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November 29, 2015

Posts in "Iowa"

November 3, 2015

Why Trump Would Get Out of the Race

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference before a public signing for his new book "Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again," at the Trump Tower Atrium on November 3, 2015 in New York City. According to a new poll, Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, has pulled ahead of Trump with 29% of Republican primary voters.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Trump speaks Tuesday before a public signing for his new book at the Trump Tower Atrium in New York. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

For Donald Trump and his brand, “winning” is of utmost importance. While his relentless talk about American exceptionalism is appealing to GOP primary voters, Trump’s personal success in life and his front-runner status in the Republican contest are other elements of the billionaire businessman’s appeal. Everybody likes a winner, after all, especially when that winner is sticking it to the establishment.

Unfortunately for Trump, his early lead in the polls and his belief in the certainty of his success have sown the seeds of his own inevitable political destruction.

Full story

October 28, 2015

Don’t Blame Gerrymandering for GOP Civil War

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Some believe that Boehner’s run as speaker was a victim of redistricting, but that’s not the whole story. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Blame the earmark ban or Republican leaders. Blame Ted Cruz or even Justin Bieber. But don’t blame gerrymandering for the fighting in the House.

As Republicans labor through replacing Speaker John A. Boehner, bemoaning redistricting has become a common refrain in explaining the GOP civil war.

Full story

October 26, 2015

Why the Next Month Is Critical for Bush

Republican presidential hopefuls  Donald Trump and Jeb Bush speak during the Presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on September 16, 2015. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump stepped into a campaign hornet's nest as his rivals collectively turned their sights on the billionaire in the party's second debate of the 2015.  AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

While Trump has surged to the top in most polls, Bush languishes behind, near the middle of the pack. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

It’s still more than three months before the Iowa caucuses, but the next four weeks are crucial for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who started with the kinds of political assets that led many to regard him as the front-runner in the GOP race.

More than 10 months after Bush announced he would be forming a political action committee to explore a presidential run, and more than four months after he announced his candidacy, he has not yet rallied pragmatic conservatives and establishment voters behind his bid, let alone started to broaden his appeal among a wide swath of Republican voters.

Full story

October 6, 2015

Early Iowa Presidential Polls a Better Predictor Than National Ones

Democratic presidential hopeful former North Carolina senator John Edwards (R) makes a point as Illinois Senator Barack Obama (C) and New York Senator Hillary Clinton (L) listen during the Democratic Presidential Primary Debate hosted by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute 21 January 2008 at the Palace Theater in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  AFP PHOTO/STAN HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

National polls in 2007 showed Clinton with a big lead over Obama and Edwards going into the Iowa caucuses. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Last month, national polls by CNN/ORC, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal got plenty of attention, and they certainly helped readers and viewers understand what is going on in the Republican and Democratic presidential contests.

But if history is any guide, early national polls are far less valuable in understanding what is happening in the presidential contest than are reliable surveys of Iowa voters, such as the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.

Full story

September 14, 2015

And the News Gets Worse for Clinton

Compared to the Republican race for president, the Democratic contest looks almost normal.

Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers have plummeted so far and so fast that she trails an avowed socialist in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, and she looks so damaged that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been encouraged to consider whether he should run for his party’s nomination. Full story

September 9, 2015

A Significant Reassessment of the GOP Race


Trump’s image in Iowa has improved at the same time that his flaws, shortcomings and liabilities have become more apparent. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Republican front-runner Donald Trump isn’t going away anytime soon, I now believe.

That assessment doesn’t mean I think Trump is the favorite for the Iowa caucuses or the GOP nomination, but it does reflect a fundamental shift in my thinking. I have believed and been arguing that once Iowa Republicans start to see the caucuses as an opportunity to select the next president, rather than an opportunity to express their frustration and anger, they will turn away from Trump (and other outsiders) and toward politically experienced, mainstream contenders.

Full story

August 21, 2015

Crist, Culver Contemplate Humbling Transition to the House

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) answers a question during the Times/CNN Senate and Gubernatorial debates at the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida, Tampa October 24, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. Republican Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) are in contention for a U.S. Senate seat and battled it out live on-air during the Times/CNN Senate and Gubernatorial debates.  (Photo by Scott Mcintyre-Pool/Getty Images)

Crist, shown here debating Rubio during their 2010 Senate campaign, is considering a run for the House. (Getty Images File Photo)

It’s not easy to transition from governor to become one of 100 senators. But former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver are contemplating something even more humbling — jumping from chief executive to become one of 435 in the House.

Earlier this month, my Roll Call colleague Kyle Trygstad sat down with some of the “recovering governors,” a 10-member caucus of former chief executives serving in the Senate, to talk about the challenges of transitioning to a legislative body.

Full story

August 12, 2015

Ratings Changes in 6 House Races


Guinta appears to be a little more vulnerable in the latest Rothenberg-Gonzales/Roll Call race ratings. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The race for president will continue to dominate the 2016 landscape, with the fight for the Senate sucking up any remaining oxygen molecules. But Democrats haven’t given up their effort to dig out of the minority in the House.

Democrats face a difficult road to gain 30 seats and get back into the majority, but their prospects improved in a handful of races over the last few months.

