Has Iowa's once sleepy election for governor, which recently looked like a coronation, suddenly a real contest?
Jack Hatch thinks so. Of course Terry Branstad's challenger would think so, but the Des Moines legislator says new numbers back him up.
A recent PPP poll showed the gap between Branstad and Hatch narrowing, with a top-line number of Branstad 43 Hatch 38. "We have a race," the challenger said of the numbers.
The poll comes after weeks of news coverage of questionable hirings and firings by the Branstad administration.
"Iowans are paying attention to Branstad's mess," Hatch said of the scandals. "This goes to the heart of what people think of their governor. When I'm elected they'll have a governor they can trust."
"This is the first time his approval has been negative," Hatch said of the poll's report that more voters disapproved of Branstad's job performance than approved.
Hatch noted than any one poll is just a snapshot, but the important thing to look at is the trend. "It's a slow climb but he is trending down and I'm beginning to trend up." The previous PPP poll, earlier this month had shown Branstad at 48 and Hatch at 32.
The horse race question came at the beginning of the survey. After job approval and discussion of the hiring/firing, the poll reported and end-of-call number of Branstad 41, Hatch 40 - the score Team Hatch put at the top of yesterday's press release.
That may be an exaggeration of the present state of play, but it does show an opportunity for Hatch. He said "I'll be raising money and traveling and meeting as many people as I can" as soon as the legislative session ends, which should be within days.