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National Republican Congressional Committee going for IA-01, IA-02

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 21:35:05 PM CDT

Ed Tibbetts reported today for the Quad-City Times that the National Republican Congressional Committee announced plans to buy television air time in Iowa's first and second Congressional districts. The NRCC says it will spend $900,000 on air time in the Cedar Rapids and Davenport markets to influence the IA-02 race, plus $400,000 in the Cedar Rapids market for IA-01. Although the NRCC gave IA-01 nominee Rod Blum and IA-02 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks top-tier status in its program for challengers this summer, up to now the committee has only been advertising in Iowa's third district, widely considered a tossup race.

Typically NRCC commercals focus on negative messages against the Democratic candidate, just like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mainly spends its advertising dollars attacking Republicans. The expenditures announced today will likely go for attacks on Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02), rather than on positive ads about Blum and Miller-Meeks.

Miller-Meeks desperately needs the help, because she is way behind Loebsack in cash on hand. So far this year, only one group (the Teaparty Leadership Fund) has made independent expenditures on her behalf in IA-02. It's worth noting that the 24 counties in this district are located in five different media markets. Loebsack has been advertising district-wide. The NRCC ads will reach the largest cities in IA-02 but not voters who watch television stations based in Des Moines, Ottumwa-Kirksville, or Quincy, Illinois.

Blum has had only a little more outside help so far, mostly from the Teaparty Leadership Fund, the National Right to Life PAC, and the Faith Family Freedom Fund. As of September 30, Blum had somewhat more cash on hand than Murphy, but last week the DCCC announced plans to spend some $600,000 in IA-01. At this writing, only about $110,000 of that money had been spent.

The NRCC didn't do much in IA-01 or IA-02 during the 2010 campaign. That year the dark money 501(c)4 group American Future Fund spent over $1 million against incumbent Bruce Braley in IA-01, most of it on tv ads.

During the 2012 cycle, the NRCC ran some tv ads against Braley but pulled out of the IA-01 race in late September. The NRCC spent more than $600,000 against Loebsack in 2012, most of it in September and early October. I'm a little surprised to see so much money moving into these races so late this year, and I assume the decision reflects NRCC confidence in various other House races around the country, where ad time had been reserved.

The DCCC spent more than half a million dollars defending Loebsack against Miller-Meeks in 2010 but was never worried enough to spend money in IA-02 in 2012, despite putting Loebsack in its incumbent protection program early in that cycle. I have not seen any ad buys from the DCCC in IA-02 this year, but Tibbetts reported today that the committee "joined with Loebsack to air a television commercial targeting Miller-Meeks."

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 13:33:28 PM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, the third-quarter campaign finance reports for Iowa's four Congressional districts are all online at the Federal Election Commission's website. My big takeaways:

In the open seat race in IA-01, Democrat Pat Murphy has out-rased Republican Rod Blum, both during the third quarter and in the election cycle to date. But Blum went into the home stretch with a cash advantage, for two reasons: 1) he has put more than $200,000 of his own money into the campaign, and 2) he didn't have to spend heavily before the June primary--unlike Murphy, who had to spend most of the early money he raised to get past four Democratic rivals.

In IA-02, Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack ended the quarter with far more money to spend than his GOP challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks. One reason is that as of September 30, Miller-Meeks had not put much of her own money behind her third Congressional bid. In contrast, she put more than $500,000 into her 2010 Congressional campaign.

In IA-03, David Young would be dead in the water without his personal loans to the campaign and the immense support he is getting from corporate and conservative political action committees. He entered the last five weeks of the campaign with more debts than cash on hand.

In IA-04, Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer out-raised six-term Representative Steve King yet again. Even more impressive, Mowrer raised more from individuals this quarter than any other Iowa candidate for the U.S. House. But King went into the home stretch with more cash on hand, after waiting much longer than Mowrer to start running television commercials.

