Home>Campaigns>Grassley can look to Lautenberg as he ponders bid for 8th U.S. Senate term

The late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, left, with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). (Photo: Facebook).

Grassley can look to Lautenberg as he ponders bid for 8th U.S. Senate term

Despite polling that showed age might be an issue, New Jersey senator was re-elected at 84 by nearly 500,000 votes

By David Wildstein, June 22 2021 11:04 am

Almost two-thirds of voters in Iowa say it’s time for a new person to hold the United States Senate seat occupied by Chuck Grassley for more than 40 years, according to a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll released over the weekend.

A little more than one-quarter (27%) of Iowans said they would vote for Grassley if he ran again for what would be his 8th term in the Senate.

But the 87-year-old Grassley could look to New Jersey for guidance.

Frank Lautenberg was re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 despite polling that suggested his age might create an electoral vulnerability.

That mirrors the results of a 2008 Monmouth University/Gannett poll, where 58% of New Jerseyans said it was time for someone else to represent the state in the U.S. Senate.

A 2007 Quinnipiac University poll showed 54% of New Jersey felt Lautenberg, then 83, was tool old to run for re-election the following year.  A Rutgers-Eagleton poll that year wound that 64% of the state felt he was too old to effectively represent New Jersey for a term that would end when he was 90.

But polling didn’t reflect the way people voted on Election Day, perhaps because Lautenberg was frequently underestimated as a candidate in his previous four races.

Lautenberg won the Democratic primary by 81,235 votes, 59%-35%, against 10-term Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights).

In the general election, Lautenberg defeated former Rep. Dick Zimmer (R-Delaware) by 490,193 votes, 56%-42%.

Grassley’s job approvals (45%-39%) is similar to where Lautenberg (43%-28% was in the 2008 Monmouth poll.

Just 27% of Iowa voters said they would vote to return Grassley from Washington, while 64% say it’s time for someone new. For Lautenberg in 2008, 19% of New Jerseyans said they would re-elected him and 58% said someone else.

Asked if Lautenberg was getting too old to be an effective Senator, 34% agreed and 51% disagreed.

Iowa and New Jersey are apples and oranges when it comes to voter registration.  Iowa has 47,245 more Republicans than Democrats.  New Jersey had 727,153 more Democrats than Republicans in 2008.

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