September 3, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s lead shrinks in latest Loras College Poll

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

A new Loras College Poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers shows Hillary Clinton still enjoys a large lead in the state for the party’s presidential nomination.

But, poll director Christopher Budzisz says her lead has shrunk over the summer. “In our April poll, Hillary Clinton was the first-choice candidate of 57 percent of those we polled. Now, she’s at 48.2 percent,” Budzisz says.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had just two-percent support in the April poll. He now has the backing of nearly 23 percent of Iowa Democrats taking part in the survey. The Iowa Caucuses are five months away and Budzisz says Sanders has time to close the gap on Clinton.

“I do think he has the opportunity to narrow it, especially when you look at the polling numbers…a large percentage of Democratic caucus-goers think favorably of him, but he still has a chunk of people who haven’t formed an opinion yet,” Budzisz says. “Whereas, for Hillary Clinton, everyone knows her and everyone has made up their minds on her in a way in terms of favorability or unfavorability. So, Sanders still has some room there to increase that number, I think.”

Sanders has drawn large and enthusiastic crowds in Iowa and across the country this summer. While Clinton’s level of support has dropped since the April Loras College Poll, Budzisz says Clinton is still “viewed favorably” by nearly 78-percent of respondents in the new poll. “She’s still seen in a positive light and when we ask people if there’s anyone they absolutely wouldn’t vote for, despite some negative news coverage Hillary Clinton might be getting, you’re not seeing that translate in our poll of people saying ‘I wouldn’t vote for her,'” Budzisz says.

Dubuque police investigating death of woman

Police car lightsA woman’s death is under investigation in northeast Iowa. Police in Dubuque say a woman died at a hospital this morning not long after officers responded to a report of a disturbance at a home.

Officers found the woman on the ground suffering from severe injuries to the face. The victim’s name has not been released and there’s no word of any arrests in the case.


Loras College Poll shows Trump and Carson leading Republican presidential race

Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after arriving in his helicopter.

Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after arriving in his helicopter at the Iowa State Fair.

Billionaire real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in recent campaign stops, has called this the “summer of Trump.” The latest Loras College Poll seems to confirm that statement here in Iowa.

Christopher Budzisz is director of the poll, which shows Trump and another unconventional candidate leading the pack. “The latest poll shows Donald Trump receives the support of 24.5 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers, while Ben Carson receives 18.1 percent,” Budzisz says. Jeb Bush is third in the poll with 10.4 percent.

No other Republican presidential hopeful has double-digit support as a first choice candidate in Iowa. While Trump is well-known as a reality TV star, Carson is a retired neurosurgeon. Budzisz says Iowa has historically been receptive to nontraditional candidates.

“Whether you’re talking about Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan or individuals like that who’ve been able to use another base of support — whether it’s the popular appeal or to tap evangelical networks,” Budzisz says. “So, I think it is fertile ground for unconventional candidates.”

Ben Carson speaks to reporters at his campaign office in Urbandale.

Ben Carson speaks to reporters at his campaign office in Urbandale. (file photo)

The new poll is a good news / bad news situation for Trump and Carson, as history also shows candidates who’ve polled well in the summer are often in trouble by the time the Iowa Caucuses roll around.

“The good news is they’re in a strong position, but the bad news is that five months can be an eternity in caucus politics…just ask Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, or Newt Gingrich,” Budzisz says.

According to Budzisz, who’s an associate professor of politics at Loras College, the key for Trump and Carson to maintain their positions at the top of field is to avoid gaffs and stay on message.

“And another thing is to see where Super PAC money is targeted, as well as the efforts of other candidates. As we draw closer to that February 1st date, if we still see Trump and Carson in the lead, they’re going to come under increasing pressure by both external interest groups — Super PACs — but then also other candidates, who are going to spend their time and resources to target them,” Budzisz says. “It’s going to get pretty contentious, I imagine.”