Follow me after the jump for many more details from all eight major-party candidates' filings. Bleeding Heartland will cover the independent expenditures in to four U.S. House races in a future post. IA-03 continues to be the main focus for outside groups, but more money is coming into IA-01 as well. The bad news for Miller-Meeks is that IA-02 isn't drawing a lot of interest this year, in contrast to 2010.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of October 19)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 09:37:36 AM CDT

Every weekday through November 4, Bleeding Heartland is posting early voting numbers for all of Iowa and in each of the four Congressional districts. All data come from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. The latest tables are after the jump. Click here for previous tables going back to September 22.

Absentee ballot requests from Iowa Republicans and no-party voters now exceed the total early vote from those groups in Iowa's 2010 midterm election. Ballot requests from Iowa Democrats are only about 4,000 below the total early vote cast by Democrats in 2010.

Three big unanswered questions remain: which party is generating more absentee ballot requests from "unreliable" voters who otherwise would not participate in the midterm? Which party has mobilized more of the independents who are voting early? And which party will do better in making sure its supporters not only request an absentee ballot, but also return it to the county auditor on time?

All 99 county auditors' offices are open for in-person early voting during regular business hours through Monday, November 3. 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. The last day for in-person early voting at satellite locations in Polk County is this Friday, October 24.  

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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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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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IA-04: Mowrer emphasizes crossover appeal, King finally agrees to debate

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 15:55:05 PM CDT

Catching up on news from Iowa's fourth Congressional district, a veteran who served with Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer in Iraq is the star of Mowrer's fourth television commercial. I've posted the video and transcript after the jump. The veteran explains that although he usually votes Republican, he supports Mowrer for Congress, because Mowrer "put his men and his responsibilities above himself" in Iraq and will "put Iowa first" in Washington. Mowrer appears near the end of the spot. Without mentioning Representative Steve King, he draws an unspoken contrast between himself and the incumbent, saying Congress has forgotten to put service "to the people" above a party. While campaigning around the district, Mowrer points out that King is an obstructionist who "has never passed any major legislation or brought anything back to Iowa."

Bleeding Heartland covered Mowrer's first three ads here, here and here. To my knowledge, King has not run any tv ads yet. I cannot think of any other example of a Congressional incumbent waiting so long to go up on the air against a well-funded challenger. I can only conclude that King is not at all worried about this election. It's also noteworthy that the incumbent is relying on his son and daughter in law to manage this year's effort, as he did in 2008 and 2010. In contrast, King brought in seasoned campaign professionals to run his 2012 re-election bid against Christie Vilsack in a substantially redrawn district.

To have any chance against King, Mowrer needs quite a few Republicans to cross over and vote for him, in addition to good Democratic turnout and a big lead among independents. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office indicate that the 39 counties in IA-04 contain 122,996 active registered Democrats, 179,418 Republicans, and 172,126 no-party voters. Democrats have a small lead in absentee ballot requests so far.

Over the weekend, King finally agreed to debate Mowrer. After months of stonewalling, which was attracting some unflattering media attention, King accepted Iowa Public Television's invitation to an "Iowa Press" debate on October 23 in Storm Lake. He is still refusing to debate Mowrer in Sioux City, the largest metro area in IA-04.

I haven't seen much polling on this race. Loras College surveyed 300 voters in the district earlier this month and found King leading by 47 percent to 36 percent. That poll had a fairly high margin of error of 5.6 percent and some methodological issues that made me question the results. But if King's internal polling showed major warning signs, he would probably be on television right now, and/or the National Republican Congressional Committee would get involved, as they did in 2012. So I would assume King leads by enough not to feel threatened. Let's hope he is taking too much for granted.

Any comments about the IA-04 campaign are welcome in this thread.  

