What Messages Candidates Are Poll Testing In Iowa’s 3rd District Primary

Two separate polls have been going around the 3rd District in the past few weeks. Both appear to be your standard message-testing polls, in which campaigns gauge various messages for their candidate and others to see which might be the most convincing. They usually test the various stances and biography notes that they’re already talking about on the campaign trail to find out which one or two points would be best for a TV ad.

These polls typically initially ask the poll-taker who they support in the election, go through several bios and messages for each candidate and then ask them again who they support.

The polls asking about Democrats Cindy Axne, Pete D’Alessandro and Eddie Mauro got particularly interesting when one of them tested potential negatives messages against each 3rd District contender. We haven’t seen these criticisms out on the campaign trail and some of the details are probably news to most voters. Any of them might come up in the general election.

Just testing out potential negatives doesn’t mean a campaign is preparing to go on the attack. They may simply be getting prepared for all eventualities. And the negative messages may not poll well, anyway.

Starting Line received recordings of both poll calls. Below is my transcriptions of each (some of the recordings were a little choppy, so a word or two may be off in some places).

3rd District Poll received this past week (contains pro-Axne testing)

Asks how likely you are to vote in the primary.

Rate the following public figures on how favorable they are to you:

Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders
Mike Gronstal
Eddie Mauro
Chet Culver
Pete D’Alessandro
Cindy Axne

Asks who you would vote for in the 3rd District Democratic primary.

Pick two or three issues that are the most important to you:

Protect Social Security and Medicare
Fighting for affordable healthcare and prescription drugs
Promoting renewable energy solutions
Protecting a woman’s right to choose
Protecting rural communities
Increasing funding for public education
Standing up to Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress
Taking guns out of the wrong hands
Creating jobs and raising the minimum wage
Fighting sexism and discrimination

Now goes through descriptions of each candidate, asks after each one how interested you would be in voting for that person.

Pete D’Alessandro: 

“Grew up in a union household and has dedicated his career to promoting progressive causes and candidates, including as a campaign coordinator for Bernie Sanders. Pete supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, tuition-free college and a single-payer healthcare system by expanding Medicare for all. Pete is endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution.”

Cindy Axne:

“For 10 years, Cindy Axne worked for the state of Iowa as an expert helping over 20 state agencies deliver government services more effectively and holding state lawmakers accountable to the people of Iowa. She knows how to make government work. Today she is a small business owner in the same boat as many all over Iowa who have difficulties finding affordable health insurance, which is why she proposes a public option that allows Americans to choose between Medicare and Medicaid so every American has access to affordable healthcare. As our congresswoman, she will stand up to the radical agenda, cronyism of Donald Trump.”

Eddie Mauro:

“Eddie Mauro is a business owner, father, coach, community volunteer and a former teacher who is committed to working hard to improve the performance of our government and empower people. He says he is running for Congress because we are engaged in the fight for the soul of our country and he has had enough of David Young doing nothing to move us forward toward the 21st century of our economy. Mauro says now more than ever we need the courage of our convictions to fight Republican attempts to cut our healthcare, educational and environmental programs.”

Asks again who you would vote for in the 3rd District primary.

Now lists several reasons to vote for Cindy Axne and asks whether that makes you more likely to vote for her.

“She knows there are severe disparities in educational opportunities in Iowa. She believes funding should be structured to provide quality kindergarten to 12 education for all students. That’s why she fought for all-day kindergarten for all children at West Des Moines.”

“As a mother of two children in public schools, Cindy has had enough of our inaction on gun violence. She says she will stand up to the NRA and she supports meaningful reforms including universal background checks on all gun sales and ban on the sale of assault weapons.”

“As a small business owner, Cindy has seen firsthand how hard it is for people to get and keep health insurance while trying to run a successful business. She believes there should be a real public option to make healthcare affordable.”

“Cindy is tired of seeing Congress being bought and paid for by billionaires and corporate CEOs. If we ever want take the power of our democracy back, we need to get money out of it. That’s why Cindy has rejected corporate and PAC contributions.”

