The other, even wider gap, is on the war in Iraq. Eighty-one percent on the Republican side say it was worth fighting; 60 percent feel that way strongly. On the Democratic side, 87 percent say the war was not worth fighting -- and 79 percent feel strongly about it. That's a rift in public attitudes with which the next president, whatever his or her party, will likely be left to struggle.
TURNOUT and SAMPLING -- This survey was conducted by telephone calls to a random sample of Iowa homes with landline phone service. Adults identified as likely Republican caucus-goers accounted for seven percent of respondents; with an adult population of 2.2 million in Iowa, that projects to caucus turnout of 150,000. That's within sight of the highest previous turnout for a Republican caucus, 109,000 in 1988.
A more restrictive likely voter definition, winnowing down to lower turnout, makes no substantive difference in the results.
Other polls in Iowa have used registered voter lists rather than random-sample telephone calls; the approach can be more efficient in reaching people, but it also misses the substantial number of registered voters for whom there's no working phone number on the list. Some other Iowa polls also have a much higher number of "undecided" voters, a function of polling technique. The approach in ABC/Post polls is informed by the construct of the question -- whom people would support "if the caucus were being held today."
NEXT QUESTION -- Finally, this poll asked likely Republicans caucus-goers what one question they'd ask the candidates in a debate. Issues of top interest included the Iraq war (23 percent) and immigration (14 percent), alongside a variety of others -- e.g., social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and religion, 11 percent; health care, nine percent; and taxes, seven percent.
Likely Democratic caucus-goers, by contrast, were more heavily focused on just two issues, the war and health care.
Here are some of the questions from likely Republican caucus-goers, in their own words:
"Are you for more gun laws or do we have enough?"
"Will you stick it out in Iraq and will you fight the terrorists all over the world?"
"How are you going to help the troops when they return from Iraq?"
"How are you going to deal with the money shortage for Medicare and Social Security?"
"What is your position on dissolving the Federal Reserve?"
"How are you going to promote the change in energy uses and new energy sources and their products?"
"How does your religious faith affect your decisions?"
"What's your view on life and where life begins and how you should deal with how life ends?"
"How can you provide health care that's affordable for everyone?"
"When are you going to close the borders north and south?"
"When will you get the federal government out of our wallets?"
"What would you do with Jesus in your life today?"
"Are you honest?"
"Why would you want the job as president?"
"Why do we always give money to other countries when we have needs here?"
"Are you going to stand strong against the Muslim jihad?"
"What are you going to do to lower my taxes?"
"Are you going to follow through with what you say or are you going to just give promises and not fulfill them?"
METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone July 26-31, 2007, among a random sample of 402 Iowan adults likely to vote in the 2008 Republican presidential caucus. The results have a five-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa. J. Ann Selzer, president of the public opinion research firm Selzer & Co. in Des Moines, consulted on project design.