Selzer & Company, Inc. 

Wacky Surveys
What we do is serious business. But that doesn't mean we can't have some fun along the way.

Since 1987, the staff of Selzer & Company have been involved with The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll-sometimes as part of the Register staff, and more lately as the pollster of record when The Register opted to use an outside research firm to conduct the poll in 1997.

Every four years, the copyrighted Iowa Poll claims the national spotlight as the single most reliable predictor of how the presidential caucuses will shake out. In addition to its stellar reputation as the most trusted public opinion poll for Iowa elections, the poll has championed other missions.

For example, since its inception in 1942, it has considered part of its duty to explore what we like to think of as the soft underbelly of the Iowa psyche.

Here are some of our favorites from over the years.

Yard art
One in four Iowans (24%) report having some sort of ornament adorning their lawns (1989). Most common are bird baths, plastic deer, or some sort of bird (pink flamingoes, perhaps?). No one confessed to having a plywood cutout painted to look like someone bending over in the garden . . . but we see them all the time.

How lucky can you get?
One in five Iowans (21%) thank their lucky stars, believing themselves to be luckier than most. Nearly one in ten (8%) say they are unluckier than most. If only they would wear a warning badge so those of us who are just average in the luck department (69%) could steer clear (1997).

Dance your pants off
Almost one in three Iowans (31%) say they have mastered the Hokey Pokey, which could explain why it is still a favorite at wedding receptions (1997). If that sounds like Iowans are stuck in an earlier era, keep in mind that in 1946, two out of three Iowans believed dancing (including, presumably, the Hokey Pokey) should not be allowed in places where beer was sold.

For better or for worse
If they could do it over again, 6% of married Iowans would choose not to marry, rather than make the same mistake twice. Of course, the vast majority (89%) would opt for the devil they know and definitely make the same choice. Still, 2%, who appear to have been coveting thy neighbor's spouse, would make a different choice. For 3%, the current spouse is apparently on double secret probation and they aren't sure whether they'd marry the same person again or not (1988).

Dead rock stars
We don't know how many Iowans think Elvis still shops at K-Mart, but we do know that the untimely death of Sid Vicious (of the Sex Pistols) had a personal impact on 5% of all Iowans, including 2% of those age 65 and over. For every one of those left grieving over Sid, there are 10 who mourned the King (1988).

Think you're so smart?
A majority of 56% of all Iowans consider themselves intellectuals (1990). But then again, 11% of us have names for our cars, most frequently with names starting with the letter "b," as in Betsy, Bessie, Beulah. Presumably these two findings have little overlap.

Mom always liked you best
Just 80% of Iowans say their mothers would certainly have picked them to be their son or daughter, had they been given the choice. No word from the moms on what proportion of these Iowans were in fact the darling treasures they believe themselves to be (1983).

All surveys above reprinted by permission.

The Iowa Poll is owned by The Des Moines Register.
Their website is

Selzer & Company, Inc.Selzer & Company, Inc.
Selzer & Company, Inc.

Wacky Surveys

308 Fifth Street
West Des Moines, Iowa   50265-4632
Phone: 515.271.5700
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