Iowa Poll: Most Republicans are optimistic about presidential race; most Democrats dread it

© Copyright 2024, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

Linda Cade watched the television coverage of Donald Trump’s recent hush money trial and quickly became fed up with the way she felt Democrats and prosecutors were going after the former president.

Flipping through cable TV, she also was confronted with Hunter Biden’s conviction on federal gun charges. Instability abroad. Chaos at the border.

Policies coming out of the White House are too focused on “climate crap,” she said, and she’s angry that Democratic President Joe Biden wants to forgive student loan debt, even though she worked hard to pay off her own.

All of it has left Cade feeling exhausted.

“I just want it to be done so I can vote, and we can get (Trump) elected,” she said.

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters upon arrival for his campaign rally at Sunset Park on June 09, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters upon arrival for his campaign rally at Sunset Park on June 09, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows a majority of Iowans across the political spectrum share a similar sentiment: exhaustion.

Sixty percent say they are exhausted thinking about November’s presidential elections, which will feature a rematch between Trump and Biden — two of the most disliked men in modern American politics.

The weariness is bipartisan, the poll shows.

Among Republicans, 52% say they are exhausted thinking about the presidential contest. It’s 61% for Democrats, and 65% of independents say the same.

But Republicans are more likely than Democrats to describe themselves as optimistic and excited about the November election.

The top feeling Democrats cited after exhaustion was dread.

Iowa Poll respondents were offered a list of six potential emotions to describe their feelings about the 2024 presidential election. Second to exhaustion is optimism at 49%. Then comes dread at 42%, excitement at 31%, indifference at 27%, and wanting revenge at 8%.

Poll respondents could choose as many of the words as they felt applied.

The poll of 806 Iowa adults was conducted June 9-14 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Most Iowa Republicans are optimistic, many are excited — and a few want revenge

Despite Cade’s exhaustion, she said she also is excited and optimistic about the presidential race and Trump’s chances of defeating Biden in November.

“As long as it's a fair election, yes, he'll win,” said Cade, a 75-year-old poll respondent from Atlantic. “No two ways about it.”

According to the poll, 62% of Republicans say they are optimistic about the presidential election — more than the 45% of Democrats and 39% of independents who say the same.

Similarly, 47% of Republicans say they are excited, compared to 26% of Democrats and 21% of independents.

Those feelings are likely bolstered by Trump’s chances in Iowa. The latest Iowa Poll shows he leads Biden 50% to 32% among likely voters after he also won the state in 2016 and 2020.

Former President Donald Trump speaks Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, at the Trump caucus night watch party at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.
Former President Donald Trump speaks Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, at the Trump caucus night watch party at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

National polling also shows Trump performing well in key battleground states that will play a far more substantial role than Iowa in shaping the outcome of the election.

But a few Iowans — 8% — are looking toward the race for “revenge.”

That includes 12% of Republicans, 2% of Democrats and 8% of independents.

We've been the news Iowa depends upon since 1849. Subscribe to help us continue our mission.

“I just want revenge for Trump,” said Seth Bartmess, a 40-year-old poll respondent from Berwick. “I think he deserves a second chance.”

Bartmess said he’s all in on Trump’s reelection chances and is excited for November.

“I think Trump's going to win. I really think he is,” he said. “I just think that America itself is tired of Biden.”

Most Democrats face 2024 presidential race with dread, exhaustion

Roan Marcy, a 20-year-old poll respondent from North Liberty, plans to vote for Biden but is approaching the election with feelings of exhaustion and dread.

“It's exhausting to hear basically the same stuff over and over again,” said Marcy, who is transgender. “’Hey, this bill is in courts and whatnot to see if it gets passed. And guess what? It takes away your rights.’ And it's like, I've been hearing that since I was, like, politically conscious, really. So, it's been just kind of exhausting, the same cycle of things just over and over.”

The crowd and members of the media listen as President Joe Biden, left, gives his speech during his re-election rally at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 18, 2024.
The crowd and members of the media listen as President Joe Biden, left, gives his speech during his re-election rally at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 18, 2024.

Marcy, a Democrat, doesn’t like Trump but doesn’t believe Biden has done enough to reverse Trump’s policies while in office.

He said he currently plans to vote for Biden as the “lesser of two evils.”

The Iowa Poll shows Marcy is among the 42% of Iowans who are facing the 2024 presidential race with dread. That includes 59% of Democrats, 45% of independents and 27% of Republicans.

Nationally, Biden eked out a win against Trump in 2020. But his approval rating has crashed, both in Iowa and across the country, in the years since he’s taken office.

Today, he faces a difficult reelection fight, even as he once again frames the race as a fight for the soul of the nation and protecting democracy.

Marcy said he’s going to try to stay engaged in politics at the state and local level, rather than with the presidential race.

“It feels like just having a Democratic president isn't enough,” he said. “That's why I'm going to try and focus more on local elections, and I'm going to focus more on trying to get more power to things locally. Because at the end of the day, that's probably what's going to protect my rights as an Iowa citizen, better than my rights as an American citizen.”

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Des Moines Register. She is also covering the 2024 presidential race for USA TODAY as a senior national campaign correspondent. Reach her at bpfann@dmreg.com or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

About the Iowa Poll

The Iowa Poll, conducted June 9-14, 2024, for The Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 806 Iowans ages 18 or older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cell phone 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 806 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 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 percentage points. 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 and, on digital platforms, links to originating content on The Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa Poll: Majority of Iowans exhausted by 2024 Trump-Biden rematch