A Republican group that includes a former candidate for governor released a poll today that shows economic issues lean in their favor when it comes to taking back control of the legislature and the governor’s seat. David Hill of Hill Research Consultants says his poll found that 50% of the people believe the state is on the wrong track, while 37% feel its on the right track.

Hill says they found that “a clear majority of Iowans feel that things in the state today are seriously off on the wrong track.” He says it’s something they see across the country with the recession and it points toward being wanting to vote for change. “And for an incumbent governor like Governor Culver, that’s a bad sign, and it might point toward difficulty in his getting re-elected,” Hill says.

Hill says most people in the survey said economic issues were ahead of social issues. Hill says they asked people about a variety of social issues and economic issues early in the poll and at the end they asked if they would rather have an elected official who would focus on economic issues or social issues. He says by a wide majority people said they favored someone who would focus on economic issues, even people who described themselves as “social conservatives.”

Sixty-percent of those polled said they favor someone with strong economic management skills. The poll was taken at the end of March before the Iowa Supreme Court ruling that said Iowa’s law banning gay marriage was unconstitutional. Hill says that ruling may’ve had an impact on the poll — but he also points out a lot has happened in the economy since then too that could have also impacted view. But regardless, Hill says people are thinking about their pocket books as they look to the next elections.

Hill says the economy and the situation faced in the economy today is having an “enormous impact” on the opinions about what kind of leadership people are looking for. Doug Gross is part of the “Iowa First Foundation” which asked for the poll. Gross says the current Republican leadership in the legislature is in the minority, but has focused on the very economic issues the poll shows are important to voters.

Gross says as a result the party is “clearly focused on the kinds of agenda items that can provide for a winning coalition for us.” He says that gives Republicans a “tremendous opportunity to gain control of the Iowa House and make substantial gains in the Iowa Senate. Gross says the polling shows the coalition that’s looking for a change in leadership includes social conservatives — so they don’t have to overlook social issues.

Gross says it’s “just fine” to have candidates who are fiscally and socially conservatives, who for example might be in favor of an amendment to ban gay marriage. “But what we need to make certain that we do, in addition to that, that can’t be our only issue, that can’t be the issue we lead with, what really unites the Iowa electorate, even what our poll found, even beyond Republicans, beyond independents, including some Democrats, is fiscal conservatism,” Gross says. Gross says he’s a living example of how tough it is to unseat an incumbent governor — but says the survey shows it is a good possibility.

“The good news is that…there’s an issue agenda that’s already out there, created frankly by the Democrats, that is a winning agenda for us,” Gross says. He says the economic agenda is one that unites and that doesn’t divide the party. Gross says the bad news is that the Republicans have brand “that’s taking on a lot of water in terms of being not open, being exclusive, not reformers.”

Gross says the Republican party needs to find the right candidates to use the issue that’s been given to them based on the number of people who feel the state is on the wrong track. Gross says particularly if you look at the “critical middle” in their analysis and 19-percent of those people don’t feel the governor deserves to be re-elected. Gross was the Republican nominee for governor in 2002 and lost in a bid to unseat Democrat Tom Vilsack.