Government

Poll: Iowans have progressive policy views, but they often elect conservatives

The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowans tend to have progressive views on issues but often vote for conservative politicians, according to the findings of a poll commissioned by Progress Iowa and released Thursday.

The poll of 646 Iowans who voted in this week’s midterm elections found a majority supported raising the state’s $7.25 hourly minimum wage, returning to a state-run Medicaid system, expanding collective bargaining rights for public employees and significantly increasing state funding of education.

Statewide poll respondents also opposed using public money to fund private education and did not want to see changes made to the existing retirement system for public employees.

“Across the board voters support policies that strengthen our schools, our communities, health care, workers’ rights, common-sense gun policies, clean drinking water,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa, in releasing data he said he hoped would receive consideration from Statehouse policymakers.

The poll conducted by phone and internet interviews by Public Policy Polling also found that 49 percent of respondents voted for Donald Trump versus 41 percent for Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 and half voted for Republican Kim Reynolds in this year’s governor’s race, versus 47 percent for Democrat Fred Hubbell.

Iowa voters placed Republicans in charge of the state Legislature by margins of 32-18 in the Iowa Senate and 54-46 in the Iowa House, but at the same time also chose three Democrats to represent them in Congress the next two years.

An issue likely to come up when the new 88th Iowa General Assembly convenes Jan. 14 is more changes to state tax policy. Of the Iowa voters who responded to the survey, 57 percent indicated they would rather have public services adequately funded than see their own personal taxes go down by a few hundred dollars a year. About 38 percent opposed that view.

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Other responses in the poll — which had a margin for error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points — showed majority support for requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons, background checks for the private sale of all rifles and shotguns and requiring farms to reduce nutrient pollution runoff into waterways.

“I think it’s important to know not just the vote totals but where people stand on the issues,” said Sinovic. “Based on this survey, I do know that people have a strong progressive streak when it comes to their policies.”

Respondents to the poll conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday were divided fairly evenly by political party affiliation with 37 percent identifying themselves as Republicans, 35 percent as Democrats and 28 percent independents, with 52 percent women, 46 percent men and 2 percent listed as “gender nonbinary.”

The poll respondents gave a 49 percent job approval rating to Trump while 48 percent disapproved. Nearly 70 percent of the poll participants were over the age of 45 and 61 percent were in Eastern or Central Iowa.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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