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IA-Sen, IA-Gov, Iowa caucus: Highlights from the new Suffolk poll

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 15:40:00 PM CDT

The Suffolk University Political Research Center asked 800 Iowa "likely voters" about this year's biggest races. The margin of error for the survey, conducted between April 3 and April 8, is plus or minus 3.5 percent. Suffolk's press release summarizing the highlights is here. Full results are here (pdf). Tables are here (pdf).

Representative Bruce Braley leads all Republican rivals for U.S. Senate in the first Iowa poll conducted after Braley's comments about Senator Chuck Grassley gained wide attention. Braley is still better-known than the GOP candidates, and more Iowans have a favorable than unfavorable impression of him. The bad news for Braley is that he is below 40 percent against each of the Republican candidates.

Suffolk's poll indicates that the GOP IA-Sen primary is now a two-tier race, with State Senator Joni Ernst and Mark Jacobs each commanding more than 20 percent support, and the other candidates in the single digits. That makes sense, since Ernst and Jacobs have the most establishment support and are the only Senate candidates who have been able to raise their name recognition through paid advertising. But 40 percent of respondents were undecided.

Governor Terry Branstad's still in positive territory, with 48.5 percent of respondents viewing him favorably and about 35.4 percent unfavorably. His lead over Democratic State Senator Jack Hatch is smaller in this poll than in any other Iowa survey I've seen, though: 42.4 percent to 32.1 percent.

Among respondents who said they are likely to participate in the 2016 Democratic caucuses, 63 percent favor Hillary Clinton. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren was far behind with 12 percent, followed by Vice President Joe Biden with 10 percent. It's hard to say who is really in second place, since the margin of error for the Democratic caucus-goer subsample is quite large (plus or minus 8.4 percent). Nevertheless, Clinton clearly maintains a commanding lead.

I wouldn't read much into the Iowa GOP caucus results from this survey. All the potential presidential candidates (Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, and Condoleezza Rice) are clumped close together, between 6 and 11 percent support. That's within the the margin of error of plus or minus 8.7 percent for that subset of the Suffolk poll.

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Weekend open thread: New Register poll edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 16:25:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? The hour I lost with "spring forward" was the hour I needed to get the open thread up at the usual time. But better late than never. All topics are welcome.

For the past week, the Des Moines Register has been releasing results from its latest statewide poll. Selzer & Co surveyed 703 Iowa adults between February 23 and 26, producing a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent. This morning's newspaper revealed that President Barack Obama's approval rating has hit a new low in the state he carried in the last two presidential elections. Just 36 percent of respondents said they approve of Obama's job performance, while 59 percent disapprove. Those findings will embolden Republican candidates who plan to make this November's elections a referendum on the president's policies.

Looking ahead to the 2016 caucuses, 50 percent of Iowans, including 88 percent of the Democrats in the Register's poll sample, think it would be good for Hillary Clinton to run for president again. Support for Vice President Joe Biden was much lower, with 33 percent of the full sample and 58 percent of the Democrats saying it would be good for Biden to run for president again. Like I've said before, there is no evidence Hillary Clinton has any lasting problem with Iowa Democrats.

U.S. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's reputation with Iowa Republicans doesn't appear to have suffered from being on the losing ticket with Mitt Romney in 2012. Selzer's poll for the Register found that 67 percent of Republican respondents think it's a good idea for Ryan to run for president. The full sample was split, with 41 percent supporting a Ryan presidential bid and 42 percent saying it would be a bad idea. In the Republican sub-sample, 65 percent said it would be good for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee to run for president again, 50 percent said the same about Texas Governor Rick Perry, and 48 percent said the same about former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

My impression last year was that other potential candidates, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, are telling Iowa Republicans what they want to hear, while Santorum's message is not striking the same chord. If Ryan runs for president, he will surely come under attack for recent deals with Democrats on the federal budget.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

New 2016 Iowa Republican caucus discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 06:40:00 AM CST

It's been a while since we had a thread about the 2016 presidential campaign on the Republican side. Spin your own scenarios in the comments.

