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IA-03

Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 16)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 09:25:00 AM CDT

Iowa Democrats got a head start on canvassing and collecting vote by mail requests one by one this summer. But after sending absentee ballot request forms to literally every registered Republican in the state, the Iowa GOP has reduced the Democratic early voting advantage substantially. As of yesterday, Democrats lead Republicans in absentee ballot requests by less than 10,000 statewide, and by only a little more than 5,000 in absentee ballots already returned to county auditors.

Follow me after the jump for the latest early voting numbers statewide and in Iowa's four Congressional districts. All data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

All 99 county auditors' offices are open for in-person early voting during regular business hours. Larger-population counties also have satellite voting locations, often in public libraries or community centers. Click here (pdf) for the full list of Polk County satellite voting locations, with dates and hours. In my experience, voting early in person is fast and easy.  

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Democratic-aligned groups should run some positive ads

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 10:23:44 AM CDT

Unwritten rules about the division of labor in campaign advertising dictate that candidates run mostly positive commercials about themselves, while outside groups beat up the opponent. I understand that negative commercials have been effective in many races, but few things are more irritating than cookie-cutter political attack ads. Listening to the radio every day in recent months, the only ads I've heard from Democratic-aligned groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, or NextGen Climate Action have been attacks on U.S. Senate nominee Joni Ernst or IA-03 Republican candidate David Young. When the DCCC starts spending money in IA-01, I'll bet the only ads produced will be attacks on Republican Rod Blum.

Meanwhile, front groups for Republicans have been running a mix of positive and negative ads. In the IA-Sen race, some of the best pro-Ernst ads have come from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the National Federation for Independent Business. Similarly, Ernst's campaign has run a mix of positive radio ads about her and attacks on Bruce Braley, including a vicious one that's in heavy rotation now statewide.

I believe that the National Republican Congressional Committee's positive ad featuring Tom Latham's endorsement of David Young in IA-03 was more effective than the cliched attacks on Democratic candidate Staci Appel.

It's been months since I saw any positive television ad about Braley, aside for a few spots produced by his own campaign. Earlier this year, Senate Majority PAC ran some ads that painted Braley in a favorable light, but otherwise it's been non-stop anti-Ernst messaging from that group, the DSCC, NextGen Climate Action, and Sierra Club Political Action. Most of these commercials have been mediocre at best. Even if they were high quality, I don't think the strategy helps the candidate they are trying to help.

For some reason, Democratic ad consultants don't seem to understand that Iowans need to hear reasons to vote for Braley as well as reasons not to vote for Ernst. There is radio silence on the pro-Braley front and not much positive about him on television. Meanwhile, Iowa viewers and listeners are hearing reasons to support Ernst as well as reasons not to support Braley. I believe the lack of positive messaging about Braley is a strategic error and a key reason recent polling in the IA-Sen race has shown slightly better favorability numbers for Ernst.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 15)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 09:30:00 AM CDT

Iowans continue to vote early in numbers well ahead of the 2010 pace. More than 333,000 people have requested absentee ballots, and more than 170,000 ballots have been returned to county auditors. Iowans voting by mail can track their absentee ballots here to make sure the envelope arrived safely. But not every ballot that auditors receive will be counted, so it's critical to follow instructions. Seal the secrecy envelope after placing your ballot inside, and sign and seal the affidavit envelope before mailing the ballot back. Do not erase or cross out anything on your absentee ballot; you can request a replacement ballot if you make a mistake.

The latest early voting numbers statewide and in Iowa's four Congressional districts are after the jump. All data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 14)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 08:53:10 AM CDT

Every weekday morning through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will post new absentee ballot numbers, based on data released from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

The statewide Democratic advantage in absentee ballot requests now stands at just under 15,000. The largest Democratic early vote advantage continues to be in IA-02, followed by IA-01 and IA-03. Republicans have requested and returned more ballots in IA-04. Democrats say that as in 2012, they have identified the majority of the independents who are voting early. There is no way to confirm that claim using publicly available data.