“Cindy worked with Governor Culver to make Iowa more energy efficient and clean the environment. Her work helped install thousands of wind turbines, making Iowa second in the country for wind energy production.”

“Iowa Democrats have never sent a woman to Congress and it’s time to change that. The lack of different perspectives in Washington is why we’re in such a mess.”

“Cindy will fight against Republican efforts to privatize social security and cut Medicare benefits. She will never go along with privatizing retirement programs that Americans have paid into in their paychecks.”

“Cindy Axne knows that every woman has encountered sexism, discrimination. Disgusted by Donald Trump and the politicians who find new ways to undermine Iowa women every day. And she won’t stop fighting until women are fully equal in this country.”

Now they list several reasons to vote against each of the candidates and asks if it makes you less likely to vote for them or if it makes no difference. 

“After Iowa caucuses in 2016, Pete D’Alessandro reportedly suggested Microsoft could be conspiring with the Clinton campaign because the company designed a free app to count caucus results and members of Microsoft donated to Hillary’s campaign. With Trump putting our country at risk, Democrats have to come together and stop attacking each other.”

“Eddie Mauro is a multi-millionaire businessman who talks about economic growth and opportunities for Iowa coming from automation, globalization and immigration. He doesn’t get that automation and globalization are major reasons why we’re losing jobs in Iowa.”

“Pete D’Alessandro has spent most of his life as a paid political consultant.”

“Cindy Axne touts her experience as a manager, but when she was in charge of the Department of Natural Resources, the state auditor found dozens of instances where they did not follow state rules.”

“Cindy Axne’s digital ad agency worked for a tobacco company promoting Pall Mall cigarettes.”

“Mauro owns a lot of real estate, including a building in Des Moines with a night club where a man was recently shot and killed. Despite the tragedy and numerous noise and nuisance complaints from neighbors, Mauro refuses to shut down the club.”

Asks again who you would vote for in the 3rd District primary.

Poll concludes with basic demographic questions.


3rd District Poll from two or three weeks ago (contains pro-D’Alessandro testing)

Asks how likely you are to vote in the primary.

Rate how favorably you view these public figures:

Donald Trump
Our Revolution
Republicans in Congress
Citizens United
National Nurses United
Cindy Axne
Chet Culver
Nancy Pelosi
Eddie Mauro
Pete D’Alessandro
Tom Vilsack
John Mauro
David Young
Paul Wellstone
Theresa Greenfield
Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders

Asks who you would vote for in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Asks who you would vote for in the 3rd District Democratic primary.

Lists basic bios for each candidate and asks you to rate 1-10 how convincing of reasons are those to vote for that person.

Pete D’Alessandro

“[recording cut out briefly at the start] …fighting for local jobs to improve schools and to strengthen access to healthcare. He directed Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in Iowa because he understands the economy system is rigged against working and middle class families. That’s why he has refused to take corporate PAC money. Pete will stand up to corporate special interests and fight for jobs that pay more than minimum wage, combat climate change, investing in clean energy and make public college tuition free and for a Medicare-for-all healthcare that lowers costs and covers everyone.”

Eddie Mauro

“Eddie Mauro is a business owner, father, coach, community volunteer and former teacher who is committed to working hard to improve the performance of our government and empower people. He helped found a social justice advocacy group that fights for better workforce development, healthcare, affordable housing and justice reform. As a teacher, baseball and football coach, he has helped hundreds of students reach their full potential, including winning two state championships. In Congress, Eddie will focus on ensuring our veterans have the support they deserve, our nation secure and invest in our infrastructure and encourage economic stability and growth.”

Cindy Axne

“Cindy Axne is a 5th-generation Iowan, a small business owner, parent and community activist who is running for Congress to stand up for Iowa values. When her oldest kid started kindergarten, she learned of the lottery system that unfairly left some of the families and students out. She successfully organized parents to expand all-day kindergarten for all students in the district. She spent nearly a decade working for the state of Iowa helping to deliver essential services effectively and efficiently. In Congress she will work to create good jobs that can support a family and a healthcare system that is affordable and accessible to everyone.”

Asks again who you would vote for in the 3rd District Democratic primary.

Now asks which statement/reason to vote for someone you prefer.

