IA-04: Nick Ryan looking for a Republican to run against Steve King

Representative Steve King is among the leading Iowa Republicans basking in reflected glory from Ted Cruz’s big win in the caucuses. His endorsement in mid-November was a catalyst for Cruz’s rise in the Iowa polls. He ran interference when Cruz came under attack for his stands on the ethanol mandate and an amendment to a 2013 immigration bill. In the final hour before the Iowa caucuses convened, King tweeted, "[Dr. Ben] Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope." (Today King expressed regret for "any miscommunications" but pointed to a CNN story asserting that Carson was planning "a break from campaigning.")

Cruz’s win after trailing in the last ten polls before the caucuses cements King’s status as a hero to many Iowa Republicans. By the same token, King has disappointed some conservatives who supported him in the past.

In particular, King’s efforts on behalf of Cruz made an enemy out of Nick Ryan, who has led various super-PACs and dark money groups. Ryan is looking for a credible candidate to challenge King in a GOP primary to represent Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

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Iowa GOP caucus-goers deliver big hit to Terry Branstad's clout

Donald Trump was the obvious Republican loser last night. Despite leading in the last ten Iowa polls released before the caucuses, Trump finished more than 6,000 votes and three percentage points behind Ted Cruz, widely perceived before yesterday to have peaked too soon. Record-breaking turnout was supposed to be a winning scenario for Trump, yet a plurality of caucus-goers cast ballots for Cruz as attendance surpassed the previous high-water mark by more than 50 percent.

For Iowa politics watchers, another big takeaway jumped out from the caucus results: Governor Terry Branstad’s advice doesn’t carry much weight with rank and file Republicans.

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Iowa caucus results thread

I will update this post throughout the evening. As of 9 pm, 75 percent of Democratic precincts have reported, and Hillary Clinton narrowly leads Bernie Sanders by 50.4 percent to 48.9 percent of state delegate equivalents. Martin O’Malley won less than 1 percent of the state delegate equivalents and is reportedly dropping out of the race. UPDATE: with 81 percent of precincts reporting (but not including some Iowa City and Cedar Rapids precincts), Clinton is barely ahead by 50.2 percent to 49.1 percent. Turnout seems to be considerably higher than I expected, which explains how well Sanders is doing. He could pull ahead to Clinton if she doesn’t have good counties and precincts outstanding.

The Republican race is too close to call between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, with about 75 percent of the votes counted. Marco Rubio is in third place. I noticed that Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal predicted a Cruz win, as did I. On the Republican side, only Cruz was running a traditional ground game. Supposedly the Trump campaign hired out its phone banking, and I never heard much about door-knocking on his behalf.

What happened in your precinct? Share your stories in the comments. I’ve posted what happened in Windsor Heights 2 below.

9:30 UPDATE: Television networks are calling the GOP race for Cruz. Mike Huckabee is dropping out of the race; he outperformed his polling numbers but is still way behind the leaders at around 7 percent.

9:45 UPDATE: With 88 percent of Democratic precincts reporting, Clinton is ahead by only 49.9 percent to 49.5 percent. Sanders could pull ahead.

10:30 UPDATE: Clinton is speaking now, which surprises me, because she’s only ahead by 50.1 percent to 49.4 percent with 93 percent of precincts reporting. For some reason, the Iowa Democratic Party’s website is showing my own precinct (Windsor Heights 2) as not yet reporting. We were done by around 8:30.

11:20 UPDATE: With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton’s lead is down to 49.8 percent to 49.6 percent. A bunch of Polk County precincts are still outstanding, including mine. At least six precincts around the state had one delegate awarded by a coin flip.

12:00 am UPDATE: Steve Kornacki and Rachel Maddow got the coin flip story badly wrong on MSNBC, claiming the coin flips (all won by Clinton in the various precincts) accounted for Clinton’s statewide lead over Sanders. No. The coin flips resolve who would get the last remaining county delegate from a precinct. Clinton is ahead by a handful of state delegate equivalents.

12:50 am UPDATE: With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton leads by 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent. Just twelve precincts have not reported.

2 am: Make that ten precincts outstanding. I want to hear from Democrats who caucused in Des Moines precinct 43 at Roosevelt High School. There seems to have been some confusion about the count, and Sanders supporters online are accusing the precinct chair and the Clinton precinct captain of "fraud," based on this video. It’s not unusual for there to be some confusion or people missed during the count. We had to count our Clinton group twice last night.

2:30 am: The Iowa Democratic Party released a statement a few minutes ago, which I’ve enclosed below. According to the party, statewide turnout was 171,109, much higher than I expected but nearly 70,000 below the record turnout of 2008. The party says "Clinton has been awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, Bernie Sanders has been awarded 695.49 state delegate equivalents, Martin O’Malley has been awarded 7.68 state delegate equivalents and uncommitted has been awarded .46 state delegate equivalents. We still have outstanding results in one precinct (Des Moines—42), which is worth 2.28 state delegate equivalents."

