Republicans Give Branstad High Marks and Primary Voters Focused on Economic Issues, Loras College Poll Finds

The Loras College Poll released the final results of its inaugural poll Thursday, showing that Governor Terry Branstad enjoys widespread support among likely GOP primary voters.  The poll also reveals that Republican primary voters focus more on economic issues than social or defense/foreign policy when making their choice of nominee for Senate and Congress, and receive most of their news from traditional sources.
“What a difference four years has made for Governor Branstad.  With only a limited primary challenge this time, in our poll he receives an enviable 86 percent overall approval rating, with 80 percent indicating a preference to vote for him.  Governor Branstad is poised to serve once again as the statewide GOP standard bearer going into the 2014 general election,” noted Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D., associate professor of politics and director of the Loras College Poll.  “Despite controversies surrounding him recently, his base appears behind him.” 
Beyond the gubernatorial primary, the poll also reflects the interests and concerns of the statewide GOP electorate.  “Despite the tendency by some to think of the Republican base as motivated more by social issues, primary voters indicated a preference for economic issues as central to their choice of nominee for U.S. Senate and House,” Budzisz remarked.  For more on today’s results and the complete statewide survey (including cross-tabulations), click here.
In the choice between voting for Governor Branstad or Tom Hoefling the results were:
Definitely Branstad 58 percent
Probably Branstad 22 percent
Definitely Hoefling   2 percent
Probably Hoefling   2 percent
Undecided 14 percent

Governor Branstad’s job approval amongst likely Republican primary voters was:
Strongly Approve 50 percent
Somewhat Approve 36 percent
Somewhat Disapprove   4 percent
Strongly Disapprove   3 percent
Undecided/Unsure   5 percent

The most important issue in choosing a Republican nominee for U.S. Senate or House:
Economic 54 percent
Social 19 percent
Defense/Foreign Policy 15 percent
Unsure/Other/Refused 12 percent

Budzisz offered an additional review of the survey, including the following:
  • 49 percent indicated that issue positions were more important in their choice of nominee for U.S. House and Senate than the chance to beat the Democratic candidate in the general election.
  • 83 percent of GOP primary voters rely heavily on traditional news media (newspapers, television and radio) while only 13 percent rely primarily on new media (online newspapers and social media).
  • A majority of those polled indicated a preference for increased defense spending rather than a reduction.
  • Smartphone use for receiving political and campaign news is low amongst the likely primary voters surveyed, with only 11 percent saying they use such technology for these purposes on a daily basis.
“With only roughly half of those surveyed indicating that closeness between the views of candidates and the voter is more important than the candidate’s chance of winning in the general election,  I think that tells us that even in a primary where there is a greater proportion of ideologically driven voters than in a general election, electability matters,” said Budzisz.
“While there is no doubt smartphone use for news and social media applications is spreading amongst the American public generally—especially among the youth—within the population surveyed, it is still limited.  Perhaps this is a reflection of the demographics of the GOP primary electorate in Iowa,” Budzisz remarked.
The inaugural Loras College Poll surveyed 600 likely primary voters statewide and results carry a 4 percent margin of error.  The statewide survey was conducted April 7-8, 2014, using telephone interviews (both landlines and cell phones).  In addition, the survey was balanced using historical voting patterns for age, gender and geography.  Script development and methodology used for the survey received input from Republican campaign consultant, Steve Grubbs, and Democratic campaign consultant, Dave Heller. 
Capitalizing on its location in the politically vital and vibrant state of Iowa, the Iowa Presidential Caucuses will be the cornerstone of the Loras College Poll with additional surveys focused on current events, social issues, economic issues, politics and more.
The Loras College Poll will be conducted several times each year. Loras College faculty and student researchers will work with the survey research team to develop poll questions, analyze and interpret the data and assist with sharing the final results with local, regional and national media.
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