“A candidate who believes that we must stand up to insurance and pharmaceutical companies and fight for Medicare for all healthcare plans, OR a candidate who believes we should build upon progress under the Affordable Care Act and work to lower healthcare and prescription drug costs.”

“A candidate who believes Donald Trump and David Young is moving us backwards and we need new leaders who can move us forward. This candidate will stand up to Republicans and stop them from taking healthcare away, protect a woman’s right to choose and Planned Parenthood funding, and fight for clean, renewable energy, OR a candidate who believes that we must end a rigged economy where billionaires and corporate interests buy politicians so the rules work for them and not us. This candidate will fight to get big money out of politics, for a living wage, tuition-free college and to combat climate change and create good, clean jobs.”

Now lists many reasons to vote for D’Alessandro and asks how convincing they are from a scale of 1 to 10.

“Pete understands the challenges Iowa families face. As a grassroots organizer for over 20 years, he has brought ordinary Iowans together to fight for good jobs to improve schools and protect healthcare. As an aide to the governor, he helped respond effectively to the devastating flood of 2008. Pete will stand up for our family farms and small businesses and be a strong voice for our communities in Congress.”

“Pete knows we must combat climate change with bold action and invest in our clean energy future. Instead of subsidizing and importing dirty fossil fuels, Pete believes we must transition to clean and renewable energy sources like solar and wind to reduce harmful pollution and create high-skill, high-wage jobs.”

“Pete knows we must get serious about creating better jobs so middle class families can prosper. We can start by making smart investments in infrastructure, education, scientific research and renewable energy. Pete believes we should do more to support small businesses and give people the career skills they need by expanding skills training and making college more affordable.”

“Pete will stand up for women in Congress. He strongly supports a women’s rights to choose and will protect Planned Parenthood and women’s health services like birth control and cancer screenings. He’ll fight for equal pay for women, paid leave and to prevent insurance companies from charging women more.”

“Bernie Sanders supports Pete because he is a grassroots organizer who has always fought for the middle class. Pete will stand up to the billionaires and big corporations and fight to reduce the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us and get big money out of politics.”

“Pete believes our leaders in Washington have failed us in the wake of mass shootings that have claimed too many lives, especially children’s lives. While David Young has taken over $700,000 from the NRA, Pete will stand up to them to ban military-style assault weapons and universal background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands and for real campaign finance reform to check the political powers of corporate-funded special interest groups like the NRA.”

“Pete is running for Congress to resist Donald Trump’s dangerous agenda and to fight for our families and our values. Pete will fight for affordable healthcare for our families instead of taking it away. Fight for the middle class instead of giving thousands of handouts to billionaires and big corporations and protect a woman’s right to choose.”

“Pete is running for Congress because Washington politicians put special corporate interests before our interests and it’s time for a change. Pete will fight to overturn the Citizens United court decision to stop billionaires and big corporations from buying elections and work for real campaign finance reform.”

“Pete knows the challenges families face when they cannot afford healthcare and will fight to make healthcare a right, not a privilege. He will stand up to big insurance and pharmaceutical companies and work for Medicare for all plan that lowers costs and covers everyone and to lower the price of prescription drugs.”

“Pete believes we have an obligation to support those who have served our country and Pete will be a strong voice for military families and veterans. He will fight to reform the VA and improve veterans healthcare, strengthen education, job training and housing opportunities for veterans.”

“Pete is a proven progressive leader who has spent his life speaking up for people who too often don’t have a voice in our government. Pete got his start in politics working for the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Pete is a strong advocate for immigrant families and children and a woman’s right to choose, common sense gun laws and was an early advocate for marriage equality in Iowa.”

“While working families struggle to keep up with the rising costs of living, Republicans in Washington are helping the rich get richer and give tax cuts to the wealthy donors. Pete will fight to end reckless Republican tax breaks for billionaires and big corporations and will fight for a $15/hour minimum wage and ensure equal pay for working women.”

Asks a final time who you would vote for in the 3rd District Democratic primary.

Poll finishes by asking basic demographic questions.



by Pat Rynard
Posted 4/21/18

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