Iowa poll: Likely Democratic caucusgoers are fired up by the election but also exhausted by politics


Three-in-five likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers say they’re fired up, especially those who are very liberal (76%), extremely enthusiastic about their first choice candidate (76%), and have locked in who they’ll caucus for (71%). Likely caucus attendees who say they’ll “definitely attend” rather than “probably attend” the caucus are more likely to describe themselves as “fired up” (66%).

But just as caucusgoers are fired up, they’re also pretty tired. Over half (54%) say they’re “exhausted by politics.” Lynn Richards, a retired social worker in Iowa, says she can’t turn on the TV without being bombarded by political ads.

“There are some days that I don’t even turn the TV on,” Richards told CNN. “You just get so sick of it! I’ll be so glad when the caucuses are over. At least we’ll hear a little less about it. My kids were here over the holidays and they’re like, ‘For crying out loud, is that all you get on TV?'”

The kicker? Richards is a precinct chair for the Democratic caucus in February. When asked if being tired of politics conflicts with being fired up about the election she said, “We’ve got to get people to vote or we’ll be in big trouble.”

Almost a quarter of likely Democratic caucusgoers identify as regular Twitter users. Caucusgoers under the age of 35 are the most likely to be active on the site (37%), followed by those who are caucusing for the first time in 2020 (36%), and those who identify as very liberal (36%). Likely caucusgoers who plan to caucus for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are more likely than other candidates supporters to be active Twitter users (34%).

Alex Ernst, a 31-year-old Iowa caucusgoer, calls himself a frequent Twitter user, although he cautions against the dangers of the site.

“It can be really useful and really dangerous,” Ernst said to CNN. “Part of being a responsible person in the political sphere is trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not — what are just opinions. Even the littlest thing that someone does can be twisted into something that its not. There’s a danger in that, obviously.”

Almost three-in-five likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa self-describe as a feminist (57%), even with an early January 2016 survey. Those who identify as very liberal are more likely to describe themselves as feminists (84%).

Iowa Poll: Iowa voters divided over impeachment

Some likely Iowa caucusgoers also consider themselves woke (39%), centrists (34%) or capitalists (33%). Centrist is on par with 2016 (at 32%) while the number who identify with capitalism has dropped since then (from 38%). Those who live in the suburbs (49%) and those who report an income of $100K or more a year (48%) are more likely to identify as “capitalist.”

Those who describe themselves as very liberal are more likely to describe themselves as anti-Wall Street (65%) and as socialist (63%). Same goes for supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; 53% describe themselves as anti-Wall Street, and 61% as socialist.

Jason Snell, a 42-year-old artist in Iowa identifies as a socialist because of the time he’s spent in countries like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Snell told CNN, “People paid higher taxes, but they got so much support for families. So it’s a system that puts people over money. Capital and money is the top priority in a capitalist society. Where with socialism, the top priority is society and social politics.”

A little more than a quarter of likely Iowa caucusgoers (28%) identify as “angry at big tech companies” and 24% consider themselves cynical.

But through all the complicated feelings surrounding the caucuses, a huge majority of likely Democratic attendees consider themselves optimistic (78%). Even though that’s down 10 percentage points from the 2016 survey, majorities across all groups say they’re an optimist.

When asked about being an optimist, Ernst told CNN, “It’s a heck of a lot more work to get pissed off about stuff sometimes. It’s just not worth it.”

The CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, January 2 through 8 among a random sample of 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers reached on landlines or cell phones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample of likely caucusgoers have a maximum margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.