Public Policy Polling's latest survey of Iowa Republicans shows a jumble, with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee slightly ahead, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas notably trending up and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida trending down, along with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Highlights are after the jump, or click here for full results and cross-tabs. I'm not surprised to see Cruz's favorability improve, as he wowed Republican crowds during two Iowa visits last year.

PPP's robocall format only allows a maximum of nine candidates to be listed. I find it strange that the pollster included Huckabee and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, neither of whom seem likely to run for president in 2016. It's all the more odd since the poll did not give respondents a chance to choose former Senator Rick Santorum, the narrow winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses, as a presidential candidate.

PPP's poll also did not offer respondents a chance to choose Texas Governor Rick Perry, who came to Iowa this week. He appeared on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program, attended a "business roundtable" in Davenport organized by the Koch Brothers group Americans for Prosperity, and spoke to GOP activists in Polk County at a private fundraiser and a small "rally" at Governor Terry Branstad's campaign headquarters. I've posted excerpts from Perry's "Iowa Press" comments below. I was particularly interested in his take on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoing a bill that would have allowed private businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. Perry provided a textbook example of how to pivot away from the question you don't want to answer the question you wanted.

Another ambitious Republican excluded from PPP's Iowa poll is former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who recently agreed to headline the April 3 GOP dinner in tiny Ringgold County. Brown visited the Iowa State Fair last summer and spoke at a Scott County GOP event in November.  

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1170 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Falls from grace

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 13:04:11 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

Ben Adler published a highly entertaining article a few days ago about former presidential candidates Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee. Can't say I was surprised to learn they are all making big money off spam e-mails selling dubious products to former political supporters.

Questions persist over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's involvement in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. I doubt the disgraced former Port Authority official has any real dirt on Christie. If he gets the immunity from criminal prosecution he's seeking, I expect his so-called "evidence" about the governor will turn out to be a whole lot of nothing. Furthermore, if Christie runs for president in 2016, I believe his signing New Jersey's version of the DREAM Act will be more of a liability in the GOP primaries than anything related to the bridge scandal. Nevertheless, the controversy does appear to have Christie rattled.

Who's old enough to remember Dinesh D'Souza? He made a name for himself during the 1980s as a conservative provocateur on the Dartmouth campus. He later became a popular paid speaker and occasional talking head. (Unofficial nickname: Distort D'Newsa.) In late January, he was indicted for allegedly breaking federal campaign finance laws. Naturally, D'Souza claims his prosecution may be "a kind of payback" for his documentary film "which links the supposedly anti-colonialist views of [President Barack] Obama's father to the policies of the Obama presidency."

Closer to home, misconduct involving federal grants has ended the careers of two former Iowa State University faculty. Palaniappa Molian was a tenured professor in the highly-regarded College of Engineering when he spent federal grant funds on personal expenses unrelated to his research. Last week he pled guilty to felony charges of making false statements; he will be sentenced in April and could face up to five years in prison. It's not clear yet whether criminal charges will be filed in a much worse case of fraud involving former ISU Assistant Professor Dong-Pyou Han, who had to resign in December after falsifying research on a vaccine for AIDS. James Bradac of the National Institutes of Health told the Des Moines Register that Han's test results were "the worst case of research fraud he'd seen in his 24 years at the federal agency."

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Never too early for Iowa caucus speculation

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 10, 2012 at 17:32:17 PM CDT

So what if the next Iowa caucuses are nearly four years away? I'm on Public Policy Polling's wavelength: 2016 Iowa caucus polling is interesting, even if it doesn't mean much now.
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Sioux City GOP debate and Iowa caucus discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 18:21:08 PM CST

Seven Republican candidates take the stage tonight as Fox News and the Iowa GOP co-host a presidential debate in Sioux City. I'll be live-blogging after the jump, where I've also posted some recent news about the race in Iowa.

UPDATE: Scroll down for the live-blog.

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Iowa Senate district 18 election day news and discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 08, 2011 at 08:58:25 AM CST

Today's forecast calls for rain and cold temperatures in Linn County as Iowa Senate district 18 voters determine whether the Senate will remain Democratic-controlled for the 2012 session or deadlocked at 25-25. The weather doesn't seem bad enough to be a significant factor, but if it does keep some voters home, that's probably good news for Democrat Liz Mathis. She continues to lead Republican Cindy Golding in early voting.