The Loras College Poll released today involved 502 likely Republican caucus-goers polled statewide. The results differ greatly from a poll conducted back in April. Donald Trump had just 3.1 percent support at that time. In the April poll, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had the lead with the support of 12.6 percent of likely Republican Iowa Caucus-goers. In this new poll, his support has dipped to 6.2 percent.


ISU test tells if you are too dependent on your smartphone


A test developed at Iowa State University determines if you have a fear of being without your smartphone.

Researchers at Iowa State University have developed a test to help people determine if they’re nomophobic. It’s the fear of being without your smartphone. Caglar Yildirim, a Ph.D. student in human computer interaction at ISU, says smartphones are a great way to stay connected with family and friends and quickly track down information, but many people have an unhealthy dependence on the technology.

“I was kind of shocked by how times people would say, ‘I would feel naked if I don’t have my phone with me,'” Yildirim says. He and Ana-Paula Correia, an associate professor in ISU’s School of Education, recent had their student published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. Correia is now interested in finding out if certain people are more prone to nomophobia — the fear of “no more phone.”

“We also want to look at other psychological traits and specifically at the role of gender and age and how they relate to nomophobia and that fear of being apart from your smartphone,” Correia says. The researchers have identified four dimensions of nomophobia.

Study participants were asked to respond to the following statements on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree):

I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me:
I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.

Total scores were calculated by adding the responses to each item. The higher scores corresponded to greater nomophobia severity.

Arrest made in ISU sexual assault case

Ryan Scott Evans (Story County Jail)

Ryan Scott Evans (Story County Jail)

Iowa State University Police have made an arrest in a sexual assault case. ISU deputy police Chief Aaron DeLashmutt says the investigation was launched two-and-a-half weeks ago when officers were sent to an apartment building leased by the university.

“At approximately 1 p.m. on August 11, ISU Police received a 911 call reporting a sexual assault,” DeLashmutt said. Officers later executed a search warrant at the apartment and collected evidence.

On Friday, the investigation led to the arrest of 26-year-old Ryan Scott Evans of Huxley. He’s charged with three counts of third degree sexual abuse, a class C felony. Evans was booked in the Story County Jail.

Extra officers patrolling I-80, I-35 this weekend

State-Patrol-car-backLaw enforcement officers in 16 states are paying extra attention to Interstates 80 and 35 this weekend. Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says the “Border-to-Border Traffic Safety Challenge” runs today through Sunday.

“There will be a significant presence of law enforcement because the idea is to have us out there to get people to slow down and make sure people are wearing safety belts,” Ludwig said. Interstate 80 stretches over 2,900 miles between New Jersey and California, while Interstate 35 covers nearly 1,700 miles between Minnesota and Texas. The two interstates intersect in Des Moines.

“August, over the last five years, has been the deadliest month on Interstate 80 and it’s one of the deadliest for I-35 as well,” Ludwig said. “That’s why this initiative was brought about. The challenge is to reduce fatalities on the interstates over the next three days.” So far this year in Iowa, 203 people have died in traffic crashes. That compares to 193 at this same time last year.

“We’ve had a few fatality accidents that have (killed) multiple people in single vehicles,” Ludwig said. “But, as a whole, I think we’re down 15-percent from the high of the last five years.” The I-80/I-35 Border-to-Border Traffic Safety Challenge coincides with the National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.


Insurance commissioner approves rate increases for 3 companies

Nick Gerhart

Nick Gerhart

Three health insurance companies have received the green light to increase rates affecting thousands of Iowans. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Coventry Health Care and Gundersen Health Insurance requested the premium rate increases due to rising health care costs.

On Wednesday, Iowa Insurance Division Commissioner Nick Gerhart approved rate increases of 17.6 to 28.7 percent on average for different insurance plans operated by Wellmark. Around 137,000 Wellmark policyholders are impacted. Coventry is the largest carrier in the state selling insurance policies that qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

Coventry rates on January 1st will rise 19.8 percent, affecting up to 47,000 policyholders. Around 60 policyholders will see a 9.4 percent rate increase approved for Gundersen plans.