Cross posted with permission from the great folks at “Bleeding Heartland” in Iowa.
We can add one more name to the list of presidential candidates who may compete in the 2020 Iowa caucuses: former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. I completed a phone survey on January 14 that was ostensibly neutral, but I’m pretty sure it was sponsored by McAuliffe. I’ll tell you why below.
The poll began in the ordinary way, with a series of screening and demographic questions:
1. Are you registered to vote in Iowa?
2. Do you work for a media company?
3. Do you work for a political organization?
4. What party are you registered with?
5. How likely are you to attend the caucuses?
7. Do you approve / disapprove of Donald Trump
8. Then there was a long list of candidates which I was asked to rate as very positive, somewhat positive, etc.: Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Terry McAuliffe, John Hickenlooper, Steve Bullock, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders.
9. Do I already have a favorite candidate / down to three or four / undecided ?
10. Since I had a favorite, they asked who it was
11. Rate these people positive/negative: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton
12. What kind of candidate would you like to nominate? liberal, centrist, moderate, progressive, conservative (I might have missed one or two of these)
13. How do you feel about these types of Democrats: Obama Dems, Clinton Dems, pro-business Dems, free-trade/anti-Trump-tariff Dems, and a few others
14. What kind of candidate do I want to nominate: #1 a very progressive candidate, #2 a pragmatic leader who can get things done? (I really shortened the wording here)
15. What kind of candidate can beat Trump? #1 or #2 (see above)
16. Which is more important to you: voting your ideals or beating Trump?
17. Rate these policy ideas: universal jobs guarantee, single-payer health insurance, 70 percent marginal tax rate, free college tuition
18. If the candidate was a white male over the age of 60, would you be more or less likely to support him? [This was a strange question, and when I heard it I thought “Oh, this must be a Biden poll.”]
19. There was a long-winded question that asked how I felt about candidates who took PAC money.
20. What kind of candidate would you prefer: one with experience as a U.S. senator, with experience as a governor, or a non-politician with no experience? [This was also odd – if it was a Biden poll, wouldn’t they care about experience as VP? But I asked for clarification and they were very specific about the U.S. Senate part. Sure, Biden was a senator first, but still…]
21. My caller said, “We ask participants to comment in more detail about one of the candidates we listed before, and for you we have randomly selected Terry McAuliffe.” Bingo! Then they read a short bio of McAuliffe – former Gov. of Virgina, white, 62 years old [ Ahhhh ]
22. They read a long list of McAuliffe’s accomplishments: creating jobs, expanding Medicaid, vetoing Republican bills, opposing a Confederate licence plate, etc. and after each one I was asked if that made me very likely, somewhat likely, etc. to support him.
23. They read a list of criticisms too: he is a tool of corporate donors, he’s too close to the Clintons, he opposes various progressive ideas, he was investigated for foreign lobbying, and some scandal about a failed electric car company.
It was a long and probably very expensive poll. My big takeaway was that Terry McAuliffe has a lot of money that he doesn’t know what to do with, and he has no idea what’s going down in Iowa. Did he donate to any candidates? Did he visit the state once before the midterm election? Martin O’Malley and Jeff Merkley cared enought to came down to the Marion County Democratic HQ on weekends to greet volunteers and munch stale doughnuts.
If this poll represents DC insider thinking, and McAuliffe is a former chair of the DNC, then they are a long way behind the grassroots. I’m looking forward to this campaign.