What’s Happening In States That Are Paying Attention Is Reassuring

Following the headlines every day, one could easily give in to despair. But if you want a shot of optimism, focus on these NBC/Marist poll results in states where voters might actually be paying attention–Iowa and New Hampshire.

This poll is a simple approval/disapproval comparison. Of course, it reflects the fact that politicians in general are not held in high esteem. And Bernie Sanders scores well, especially in New Hampshire, which is not surprising for this stage of the campaign. Still, the findings are encouraging. Here are the Iowa results:

Sanders +3 (30 percent/27 percent)
Rubio -1 (31 percent/32 percent)
Walker -1 (30 percent/31 percent)
Bush -12 (34 percent/46 percent)
Clinton -19 (37/56 percent)
Trump -28 (32 percent/60 percent)

Iowans like Sanders, Rubio and Walker–that’s good–don’t think much of Jeb Bush–fine with me–and really, really don’t like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. On the whole, that shows pretty good judgment. Note that Sanders’ strong showing probably reflects the fact that there are a good number of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents in Iowa who can’t stand Hillary, and need to approve of someone.

Now for New Hampshire:

Sanders +12 (41 percent/29 percent)
Bush -5 (40 percent/45 percent)
Walker -6 (28 percent/34 percent)
Rubio -6 (28 percent/34 percent)
Clinton -20 (37 percent/57 percent)
Trump -40 (27 percent/67 percent)

These results are generally similar to Iowa’s. Sanders does better, which makes sense since he is from Vermont. Jeb Bush does better than he does in Iowa, but no better than Rubio and Walker. New Hampshire voters, like Iowans, can’t stand Hillary, and really, really dislike Trump.

It is reasonable to assume that voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are typical of swing state voters, except that they are taking the election more seriously so far. If that is correct, these numbers suggest that Republicans shouldn’t be too discouraged about the bizarre headlines that have seemed to dominate the race in its very early stages.