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IA-03: Trouble on David Young's right flank (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 13:48:07 PM CDT

Prominent central Iowa conservatives are voicing concerns about David Young, the GOP nominee in the third Congressional district. Young can't afford to run too far to the right in his race against former State Senator Staci Appel. He needs to keep the margin close in Polk County, because the Republican voter registration advantage in IA-03 isn't large enough to save him if he gets blown out among suburban moderates. Consequently, Young has taken several middle-of-the-road positions during the general election campaign. During his first debate against Appel, he offered qualified support for a minimum wage increase. Last week, he told the Des Moines Register's editorial board that he favors some form of legal status for some undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Speaking at a health care forum in Des Moines yesterday, Young said the Affordable Care Act is "here to stay," so Congress will "have to work to make it better." Whereas many Republicans have pledged to repeal "Obamacare," Young said he'll "be at the table trying to fix it." That pragmatic stance contradicts his promise in a pre-primary television commercial to make Obamacare disappear.

Although Young has Iowa Right To Life's support for the general election, some "pro-life" activists haven't forgotten that he once told a journalist abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest.

Social conservative talk radio host Steve Deace laid out his case against voting for Young in a Facebook post yesterday. I've enclosed excerpts after the jump. Many Iowa Democrats dismiss Deace as irrelevant, but his show is broadcast on two stations in the Council Bluffs area (the second-largest metro in IA-03) and one station in Des Moines. During the next three weeks, you can be sure Deace will urge listeners not to vote for Young.

Casting a protest vote will be easy for right-wing Republicans, because two conservative candidates qualified for the ballot in IA-03. Bleeding Heartland posted background on Libertarian Ed Wright and independent Bryan Jack Holder here.

UPDATE: On October 14, Deace bashed Young on his website and featured on his radio broadcast a segment on "John Boehner's next plan to screw conservatives." Pointing to a blog post claiming the U.S. House speaker wants to expand his majority "so the crazies you hate will be irrelevant" in Congress, Deace commented, "Another reason not to vote for David Young, as if he hasn't provided enough of them already."

SECOND UPDATE: The Iowa Republican publisher Craig Robinson had a go at Young's "schizophrenic" campaign. I've added excerpts at the end of this post.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 13)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 14, 2014 at 10:06:07 AM CDT

More than 300,000 Iowans have requested absentee ballots for the November 4 election, and nearly 140,000 have returned those ballots to their county auditors. The latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.  
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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 12)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 13, 2014 at 09:38:24 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will continue to post tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in Iowa's four Congressional districts. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22. For the first time since early voting started this year, Democrats lead Republicans in absentee ballot requests by fewer than 20,000.

In the 2010 midterm election, early ballots were cast by 155,421 Iowa Democrats, 136,243 Republicans, and 68,499 no-party voters. As of yesterday, 125,927 Iowa Democrats had requested an absentee ballot (81 percent of the 2010 total early Democratic vote), 106,982 Republicans had requested an absentee ballot (79 percent of the 2010 total early GOP vote), and 56,697 no-party voters had requested a ballot (83 percent of the 2010 total early vote by independents). Democrats claim that their canvassers have identified most of the no-party voters casting early ballots this year.

The new Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News indicated that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst is slightly ahead of Democratic nominee Bruce Braley by 47 percent to 46 percent, but also found that "The Democrats' aggressive early voting push is aiding Braley," who leads by 56 percent to 38 percent among respondents who said they had already voted.  

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Quick hits on the race in IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Oct 11, 2014 at 07:10:00 AM CDT

Here's a new thread for any comments on the race between David Young and Staci Appel in Iowa's third Congressional district. Some stories that caught my eye in the last few days:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shared with Roll Call partial results from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll taken on October 1 and 2, which showed Appel ahead of Young by 49 percent to 42 percent, with 9 percent undecided. That's a bigger lead for Appel than in the previous DCCC poll, despite weeks of Republican attacks on the phony "passports for terrorists" issue.

Speaking of which, I agree with Kathie Obradovich's take (excerpted below) on the way the candidates handled "passports for terrorists" during their second debate.

Young's campaign released a memo yesterday hailing some $800,000 in third-quarter fundraising and an internal poll allegedly showing Young ahead. I've enclosed that memo and the Appel campaign's response at the end of this post. The polling firm Tarrance Group used strange methodology. Whereas the survey toplines showed Young leading by 43 percent to 41 percent, with other candidates taking 6 percent and 10 percent undecided, the Tarrance Group claimed Young was ahead by 47 percent to 43 percent based on "projected turnout."

I look forward to digging into the details of the third-quarter FEC reports, which should be released by October 15. I would expect GOP donors to flock to Senator Chuck Grassley's longtime top aide. But I don't understand why Young would cancel television advertising time if his campaign was bringing in so much money in the third quarter. Even if he used some of the money to pay off debts incurred during the second quarter, he should have had plenty left over for a full-court press on television.

