Poll: Trump remains strong among Iowa Republicans

President Donald Trump’s approval rating and re-election support remain strong among Iowa’s registered Republicans, but a sizable minority of the party’s registrants say they hope the president faces a challenger in the 2020 caucuses.

The new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of registered Republicans in Iowa finds 81% approve of the way the President is handling his job, unchanged since December, and 82% say they have a favorable view of Trump, up 5 points in that time. Roughly two-thirds (67%) say they’ll definitely vote to re-elect the president, and about 6 in 10 (59%) are at least fairly confident he’ll win in 2020.

But those positive signs are tempered by some registered Republicans’ hope for a challenger to the President. Overall, Republicans are about evenly divided on the question, with 40% saying they hope the President faces a challenger from the party in the caucuses, and 41% saying they hope he does not face one. Another 19% are unsure.

Those who hope for a challenger to the President are generally positive about Trump, but they are less positive than their fellow registered Republicans about the President’s performance in office (63% say they approve vs. 97% among those who say they hope Trump is not challenged) and in their impressions of him generally (66% view him favorably vs. 95% who hope he’s not challenged).

Looking to 2020, however, they are far less likely to say they will definitely vote for his re-election (38% say so compared with 92% of those who do not want to see him face a GOP challenger). And most have doubts about whether he can win a second term: 56% in this group say they are only somewhat confident he’ll win or are almost certain he’ll lose, compared with fewer than 2 in 10 of those who say they don’t want to see the president challenged from inside the party.

Hope for a presidential challenger is stronger among women (44%) than men (36%), among younger Iowa registered Republicans (48% among those under age 45) than older ones (35% among those age 45 and up), those with college degrees (47%) than those who don’t hold a four-year degree (34%), among those who consider themselves politically independent (57%) than self-identified Republicans (33%), and most strongly, among moderates (63%) than among conservatives (33%).

But the poll suggests those doubts about the President don’t mean they’re ready to defect to any of their currently available choices. Just 18% in this group say they are seeing Democratic candidates who they could potentially support for president. And former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is exploring an independent bid for president, generates tepid favorability ratings among this group (only 11% have a positive view, 21% unfavorable).

And none of three potential GOP opponents for the President tested particularly well in the poll. Among all registered Republicans, just 4% each expressed favorable views of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan or former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, and more than 8 in 10 said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion about each of them. Former Ohio governor John Kasich earns a split decision, with 27% favorable and 28% unfavorable, a bit worse than in December. Kasich’s favorability was higher among those who hope to see a challenger to Trump (39% favorable vs. 23% among those who hope Trump goes unchallenged).

No matter where they come down on whether the President should face a challenge for the Republican nomination, nearly all registered Republicans in Iowa say the president’s re-election campaign should focus more on the positive changes he has made for the country (90%) than on attacking his opponents (4%).

And most registered Republicans consider the President’s recent declaration of a national emergency to be a positive. Almost two-thirds (63%) say Trump had the right to make the declaration and that it was the right thing for him to do. Just 6% say he had the right to do it, but it was the wrong thing to do, and 20% believe he did not have the right to declare an emergency to secure more funding for a border wall.

The CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll was conducted by Selzer <><>& Co./a of Des Moines, Iowa, March 3 through 6 among a random sample of 400 registered Republicans reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the sample of registered Republicans have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups./p