Iowa City remains Obama country


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Blue yard signs and one-word slogans painted Iowa City streets. Voters who have historically neglected to turn out filled polling stations last November.

This week will mark Obama’s first year in office. While admiration for the president and support for his agenda are waning across the country, die-hard supporters in this hot spot of Obama country are confident that the rookie commander in chief will hold true to campaign commitments.

“I’m not one of those people who’s disappointed in anything he’s done,” said Sue Dvorsky, the co-chairwoman of Obama’s campaign in Johnson County. “It’s going to sound thin, but it isn’t: I’ve been proud of him every single day of it. I’ve been proud of what we’ve done.”

During the 2008 election, Iowa City was the quintessential manifestation of Barack Obama’s popularity across the world. In Johnson County, he garnered 70 percent of the votes cast, according to Johnson County auditor election results.

Nationally, Obama’s job approval rating has hovered around 50 percent lately.

UI political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle, who advises the College Republicans group at the UI, said he thinks some heated issues are to blame more than others — the economy and health care.

Fortunately in those areas, locals are content, statistics indicate.

The Iowa City metropolitan area has the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the nation, according to the latest tally available from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

But voters in cities not so well-fit to weather the recession might grow uneasy with the debates over the economy and health care. Dvorsky said Americans should be patient for solutions to big problems.

“This is part of the whole 24/7 cable news thing,” she said. “People come to expect quick, fast, easy solutions, but there aren’t any. The health-care thing is a 50-year-old problem.”

UI senior Hannah Joravsky agreed that the problem could stem from unrealistic expectations for the young president.

“I knew this was the reality; it just sucks to watch it unfold,” she said.

And while local Democrats are aware that the president’s underpinning is corroding, they’re confident that Obama can count on continued support from the Hawkeye State.

“When his re-election comes, will everyone who started with us in Johnson County come back? My sense is yeah,” Dvorsky said.

Still, the national portrait isn’t framed so neatly.

“He needs to basically assume ownership at this point,” said Hagle, who worked at the U.S. Department of Justice during George W. Bush’s tenure. “I think that’s particularly true with the elections coming up in November. At a certain point, you can’t keep running against George W. Bush.”

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