In Iowa, Meeting Candidates Is Easy

Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., holds up a shirt given to him by a local supporter at Shirley's Cafe during a campaign stop in Crawfordsville, Iowa, which calls itself the Birthplace of the Republican Party, Friday, Oct.12, 2007. Taking questions as locals looked on McCain renewed his call for a presidential line-item veto, and criticized rival Rudy Giuliani for his part in a lawsuit that led the Supreme Court to deem the veto unconstitutional. AP

If polls are any measure, Iowans are getting plenty of attention from presidential candidates.

According to The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll, one-fourth of caucus-bound Democrats and Republicans have already met at least one presidential candidate.

The poll also offers plenty of other signs of campaigns' efforts to win Iowans' hearts and minds:

- More than three-fourths of likely caucus goers have been contacted by a presidential campaign.

- Forty-three percent have been to a campaign event where a candidate appeared.

- Sixteen percent have donated money to a candidate.

- Seven percent have been interviewed about the first-in-the-nation caucuses by the news media.

One participant in the poll, 28-year-old Paul Waddell, of Ankeny has had his picture taken with Arizona Sen. John McCain and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback at local campaign events. He also got former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's autograph at the Iowa Republican Party's straw poll in Ames.

The Register's poll also shows that many expect to participate in the caucuses for the first time. For 25 percent of likely Republican caucus participants and 23 percent of likely Democratic caucus goers, January will bring their first experience at the party events, according to the poll.

That doesn't necessarily mean the caucuses will skew younger than in years past. The Register's poll showed that three in every four of the likely first-time participants were 35 or older.

Poll participant Marlys Sharp of Ollie, a 39-year-old mother of two sons, said she plans to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton at her first caucus.

Sharp said that when she was in her 20s her focus "was day to day. Now the future is very important to me."

"I never contemplated my mother being without health insurance. I never contemplated my sons going to war," said Sharp, who works for an investment company.

The Register's Iowa Poll is conducted by Selzer & Co. Inc. of Des Moines, and was based on 399 interviews with registered Iowa voters who said they would definitely or probably attend Iowa's Democratic caucuses and 405 with registered voters who said they would definitely or probably attend the state's Republican caucuses.

The poll was conducted between Oct. 1 and Oct. 3 and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

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