At the same time they were voting to re-elect President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and expand the state’s GOP legislative majority, Iowa voters said they favor a dramatic increase in education funding, a higher minimum wage and government-sponsored health care.
And nearly three-quarters of the Iowa voters polled said, if ordered, they would wear face masks during the pandemic, although Trump, Ernst, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and GOP legislators have opposed such mandates.
Those results may seem to be counterintuitive in light of the election results.
But Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa, said the results show broad support from Iowans of all political stripes for “what I would call progressive issues.”
While Iowans elected candidates who don’t support dramatic increases in education funding, a higher minimum wage or government-sponsored health insurance, Sinovic said he saw a shift in how Republicans addressed those issues in the recent campaign.
“I would argue that some of the people who ran this year did not run on cutting health care. They didn’t run on cutting schools,” he said.
In Ernst’s case, he said, six years ago she campaigned to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. This year she called for protecting preexisting conditions in health insurance.
“So I think that there’s a little bit of a disconnect in that some of the people who won were campaigning one way and their record clearly said something else,” Sinovic said.
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Public Policy Polling contacted 613 Iowans who voted — half by text and half by landline — Nov. 2 and 3. The results have a 4 percent margin of error.
In the poll, voters favored both Trump and Ernst, 52 percent to 45 percent, over their Democratic opponents. Approval ratings for Ernst and Reynolds were underwater: 44 percent approve of Ernst, 47 disapprove; 43 percent approve of Reynolds, 48 percent disapprove.
Of those polled, 52 percent said they favor a dramatic increase in education funding, with 36 percent favoring the current funding level.
The voters’ top concerns were jobs and the economy (32 percent), health care (28 percent) and abortion, law and order, or another issue (10 percent each).
In response to questions about COVID-19, 51 percent of the voters surveyed said Reynolds has not done enough on COVID-19 restrictions while 38 percent she has done “about the right amount.”
Seventy-four percent said they would wear face masks if Reynolds ordered a statewide mask mandate, which she has not and has repeatedly called unenforceable.
“It is my belief that if the governor issued a mask mandate, and followed it up with leading by example, as opposed to what she has been doing — attending superspreader events, being seen publicly without wearing a mask — I think we would see this number go up,” Sinovic said.
In early September, 76 percent of Iowans surveyed in a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll said they wear a mask all or most of the time when they are in public places.
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Sinovic agreed with the governor there is “pandemic fatigue” but blamed elected officials for not providing leadership to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We hear the governor talk a lot about COVID fatigue,” he said. “I think that is real. But I think more than that, we have Reynolds’ fatigue. We have Trump fatigue. We are tired of our elected officials not doing what they need to do to stop COVID.”
The governor’s spokesman declined to comment on the poll.
According to the poll, 33 percent want the state’s minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. Another 25 percent supported a $12 minimum wage, 20 percent said $9 and 15 percent called for keeping it at $7.25, where it has been since 2007.
Asked whether they would support a government-sponsored health insurance option as an alternative to private insurance, 48 percent agreed, 32 percent opposed and 19 percent were not sure.
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