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Morningside University poll shows deepening partisan divide over climate change

Morningside University's Colonel Bud Day Center for Civic Engagement released the results of its political polling on Wednesday.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
Morningside University's Colonel Bud Day Center for Civic Engagement released the results of its political polling on Wednesday.

A western Iowa college has released its annual political polling on hot button issues in Iowa. This year’s results from Morningside University’s Colonel Bud Center for Civic Engagement suggest a deeper polarization on public policy surrounding climate change.

The responses from more than 650 Iowans suggest that the state’s Republicans are becoming less interested in climate change and its effect on agriculture. Meanwhile, a majority of Iowa Democrats say they feel it’s having a significant impact.

Morningside Freshman Jacob Martin says this likely means no significant shifts in state policy.

“As we have already seen in the state legislature, Gov. Reynolds will follow the views of her party members, meaning that the climate legislation in Iowa will continue to take a backseat or be wiped out altogether,” Martin said at a press conference at the university on Wednesday.

The results also showed a majority of Iowans now favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, with a 57 percent approval rating. That’s a 15 percentage point increase in support in the last two years.

The majority of Iowans showed support for the state’s acceptance of Afghanistan and Ukrainian refugees. Sixty-one percent of Iowans said they were in agreement with relocation of these refugees to the state.

Junior political science major Garrett Arbuckle said he was surprised to see such bipartisan support. In the past, he said, their polling has typically found a divided view on topics related to immigration.

“When it comes to questions like those, it's usually typically partisan,” he said. “But this year, it was not as partisan as we would have thought with the Ukraine and Afghanistan refugees.”

Around 30 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats expressed opposition to the recent refugee resettlement efforts.

The poll found that a majority of Iowans are in support of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Iowa.
Morningside University
The poll found that a majority of Iowans are in support of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Iowa, the relocation of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees to Iowa and legislation requiring Iowa students to use school restrooms according to the sex on their birth certificate.

The poll was conducted by a group of 12 students and supervised by political science department head Valerie Hennings. They called people at random across the state for a period of two weeks in April and polled them on approval of candidates, controversial issues and current affairs.

“We spend a lot of time following legislation in the state of Iowa. We see what's in politics nationally, but especially at the state level, we'll see what legislators are focusing on,” said Alex Freeman, junior political science and business major. “And then we make sure that those issues are included.”

Iowans identified inflation, the economy, elected government officials and education as the most important problems facing the state. Four percent of respondents said they believed population decline in Iowa was the greatest issue in need of addressing. Iowa's population as a whole is not declining — it grew by 4.7 percent between 2010 and 2020 — but most of that growth was in the state's metropolitan areas. Sixty-eight of Iowa's 99 counties lost population during the last decade.