Do Iowans Call It Bags Or Cornhole? We Polled Them To Find Out

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The eternal Midwest question: Do you call it “Bags” or “Cornhole?”

An essential part of any tailgate or backyard BBQ, the game we all know and love that includes bean bags and two boards with holes in them is also a topic of dispute over its name. While there is an official American Cornhole League and last month’s world record-breaking Iowa State Fair tournament was officially called a “cornhole” competition, there’s still many people who like to call the game “bags.”

So, which is it?

We decided to commission a poll of Iowans on the question to finally put the matter to rest… or maybe just to stir up the debate even more.

Iowans prefer to call the game “cornhole” by an 11-point margin, with 48% favoring that name compared to 37% who call it “bags,” our polling showed. So Iowa is a cornhole state, though only by a plurality and not an outright majority.

Considering the question asked was simply “Do you call the game Cornhole or Bags,” without any other setup or explanation, it was also mildly impressive that 85% of Iowans clearly knew what we were talking about the tailgate game and had a solid opinion.

And while cornhole is the favored choice overall in Iowa right now, it may not be forever. Our poll showed that Iowans under age 45 actually prefer the bags name, 52% to 42%. Those over the age of 45 had a very strong preference for cornhole, 52% to 29%. So perhaps the cornhole designation is an older generational thing, one that could lose its prominence over time.

And those who have a college education also are split evenly on the name, 46% each. So if you’re at a college football tailgate with lots of current students and alumni, you might hear the bags name tossed around more often.

Interestingly, there is actually a partisan split on the issue. Democrats are evenly divided on the name, with 43% each choosing either moniker. Republicans favor calling it cornhole by over a 20-point margin, 53% to 32%. Independents back the cornhole name by a smaller degree, 48% to 36%. We’re sure you’ll all have interesting theories as to why.

A SBNation story from 2017 said that cornhole was the more popular name nationwide, but that there was a large contingent of bags-loyalists specifically in the Upper Midwest. That would largely track with what we found here.

Data For Progress conducted polling for Iowa Starting Line and surveyed 637 likely voters from July 22 to 29. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points.

 

by Pat Rynard
9/10/22

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