Braley Holds Iowa Lead in Crowded Primary: Quinnipiac

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Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), left, votes during early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on Sept. 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa.

Democrats have plenty to worry about when they look at races shaping up across the country that will determine whether they keep control of the Senate after November’s election. For now, Iowa isn’t a state where they have to do a lot of worrying.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, the presumptive Democratic nominee, holds a double-digit lead over his most likely Republican contenders, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

Braley leads former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker by a margin of 42 to 30 percent. He leads state Sen. Joni Ernst — who last week picked up an endorsement from Mitt Romney — by 42 to 29 percent. And he leads businessman Mark Jacobs by 40 to 31 percent.

Those Republicans and others will face off in a June 3 primary.

Many Hawkeye State voters don’t yet know much about the Democratic or Republican candidates to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, the poll shows.

Braley gets a favorable rating from 35 percent of registered voters, while 46 percent say they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Among Republican voters, 77 percent to 85 percent say they don’t know enough about the candidates to rate them.

Republicans are certain to continue to try to tie Braley to President Barack Obama, who has a 57 percent disapproval rating in a state that he carried twice.

The poll also looked at how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would do in hypothetical presidential electionl matchups against potential Republican opponents in what is traditionally a battleground state.

She would beat Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky by 49 to 39 percent. She’d beat New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie  48  to 35 percent. And she would record even bigger margins against Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the poll found.

“Politics is a team sport and the head of the blue team, President Barack Obama, isn’t doing well in the eyes of Iowans,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement. “But that doesn’t seem to be hurting teammate Hillary Clinton who swamps potential 2016 Republican competitors among the same electorate.”

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