For example, Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s support comes primarily from folks 44 years old and younger.
Georgia businessman Herman Cain’s support is strongest among those who identify themselves as “extremely conservative” while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s support comes from Iowans who self-describe as “conservative,” “slightly conservative” or “moderate.”
Those were among the findings of the poll conducted in early November by ISU through phone interviews. The results reflected the 377 of 979 registered Republicans and 277 registered independents who said that they would “probably” or “likely” attend the Republican caucuses on January 3.
The poll’s major findings were that Cain led the field with the support of 24.5 percent of the
1,256 registered Iowa voters polled. Paul was second with 20.4 percent and Romney was third at 16.3 percent. Behind them were: “Can’t decide,” 8.1 percent; Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 7.9 percent; Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, 7.6 percent; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 4.8 percent; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 4.7 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has not campaigned in Iowa, received no support. “Other” was the top choice of 5.8 percent.
In addition to the horse-race aspect of the poll, the ISU researchers found measured the intensity of each candidate’s support. Because less than a fifth (16.5 percent) of the respondents indicated that they had definitely decided on their caucus choice, the strength and intensity of the likely Republican caucus goers was generally weak across all the candidates.
The exception – and again, no surprise – was Paul. More than half of his supporters, 51.7 percent, had definitely made up their minds. That’s three times the percentage of Cain supporters (17 percent) and nearly four times the percent of Romney backers (13 percent) who fall into the “definite” category.
The source of their support varies, too. By age, for example, Cain’s support was spread evenly across age groups. Romney’s was greatest among those who are 45 and older while Paul led among younger voters.
Among a list of 12 different issues, “the economy and jobs” was selected by 35 percent of the respondents as the most important issue, while “national debt and the deficit” was chosen by 24 percent. Another 22 percent chose “the size and role of the federal government” as their top issue.
Surprisingly given the strength of social conservatives in the Republican Party, social issues or foreign policy have gained little traction among these likely caucusgoers. “Abortion” was the leading issue for 6 percent. No other social issue was the top concern of more than 4 percent of those polled.
Among the likely Republican caucusgoers who selected the “the economy and jobs” as the most important issue, Romney and Cain were tied at 25 percent, with Paul third at 20 percent. Of the respondents who selected the “national debt and the deficit” as most important, Romney had the most support at 20 percent, with Rick Perry (13 percent) and Paul (11 percent) next.
Among those who identified “the size and role of the federal government,” Cain was the choice of 32 percent of likely caucus goers, followed by Paul at 27 percent.
“In this sense, the actual ideological make-up of the caucus night attendees will prove crucial to the fortunes of these candidates,” said James McCormick, professor and chairman of political science at Iowa State, who coordinated the poll.
For more on the poll, visit http://www.news.iastate.edu/.
On the calendar:
Rick Santorum, 8 a.m., town hall, Cottonwood Canyon, Waterloo; 10 a.m. Waverly Public Library; noon, Pizza Ranch, Oelwein; 1:30 p.m., Independence Public Library
Mitt Romney, Des Moines
Newt Gingrich, 7 p.m., Polk County Robb Kelley Victory Club, Johnston
8 p.m., Des Moines Register/ABC News/Yahoo!/Republican Party of Iowa live presidential debate, Drake University
Fox News/ Republican Party of Iowa live presidential debate, Sioux City
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