News Center

February 12th, 2010

Did the Des Moines Register Poll the Republican Primary?

republican-symbolThe Des Moines Register and are the only Iowa news organizations that conduct polls and release the information to the public. Ironically, the TIR/Concordia Group poll and the Register’s Iowa Poll were both conducted at the same time. What is fascinating is the difference in the questions that were asked, not necessarily the results.

This past Sunday, the Register released some results of their poll that asked about the Tea Party movement. The timing of the release of the results was perfect. That same weekend, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin headlined a national Tea Party convention. The Register’s poll was current, dealt with an interesting subject, and provided some interesting results.

Later in the week, the Register released additional information from its Iowa Poll. This time, the Register asked those who were surveyed whether or not a list of particular issues deserve the legislature’s limited time.

It wasn’t necessarily a bad question to ask, but the list of issues that the Register included was just odd. Instead of asking about some of the major issues like prevailing wage, fair share, open scope bargaining, repeal of various tax credits, repeal of federal deductibility, and educational priorities, the Register asked about puppy mills, gay marriage, texting while driving, gun control, gambling, and payday loans.

While the Register’s list included some very important issues, none of them deal with the most critical issue that Iowans are dealing with – jobs and the economy. According to the Register’s poll, the only issue that people thought the legislature should spend time on was the texting while driving ban. The fact that the public didn’t think the other five issues that the Register asked about matter says more about the Register than the people who responded.

Yesterday, the Register released more results from the Iowa Poll. Just like their questions about the Tea Party movement, the Register polled respondents on whether or not they consider themselves to be progressive. The poll found that 46% of Iowans considered themselves to be progressives. In fact, according to the poll results, 40% of conservatives considered themselves to be progressives.

The results are odd. Even the Register reporter who wrote the article seemed to struggle with what the word progressive means. The mere fact that progressives are hard to identify and define should have made the Register’s pollster question the purpose of asking people this question.

What’s disappointing about the Register’s Iowa Poll thus far is the lack of serious issues that it has addressed. While figuring out who makes up the Tea Party or Progressive movement might be an interesting conversation, the poll has ignored the important issues. Which begs the question, why?

Last April, the Register polled the public on Governor Culver’s I-Jobs plan, increasing the gas tax, labor bills, and the federal stimulus. Why has the Register taken a pass on these important issues? It seems odd that, in an election year, that the state’s largest newspaper would spend time polling things like how many people consider themselves to be a progressive rather than, say, the Governor’s legislative agenda.

Looking at the Register’s sample size and the fact that the Iowa Poll contains an over-sample, it is likely that the Register polled the Republican primary field. If that is indeed the case, the will likely release that information this weekend.

The latest TIR/Concordia Group poll did not contain a Republican primary poll. If the Register poll does contain a Republican primary sample, it could have a major impact on the Republican gubernatorial primary. There have been a number of general election polls that feature head-to-head polling results between Governor Culver and his Republican opponents, but the only public primary poll was conducted by last July before Branstad was an official candidate. In that poll, Branstad led the primary field with 35%, followed by Vander Plaats with 31%.

Even though the Register’s Iowa Poll failed to pay any serious attention of the critical issues of the day, the most important polling results might just be how the Republican candidates for governor currently stack up. Right now, it’s anybody’s guess as to where the Republican primary currently stands. Providing some insight to the race would make up for the fact that the Register’s polling results thus far have not been up to par with their previous polls.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

blog comments powered by Disqus