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University of Iowa News Release


April 3, 2007

To view a PDF with the poll data only, click here.

Poll: Iowa Dems Favor Clinton, Edwards; Republicans Like Giuliani, McCain

A statewide poll conducted by University of Iowa political scientists shows that former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) leads among Iowa's likely Democratic caucus goers, while U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) leads statewide among all registered Democrats. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are virtually tied among likely Republican caucus goers, while Giuliani leads statewide among all registered Republicans.

The statewide random poll of 1,290 registered voters was conducted March 19-31. The margin of error was +/- 3 percent for the full sample, +/-4.4 percent for all likely caucus goers, +/- 5.5 percent for the Democratic caucus subsample and +/- 6.5 percent for the Republican caucus subsample.

David Redlawsk and Caroline Tolbert, associate professors of political science in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, conducted the survey with UI graduate student collaborators Daniel Bowen, Karleen Jones and Howard Sanborn.

2008 Presidential Preference

Respondents were first asked an "open-ended" question -- to name their presidential preference -- without being prompted with candidates' names. Then they were asked a "forced-choice" question: "If the 2008 presidential election was held today and the candidates were Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, McCain, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (the six top candidates were listed randomly) who would you vote for?"

Statewide Registered Voters

Open-ended: Among all registered voters, Clinton led with 13.5 percent support, followed by Edwards at 12.6 percent and Obama at 10.9 percent. All three leading Republicans followed the Democrats, with Giuliani at 7.1 percent, McCain at 6.6 percent and Romney at 4.7 percent. No other candidate received more than 2 percent of mentions, and 36.4 percent of respondents were undecided.

Forced-choice: When registered Iowa voters were given the top six candidates by name, Clinton led statewide with 19.3 percent, followed closely by a near-tie between Edwards, 17.6 percent, and Obama, 16.7 percent. Again the three top Republican candidates have lower support statewide, Giuliani at 12.2 percent, McCain at 11.9 percent and Romney at 11.7 percent. When given these six names, 10.7 percent say they don't know whom they will support.

Statewide Registered Democratic Voters

Open-ended: When UI political scientists looked only at self-identified Democrats, open-ended support increased for the top three candidates, but positions did not change. Just over one-quarter (25.5 percent) of Democrats named Clinton, followed by Edwards, 23.2 percent, and Obama, 16.3 percent. No other Democratic candidate broke 2 percent; 27.5 percent of the sample was undecided.

Forced-choice: Paralleling the overall results, Clinton led among self-identified Democratic registered voters with 29.6 percent, followed by Edwards with 26.3 percent and Obama with 20.9 percent. Another 15.4 percent picked a Republican candidates, and 6.8 percent responded "don't know."

These results were based on a subsample of 600 registered voters who identified as Democrats or leaning Democratic. The margin of error for the subsample of 600 registered voters who identified as Democrats was +/- 4.0 percent.

Statewide Registered Republican Voters

Open-ended: When UI political scientists looked only at self-identified Republicans, open-ended support differentiated the top three, with Giuliani at 17.5 percent, McCain at 14.4 percent and Romney at 9.6 percent. Former U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) received 3.5 percent, while no other Republican candidate broke 2 percent, and 39.9 percent didn't know whom they would support.

Forced-choice: More differentiation between candidates appeared among self-identified registered Republicans than among voters as a whole on this question. Giuliani led with 22.8 percent, followed closely by McCain with 21.2 percent. Romney trailed with 17.4 percent. Interestingly, 27.4 percent picked a Democrat, with 11.8 percent choosing Obama, while 11.2 percent were undecided.

These results were based on a subsample of 479 registered voters who identified themselves as Republicans or leaning Republican. The margin of error for the subsample of 479 registered voters who identified as Republican was +/- 4.5 percent.

2008 Caucus Candidate Support

Likely caucus goers of both parties were asked to name which candidate they intended to support in their caucus without being given candidates' names. They were also asked a series of questions about the top three candidates in their own party: the extent to which each candidate is the party's "strongest candidate," and whether each candidate is "electable".

Subsample of Democratic Caucus Goers

Results show that Edwards remains the leader among likely Democratic caucus goers, competing primarily with Clinton for caucus support. Edwards led by a substantial margin with 34.2 percent. Clinton followed with 28.5 percent, and Obama with 19.3 percent. No other candidate reached 2 percent. Twelve and a half percent of Democratic caucus goers were undecided.

When likely Democratic caucus goers were asked whether they agreed with the statement "Clinton is the Democrats' strongest candidate," 56.2 percent agreed. Only 46.1 percent of Democratic caucus goers agreed with the statement "Edwards is the Democrats' strongest candidate," and 48.4 percent with the statement "Obama is the Democrats' strongest candidate." Although Edwards led in support among Democratic caucus goers, this same group believed Clinton was the strongest candidate.

Edwards' support among Democratic caucus goers appears to be linked to perceptions that he can win the presidential election. When given the statement  "Edwards is electable", 89.0 percent of Democratic caucus goers agreed. This was the highest percentage in the survey. Eighty-six point six percent of Democratic caucus goers believe Obama is electable; 76.5 percent feel Clinton is.

Overall, Edwards was considered the least strong candidate among the three top Democratic candidates, but the most electable. Clinton was seen as the strongest but least electable candidate. Obama was second in both candidate evaluations.

Subsample of Republican Caucus Goers

It has been eight years since the last Republican caucus in Iowa, and the subsample of likely Republican caucus goers is significantly smaller than Democrats, due to the nature of the screening questions. UI political scientists believe Republicans are as likely to caucus as Democrats, but said identifying respondents for the subsample was a challenge.

While the results show a virtual tie between McCain and Giuliani (with McCain at 20.9 percent support, Giuliani 20.3 percent support and Romney trailing with 16.9 percent support among likely Republican caucus goers), more in-depth questions (below) suggest that Giuliani has an early edge among Republican caucus goers. Of Republican caucus goers, 23.2 percent were undecided.

When likely Republican caucus goers were asked whether they agree with the statement, "Giuliani is the Republicans' strongest candidate," 57.7 percent agreed. Only 37.0 percent agreed that McCain was the Republicans' strongest candidate, and 30.4 percent agreed that Romney was. When given the statement "Giuliani is electable," 82.5 percent of Republican caucus goers agreed. Sixty-three point one percent of Republican caucus goers believe McCain is electable and 62.8 percent believe Romney is. Giuliani's support among likely Republican caucus goers appears to be linked to evaluations of his strength as a candidate and electability, as he leads on both evaluations.

Sample Characteristics

Of the 1,290 poll participants, 32 percent were Republican, 36 percent were Democrat and 32 percent were Independent, closely matching the composition of Iowa voters. Nearly three-quarters were married. Women made up 62 percent of the sample, while men made up 38 percent. Results reported are unweighted. Of the full sample, 508 were identified as likely caucus goers. Of the likely caucus goers, 298 plan to attend the Democratic party caucus, while 178 plan to attend the Republican party caucus and the remaining were undecided. The poll was carried out with the cooperation and facilities of the University of Iowa Social Science Research Center.

UI political scientists are available to comment on the poll. Redlawsk can be reached at 319-335-2352 (office) or 319-400-1134 (cell), or by email at Tolbert can be reached at 319-335-2360 (office) or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Nicole Riehl, 319-384-0070,;