Full story

July 9, 2015

Key Races in 2016: Politicial Landscape Taking Shape

A few key races across the country next year will determine the balance of power in the Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Election Day is more than a year away, but the field of most competitive Senate and House races is already starting to take shape. While the political environment could change over the next 17 months, the landscape is largely set as a handful of races in each region will likely decide the majorities in the next Congress.

The fight for the Senate is likely to be decided in the Midwest, where Democrats have takeover opportunities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and a longer-shot opportunity in Indiana. If Democrats can win three out of those four states, they will be well on their way to gaining enough seats to take control of the Senate.

Full story

July 2, 2015

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Plains Region

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Blum faces a competitive race in Iowa to hold onto his seat in the House. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Plains Region includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Iowa’s 1st District: GOP Rep. Rod Blum is one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, considering President Barack Obama won the district with 56 percent in 2012 and 59 percent in 2008. Democrats are headed for a competitive primary between 2014 nominee/former state Rep. Pat Murphy, Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Gary Kroeger. Blum is already sideways with the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Iowa’s 3rd District: Democrats are also targeting freshman Rep. David Young, but the Republican congressman’s district isn’t as favorable for a challenge as Blum’s seat. Obama won the 3rd with 51 percent in 2012 and 52 percent in 2008. The Democratic field is still taking shape but it should be a top takeover target in a presidential year. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Nebraska’s 2nd District: Democrat Brad Ashford knocked off GOP Rep. Lee Terry in 2014, even though it was a terrible year for Democratic candidates. That says more about Terry’s ineptness than Ashford’s strength. Republicans don’t have a lot of takeover opportunities, but this Omaha-based district is one of them. Mitt Romney carried the 2nd with 53 percent in 2012 after Obama won it by a point in 2008. Retired Brig. Gen. Don “Bits” Bacon and former state Sen. Chip Maxwell are running on the Republican side but they are unlikely to have the field to themselves. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Missouri Senate: Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander didn’t waste a lot of time announcing his challenge to GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. Democrats are excited about Kander’s candidacy, but the office of secretary of State has been a terrible launching pad for Senate candidates in recent elections. The last sitting secretary of State elected to the Senate was Democrat Max Cleland in Georgia in 1996. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Safe Republican, but the race could get more competitive.

Iowa’s 4th District: Democrats love to challenge polarizing GOP Rep. Steve King. But Romney won the 4th by 8 points in 2012 and Democrats haven’t been able to crack the code. In 2014, King defeated Democrat Jim Mowrer by a considerable 62 percent to 38 percent margin. Now Mowrer is being mentioned as a potential candidate in the 3rd District. But as long as King keeps talking, there is always a chance this race becomes competitive. For now, the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Safe Republican.

What race would you add to the list?


Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

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June 16, 2015

The Iowa Straw Poll: Put a Stake Through Its Heart

iowa straw poll

Bachmann addresses supporters and media in Ames, Iowa, after winning the 2011 straw poll. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Iowa Straw Poll is dead for 2015. Let’s hope it doesn’t resurrect its ugly head for the 2020 cycle and beyond.

Almost four years ago I wrote a column, “The Nothingness of the Iowa Straw Poll,” in which I disclosed that I had canceled my trip to cover the 2011 straw poll. Full story

March 5, 2015

What the ‘Big Ten’ Tells Republicans They Need in 2016

Elections 2016

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finished second in CPAC’s presidential straw poll. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

We won’t know the 2016 Republican presidential nominee for more than a year, but we already know the 10 states — the electoral “Big Ten” — that will select the next occupant of the White House.

Because of that, we can evaluate the GOP’s general election prospects over the next 12 to 18 months by watching the party’s trek through its primary and caucus calendar. Will the Republicans select someone who can carry enough of the key 10 states to win 270 electoral votes? Full story

January 29, 2015

Why Even Democrats Love Talking About Joni Ernst

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on much of anything these days, but strategists on both sides of the aisle love to talk about Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s victory.

Two years ago, Ernst was a little-known GOP state senator from Southwest Iowa. She entered the national spotlight with a memorable television ad about castrating pigs and eventually won the seat held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin. Ernst continued her ascent by giving the Republicans’ State of the Union response, and she is poised to play a key role in the GOP presidential primary through the Iowa caucuses. Full story

January 27, 2015

First Look: Can Democrats Win the Senate in 2016?

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Republicans, the fight for control of the Senate in 2016 is all about playing defense.

Unlike 2014 (and 2018), the Senate races of 2016 offer few, if any, opportunities for the GOP as the election cycle begins. The map strongly favors Democrats and suggests the possibility of considerable Democratic gains. Full story

November 10, 2014

Review: 6 Races Both Parties Viewed Completely Differently

Collin C. Peterson

Peterson will continue to represent Minnesota’s 7th District. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A month ago, I wrote about “6 Races Both Parties View Completely Differently.” These were a half-dozen contests where strategists generally disagreed on the shape and trajectory of the race.

Instead of averaging out the differing opinions and declaring the races too close to call, it was more likely that one party would be very right and the other very wrong. Now, with results in hand, we can see who had the better analysis. Unfortunately, the parties split the races on Election Night.

Democrats were victorious in three races. Full story

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