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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 20, 2011

Hawkeye Poll: Bad economy likely an issue for Iowa voters

Nearly 80 percent of individuals who said they are "very likely" or "likely" to attend the 2012 Iowa caucuses think the economy is in a bad state, according to a recent University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll. Forty-one percent reported that the economy was "somewhat poor" and an additional 39.6 percent said it was "very poor."

Republicans think the economy is in worse shape than Democrats do.

"With the caucuses only a few weeks away, the Republican Party is looking for a strong leader with a plan to jumpstart the economy," says Jason Thomas, a political science graduate student and member of the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative.

Among Republicans, 39.8 percent said the economy was "very poor," while only 12.3 percent of Democrats agreed.

Still, the economy is on Iowans' minds. When asked what "the most important problem facing our country today" is, the economy and recession topped the list (40.5 percent), followed by jobs and unemployment (16.8 percent), and the budget deficit and national debt (15.4 percent).

These perceptions will likely have an important effect on the 2012 presidential election. While bad economic conditions generally hurt incumbent presidents, support for Barack Obama remains surprisingly strong in Iowa among those who evaluated the economy as "somewhat poor," with 45.1 percent of such voters indicating they would choose Obama over Mitt Romney (37.3 percent) and 50.1 percent of voters indicating they would choose Obama over Newt Gingrich (39.1 percent) if the election were held today.

"Given the poor economic performance over the past few years, Obama will have to persuade voters that while the economy has not performed well, he has done as much as possible to deal with the economic crisis and that he has a plan to get things back on track," says Fred Boehmke, associate professor of political science in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and faculty adviser to the Hawkeye Poll.

Topline results for the polls are available at:

Support for the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements

Both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to some extent grew out of dissatisfaction with the current economic state.

Iowa voters sympathize a bit more with the Tea Party's position, with 42.1 percent saying their either "strongly support" (11.4 percent) or "somewhat support" (30.7 percent) it. Approximately 33 percent of Iowans either "strongly support" (7.3 percent) or "somewhat support" (25.8 percent) the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Those who say they "strongly support" the Tea Party movement are likely to be middle class (37.6 percent earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year). Among strong supporters, 15.3 percent are 70 years old or older, and an additional 14.9 percent are aged 55 to 69. Only 18.1 percent of Iowans aged 18 to 54 say they "strongly support" the Tea Party movement. Nearly 50 percent of Iowa men either strongly or somewhat support the Tea Party movement, while only 34.7 percent of women do.

Newt Gingrich is the preferred candidate of Tea Party supporters in the Republican caucus. Of those who say they "strongly support" or "somewhat support" the Tea Party movement, nearly 68.6 percent would vote for Gingrich to become the Republican nominee.

Like Tea Party supporters, Occupy Wall Street's strong supporters are slightly older: 16.5 percent of Iowans aged 55 and older, compared with 13 percent between the ages of 18 and 54. Twenty-four percent of the OWS Movement's strong supporters earn less than $10,000 per year. Across genders, men are more likely than women to say they "strongly" or "somewhat" support the OWS movement (39.4 percent to 27.1 percent).

In the Republican caucus, Occupy Wall Street supporters prefer Mitt Romney to become the nominee. Of those who say they "strongly support" or "somewhat support" the OWS Movement, nearly 65.5 percent would vote for Romney.

The Iowa caucuses will be held Jan. 3, 2012. For related stories and information, visit the UI Election 2012 website at

About the Hawkeye Poll

The poll was conducted by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, comprised of UI faculty and graduate students in political science. The faculty adviser for the poll is UI Associate Professor of Political Science Frederick Boehmke. The poll used the facilities of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, directed by UI Sociology Professor Kevin Leicht. The poll is a teaching, research, and service project of the Department of Political Science in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. CLAS and the Provost's Office fund the poll.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rebecca Kreitzer, Hawkeye Poll, 651-246-2164 (cell), 319-335-3381 (office),; Cassie Cumings-Peterson, Hawkeye Poll, 651-373-4305 (cell), 319-335-2319 (office),; Kelli Andresen, University News Services, 319-384-0070 (office), 319-330-9951 (cell),; Frederick Boehmke, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-2342 (office), 716-866-9277 (cell)