The latest absentee ballot numbers and other news clips from the special election campaign are after the jump.

UPDATE: New absentee numbers for Senate district 18 are below.

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Ames straw poll news and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 09:42:46 AM CDT

The Republican Party of Iowa gets its first bite at the apple today, raking in money at the Ames straw poll event. Six presidential candidates who paid for space at the venue will speak to the crowd, along with five GOP elected officials and state party chairman Matt Strawn. I've posted the speaking schedule below and will update this post throughout the day.

Nine candidates will appear on the straw poll ballot: the eight who debated Thursday night plus Representative Thad McCotter of Michigan. Voting closes at 4 pm, but it may take Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz a long time to tabulate results because of the large number of expected write-ins. Speaking of Schultz, I noticed on the Secretary of State's website yesterday that he has put out only one press release since his embarrassing smackdown of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman two months ago. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dismissed an ethics complaint that the Iowa Democratic Party filed regarding that press release.

Any comments about the spectacle are welcome in this thread, especially first-person accounts from Bleeding Heartland users who are in Ames today.

Which candidates, if any, will receive fewer votes than write-ins Sarah Palin, Texas Governor Rick Perry or "Rick Parry," the name Stephen Colbert's Super PAC is pushing? I expect McCotter will have a tough day. Don't know who is supporting him besides former Iowa House Speaker Chris Rants, and he doesn't have a huge following in the Iowa GOP anymore, to put it mildly. When McCotter bid for space at the straw poll, he probably wasn't expecting to be left out of the Fox News debate. That plus the lack of time and money he's spent in Iowa puts him at a big disadvantage.

If former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty does better than expected in the straw poll, he will owe thanks to a couple of outside groups. The American Petroleum Institute's Iowa Energy Forum and Strong America Now both have organizational ties to the Pawlenty campaign. Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register discussed those connections and the outside groups' work in greater detail here. Four years ago, Mike Huckabee's Ames straw poll effort got a huge assist from Americans for Fair Taxation, helping Huckabee finish a close second to Mitt Romney.

UPDATE: News from the day is after the jump.

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Pawlenty in, Daniels out and other presidential campaign news

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 23, 2011 at 15:23:31 PM CDT

After a slow start, the Republican presidential campaign is ratcheting up in Iowa. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formally announced his candidacy in Des Moines today. Over the weekend former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain made his campaign official too.

Arguably the biggest news of the past few days was Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ruling out a campaign. Many Republican insiders had hoped he would beef up the weak declared field against President Barack Obama.

Links, quotes, and analysis are after the jump.

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Weekend open thread: Huckabee passes on 2012

by: desmoinesdem

Sun May 15, 2011 at 11:44:41 AM CDT

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announced on his Fox show last night that he will not be a candidate for president in 2012. I doubt many people were surprised, because Huckabee had done little to lay the groundwork for a campaign. Shortly after Huckabee visited Iowa on a book tour earlier this year, his 2008 state campaign manager Eric Woolson signed on with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Several other influential Huckabee backers from the last go-around are committed to other candidates as well, including State Senator Kent Sorenson and Wes Enos (now backing Representative Michele Bachmann) and former leaders of the Iowa Family Policy Center (supporting Judge Roy Moore).

It's anyone's guess who will benefit most from Huckabee's absence. Every poll of Iowa Republican caucus-goers I've seen this year has put Huckabee in the lead. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney typically places second in those surveys, but he has signaled that he won't campaign hard in Iowa this year. Judging from how other potential Republican presidential candidates reacted to yesterday's news, Huckabee's endorsement will be highly prized.

This story caught my eye: former Governor Chet Culver is co-chairing the National Popular Vote campaign, which seeks to ensure that the winner of the presidential election is the candidate who receives the most popular votes. Since a U.S. constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college would never be ratified by enough states, the National Popular Vote campaign is seeking to prevent a repeat of the 2000 presidential election.