The outstanding precinct (Des Moines 42) is on the west side, bordering Windsor Heights. There is no clear trend in the six neighboring precincts, with Sanders and Clinton winning two each and the other two ending in a delegate tie.

With all the excitement on the Democratic side, I forgot to update the Republican results. They are after the jump. The GOP turnout of more than 180,000 was about 50 percent higher than their previous record turnout in 2012.

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Weekend open thread: Last Des Moines Register caucus poll and a shady Ted Cruz mailer

Photo of a Ted Cruz supporter’s car spotted in Davenport on January 30; shared with the photographer’s permission.

The final Iowa caucus poll by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics shows a tight race on the Democratic side and Donald Trump retaking the lead from Ted Cruz among likely Republican caucus-goers. Key findings and excerpts from the Register’s write-ups on the poll are after the jump.

Ann Selzer is "the best pollster in politics," Clare Malone wrote in a must-read profile for FiveThirtyEight.com this week, which explained Selzer’s methods and "old-school rigor." One key part of her "A+" methodology is starting from a list of registered voters, rather than using random digit dialing to reach Iowans by phone. Nate Cohn pointed out that Iowa polls drawing respondents from a registered voter list have tended to produce better results for Hillary Clinton, while surveys using random digit dialing have produced the best numbers for Bernie Sanders. Selzer also uses a simpler likely voter/likely caucus-goer screen than many other pollsters.

Bleeding Heartland guest author fladem showed yesterday that the Iowa caucus results have sometimes been noticeably different from the last polls released. Front-runners have often seen their lead shrink, while fast-rising contenders have "come from nowhere." I am standing by my prediction that the structure of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, where only delegate counts matter, favors Hillary Clinton and will allow her to outperform her poll numbers on Monday night. Speaking of which, there’s still time to enter Bleeding Heartland’s Iowa caucus prediction contest; post a comment with your guesses before 6 pm central time on February 1.

Last spring I was sure Cruz would peak in Iowa too soon and crash before the caucuses. Campaign news from October through December convinced me that I was wrong, and I still believe more in Cruz’s ground game than in Trump’s. However, the Cruz campaign is starting to look desperate, shifting its advertising to attack Marco Rubio instead of Trump, and sending out a deceptive mailer, which implied that Republicans guilty of a "voting violation" could improve their "score" by showing up at the caucuses. I enclose below several links on the controversy and a statement from Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate denouncing the mail piece, which "misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law."

Pate’s predecessor, Matt Schultz, is chairing Cruz’s Iowa campaign and defended the mailing as "common practice to increase voter turnout." As Gavin Aronsen discussed at the new website Iowa Informer, it’s rich for onetime "voter fraud" crusader Schultz to be "actively defending a purposefully misleading mailer." The hypocrisy confirms my view that Schultz and Cruz are a political match made in heaven.

Governor Terry Branstad will introduce Chris Christie at a campaign stop today but won’t officially endorse the New Jersey governor. Several people with close ties to Branstad are active supporters of Christie, who has been stuck at 3 percent in the Register’s polling for months.

Final note: I’m so happy for all the volunteers who are able to knock doors in near-perfect (for January) weather during these last few days of the campaign. Weather conditions leading up to the 2008 caucuses were terrible.

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Front Runners Beware

Thanks to fladem for this historical perspective on late shifts in Iowa caucus-goers’ preferences. If you missed his earlier posts, check out A deep dive into Iowa Caucus History and Iowa Polling 45 days out: Let the Buyer REALLY beware. -promoted by desmoinesdem

This is a continuation of an article I wrote about Iowa polling in November. At the time I noted how unpredictable the Iowa Caucuses are. This article is going to look at the last 48 hours. There are two lessons you can draw:

Front Runners Beware

Expect someone to come from nowhere

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2016 Iowa caucuses prediction contest

With no clear leader in either party less than a week before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, this latest installment in Bleeding Heartland’s occasional series of prediction contests should be especially fun. Anyone can participate, regardless of whether you live in Iowa or have ever lived here.

To enter the contest, post your answers to the eight questions enclosed below as comments in this thread before 6 pm on February 1. Valid entries must be submitted as comments here. Predictions sent to me by e-mail or posted on social media will not be considered. It only takes a minute to register as a Bleeding Heartland user (a link is near the upper right corner of this screen). You don’t have to use your real name; feel free to choose a screen name that allows you to post anonymously. You’ll be e-mailed a password for logging in. Then you can comment here or on any other thread. To protect against spammers, your comment will be "pending" until I approve it.

It’s fine to change your mind after making your guesses, as long as you post your revised predictions as an additional comment in this thread before the deadline.

No money or prizes are at stake here, just bragging rights. This contest doesn’t work like "The Price is Right"; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether they were a little high or low. Even if you have no idea, please try to take a guess on every question.

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