The DCCC has increased its television advertising buy in the Omaha market, which covers roughly 20 percent of the population in IA-03. To my knowledge, neither Young nor the National Republican Congressional Committee has aired tv ads in Omaha lately.

The DCCC has been running radio ads bashing "DC David Young" for supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, even as he backs cuts to education funding (such as eliminating the U.S. Department of Education). A similar television spot has been on the air for a while. Although education funding and tax policy are important issues, I suspect most voters tune out cookie-cutter negative political advertising.

Conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart thinks Young has problems with the GOP base because of some comments on abortion, his qualified support for a minimum wage increase, and legal residency for some undocumented immigrants. News flash: IA-03 is a swing district. Young has to communicate some level of moderation on at least a few issues. Vander Hart's comments make me wonder whether hard-core conservatives will go for Libertarian candidate Ed Wright as a protest vote.

I've enclosed below excerpts from Young's comments to the Des Moines Register's editorial board about how to handle an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 9)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 10, 2014 at 09:16:11 AM CDT

More than 278,000 Iowans have already requested absentee ballots this year, roughly one-quarter as many as voted in the 2010 midterm election. As of yesterday, more than 119,000 Iowans had returned absentee ballots to their county auditors, roughly one-third as many as the total number of absentee voters from 2010.

Follow me after the jump for the latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Iowans who have voted early by mail can use the "track your absentee ballot" page of the Secretary of State's website to confirm that your ballot reached your county auditor. Most years I have found it easier to vote early in person right at the auditor's office. That way, you know your ballot has been received.

Following the instructions for absentee voting is critically important. Ballots will not be counted if the voter has not sealed the secrecy envelope, or has not signed the affidavit envelope. If you requested an absentee ballot but can't find it, or made a mistake while filling it out, contact your county auditor for help. The easiest solution is to visit the county auditor's office, fill out a form to void the ballot first sent to you, and vote early in person right there.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 8)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 09, 2014 at 09:12:02 AM CDT

Iowans continue to vote early at a pace well ahead of any previous midterm election. Follow me after the jump for the latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers.

Democrats lead in early voting in the first, second, and third Congressional districts, while Republicans have requested and returned more ballots in the fourth district, where the GOP has a large voter registration advantage.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 7)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 08, 2014 at 09:50:00 AM CDT

More than a quarter of a million Iowans have requested absentee ballots, and nearly 100,000 have already returned early ballots to their county auditor. The latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. The data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office.

Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers. For the first time since September 22, the statewide Democratic lead in absentee ballot requests has dipped below 30,000.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 6)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 07, 2014 at 09:36:08 AM CDT

The latest early voting numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office show Republicans continuing to gain ground. Statewide, the Democratic lead in absentee ballot requests has fallen to about 32,000. For the first time this year, Republicans have a small lead in absentee ballots requested in the fourth Congressional district (where the party has a voter registration edge of more than 55,000).

The latest tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts are after the jump. Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers.

The big unanswered question remains: which party is mobilizing more voters who otherwise would not participate in a midterm election? A Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee official told Philip Rucker of the Washington Post that among the Iowans who had requested absentee ballots by October 2, about 30 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of no-party voters did not vote in 2010. The Secretary of State's Office declined to independently verify that claim. If accurate, it works out to about roughly 30,000 of the Democrats and 20,000 of the no-party voters who had requested ballots by October 2.

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IA-03: Second Appel/Young debate liveblog and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 20:24:38 PM CDT

Former State Senator Staci Appel and David Young are holding their second debate, hosted by KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register at Simpson College in Indianola. I'm live-blogging after the jump. KCCI will have the video up later on their website.
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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 5)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 09:49:07 AM CDT

Bleeding Heartland is updating the early voting numbers (absentee ballots requested and returned) statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts, based on figures released by the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers.

Since Friday, Republicans cut further into the Democratic advantage in ballot requests, which now stands at just under 37,000 statewide. Democrats claim that the majority of some 44,000 no-party voters who have requested ballots were identified by their organizers. There is no way to independently verify that claim, but it was true in 2012.