I was surprised to see Culver on board. When an Iowa Senate committee approved legislation in 2009 to assign Iowa's electors to the winner of the nationwide popular vote (if enough other states approved the same reform), Culver spoke out against the bill. He warned, "If we require our Electoral College votes to be cast to the winner of the national popular vote, we lose our status as a battleground state." Then Secretary of State Michael Mauro also opposed the bill, saying, "Under this proposal, it is hard to foresee Iowa maintaining its dominant role and expect candidates to spend their final hours campaigning in our state when they will be focused on capturing the popular vote in much larger states." Todd Dorman views the national popular vote campaign as an "end-around" the normal constitutional amendment process, but I support the getting rid of the electoral college by the only practical means available. The president should be the person who receives the most votes.

May is Bike to Work Month, and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition has lots of resources to support recreational or commuter bicyclists. The Urban Country Bicycle blog posted about a study that showed the average worker in this country works 500 hours a year (about two hours per working day) just to pay for their cars.

This is an open thread. What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Huckabee's Fox News contract played a big part in his decision not to run for president.

Governor Terry Branstad used his weekly press conference on May 16 to urge Republicans candidates to compete in Iowa:

"This is probably going to be the most wide-open, competitive race we've ever had for the Iowa caucuses," Branstad said. "This is a state where a candidate - with hard work and retail politics, going to all 99 counties and meeting with people and answering the questions - this is a state where you can effectively launch a campaign. And it's not too late." [...]

Branstad publicly took issue with [former New Hampshire GOP Chair Fergus] Cullen's editorial, which said, "Iowa Republicans have marginalized themselves to the point where competing in Iowa has become optional."

"Mr. Cullen couldn't be further from the facts," Branstad said. "The truth is that Iowa is a full-spectrum state. I think the primary election that I won last year proves that. I would also point out that the front-runner, Mike Huckabee, made a decision over the weekend, which is momentous. He is not running this time, which means he got the largest block of votes in the Iowa caucuses four years ago and those are up for grabs."

Cullen's editorial is here; I posted excerpts here.

Branstad's close associate Doug Gross, who co-chaired Mitt Romney's 2008 campaign in Iowa, has long warned that the caucuses are not hospitable to moderate candidates. In November 2008, he said, "[W]e've gone so far to the social right in terms of particularly caucus attendees that unless you can meet certain litmus tests, if you will, you have a very difficult time competing in Iowa." But Gross had a very different message today:

I think this is a different year because largely with Huckabee getting out, you'll have multiple social conservatives in the race. As a result of that, they'll divide up a lot of the Caucus vote and there'll be an opportunity for a mainstream Republican to come in and do surprisingly well here. If I were Mitt Romney and I wanted to be the nominee for president, I'd play in Iowa this time because if you win in Iowa this time you have a chance to win the nomination."

Talk radio conservative Steve Deace shared his perspective as an enthusiastic Huck supporter in 2008 who has grown disillusioned more recently: "Ideologically, the Huckabee of today sounds a lot more like the Rod Roberts of 2010 than the [Bob] Vander Plaats of 2010."

Discuss :: (23 Comments)

Top-Tier Presidential candidates are pandering to Iowa extremists

by: Focus on Iowa's Future

Fri Apr 15, 2011 at 08:33:52 AM CDT

What happens in Iowa won’t stay in Iowa.

On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down a ban on gay marriages and simultaneously lit a fire under extremists who are willing to say and do anything in order to marginalize or eliminate the third branch of our government.

The nearly 19-month long campaign in Iowa that followed the decision, which was paid for by reckless special interest groups and encouraged by out-of-state politicians, ended on November 2, 2010 when the extremists won, and three justices were voted off the bench.

Throughout the retention campaign, prospective presidential candidates pandered to the Iowa extremists who were attacking the judiciary:

  • Rick Santorum traveled across the state to raise the campaign’s profile
  • Newt Gingrich said the retention vote would be a “clarion call” to the legal secular elite
  • Mitt Romney attacked the nonpartisan group of Iowa justices by calling them members of an “activist court”
  • Tim Pawlenty encouraged the radicals to oust the judges if they disagreed with their ruling
  • Mike Huckabee campaigned for the most radical gubernatorial candidate who later led the effort to oust the judges

After the dust had settled after the election, it became clear which presidential candidate had been working the hardest to pander to the extremists: Newt Gingrich.

