The phone rang early Tuesday evening, and the voice on the other end was an interviewer conducting a survey for Hill Research Consultants. I asked who commissioned the survey, but the interviewer said he didn't know.
Judging from the type of questions and their wording, I assume this poll was commissioned either by a Republican considering a run for governor in 2010, a Republican interest group trying to decide what kind of candidate to support for 2010, or the Republican Party of Iowa itself.
As I always do whenever I am surveyed, I grabbed a something to write with and took as many notes as I could about the questions. However, it was a long poll and there was commotion in the background on my end, so I know I didn't get all the questions down. If you have been a respondent in the same survey and can fill in some blanks, please post a comment in this thread or e-mail me (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).
My notes on the questions asked during this 15-20 minute survey are after the jump. These are paraphrased, but I tried to remember the wording as closely as I could. I don't know whether the order of the suggested answers was the same for everyone, but since this sounded like a real poll, I assume the order of multiple-choice answers was rotated.
Are you currently registered to vote?
Are you or is anyone in your family an elected official, employee of a media company, (plus a few other categories to screen out ineligible respondents for this poll)?
Since you became eligible to vote, how often have you voted in elections for governor (always, most of the time, sometimes have/sometimes haven't, generally have not voted, have never voted for governor)?
Do you feel things are generally going in the right direction, or have we gotten seriously off on the wrong track?
What is the most important issue/biggest concern for you and your family? (open-ended question; the interviewer then asked me why I gave the answer I gave and sounded like he was typing notes)
What group of people do you think has generally let you down most, thinking about the overall situation in the country? I was supposed to choose from among these possible answers: school administrators; state politicians; local officials; federal politicians; business executives; religious or spiritual leaders.
Iowa currently has a projected budget shortfall of (can't remember the dollar figure he said). Do you think this is because of excessive spending by state government, or do you think it's because of a revenue shortfall related to the economic recession?
Do you think the government should spend more on improvements that will improve the quality of life, or (something like government needs to rein in spending or tighten its belt)?
Some people have proposed changing Iowa law so that what you pay in federal taxes can no longer be deducted for your state tax return. Supporters say federal deductibility only is allowed in two other states and serves no purpose, but opponents say now is not the time to be raising taxes on Iowans. Do you support eliminating federal deductibility? He then asked why I gave that answer and seemed to be typing notes.
Some people have proposed borrowing money for infrastructure projects, and paying back the loans with future state revenues. Supporters say it's worth investing in improvements, but opponents say we should not be borrowing against future revenues (something along those lines). Do you support issuing state bonds to borrow money for infrastructure projects? He then asked why I gave that answer and seemed to be typing notes.
I think the next question was about whether it should be allowed to approve a spending project in one year while allocating money to pay for it in the next budget year.
What is your overall feeling about Democratic politicians in Iowa? (very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, very unfavorable)
What is your overall feeling about Republican politicians in Iowa? (very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, very unfavorable)
What do you think the Republican Party in Iowa is doing right? (open-ended question, then asked for more details about my answer and seemed to be typing notes while I was talking)
What do you think the Republican Party in Iowa is doing wrong? (open-ended question, then asked for more details about my answer and seemed to be typing notes while I was talking)
What do you think the Democratic Party in Iowa is doing right? (open-ended question, then asked for more details about my answer and seemed to be typing notes while I was talking)
What do you think the Democratic Party in Iowa is doing wrong? (open-ended question, then asked for more details about my answer and seemed to be typing notes while I was talking)
Thinking about Governor Chet Culver, do you generally approve of the job he is doing, or not approve?
Based on what Chet Culver has done so far, do you think he deserves to be re-elected as governor, or do you think it's time to give someone new a chance to be governor?
In recent elections in Iowa, including presidential, governor and state legislature, the Republican Party has had a lot of losses. What do you think is the most important reason for this? Here was the list of choices (I asked him to read the list twice to get as close to verbatim wording as possible in my notes):
Republican candidates have abandoned traditional conservative values
Democrats have had better candidates
Democratic candidates have become less liberal
Democrats had more appeal to younger and high-tech voters
Republican candidates were too extreme and angry
Republicans lacked good ideas and proposals
After I said what I thought the most important reason was, the interviewer asked me what I thought was the second most important reason on that list of why Republicans have been losing elections in Iowa lately.
