In preparation for the upcoming 2020 election, the Des Moines Register and CNN, with Mediacom as a financial sponsor, have teamed up for the Iowa Poll. The partnership intends to provide more frequent polls on high-interest topics and collect accurate information about public opinion in Iowa.
According to CNN, the Iowa Poll will also give insight into the important Iowa caucuses, which will take place on Feb. 3, 2020: “The caucuses will be the first proving ground for what’s expected to be a massive field of Democratic candidates vying to take on President Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election,” said the report.
In 2017, Carol Hunter, executive editor of the Register, along with J. Ann Selzer, who conducts the Iowa Poll, approached several media organizations. Among the candidates was CNN.
Hunter said she and Selzer searched for a polling partner that would be equally vested in upholding the integrity and accuracy of the poll, which they found in CNN.
Once the network was selected, Hunter said reporters and editors from both organizations as well as CNN’s polling director, Jennifer Agiesta, began working with Selzer to develop the questionnaires.
“Typically there are two to three lengthy conference calls, with follow-up emails, as we develop poll questions and a couple of conference calls when Selzer delivers the results,” Hunter said.
Both organizations have equal say and authority to veto a question that it considers leading or inappropriate, but Hunter shared it was a challenge getting everyone to agree on the questions.
“For example, given the large number of Democrats who might join the race, there was considerable back and forth over which names should be included in the horse race question,” she said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hunter said a positive factor was “the considerable experience and know-how that the combined organizations bring to coverage of both Iowa and national politics.”
As the 2020 election year approaches, Hunter said the Register plans to bring more firepower to data analysis and visualization this caucus cycle.
The newspaper is also aware of its obligation to explain to the public how the caucus works, and to equip Iowans with the necessary information “to participate and serve as a watchdog on the fairness and effectiveness of the process,” said Hunter.
For the time being, both the Register and CNN will focus on their partnership to bring accurate information to Iowans in a time when so many media outlets have done away with polling.
“Partnering brings more expertise to bear on developing discerning questions, helps defray the cost and expands distribution channels to deliver this valuable information to a larger audience,” Hunter said.