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Another poll shows Huckabee's the one to beat in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 10:53:33 AM CST

A third poll this month finds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with an early lead among Iowans likely to participate in the 2012 Republican caucuses. James Q. Lynch brought the latest poll to my attention. Strategic National surveyed 410 Republican Iowa caucus-goers on January 18 about their preferences for the next presidential campaign. Huckabee led the field with 27.5 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 18.5 percent, 17.6 percent undecided, 12.4 percent for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 12.2 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 4.4 percent for former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, 3.7 percent for Representative Michele Bachmann, 1.95 percent for Senator John Thune, just under 1 percent for former Senator Rick Santorum, and 0.24 percent for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Strategic National has worked for various Republican candidates, but I know nothing about the Michigan-based consulting firm as a pollster. I wonder whether "410 Republican Iowa caucus voting answers" means 410 people who said they will go to the GOP caucuses in 2012, or 410 people who have caucused in the past, or whether some other likely voter screen was used.

Earlier this month, Public Policy Polling and Neighborhood Research both found Huckabee leading Iowa Republican caucus-goers, with Romney in second place.

My hunch is that Huckabee won't run for president in 2012, for reasons I discussed here. Also, his 2008 campaign manager Chip Saltsman just took a job on the Hill, although Saltsman says he would be available if Huckabee runs for president again.

If Huckabee decides to challenge Obama, he'll probably get in the race late. Iowa caucus-goers aren't known for rewarding late starters, but Huckabee already has high name recognition here. In addition, a large portion of GOP caucus-goers have a conservative evangelical orientation. Strategic National's poll found that nearly 68 percent of respondents said the earth was created in six days, and 45 percent agreed that the earth is about 10,000 years old.

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Poll finds Obama leading Republicans in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 13, 2011 at 11:57:56 AM CST

Public Policy Polling's latest Iowa poll finds President Barack Obama ahead of four potential Republican opponents among 1,077 Iowa voters surveyed between January 7 and 9.

Yesterday's release showed Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney as the leading Republicans in the early caucus race for 2012, and if the election were today, those two are the only ones who would give Obama a bigger run for his money than McCain did two years ago. Obama tops Huckabee by a slender 47-43 margin, and Romney by 47-41. But against Newt Gingrich, he would prevail, 51-38, and by 53-37 over Sarah Palin.

The difference comes with independents, who make up a full quarter of the electorate, with Democrats and Republicans splitting the rest evenly. Obama has a significant party- unity advantage against all four Republicans, taking 86-91% of his own party and holding each of them to 67-79% of the GOP. But while he leads with unaffiliated voters by a 49- 34 margin over Gingrich and 49-38 over Palin, he actually trails Huckabee, 41-42, and leads Romney only 40-38. Huckabee and Romney do also hold Obama's crossover support down. While he takes 13% of Republicans to Gingrich's 5% of Democrats and 17% of Republicans to Palin's 6% of Democrats, the split against Huckabee is only 10-7, and 11-9 against Romney.

Click here for the summary and here for the full polling memo (pdf). The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent. PPP found 50 percent of Iowa respondents approved of Obama's performance as president, while 43 percent disapprove. Tom Jensen commented, "When you combine Obama's relative popularity in the state with the GOP field's lack of appeal, it looks like things are going to have to get a lot worse for the President over the next 22 months to send Iowa back into the red column."

I wouldn't be too sure about that. If the unemployment rate stays roughly the same or inches up, and the Republicans nominate someone without high negatives like Gingrich or Palin, Obama will have to fight to hold Iowa. Huckabee has led several early polls of Iowa Republicans, but I think he would have trouble winning the nomination if he runs. If I were a GOP primary voter, I'd be looking for a bland senator or former governor who could essentially campaign as a generic Republican.