Based on turnout the last two midterm elections, the 221,701 Iowans who have requested absentee ballots for this year's election probably account for about 20 percent of all voters who will cast a ballot.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 2)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 03, 2014 at 09:49:49 AM CDT

Bleeding Heartland is updating the early voting numbers (absentee ballots requested and returned) statewide and in each of Iowa's four Congressional districts, based on figures released by the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Click here for previous tables, which make it easier to spot trends in the numbers. The latest Iowa GOP mass mailing to generate early votes continues to filter through, as Republicans added about 1,000 more absentee ballot requests than Democrats did over the past day. The statewide Democratic advantage in ballot requests now stands at roughly 41,000.

In the 2010 midterm election, 360,467 Iowans voted early. As of yesterday, more than 209,000 Iowans had requested absentee ballots, and more than 61,000 had returned them. The 62,881 registered Republicans who had requested absentee ballots as of October 2 represent about 46 percent of the total number of early-voting Iowa Republicans in 2010. The 103,537 Democrats who had requested absentee ballots represent about 67 percent of the number of early-voting Democrats in the last midterm. The 42,424 no-party voters who had requested absentee ballots by October 2 represent about 62 percent of the independents who voted early in Iowa's last midterm election.

As Bleeding Heartland user Julie Stauch has repeatedly mentioned, these numbers do not tell us which party is doing a better job of mobilizing early votes from "marginal" voters who otherwise would not participate in the midterm. That said, every early vote banked, even from the most reliable Democrat or Republican, helps parties by shrinking the universe of voters they need to contact on or shortly before election day.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 1)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 02, 2014 at 09:17:21 AM CDT

The latest Iowa GOP mass mailing of absentee ballot requests appears to be bearing fruit. For the first time since the Iowa Secretary of State's Office started releasing early voting numbers on September 22, Republicans added more absentee ballot requests than Democrats did over the past day. The statewide Democrats advantage in ballot requests now stands at roughly 42,500, down from about 44,000 yesterday.

Follow me after the jump for updated early voting numbers, including ballots returned as well as those requested. Click here for previous tables to look for trends in the numbers. Democrats continue to lead in ballot requests in all four Congressional districts. The largest margin remains in IA-02, where four-term Representative Dave Loebsack faces Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks for the third time. Several Iowa Senate seats targeted by both parties are located within that Congressional district.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of September 30)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 01, 2014 at 08:51:23 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will post updated totals absentee ballots requested and returned, statewide and in Iowa's four Congressional districts, based on data from the Iowa Secretary of State's website. The latest tables are after the jump. Previous tables are here.

Every day since September 22, Democrats have added more absentee ballot requests than Republicans, but not by much today. The Iowa GOP would be happy to reverse that trend as soon as possible.  

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IA-03 catch-up thread, with tv ads about education and terrorism

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 20:41:36 PM CDT

Although all four of Iowa's Congressional districts are targeted in theory, only the third district is seeing large-scale independent expenditures as well as broadcast advertising by the candidates.

Today Democratic nominee Staci Appel's campaign launched a new positive ad, focusing on her support for public education at all levels. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new spot bashing Republican nominee David Young over his call to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee is out with a new ad today about the same "passports for terrorists" canard they featured in their last Iowa effort. Clearly they think this is their strongest card against Appel, and they won't stop no matter how many news media report her real position on the issue.

Videos and transcripts of all the latest ads are after the jump.

I haven't seen any new commercials from Young's campaign lately. Justin Sink reported for The Hill that Young cancelled $107,000 in "reserved television ad time in the Omaha market through election day, according to a source tracking ad buys." Roughly 20 percent of the voters in IA-03 live in the Omaha viewing area, most of them in Pottawattamie County (Council Bluffs). Residents of Mills, Montgomery, Fremont, Page, and Cass counties also receive Omaha television stations, as do some Iowans living in Adams, Adair, and Taylor counties. Click here for voter registration numbers in all of the 16 IA-03 counties.

The NRCC has pledged to spend $1.5 million on this race between Labor Day and November 4, but to my knowledge, they have only been running their anti-Appel ads in the Des Moines market, not in Omaha. The Appel campaign maintains they are already on broadcast networks in Omaha and will be on cable there shortly, for the duration of the campaign.

Last week the DCCC released partial results from an internal poll showing Appel slightly ahead of Young by 47 percent to 44 percent. I expect this race to remain close all the way up to election day. While Republicans have a slight advantage in voter registrations, Democrats lead so far in absentee ballots requested by voters in the district.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of September 29)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 09:34:08 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland will post updated totals absentee ballots requested and returned, statewide and in Iowa's four Congressional districts, based on data from the Iowa Secretary of State's website. The latest tables are after the jump. Previous tables are here. If turnout in this year's election is roughly on the level of 2010, with about 1.1 million Iowans participating, than approximately 15 percent of those who will vote have already requested early ballots.