Then the interviewer gave a list of some types of candidates who might run for governor in the future, and for each asked me to rate whether this kind of candidate would be very appealing, somewhat appealing, somewhat unappealing or very unappealing to me:
A member of Congress with a record of fighting against illegal immigration
An auditor who has kept track of how state money is spent
A proud pro-life, Christian conservative (the word "proud" was in there--I asked him to repeat this one)
a former official (think the wording was referring more to a local official)
a successful businessman who has been loyal to his employees and credits them for his success (I asked him to repeat this part--the loyal to employees part was definitely in there)
a female president of a local Chamber of Commerce
a Secretary of Agriculture
a well-respected community leader who has never held public office
After I said how appealing or unappealing each of those types were, the interviewer asked me which kind of candidate on that list was most appealing and least appealing to me.
Then he named a bunch of policy proposals, and I was supposed to say whether they were very/somewhat appealing or very/somewhat unappealing to me:
Consolidating school districts to force smaller schools to merge
Eliminating unneeded state employees so that across-the-board salary cuts would not be necessary
Allowing members of public employee labor unions to exercise control over all conditions of their employment (I asked him to repeat that part but didn't get more details--seems to refer to some Republican idea to weaken AFSCME)
Property tax reform to replace property taxes with different kinds of other local taxes, such as on cigarettes or income
I think a property tax freeze was also on this list, but I'm not sure
Spending $10 million on health care to provide more coverage to poor families
Allowing same-sex marriage rights
Then there was a series of questions about the kind of person I like better. I can't remember if these were worded to be about a "candidate" or an "official."
In general, do you prefer someone with a lot of experience, or someone who's an outsider?
In general, do you prefer someone who wants to strengthen labor unions, or someone who wants to limit the power of labor unions?
In general, do you prefer someone who sticks to his principles no matter what, or someone who seeks consensus even if that involves compromise?
In general, do you prefer someone in politics to be public about religious faith, or do you think religious faith should mostly be a private matter?
In general, do you prefer someone who is focused on economic issues, or social issues?
In general, do you prefer someone from a rural area or from an urban part of the state?
Which part of the state would you most like a gubernatorial candidate to be from? List of possible answers: western, central, southern, northern or eastern Iowa
Which part of the state would you least like a gubernatorial candidate to be from? same list given
In terms of age, do you prefer a gubernatorial candidate to be in his 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s?
Somewhere in this part of the poll, I was read a list of people and asked whether I had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of them, or didn't know. Here's what I can remember from that list, but there may have been a few other names. For instance, I can't remember if Bob Vander Plaats was on the list. A few names I was listening for were definitely not on the list, including Tom Latham, Bruce Rastetter, and Matt Whitaker.
Mark Pearson (his name was first, which made me think maybe he commissioned the poll)
Also, at some point in the survey, but my notes don't show where, I think the interviewer asked me whether I would want Iowa's governor to be like Terry Branstad or not.
Do you consider yourself to be very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate/middle of the road, somewhat liberal or very liberal?
When I said very liberal, the interviewer followed up by asking what kind of liberal--on immigration and justice issues, economic issues or social issues?
The next question was about whether I have voted in past elections.
On abortion, do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro-life?
How would you describe your family's current situation? Possible choices were doing better than ever, living comfortably or struggling to get by.
Are you an active member of any teacher's union?
Including yourself, how many adults over age 18 live in your household?
How many children under the age of 18 live in your household?
How often do you attend church or bible study? Possible answers: several times a week, weekly, a few times a month, once a month, a few times a year, never
What kind of religious institution do you attend?
How do you get your news? Possible answers were newspaper, television, radio, internet, maybe a couple of other choices.
What kind of area do you live in? Possible answers were urban area, suburb, big town, small town, rural.
As far as I can remember, that was the last question in the survey. I was surprised that the demographic questions toward the end did not include asking me for my age or income within various ranges. Maybe they thought asking whether we were living comfortably or struggling was a surrogate for an income question.
Please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you've also been a respondent for this survey.
Any speculation or information about who commissioned the survey would also be appreciated.
UPDATE: The Bean Walker says this polling firm has previously been used by Doug Gross.
LATE UPDATE: I asked Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com whether it is normal for pollsters to ask for a respondent's age. He said that if the interviewer asked for me by name (which, come to think of it, he did), then he was probably working from the Iowa voter file and therefore had my age already.
What a thorough poll!
To me, the fact that they asked for your opinion of the party before your opinion of any candidate (general outline, or specific name) tells me that it's an RPI poll. Also, the fact that they asked you to name your second explanation for why Republicans got clobbered in '08 seems to point to that conclusion.
My guess is that Strawn wants to see which way the wind is blowing before he decides to rock the GOP boat.
Though I still think it could have been commissioned by a prospective Republican candidate, or by someone like Doug Gross, who may need ammunition to use with GOP donors when he tries to convince them not to back social conservatives.