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October 1, 2014

Posts in "Iowa"

September 23, 2014

Fight for Senate Control Down to Five States

With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.

Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.

While things could still change — and national polls continue to show an environment that may produce a substantial GOP wave in the House and Senate — the Senate battle has boiled down to two reliably red states and three swing states.

Full story

September 8, 2014

Rothenberg: Senate GOP Gains At Least 7 Seats

 Rothenberg: Senate GOP Gains At Least 7 Seats

Pryor is one incumbent in perilous position. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.

But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain.

Rothenberg Political Report ratings reflect both where a race stands and, more importantly, where it is likely headed on Election Day. Since early polls rarely reflect the eventual November environment, either in terms of the candidates’ name recognition and resources or of the election’s dynamic, there is often a gap between how I categorize each race (my ratings) and what I privately assume will happen in November.

That gap closes as Election Day approaches, of course, since polling should reflect changes in name identification, candidate and party spending, and voter attitudes as November approaches.

Full story

August 25, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Plains States

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Ernst campaigns at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There aren’t many competitive races in the Plains States, but the region features some critical contests that could signal how well Republicans and Democrats are faring across the country.

A trio of races dropped off the regional top five list since last summer. The South Dakota Senate race is a likely Republican takeover and not worth watching at this point. Neither is the Nebraska Senate race after former Bush administration official Ben Sasse won the Republican primary. And Iowa’s 1st District is a long shot for Republicans.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Plains States: Full story

June 25, 2014

Senate Long Shots Find Success Down the Ballot

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Buck, left, ran for Senate in 2010 and lost. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Giving up a run for office in the middle of a cycle may seem like admitting defeat, but for at least a couple of candidates this year, switching races may end up being the best political decision of their lives.

Republican Ken Buck was a Senate loser. The Weld County district attorney lost the Colorado Senate race in 2010 to Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who had been appointed to the seat, in one of most often-mentioned tea party meltdowns in recent history. Full story

June 17, 2014

Should Republicans Think the Unthinkable About Iowa’s 4th District?

gop members001 061114 445x297 Should Republicans Think the Unthinkable About Iowas 4th District?

Democrats appear to be targeting Steve King. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When everyone else on the planet — or at least in the nation’s capital — becomes consumed with something like a Virginia primary upset or a Clinton book launch, I often turn to focus on an obscure campaign or candidate instead. I figure there is already enough chatter about the popular stuff, and I can keep my sanity by focusing on minutiae.

Given that, it shouldn’t come as a shock that my topic today is Iowa’s 4th District, a generally overlooked seat in the middle of the nation represented by Republican Rep. Steve King.

After looking at King’s comfortable 2012 victory over heavily hyped Christie Vilsack (the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and a one-time first lady of Iowa) and meeting the likely Democratic nominee this cycle, Jim Mowrer, I never thought this race would be worth any attention. I’m still not sure it is. Full story

May 20, 2014

Can an Endorsement Hurt the Endorsed Candidate?

Longtime readers of my column know I have often been skeptical about endorsements in highly visible contests, whether for the White House or the Senate. But what about an endorsement in a U.S. House race or a House primary? And could an endorsement actually hurt the candidate endorsed?

We may well get an answer to these questions soon. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw, one of the contenders in the crowded race for the GOP nomination in Iowa’s 3rd district, was just endorsed by the Des Moines Register.

“Shaw talked about how he would work to represent not just the Republican principles that he believes in but how he would work in a pragmatic way to get things done in Congress for Iowa,” said the editorial.

“An example of pragmatism over absolutism is his position on the recent farm bill, which he said he would have voted for, despite what he sees as shortcomings,” continued the editorial.

The question is whether an endorsement from the Register hurts Shaw, since the newspaper has a generally liberal reputation and Republican primary voters may not value “pragmatism” as much as do the members of the Register’s editorial board. Full story

February 7, 2014

How Candidates Share Without Coordinating With Outside Groups

With each passing election cycle, both parties are figuring out new ways to skirt campaign finance laws.

A couple years ago, I wrote about how the official and independent expenditure wings of the campaign committees share opposition research and message points through less-traveled regions of the Web. That “IE Strategy Borders on Art Form” might be worth a second glance as the cycle heats up.

Some candidates are also conveniently sharing video footage for potential use by independent groups for television ads through links that are sometimes difficult to find unless you know where to look.

For example, Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is running for the open Senate seat in Iowa. BruceBraley.com/video includes a trio of b-roll videos, but the webpage is found only by a small link at the bottom of the main page.

Need video of Braley talking with old people? No problem. There’s “Bruce Braley Stands With Iowa Seniors” — one minute and 23 seconds of gripping b-roll of the congressman with senior citizens layered with smooth elevator music, unencumbered by audio of Braley or a narrator actually talking. Full story

January 14, 2014

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

tennis004 050813 445x300 Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

McIntyre is retiring, giving Republicans a strong opportunity to pick up his House seat in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.

Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)

Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story

January 8, 2014

Pay No Attention to That Title of Speaker in Front of My Name

As speaker of the state House, Thom Tillis is one of the most powerful politicians in North Carolina. But you wouldn’t know it from the Republican’s first ad in the U.S. Senate race.

“In the private sector, businesses are built on accountability,” Tillis says. “But accountability is a foreign language in Washington.” He goes on to couple Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan with President Barack Obama in the ad titled, “Let’s Clean Up Her Mess.”

Full story

December 18, 2013

What the New Iowa Poll Reveals About 2016 (Hint: Not Much)

GOP Convention 089 082812 445x301 What the New Iowa Poll Reveals About 2016 (Hint: Not Much)

Santorum narrowly won the Iowa caucuses in 2012. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans’ attitudes toward potential 2016 presidential hopefuls has already received plenty of attention. That’s not surprising, I suppose, given the unquenchable thirst from some about anything to do with the next presidential race.

The survey’s results give us some information — most of it entirely predictable — but the data doesn’t tell us who will win the 2016 Iowa caucuses or the White House a little less than three years from now. Full story

Race Ratings Change: Iowa’s 3rd District

Republican Rep. Tom Latham’s retirement announcement put another GOP seat into play for Democrats and capped off a wild day in congressional handicapping. He leaves behind the 3rd District of Iowa, which should turn into a good Democratic opportunity.

On Tuesday, not only did three members announce their exit, but three members in very competitive districts announced they would not seek re-election. GOP Rep. Frank Wolf’s 10th District in Virginia went from Safe Republican to Lean Republican, while Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson’s 4th District in Utah went from a Tossup to Safe for Republicans.

Latham’s district is also very competitive, particularly now that it is an open seat. Barack Obama won the district in 2012, 51 percent to 47 percent, and in 2008, 52 percent to 46 percent. President George W. Bush won it, 52 percent to 47 percent, in 2004. Full story

October 1, 2013

Republican Senate Hopefuls Vary in Quality, Approach

I recently interviewed four Republican Senate candidates in the space of one week, and if I had to draw a single assessment from those meetings it would be that there is plenty of diversity in the GOP’s class of Senate hopefuls.The four differed in stature, style and background, and they dealt with the party’s internal debate of style and strategies in a variety of ways.

Republicans must hold South Carolina and win at least one — maybe more — of the other three races to have any chance of taking back the Senate next year. And that makes these contests in South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa and Alaska all worth watching.

On one end of the continuum was state Sen. Lee Bright, one of three conservatives who hopes to deny South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham renomination and win the GOP nod himself.

Bright, whose professional career started with selling televisions at Circuit City, has experienced a series of business setbacks. In fact, I’m not entirely clear how he makes a living, though he said something about truck brokerage and credit card processing. He seems affable, but he lacks gravitas. Full story

July 12, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Plains States

The Hawkeye State dominates the list of competitive races in the Plains. After the region hosted the high-profile North Dakota and Missouri Senate races in 2012, its trio of Senate races this cycle are likely to see action in the primaries — but not in November.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Plains states:

South Dakota Senate. Gov. Mike Rounds is the front-runner for the GOP nomination and the general election. His new primary challenger, state Sen. Larry Rhoden, does not fundamentally change the race, even if he runs as a conservative alternative to Rounds. Meanwhile, former House candidate Rick Weiland is running on the Democratic side, but his own party’s leadership is openly unhappy with their prospects if he is the nominee. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Lean Republican. Full story

July 8, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Iowa Governor

iowa fair073 0815111 214x335 RATINGS CHANGE: Iowa Governor

Branstad, right, is a safer bet for re-election than before. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats believe Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad is vulnerable, but it will be almost a year before they know who will be their nominee to take on the Republican.

State Sen. Jack Hatch and former state Rep. Bob Krause are already running, but they will have company soon. State Rep. Tyler Olson, the former Iowa Democratic Party chairman, is expected to join the race. Physician and businesswoman Andy McGuire and others could get into the race as well before the March filing deadline. Full story

June 14, 2013

Whither the Competitive Open-Seat Race?

NRCC 02 111312 445x295 Whither the Competitive Open Seat Race?

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, left, of Oregon might have to contend with fewer open seats this cycle. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Open seats are supposed to be opportunities. Without longtime incumbents on the ballot, these districts should be easier to takeover. But six months into the 2014 cycle, that just isn’t the case on the House side.

So far, there are 10 districts slated to be open seats because the member is running for higher office or retiring in 2014.  Either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney won all of them with at least 55 percent last year.

Full story

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