I wanted to share some random thoughts and observations about how the 2014 midterm elections are panning out in Iowa.
- Just being a little less a month away the Governor’s race is pretty much over. Yeah I know I’m *really* going out on a limb here. I think it’s safe to say that barring a minor miracle Governor Branstad will win his 6th term. Branstad in the last two polls leads by 22 points and 23 points respectfully. Yes I know neither of these polls included the 3rd party candidates. The Des Moines Register poll did. Branstad leads by 14 ponts. Libertarian candidate Lee Hieb had 3%, Jim Hennager of the New Independent Party (I never heard of this guy) has 2 points. Jonathan Narcisse of the Iowa Party pulls 1%. Those candidates need to pull more than 6% to make an impact on this outcome. That is what would need to happen because State Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines) is DOA he has polled under 40% in almost every poll taken. The fact he pulled statewide TV ads is a shows he’s throwing in the towel. The math is simply not in his favor.
- Hey look to the east. A year ago I never would have thought that the Iowa 1st Congressional District race would be competitive, but it is. Rod Blum is a solid candidate, and he has run effective campaign. He’s doing well with fundraising. He’s picked up some great endorsements. He’s been gaffe-free. He also does not have a problem with his base which, unfortunately, other down ballot candidates are having to deal with. The debate last night provided a stark contrast between the candidates. The question with debates like these is who was watching? This race won’t hinge on a debate. It will hinge on voter turnout. Democrats still hold a voter registration edge of just a little over 22,000. Who is motivated? It appears that Republicans may have a greater turnout to vote than Democrats which will certainly help Blum especially if there is a good independent turnout.
- I’m not optimistic about the Iowa 2nd Congressional District race. Incumbents are hard to beat. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, I believe, is running a good race, and she debated Congressman Dave Loebsack well. The only poll taken doesn’t look good, and Democrats still hold a 27,000 registered voter edge. I’m not sure a third time running will be the charm, but I hope I’m wrong.
- I’m concerned about Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District race. This is a toss-up. David Young has got himself into hot water with some of the base due to an interview with Douglas Burns indicating that he supports abortion in the instances of rape and incest. Entertaining a minimum wage increase, albeit with small business tax credits, is not going over with some conservatives. Considering he was nominated in a special convention and didn’t win the primary vote he had to overcome some doubt. I’m not sure he did that. His general election ads have also been abysmal. His two debates with Staci Appel went well for him, but more from Appel’s disastrous performances instead of Young being spectacular. Republicans have maintained a voter registration edge thus far with 11,000 more registered voters so that is another bright spot. Update: In an interview with the Des Moines Register released after I published Young stated that he supports amnesty. Now he really has a problem with the base if he didn’t before. To be fair he did discuss border security, but I’m afraid that won’t matter to people who disagree with any type of amnesty.
- Iowa’s 4th Congressional District is safe for Congressman King. When the DCCC stops spending money in the district that is always a good sign. This district is a very difficult one for Democrats to crack. First Republicans have a voter registration edge of over 56,000. Second independents also outnumber Democrats by 50,000 voters. A Democrat would have to win over 70% of those voters to have a chance. The math is not with you. Jim Mowrer was probably the right type of Democrat to run against King compared to Christie Vilsack, but he has zero name recognition in a district that heavily leans Republican.
- Ernst likely has a slight edge over Braley, but this U.S. Senate race is tight, tight, tight. Polling is all over the place. Instead of anyone breaking away it seems like it is tightening up. The Loras College poll, the latest poll, shows Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley all tied up, but some good news for Ernst is that the last Loras College poll showed Braley with a 4 point lead. NBC News/Marist gave Ernst a 2 point lead. The CBS/NYT/YouGov poll has Braley leading by 1 point. I question the validity of a poll taken over 11 days though. So after the first debate it looks like Ernst may have a little momentum, but like I wrote last week this race is much tighter than the Des Moines Register poll suggests.
- More focus needs to be on down ballot races. Governor Branstad does not have coat tails in a politically schizophrenic state like Iowa. Polling does not seem to suggest that because nobody enjoys a comfortable lead (minus Steve King) in any of the polling I have seen with down ballot races. The good news with Branstad’s race not being competitive is that he can spend money on down ballot races for ad buys which will help tremendously. Incumbents like State Auditor Mary Mosiman and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey are probably in good shape. Paul Pate is in a tight race in the Secretary of State race. Sam Clovis and Adam Gregg have a tough challenge unseating incumbents in the State Treasurer and Attorney General race respectively. Both are campaigning hard though. Also there are a whole slew of Iowa House and Senate races that need attention with less than a month to go.
- Why are Republicans allowing Democrats dominate the country music market in Des Moines? When I listen to Nash 97.3 FM in Des Moines I only hear Iowa Democratic Party or Democratic special interest group ads. Why? I don’t have hard data, but my experience and knowledge of Country music listeners is that they tend to be center-right. Don’t cede these folks to Democrats.
Editor & Founder at Caffeinated Thoughts
Shane Vander Hart is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts. He is also the President of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm. Prior to this Shane spent 20 years in youth ministry serving in church, parachurch, and school settings. He has also served as an interim pastor and is a sought-after speaker and pulpit fill-in. Shane has been married to his wife Cheryl since 1993 and they have three kids. Shane and his family reside near Des Moines, IA.
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