This year's Hawkeye Poll results aligned very closely with the Des Moines Register's poll on the Iowa Gubernatorial race. Fred Boehmke, Iowa Social Science Research Center director and professor of Political Science, and Barrett Bierschenk, a student in the Hawkeye Poll class, talked about the poll on Iowa Public Radio's River to River last week.
The Hawkeye Poll is a cooperative venture between faculty and graduate students in which members help implement the survey in exhange for the opportunity to design some of the questions on it. The poll is mostly focused on Iowa elections, and showed Fred Hubbell leading current Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds 43.6% to 40%, with a margin of error of 4.5%. The Des Moines Register poll shows Hubbell and Reynolds at 46% and 44%, respectively, with a 3.5% margin of error.
Bierschenk discussed the survey methods with River to River host Ben Kieffer, touching on how the questions must be carefully designed not to skew the results, the survey method of random digit dialing, and weighting the results to reflect Iowa demographics. The class is designed to provide students with experience with survey research, and as stated by Bierschenk, give them a respect for the careful consideration of question design.
The poll includes a national component also, which is still in the field and includes opinion questions on current issues such as the #MeToo movement and the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, according to Boehmke. In the Iowa portion of the poll, health care emerged as a top issue for most Iowans, with many expressing frustration with the privatization of Medicare. The importance of health care issues has made it harder for Governor Reynolds to focus on Iowa's economic strengths, Boehmke said.
Boehmke also touched on the future of polling, citing peoples' reticence to participate and the speed of the news cycle as challenges to the process. In response to those challenges, online surveys will become more widely used.