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University of Iowa News Release

 

March 27, 2007

University Of Iowa Poll: Wife's Cancer Won't Hurt Edwards In Iowa Caucuses

News that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer has returned has not created a short-term problem for the John Edwards presidential campaign among registered Iowa voters or likely Democratic caucus attendees in Iowa, according to a statewide, random poll of 1,051 registered voters conducted by University of Iowa political scientists.

David Redlawsk and Caroline Tolbert, associate professors of political science in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, were conducting a statewide poll on political issues and candidates when the Edwards campaign made the announcement about Elizabeth Edwards in a press conference March 22.

Halfway through the poll, which ran March 19-25, questions were added to assess awareness of the cancer announcement and beliefs about its impact on John Edwards' chances of becoming the Democratic nominee.

"Obviously it will be some time before the full impact of the situation sinks in, and Edwards' chances in the future likely hinge at least in part on how the public perceives his ability to balance the challenge of running for president with the challenge of Elizabeth Edwards' medical condition," Redlawsk said.

After the announcement, 88.4 percent of respondents knew about Elizabeth Edwards' cancer. Results show that Edwards remains a top-tier candidate, competing primarily with U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for caucus support. Clinton's numbers ticked up in the second half of the week. Edwards' did too, but not quite as much.

Among a subsample of likely Democratic caucus-goers polled before the Edwards announcement, Edwards led with 30.2 percent, followed by Clinton at 24.4 percent and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at 22.1 percent. After the announcement, both Edwards and Clinton moved up, while Obama dropped. Among likely caucus-goers after the Edwards announcement, the results were: Edwards 36.4 percent, Clinton 33.9 percent and Obama 14.4 percent.

Among all registered Democrats (not just likely caucus-goers) asked who they would support for president in 2008, before the Edwards announcement the front-runners were: Clinton - 21.1 percent; Edwards - 19.7 percent; Obama - 18.8 percent; don't know - 32.9 percent. After the announcement, some change was seen for both Edwards and Clinton, with a substantial move away from "don't know" and Obama: Clinton - 29.5 percent; Edwards 23.2 percent; Obama - 11.4 percent; don't know - 28.7 percent.

UI political scientists were not prepared to say that the Edwards announcement caused Clinton's improvement. The more striking finding, they said, is that Edwards' support trended upwards among Democrats in general and those most likely to caucus in January.

Some groups of likely Democratic caucus-goers showed shifts in support for Edwards after the announcement: men and women, and unmarried respondents.

Female, likely Democratic caucus-goers became more likely to caucus for Edwards; males became less likely. Pre-announcement, 23.7 percent of women planned to support him, compared to 40.2 percent afterward. Pre-announcement, 44.4 percent of men planned to support him, compared to 27.8 percent afterward.

Unmarried voters responded especially positively to the way Edwards handled the situation. Pre-announcement, 17.4 percent of unmarried respondents who were likely Democratic caucus goers supported him; afterward, 32.4 percent did. No shift was seen for married respondents.

All respondents were asked if the "announcement of Elizabeth Edwards' cancer makes it more or less likely that Edwards will win the Democratic nomination." Opinion was split fairly evenly, with 30.3 percent believing it is more likely, 33.5 percent believing it is less likely and 36.2 percent saying neither.

Participants were also asked to name their choice for president in 2008.

Among all registered voters, regardless of party, Clinton had the most support, with 13.7 percent. Edwards followed with 11.8 percent, ahead of Obama at 10.3 percent. All three Democrats were ahead of any Republican candidate. Eight percent of respondents supported former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 6.9 percent supported U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and 4.6 percent supported former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Nearly 37 percent of all voters were undecided.

Poll participants were 32.9 percent Republican, 34.2 percent Democrat and 33.0 percent Independent. Nearly three-quarters were married. Women made up 62 percent of the sample, while men made up 38 percent. Of the full sample, 334, or 31.8 percent, were identified as likely caucus-goers. Of the likely caucus-goers, 206, or 61.7 percent, were Democrats and 128, or 38.3 percent were Republicans. The margin of error was +/-3.3 percent for the full sample. The poll was carried out with the cooperation and facilities of the UI Social Science Research Center. Registered Democrats +/- 4.5 percent. Likely Democratic Caucus Goers +/- 6 percent.

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

ONTACTS: David Redlawsk, 319-335-2352 (office), 319-400-1134 (cell), david-redlawsk@uiowa.edu; Caroline Tolbert, 319-335-2360 (office), caroline-tolbert@uiowa.edu; Media: Nicole Riehl, 319-384-0070, nicole-riehl@uiowa.edu.