Incidentally, Iowa may become crucial to Obama's path to victory in 2012. Reapportionment after the 2010 census took six electoral votes away from states Obama won, and several of the 2008 blue states are likely to go Republican next cycle. One path to exactly 270 votes would have the president winning all the states he carried in 2008 except for Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, and the second Congressional district in Nebraska.

UPDATE: The Cook Political Report lists Iowa as a tossup for the 2012 presidential race. The other states in that category are Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Two polls suggest Huckabee's the one to beat in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 08:05:31 AM CST

Two polls released this week suggest that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee would be the front-runner in Iowa if he runs for president in 2012. Poll details and some speculation are after the jump.
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Fox News to help raise money for Iowa GOP

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 16:29:36 PM CST

The Republican Party of Iowa and Fox News will co-sponsor a presidential debate on August 11, 2011, two days before the party's "straw poll" in Ames. Journalists closely watch the straw poll as a test of Republican candidates' organizational strength in Iowa.

Tying the party fundraiser in Ames with the debate on Fox, an influential outlet for conservatives, will give incentive to candidates campaigning for Iowa's leadoff nominating caucuses to participate in the straw poll, state party Chairman Matt Strawn said.

"I think the opportunity to address not just Iowa caucusgoers and straw poll attendees but to address the nation in a debate from Ames would be something that would be very difficult for a candidate to pass up," Strawn said.

I am trying to think of another example of a news organization scheduling a debate with the express goal of helping promote a political party's fundraiser. But then, Fox isn't your typical news organization. Its parent company donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association earlier this year. Why not have the Fox News subsidiary lend a helping hand to the Iowa GOP?

Understandably, Iowa Republicans worry that some presidential candidates might take the John McCain/Rudy Giuliani strategy: skip the straw poll and generally avoid campaigning in Iowa. That hurts the state party organization, which relies on the straw poll as a major fundraiser, and Republican legislators, who often receive campaign contributions from presidential candidates' PACs.

Bob Vander Plaats, the Iowa chair of Mike Huckabee's last presidential campaign, recently said he would advise Huckabee to wait until after the straw poll to decide whether to run for president. Huckabee's strong second-place finish in the 2007 straw poll demonstrated that he was a force to be reckoned with in Iowa. Before that event, Mitt Romney was the heavy favorite to win the caucuses. But the straw poll success cost Huckabee's campaign and Americans for Fair Taxation approximately $150,000 each. That's a lot of money to spend to win a news cycle.

Speaking to the Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont, Giuliani's former campaign manager Mike Duhaime predicted that some candidates would participate in the Fox News debate but not the straw poll, because of how costly it is to compete seriously in the straw poll. Strawn said Fox News and the Iowa GOP haven't determined yet whether candidates would be barred from the debate if they didn't plan to participate in the straw poll.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Congressional update: DREAM Act and tax deal news

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 10:51:04 AM CST

The House of Representatives approved the DREAM Act on December 8 by a vote of 216 to 198. The bill would give some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a path to citizenship. Eligible people could obtain "conditional" status for six years provided they have no criminal record, have lived in the country for at least five years, and have graduated from high school or received a GED. To maintain legal status, people would have to pass a criminal background check and demonstrate that they have either attended college or served in the military for at least two years. Although 38 House Democrats opposed the DREAM Act yesterday, all three Iowa Democrats (Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell) voted for it. Only eight House Republicans crossed party lines to support this bill, and those did not include Tom Latham or Steve King. In recent weeks, King has slammed the DREAM Act as a "multi-billion dollar amnesty nightmare."

The White House supports the DREAM Act, and the administration has mostly exempted students even as deportations of undocumented immigrants increased since President Barack Obama took office. However, Obama didn't insist on passage of the DREAM Act as part of his tax cut deal with Congressional Republican leaders. The Senate is expected to vote on the House version of this bill next week. Although some Republicans support the DREAM Act, including Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, I would be surprised if it passes during the lame duck session.

Incidentally, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has supported legislation like the DREAM Act in the last, but last week he said he opposed current bill before Congress. He must be aware that if he runs for president again, he'll need to win over GOP primary voters and caucus-goers who overwhelmingly oppose what conservatives call "amnesty."

