families, like wiping out countless family farms and livestock producers under the farm regulation bill she backed” recently.
That’s a reference to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s Farms System Reform Act, which would place a moratorium on concentrated animal feeding operations and phase them out by 2040. It would reduce food production, increase food prices and destroy thousands of Iowa jobs, according to Miller-Meeks supporters.
Hart, a Wheatland farmer and former teacher who is making her first run for Congress, has not endorsed the plan, according to her campaign. However, the former state senator told the Iowa Farmers Union she agrees with the principles of Booker’s legislation, which has not been endorsed by farm groups.
Without commenting on the poll’s accuracy, campaign manager Zachary Meunier said Hart isn’t taking any votes for granted in the race that election handicappers rate from “tossup” to “leans Democratic.”
“That’s why Rita has been aggressively reaching out to people across this entire district to talk about how she plans to work across the aisle to tackle corruption in Washington, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and support small businesses and good-paying jobs,” Meunier said. “We know Rita can win over voters on all sides of the political spectrum — even Republicans have endorsed her.”
The poll, conducted the last week of July, also found that among voters who have an opinion of both candidates, Miller-Meeks leads Hart 49 percent to 46 percent.
Harper also found that the race remains neck-and-neck with key voter segments. “No party” voters break in Hart’s favor, 37 percent to 35 percent. High-enthusiasm voters favor Miller-Meeks 43 percent to 42 percent, while high-propensity voters favor Hart 43 percent to 42 percent.
All results were within the 4.9 percent margin of error.
Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist who has run for the 2nd District three times before, and Hart are seeking the seat now held by Democrat Rep. Dave Loebsack. He is retiring after seven terms representing the 24-county southeast Iowa district that includes Johnson and Scott counties.
According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, active voter registrations showed 179,951 Democrats, 150,611 Republicans and 167,589 others in July.
Absentee voting in Iowa begins Oct. 5. Election Day is Nov. 3. For more information on voting, visit sos.iowa.gov.
Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!
Stay up-to-date on the latest in local and national government and political topics with our newsletter.