The recent 2018 election failed to end the Republicans trifecta lock on Iowa government. Democrats picked up several house seats, but remaining in the minority makes it extremely difficult to pass any progressive legislation in the next two years. Republicans will continue to control the legislative agenda.
However, a 2018 exit poll suggests there are issues Democrats may be able to leverage based on voters’ answers on a variety of questions. The results of the poll suggest Iowa voters hold views much more in line with Democrats than Republicans. It validates Iowa voters support for many progressive policies even though they may have voted for Republicans.
The exit poll commissioned by Progress Iowa was conducted November 6 and 7 by Public Policy Polling. They surveyed 646 Iowans. Among the results to 23 questions, it confirmed a majority of Iowa voters favor adequate education funding, returning Medicaid to state control and raising the minimum wage. View the full poll results here.
The executive director of Progress Iowa Matt Sinovic pointed to the relevance and importance of this polling.
“Every elected official should pay close attention to how Iowa voters view public policy,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Exit polling from this year’s election shows how strongly Iowans believe in being part of a community. We want good health care, strong public schools, fair wages, and for everyone to be able to live safely and with dignity. Most importantly, we want that not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors, even saying no to a personal tax cut in order to pay for public services. That’s the definition of Iowa nice, and that’s the spirit in which our state should move forward.”
The polling could be extremely useful in the upcoming legislative session since Democrats are more in tune with voters on these key issues than are Republicans. Democrats fear further attacks on a number of fronts. One of the Democrats’ main concerns about the upcoming session is a Republican attack on the Iowa Public Retirement System (IPERS). The Republican threat to IPERS is an attempt to move it away from a pension and into a 401k system.
The voter polling on IPERS shows a significant majority of Iowa voters (69%) support maintaining it as a pension system. Democrats must remind Republicans that a majority of voters’ support IPERS in its present form.
Several of the primary issues that the Hubbell campaign elevated and used to put Reynolds on defense will remain important to the public. The polling results clearly show majorities support the Hubbell positions on increasing education funding (57%) and returning Medicaid to state control (55%). Democrats have a majority of the voting publics’ support which should act as an advantage for Democrats in increasing the level of education funding. Likewise, Republicans may find it more difficult to refuse changes to a privatized Medicaid system that is supported by only (34%) of Iowa voters.
Another area that has already seen some movement due to Hubbell’s’ campaign is women’s health care. Polling shows (54%) of Iowa voters support restoring Planned Parenthood funding. While there’s no expectation that Republicans will fund Planned Parenthood, Reynolds did yield slightly during the campaign by committing to support over-the-counter birth control.
Republicans have also expressed some support for finally funding the 3/8 cent Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Polling shows (73%) of Iowans want the governor and legislature to act on reducing farm pollution runoff. In a similar question, 66% of voters indicated they would prefer funding education, infrastructure and clean water rather than getting a decrease in their taxes.
This voter exit polling suggests Democrats have the majority of Iowans supporting many of their policy positions. Democrats must leverage this public support in order to persuade Republicans to pass progressive legislation. At the very least, Democrats may be able to use this data to prevent even worse legislation from passing over the next two years.
by Rick Smith