How to be the perfect president of the United States of Iowa

Chris Moody

(Photo of candidates: Jim Cole/AP)
(Photo of candidates: Jim Cole/AP)

Every four years, presidential hopefuls send an army of consultants and pollsters to Iowa with the mission to report back on everything Hawkeye--what do these people eat, what do they like to do, what do they believe, will they like me? The aim in all this earnest research, of course, is that the candidates can descend onto the small state knowing exactly who they need to appear to be to secure a top slot in the first round of caucus votes.

A new poll from The Des Moines Register did some of the legwork for them this year, with a new poll that offers some clues about what Republican Iowans are truly looking for in a president.

First, the topics the poll showed that Iowans don't really care about:

Are you a former governor who previously said some nice things about capping and taxing energy output? No big deal. How about a state executive who championed a government mandate to purchase health insurance? Bad move, but more than half of us can probably get over that. Did you ever cheat on your wife, marry your mistress, then cheat on your mistress/wife and marry your new mistress? We all make mistakes, and besides, I'm more worried about not having a job than your shenanigans. Want to end ethanol subsidies? Please, what is this, 1999?

Of course, there are issues the Iowans polled said would be a sure-fire "deal-killer" for any of the candidates. First things first, any Republican who supports civil unions for gay couples is right out. Iowan conservatives are still reeling from a state Supreme Court decision that made gay marriage legal in 2009. (Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a strong supporter of civil unions for gay couples, isn't even participating in the Iowa caucus.) Tax increases are another issue that more than 50 percent of those polled said would determine their likely support for a candidate.  Raising the debt ceiling, which members of Congress must do one way or another, is another biggie, according to the poll: Seventy-six percent said any candidate who supports raising it would give them pause.

You can see a complete list of the topics, courtesy of The Register, below: