November 19 2011

What Iowa Voters Want in a Republican

Wall Street Journal

Heather R. Higgins and Carrie L. Lukas

Several recent polls have shown a near four-way tie among top GOP contenders in the Iowa caucus, which kicks off the nominating process on Jan. 3. A Nov. 10-12 Bloomberg News poll, for instance, showed Herman Cain at 20%, Ron Paul at 19%, Mitt Romney at 18% and Newt Gingrich at 17% among likely GOP caucus goers.

But the real story isn't that horse-race snapshot: It's how few Iowa caucus-goers have committed to a candidate with less than two months to go before the main event. A survey conducted by the Polling Company for Independent Women's Voice on Nov. 11-13 of Iowa GOP voters intending to participate in the caucus showed just four-in-10 (42%) of Iowa Republicans will "definitely" vote for their current candidate. No GOP hopeful has locked up more than 9% of Iowa caucus-goers.

Candidates hoping to emerge victorious from Iowa should recognize that the race is wide open. Voters are carefully considering candidates' stances and commitment to key issues. They want more than a candidate who will play it safe by echoing poll-tested platitudes from the decades-old Republican platform. They want a leader who will boldly propose reforming some of government's sacred cows.

Smart candidates should start with health-care reform. Our poll found that more than three-in-four Iowa caucus voters (77%) consider the candidate's commitment to repealing ObamaCare a top-three issue when deciding whom to support. Health care is the single most important issue for more than one-in-five voters (21%). A staggering 93% consider the candidate's willingness to work against ObamaCare as a top-10 issue.

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