Today Nate Cohn posted his analysis of the Iowa early voting numbers at the New York Times' Upshot blog. His main takeaways:

Over all, the early voting tallies in Iowa tell us that both Democrats and Republicans are better mobilized than in 2010 - which is no surprise in a state where there was no competitive contest that year - but not as well mobilized as in 2012. The Republicans are more obviously outperforming their past figures, but Democrats may be doing a better job of turning out marginal voters. The early vote tallies seem consistent with the polls: a close contest in which either side could prevail.

I agree with the broad conclusions but think Cohn is missing a few important factors.

First, every day since the Iowa Secretary of State's Office started updating the absentee ballot figures, Democrats have added more ballot requests than Republicans. We don't know whether that trend will continue for the next five weeks, but it's encouraging for Democrats.

Second, Cohn ignores the no-party voters who have requested early ballots (about 35,000 people as of yesterday). But independents added considerably to President Barack Obama's advantage in the early vote in 2012. On the eve of that general election, registered Iowa Democrats who had returned early ballots outnumbered registered Republicans who had done so by about 65,000. But Obama received 137,355 more early votes in Iowa than Romney, meaning he must have been supported by about two-thirds of the roughly 200,000 no-party voters who cast early ballots. Democratic canvassers have done more this year than Republicans to target independent voters, which could add to the party's early voting advantage.

Third, Cohn repeatedly characterizes the 2010 midterm election in Iowa as uncompetitive, presumably because Terry Branstad and Chuck Grassley were heavily favored in the races for governor and U.S. senator. But aside from the national mood that favored Republicans in 2010, one huge factor driving turnout in Iowa was the first judicial retention elections following the Iowa Supreme Court's 2009 decision allowing same-sex marriage. That motivation for social conservatives is absent this year because no one on the Supreme Court is up for retention. Branstad recruited unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis to run for state treasurer right after this year's Republican primary in an obvious attempt to give that part of the GOP base more reason to turn out. I'm skeptical that social conservatives will be as energized to vote for the Republican ticket as they were in 2010.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.  

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Q: When is an awkward comment worse than an outright falsehood?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 20:38:21 PM CDT

A. When it happens in a campaign debate.

Since last night, I've been thinking about a ridiculous unwritten rule of our political culture.

On the one hand, we have former State Senator Staci Appel. While debating her opponent in Iowa's third Congressional district, she expressed herself in a slightly inarticulate way. Later, she and her campaign staff clarified her position: she supports going through the existing system for revoking passports of people affiliated with terrorist organizations. But what she thinks doesn't matter to her opponents. They will keep twisting the meaning of her awkward phrase over and over on television.

On the other hand, we have State Senator Joni Ernst. While debating her opponent in the U.S. Senate race, she misrepresented a constitutional amendment she co-sponsored, which calls for recognizing and protecting "the inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development." Ernst insisted the "personhood" amendment would not threaten access to birth control or in-vitro fertilization, even though independent fact-checkers have confirmed that yes, it would. This wasn't some offhand comment on a topic she wasn't expecting to come up. Ernst agreed to co-sponsor the "personhood" amendment. Four of her fellow Iowa Senate Republicans and more than two dozen Iowa House Republicans chose not to co-sponsor similar legislation, because they understood its implications. In yesterday's debate, Ernst stood by her support for "personhood" as a statement of faith. She also stood by her false claim that it wouldn't affect birth control or fertility treatment options for women.

At best, Ernst's comments reveal stunning ignorance and a failure to research bills before signing on to them. At worst, she knows what "personhood" would mean if enacted, and was lying during the debate. Neither option is acceptable.

Yet for some reason, the smooth way Ernst spoke during the exchange over abortion rights is not considered a "gotcha" moment. Today, she's probably more worried about news emerging that her husband sued a house painter over unfinished work, when she has spent months depicting herself as willing to resolve conflicts "the Iowa way" in contrast to "litigious" Bruce Braley. I'm sick of trivia dominating our political discourse and elections being about everything but the candidates' real stands on real issues.

LATE UPDATE: Lynda Waddington wrote a good column for the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Ernst's "personhood" comments during the debate.

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