Also on December 8, the House voted on the Seniors Protection Act. According to a statement from Braley's office, that bill "would have provided a one-time $250 payment to seniors on Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), railroad retirement, and veterans disability compensation or pension benefits due to the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment for 2011 (COLA)." The bill received 254 votes in favor and 153 votes against but still failed, because it was brought to the House floor under a suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote to pass. The Iowa delegation again split on party lines.

Meanwhile, the offices of Representatives Braley, Loebsack and Boswell still have not responded to my requests for comment on Obama's tax deal with Republicans. On December 9 the House Democratic caucus reportedly voted against bringing the deal to the floor, but that was a non-binding resolution. The bill could still pass with a minority of Democratic votes and a majority of Republicans. On the Senate side, Republican Chuck Grassley says the deal is better than doing nothing. Democrat Tom Harkin says he is working behind the scenes to improve the deal and is inclined to vote no without some changes. However, even as he criticized Obama's negotiating strategy, Harkin didn't rule out supporting the deal until he sees the final package.

UPDATE: Braley released this noncommittal statement on December 9:

"As the tax cut package takes shape, I want to reiterate my support for a tax cut extension for every American family on incomes up to $250,000.  I continue to fight for an extension of unemployment benefits, especially during the holiday season.  I remain extremely concerned that extending Bush's tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of Americans will explode the deficit."

"I continue to fight to cut taxes for Iowa's families and I am working to ensure our future generations are not saddled with extreme debt.  I look forward to reading the legislative language produced on the bill before making a final decision on these important issues."

SECOND UPDATE: Steve King talked to the Sioux City Journal's Bret Hayworth:

King said he dislikes that the tax cuts are only extended for two years. He said he wouldn't go to the mat to extend the tax cuts permanently, but that they should be at a minimum extended five years so people sitting on capital to invest will know their tax liabilities for a longer period.

Further, King doesn't like the unemployment benefits extension, since he said that only encourages people to not work and continue to receive those dollars.

THIRD UPDATE: Loebsack's office says he "has consistently supported extending the middle-class tax cuts. He is also pleased to see that an extension of emergency unemployment benefits and additional tax cuts for hard-working families are included, along with potential extensions of renewable energy tax credits.  He is actively working to improve the proposal as it develops in order to ensure that the best interests of Iowans are being served."  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Weekend open thread: Odds and ends

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Nov 26, 2010 at 12:00:00 PM CST

Time with extended family means less time for blogging, so I'm posting the weekend open thread early. Here are some links to get the conversation going.

Rural voters were a crucial factor helping Republicans retake the U.S. House. Of the 125 most rural Congressional districts, Republicans held all 64 seats they had going into the election and flipped 39 Democratic districts (that alone would have been enough to give them a majority). Going into the election, Democrats held 61 of the 125 most rural Congressional districts. Now they hold only 22 of those districts, including IA-01 (Bruce Braley) and IA-02 (Dave Loebsack).

Smart Politics looked at what it calls "Iowa's Schizophrenic 2010 Electorate" and observed, "Never before in the history of Iowa elections have Republicans won a majority of seats in the Iowa House while Democrats won a majority of the Hawkeye State's U.S. House seats."

I listed the Iowa House and Senate Democrats before and after the election, grouped by Congressional district. Bleeding Heartland user American007 created red and blue Iowa maps showing which parties held state House and Senate districts before the election and after.

Fred Karger, a Republican political strategist and gay activist who's exploring a presidential bid, has been running this commercial on the Fox network this week in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, Mason City, Ames, Burlington and Fort Dodge. Have you seen it? Hard to imagine a strong base of support for Karger in Iowa, but I'm glad a moderate may be running for president on the Republican side.

If Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels runs for president in 2012, some Iowa Republicans will not forgive him for supporting merit-based judicial selection in his state.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said all the "right" things about Iowa judges during his recent Des Moines visit. But this week Huckabee described the controversial searches of airline passengers as a "humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional, intrusion of their privacy." Uh oh! Social conservatives don't typically acknowledge that there is a constitutional right to privacy. That dreaded "penumbra" underlies U.S. Supreme Court rulings affirming reproductive rights.

