Health care, climate change top issues for Iowans ahead of caucuses: analysis

Health care, climate change top issues for Iowans ahead of caucuses: analysis
© Getty Images

Iowa caucus-goers’ top concerns appear to be health care and climate change, according to data analysis by the Des Moines Register.

An analysis of more than 300 questions asked by potential voters at 46 candidate events over the course of 30 days found 27 questions about climate or environmental issues. The candidate receiving the most climate-related questions was former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), with seven, followed by Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP ekes out win in return of Congressional Baseball Game Greene heckles Democrats and they fire back on Capitol steps Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (D-N.J.), each with four.


Candidates were asked 33 questions about health care. The candidate asked most about the issue was former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress Ohio GOP congressman tests positive for COVID-19 Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district MORE (D-Colo.), who was asked about it 11 times, followed by Booker, who was asked four times. The issue represented about 10 percent of the questions in the Register’s sample.

The newspaper logged 21 questions relating to education, with O’Rourke again leading with seven questions, followed by Booker with four and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWhich proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? Proposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending MORE (D-N.Y.) with three.

Candidates were also asked about varying issues that in some cases were specific to the region, such as a question to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSinema's office outlines opposition to tax rate hikes The CFPB's data overreach hurts the businesses it claims to help Runaway higher ed spending gains little except endless student debt MORE (D-Mass.) about increasing suicide rates among farmers, while others were specific to candidates themselves, such as questions to O’Rourke and Booker about their financial and political ties to charter schools.

Personal questions about the candidates also made up a significant portion of the questions, with the newspaper’s sample including 18 such questions, including one to Booker about his family, which led the New Jersey senator to discuss his relationship with actress Rosario Dawson, which he made public in response to questions about the prospect of a bachelor as president.

“I’m sure it drives communications professionals and staff crazy going off the script like that,” Jake Oeth, who led former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2016 Iowa caucus campaign, told the Register. “But I think it allows the candidate an opportunity to connect on a personal level with the caucus-goer by answering their question specifically. To be fully prepared to be president, I think you should be able to answer questions on the issues of the day without having a two-hour prep session or poll-testing an issue.”