"The governor is going to be prepared. So this summer and fall you'll see that organization actively organizing and recruiting and building all the blocks that are necessary to launch a successful campaign," Boeyink said. "If he does decide he wants to run, everything is going to be in place."
The numbers on Branstad's job performance are largely positive. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found that 49 percent of registered voters think Branstad is doing a good job, 31 percent disapprove of his work and 20 percent are undecided or don't know. Asked if he should be re-elected, the numbers dipped, with 42 percent saying yes, 43 percent no and 16 percent not knowing. The poll of 1,411 registered voters had a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.
Branstad has hit some road blocks this year. An attempt to require state unionized employees to pay more for their health benefits failed during an arbitration process. And two of his nominees to the Board of Regents, which oversees the state universities, failed to win Senate confirmation amid questions from Democrats about the candidates' political views and commitment to academic freedom.
If Branstad runs in 2014, he could face one of a number of potential Democratic challengers. State Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, is exploring a run and state Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, is also considering a bid.
First elected governor in 1982, Branstad is already Iowa's longest-serving chief executive. He served four terms in office before leaving in early 1999. Branstad then worked in the private sector and served as president of Des Moines University before announcing plans to run again in 2009. He handily won his comeback race against incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and returned to his Capitol office in 2011.
Branstad adviser Doug Gross said Branstad — who likes to note that he has never lost an election — has been successful time and time again because he always runs with the same gusto.