Friday, November 22, 2013

The 2013 University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll captured public opinion among Iowans on a range of timely issues, from health care coverage and gun control to the 2014 U.S. Senate elections and the recent federal government shutdown.

Operated by the UI Department of Political Science as an educational exercise, this year’s Hawkeye Poll cooperative included faculty and graduate students and nearly 100 students in five undergraduate classes in political science and sociology who conducted a random telephone survey of Iowans aged 18 and over. More than 1,000 responses were gathered.

For more detailed information, including press releases and topline documents that will be posted over the next few days, see the Hawkeye Poll’s webpage.

Fred Boehmke, professor in the Department of Political Science, supervises the poll, which he says serves the teaching and learning mission of the university and is built on a rigorously designed public opinion polling operation. The poll provides a platform for academic research on political and public policy topics, including elections, policy issues, and attitudes and beliefs about Iowa and the national political/public policy environment.

In advance of next year’s election for the first open U.S. Senate seat in Iowa in nearly 30 years, the Hawkeye Poll data reveal that Iowans believe it is important to maintain an even partisan balance in the state’s Senate delegation. Slightly more than 61 percent of respondents indicated that it is either very important (36.9 percent) or somewhat important (24.3 percent) to maintain such a balance. The importance varied by partisan identification of the respondents with 80.5 percent of self-declared Democrats considering it very or somewhat important compared to 60.3 percent of independents and 44.4 percent of Republicans.

In the wake of the recent federal government shutdown, blame for the delay in passing a budget fell according to partisan lines. In an open-ended question, Democrats are most likely to blame Republican members of Congress (34.2 percent) and the Tea Party (14.4 percent) for the shutdown, Republicans blame President Barack Obama (48.4 percent), and Independents blame Congress in general (26.4 percent) or the entire government (24.4 percent). Nearly one in four Iowans said they were personally affected by the shutdown. More urban residents (26.5 percent) reported being affected by the two-week shutdown than rural (20.7 percent) or suburban residents (23.0 percent).

The response to Iowa’s Health Care Exchange was modest, with only 10.5 percent of respondents planning to purchase insurance from the Iowa Exchange. Interest was higher among the 7.2 percent of respondents without insurance, with 37.1 percent planning to purchase coverage, compared to 8.7 percent of the 92.8 percent who already have insurance. Of those who planned to buy insurance through the exchange, only 30.2 percent reported visiting the exchange website and 46.8 percent of those visitors felt informed about how to navigate the website.

Iowans were also asked to weigh in on a series of topical policy issues facing the state. With the future of high-speed rail uncertain, respondents were split on whether they supported funding for the first leg between Iowa City and Moline. Among all respondents, 41.8 percent strongly or somewhat support it, 21 percent are neutral, and 37.1 percent somewhat or strongly oppose it. Support is strongest among those living in urban (46.9 percent somewhat or strongly support) and suburban (51.5 percent) areas, with those in rural areas clearly less supportive (33.4 percent).

On the issue of gun control, Iowans expressed divided opinions on the issue in general, but strong opinions on specific items. Slightly more than 43 percent supported stricter gun control laws while 42.2 percent preferred keeping the current laws and 14.3 percent would make them less strict. A vast majority (79.2 percent) of Iowans believe that legally or completely blind people should not be granted permits to carry firearms. Even among gun owners 73.8 percent opposed such permits. Respondents also strongly support background checks (91 percent).

Most Iowans support the Iowa State Board of Medicine’s decision to ban telemedicine abortions. While the ban was temporarily suspended on Nov. 6, 66.3 percent of respondents supported banning telemedicine abortions. Support was especially high among Republicans (84.8 percent), but a majority of Democrats (52.9 percent) and Independents (64.2) also supported such a ban. Despite the recent action by the board and ensuing legal actions, most Iowans (59.6 percent) indicated that they did not know whether the state banned this practice.

For more detailed information, including press releases and topline documents that will be posted over the next few days, see the Hawkeye Poll’s webpage.

The Hawkeye Poll was conducted Nov. 10-17, 2013 by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, comprised of UI faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students in political science, with the cooperation and facilities of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, directed by UI Sociology Professor Kevin Leicht. The faculty adviser for the poll is UI Professor of Political Science Frederick J. Boehmke. The poll is a teaching, research, and service project of the UI Department of Political Science. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost fund the poll.

Poll questions were developed by UI undergraduate students from three classes.

A random sample was acquired with 70 percent household landline numbers and 30 percent mobile phone numbers. For households, an initial attempt was made on answering the phone to reach the “youngest male who is 18 years or older.” Alternatively, a female age 18 or older was interviewed. All who stated they were over age 18 and willing to participate in the survey were included.

That sample included 1,038 participants, with a margin of error for full sample of +/- 3 percent. Among these respondents, 32.55 percent were Democrat, 26.72 percent Republican, and 34.55 percent Independent. Additionally, 46.49 percent considered themselves moderate, while 20.92 percent self-identified as liberal and 30.9 percent as conservative.

Reported results are weighted by population and age.