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July 5th, 2011

TIR Poll: Republicans United on Need to Defeat Obama

A new statewide Iowa Caucus poll recently commissioned by TheIowaRepublican.com shows that likely Republican caucus goers are interested in one thing above all else– defeating President Obama in November of 2012.

The survey of 500 likely Republican caucuses goers asked respondents who they would vote for between a candidate who they might not agree with on every issue but who has the best chance of beating Barack Obama, or someone who is the closest to their views on the issues, but who might not have a good chance of beating Barack Obama.

By a two to one margin, the need to beat President Obama trumps ideological purity.

The poll’s crosstabs suggest that the people with the greatest desire to beat President Obama are generally older.  Both men and women over the age of 55 put a preference on backing a candidate who they believe can beat Obama.  This is also the case with individuals who say they are already paying a lot of attention to the 2012 presidential race.

Straight ticket Republican voters, as well as “very” and “somewhat” conservative voters, are more likely to hold this position than moderate Republicans the poll finds.  Fiscal conservatives, those who mentioned either taxes or spending as their top concerns, also show a healthy appetite for limiting Obama to one-term as president.

The survey finds that the desire to beat the president is greater with fiscal conservatives than it is with social conservatives.  However, even among social conservatives, which we defined as being those who mentioned social issues as their top voting issues, 53 percent feel it is more important to beat the president, while 40 percent feel it is more important to support a candidate that they agree with on the issues.

To further expand on the desire by likely Republican caucus goers to support a candidate who they believe can beat President Obama in November of 2012, respondents overwhelmingly said that spending a lot of time campaigning in Iowa has little to do with who they would vote for in the upcoming caucuses.

When asked who they would support between a candidate who is closest to their views on major issues, but has not spent much time campaigning in the state, and a candidate who might not be closest to their views, but has spent a lot of time in the state, 79 percent said they would back a candidate who shares their views even if he or she was not often in Iowa asking for their support.

That finding may seem to indicate that Romney’s decision to down play the Iowa Caucuses could work.  The poll clearly indicates that a frontrunner like Romney would appeal to voters in Iowa if electability is the top priority.

But by focusing on New Hampshire, Romney is allowing another candidate to not only gain momentum in Iowa, but also gain a lot of attention nationally.  Assuming the electorate remains focused on defeating Obama, if the candidate who wins Iowa can also win South Carolina, Romney may find it difficult to win the nomination as he will be allowing another candidate to emerge as a Republican frontrunner.

The commonly accepted notion that Iowa caucuses goers are somehow too socially conservatives or fixated on issues like abortion and gay marriage simply doesn’t hold any water.  While the Romney campaign seems to be making a judgment call about the Iowa caucuses based on what happened in Iowa in 2008, the poll indicates that this race could be more like the 2000 contest in which fiscal issues were very important, and ultimately, a Republican succeeded a Democrat in the White House.

In the 2000 contest, the clear national frontrunner was then-Texas Governor George W. Bush.  Bush faced a stiff challenge in Iowa, but not from a well-known social conservative.  Steve Forbes challenged Bush in Iowa by mostly focusing on fiscal issues.  In the 2000 caucuses, Bush and Forbes combined to garner over 70 percent of the vote.

Just like in 2000, caucus goers seem eager for a change in the White House.  After witnessing President Obama’s agenda that has grown government at a rapid pace, Republicans are serious about supporting a candidate who they believe has the best chance of defeating him in November of 2012.  Candidates like Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman may have made a tactical error in their decisions to bypass Iowa because it appears they could have a good chance at performing well here.

The poll shows that, if there was ever a time for a frontrunner to campaign hard in Iowa, this may be the year.

About the poll:

The poll was commissioned by TheIowaRepublican.com and The Iowa Republican magazine.  Craig Robinson founded both entities in 2009.  Robinson was the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa in 2007.  In that capacity, he organized both the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and 2008 Iowa Caucuses.

Voter/Consumer Research conducted the poll by telephone interviews between the dates of June 26th and June 30th.  It has a sample size of 500 likely caucus goers, and has a margin of error of ± 4.4 percent. Dr. Jan van Lohuizen, an expert in the field of public policy and public opinion research, founded Voter/Consumer Research.  Dr. van Lohuizen was President George W. Bush’s primary pollster and has provided his services to a number of political candidates, corporations, and various think tanks.  This is the third Iowa poll Dr. van Lohuizen has conducted for TheIowaRepublican.com.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheIowaRepublican.com. Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.




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