Hawkeye Poll: Presidential race close in Iowa, likely determined by ability to turn out supporters
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

With the presidential election less than one week away, it’s still a close race in Iowa, a key swing state. Mitt Romney has a slight edge over Barack Obama among likely voters in the state, according to a University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll released today. The Hawkeye Poll is a teaching, research, and service project of the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS).

Obama has a slight lead in Iowa among all respondents, with 42.7 percent of the vote to 41.0 percent for Romney, with 10.5 percent undecided and 5.8 percent preferring a third party candidate. Romney leads among likely voters, though, with 45.2 percent of the vote compared to 44.4 percent for Obama, with 6 percent undecided and 4.3 percent preferring a third party candidate. The margin of error for the survey of 320 Iowans is 5.6 percent.

“Our results show Romney making advances and perhaps taking the lead in Iowa, and that the race continues to be close and within the margin of error,” says Frederick Boehmke, associate professor of political science in the UI CLAS and faculty adviser of the Hawkeye Poll. “It appears that the final result will be determined by each campaign’s ability to turn out supporters and to capture the votes of those last few undecided voters.”

While both candidates show strong support among their respective bases, Obama has a slight lead among self-described independent voters with 41.9 percent of independents supporting him compared to 40.2 percent who back Romney.

“Iowa remains up for grabs and it's understandable and worthwhile for both candidates to continue to spend time here in the remaining few days of the campaign,” says Tim Hagle, UI associate professor of political science.

The race stays tight across different sectors of the electorate as well, with Romney leading among men by 46.3 percent to 43 percent and Obama leading among women 45.9 percent to 44.1 percent.

Detailed analysis of the poll follows. Topline results for the polls are available at: news-releases.uiowa.edu/2012/103112_HP_Presidential_Topline.pdf

Poll methodology is available at: news-releases.uiowa.edu/2012/103112_HP_Methodology.pdf

For a related Hawkeye Poll story on Iowa Supreme Court judicial retention, visit now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/iowa-voters-leaning-toward-retaining-justice-wiggins.

Satisfaction with the candidates

Obama’s supporters reported being slightly more satisfied with their choice, with 59.5 percent saying they were “very satisfied” and 38.2 percent saying they were “somewhat satisfied.” Of Obama supporters, 2.4 percent responded that they were “not satisfied.” Of Romney supporters, 45.8 percent indicated they were “very satisfied,” compared to 44.6 percent who are “somewhat satisfied,” and 9.7 percent who are “not satisfied.” Among voters who are “very satisfied” with candidate choice, 54.3 percent support Obama and 42.5 percent Romney; “somewhat satisfied” voters favor Romney 52 to 43.7 percent; respondents who are “not satisfied” support Romney at 69.2 percent compared to 16.7 percent for Obama with 14.1 percent supporting someone else.

The candidates fared equally on favorability, with 53.8 percent of likely voters saying they viewed Barack Obama “very favorably” or “mostly favorably” and 52.3 percent saying the same about Mitt Romney. Joe Biden, on the other hand, was viewed less favorably than Paul Ryan, 44.7 percent to 51.2 percent, respectively. Michelle Obama was viewed “very favorably” or “mostly favorably” by 67.5 percent of likely voters compared to 57.6 percent for Ann Romney.

The economy and the deficit continue to rank as important issues

The economy topped Iowans list of important issues. When asked to name “the most important problem facing this country,” 18 percent mentioned jobs or unemployment and 39.3 percent mentioned the economy. The national debt or deficit was cited by 14.6 percent of respondents and 3.3 percent mentioned government spending. Only 4.9 percent said health care.

This trend continued when voters were asked to indicate how important specific issues were “in deciding who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election.” The economy was “very important” to 77.8 percent of respondents and 20.6 percent of respondents said it was “important.” The budget deficit was “very important” to 58.6 percent of respondents and 33.1 percent said it was “important.” When asked about it specifically, voters also indicated that health care was important, with 60.7 percent saying it was “very important” and 25.6 saying it was “somewhat important.” On Medicare specifically, 48 percent responded that it was “very important” compared to 31.7 percent who said it was “somewhat important.” Women’s health was rated lower, with 35.1 percent indicating it was “very important” and 32.7 percent who said it was “somewhat important.”

National economic perceptions was tied closely to candidate preference. Of likely voters who thought the economic conditions are “very good,” 100 percent support Obama, as do 76.5 percent of Iowans who rate conditions as “somewhat good.” Romney leads 57 to 32.4 percent among those who see the economy as “somewhat poor” and 76.9 to 12.1 among those who see it as “very poor.” Less than 1 percent of respondents rated the economic conditions in the country as “very good,” while 37 and 38.2 percent rated it as “somewhat good” or “somewhat poor,” respectively, and 23.8 percent rated it as “very poor.”

Looking forward, 75.3 percent of respondents who thought the economy would get “better” in the next 12 months support Obama compared to 16.6 percent for Romney. Of those who think it will stay the same, 48.6 percent support Romney and 36.8 percent support Obama whereas 84.2 percent of those who think it will get worse support Romney compared to 10.5 percent who support Obama.

About the Hawkeye Poll

Likely voters in the 2012 presidential election are self-identified. A total of 320 respondents were interviewed in Iowa, with 302 stating that they plan to vote in the 2012 election. The margin of error for the state is plus or minus 5.6 percent.

The poll was conducted by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, comprised of UI faculty and graduate students in the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). The faculty adviser for the poll is UI Associate Professor of Political Science Frederick Boehmke. The poll used the facilities of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, directed by UI Sociology Professor Kevin Leicht. CLAS, the Office of the Provost, and the Department of Political Science fund the poll.