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Straw Poll surveys yield new results

October 20, 2011

Christopher Larimer, associate professor, political science, 319-273-6047,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Two political science professors at the University of Northern Iowa, Christopher Larimer and Donna Hoffman, recently conducted two surveys comparing attendees at the 2011 GOP Ames Straw Poll to registered Republicans in Iowa who did not attend. The surveys measured the type of conservatism among Republicans, preferences for presidential candidates and political attitudes toward government. The first survey was conducted the day of the GOP Straw Poll in Ames on Aug. 13. The second survey, done by mail, was sent to a random sample of registered Republicans in Iowa.

The straw poll attendees and Republicans who completed the mail survey differ in expected and unexpected ways. Most notably, straw poll attendees tended to identify themselves more as "born-again" Christians, and had more favorable views toward the tea party movement. These participants were also more likely to report having attended the precinct caucuses in the past and have a higher likelihood of attending in the future. This same group also reported significantly higher levels of disagreement with the statement, "The political system is dominated by special interests." No differences were demonstrated in terms of approval of Congress or of President Obama.

UNI students surveyed straw poll attendees to learn about their basic demographics, attitudes toward government, political preferences on issues and for whom they intended to vote. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul emerged as leaders, followed by Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain.

The mail survey was sent out a day before the poll, preventing campaign events from biasing one sample or the other. It was sent to active voters only, and was similar to the straw poll. Bachman and Rick Perry had the highest number of votes, followed by Mitt Romney and the next popular response was "no one."

For more information, contact Larimer at 319-273-6047 or