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U.S. begins bombing ISIS targets in Syria

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 22:08:30 PM CDT

This evening a U.S. military official confirmed to news media that airstrikes have begun in a part of Syria largely controlled by the terrorist group ISIS. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain are partnering with the U.S. on the airstrikes, though the extent of their cooperation is not yet clear. The Obama administration had previously announced plans for "targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria -- including its command and control, logistics capabilities, and infrastructure," according to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. I don't understand the endgame, since the Obama administration has vowed not to cooperate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate authorized the Obama administration to train and arm "moderates" in Syria and Iraq. But in a pathetic act of cowardice, Congress approved the president's request as part of a huge must-pass spending bill, rather than as a stand-alone measure. Why should anyone respect the separation of powers if most members of Congress would rather punt than have a serious debate over whether to get the country more directly involved in a civil war? Especially since no one seems to know who these moderate Syrian rebels are. For all we know, we will be inadvertently training the next group of terrorists in the region, or supplying weapons that will fall into the wrong hands.

The funding bill containing the military authorization language passed the U.S. House by 273 votes to 156, with bipartisan support and opposition. Iowans Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 114 House Democrats who voted yes. Representatives Tom Lataham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) were among the 159 Republicans who voted yes.

When the same bill passed the U.S. Senate by 78 votes to 22, Senators Chuck Grassley (R) and Tom Harkin (D) both voted yes. Rebecca Shabad and Ramsey Cox reported for The Hill, "The 'no' votes included several senators seen as prospective presidential candidates in both parties, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)." Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and is considering a presidential campaign, voted no. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, considered a possible presidential candidate if Hillary Clinton does not run, voted yes.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I will update this post as needed with Iowa political reaction to the airstrikes in Syria. But don't hold your breath: last week I did not see any official statement from anyone in Iowa's Congressional delegation about having voted to authorize weapons and training for rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.

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Iowa absentee ballot numbers in the 2014 general election

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 11:52:18 AM CDT

This morning the Iowa Secretary of State's Office started posting absentee ballot statistics for this year's general election. They will update the chart on weekdays here (pdf).

As in 2012, Bleeding Heartland will update the absentee ballot totals daily as they become available. The first set of numbers are after the jump. I've organized the data a bit differently from the Secretary of State's Office. For each day's totals, I will create two charts: the first shows the number of absentee ballots Iowans have requested, in each of the four Congressional districts and statewide. The second shows the number of absentee ballots county auditors have received from voters, in each of the four Congressional districts and statewide. (For now, those numbers are small, because most of the county auditors have not yet mailed ballots to voters who requested them.)

In-person early voting will begin on September 25 at county auditors' offices. Some counties will open satellite locations for in-person early voting as well. When an Iowan votes early at the auditor's office, that counts as an absentee ballot requested by the voter and as an absentee ballot received by the auditor on the same day.

Today's press release from the Secretary of State's Office noted that "demand for absentee ballots with 43 days before the election is much higher this year for all party affiliations than at a similar point in 2010." Absentee ballot requests as of September 21 totaled 112,178 statewide, compared to 56,725 at this point in Iowa's last midterm election campaign. Registered Democrats had requested 57,869 absentee ballots (versus 34,318 at this point in 2010), Republicans had requested 31,099 ballots (12,710 in 2010), and no-party voters had requested 23,043 ballots (9,664 in 2010). Click here for more information about voting early, or to download an absentee ballot request form.

Note that not every mailed-in absentee ballot will count. Some ballots mailed late will not get a postmark proving voters sent them before election day. John Deeth goes over other common errors that can lead to absentee ballots not being counted, such as voters not signing the "affidavit envelope" or re-opening the affidavit envelope after sealing it. Everyone planning to vote by mail needs to read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly.

UPDATE: I should have noted that if this year's turnout is similar to 2010, about 1.1 million Iowans will cast ballots, meaning that roughly 10 percent of those likely to participate in the midterm have already requested a ballot. The Republican Party of Iowa's first mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms went out in early September, while the Iowa Democratic Party's went out last week.

SECOND UPDATE: Adding latest daily numbers after the jump.

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