I learned this week that New Hampshire has some elected Republican officias who support marriage equality. It's not clear whether there are enough of them to stop large GOP majorities from repealing same-sex marriage rights in that state. I wonder when (if ever) a current Republican office-holder in Iowa will defend equality.

Iowa First Lady Mari Culver says she accomplished what she set out to do during her husband's term as governor, and her kids are excited to be moving back to their West Des Moines home full-time.

What's on your mind this holiday weekend?  

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Weekend open thread: Huckabee in Iowa edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Nov 20, 2010 at 17:33:44 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

Past and perhaps future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is in Des Moines tonight Sunday, headlining the Iowa Family Policy Center's annual fundraiser. Other speakers include WHO talk radio personality Steve Deace and Iowa Family Policy Center Action president Chuck Hurley.

The big event is also Bob Vander Plaats' debut as "president and chief executive officer of an umbrella group that includes the Iowa Family Policy Center, Marriage Matters and their political action committee." The Iowa Family Policy Center endorsed Vander Plaats for governor. Huckabee came to Iowa to campaign for Vander Plaats, who chaired his successful Iowa caucus campaign in 2008.

Vander Plaats told journalists this week that his umbrella group will mobilize social conservatives and endorse a candidate for the upcoming Iowa caucus campaign. If Huckabee stays out of the presidential race, several campaigns will work hard to win the approval of Vander Plaats, Hurley and Deace. If Huckabee runs again, other candidates may as well not waste their time.

I got a robocall from Huckabee Thursday or Friday of this week, but I don't know whether it was a fundraising call or an attempt to identify supporters. The call ended quickly after I answered "no" to the question, "Do you consider yourself pro-life?"

I'm headed to a friend's birthday party tonight as soon as my version of Jewish noodle kugel comes out of the oven for the potluck. Quite a few Branstad voters will be in attendance (including the birthday girl), and I'm determined not to get into any arguments.

My Twitter feed is full of Republicans freaking out about Governor Chet Culver's deal with AFSCME. A 2 percent raise for state employees, followed by a 1 percent raise, is far from excessive. Republican complaints about Culver's lack of "courtesy" amuse me. It wasn't too polite of Terry Branstad to spend millions of dollars on tv ads lying about I-JOBS and how Culver managed the state's finances.

UPDATE: To clarify, the proposed contract with AFSCME involves a 2 percent across the board salary increase starting July 1, 2011, a 1 percent across the board salary increase starting January 1, 2012, another 2 percent across the board salary increase beginning July 1, 2012, and a 1 percent across the board salary increase starting January 1, 2013.

This is an open thread.

UPDATE: Kay Henderson posted a good liveblog of Huckabee's November 21 press conference and his speech to the Iowa Family Policy Center crowd. The same post links to an audio clip of Huckabee's comments to reporters and covers Vander Plaats' speech to the crowd at the fundraiser.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

New thread on the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 10:27:03 AM CDT

It's time for another look at the Republican presidential contenders' prospects in Iowa. The 2012 cycle may seem like a long way off, but the serious candidates will probably start hiring staff in Iowa before the end of this year. Since the last time Bleeding Heartland covered this ground, several Republicans with presidential ambitions have spoken out on our GOP gubernatorial contest, visited Iowa or scheduled trips here during this fall's campaign.  

Lots of links and speculation are after the jump.

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 2330 words in story)

New thread on the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 14, 2010 at 10:08:09 AM CDT

The decision won't be final until the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in August, but it appears likely that the Iowa caucuses will remain the first presidential nominating contest in 2012. This week the RNC's Temporary Delegate Selection Committee recommended adopting a rule that would allow only Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to hold primaries or caucuses before March 6, 2012. Click here to read the rule, which would also require all states that hold nominating contests before April 2010 to award their delegates proportionally, rather than through a winner-take-all system that is typical for the Republican Party.

So, Iowa will continue to be a frequent travel stop for Republicans considering a presidential bid. It's been six months since I last discussed the prospects of likely challengers to President Obama in Iowa. New speculation is after the jump.

There's More... :: (11 Comments, 943 words in story)
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