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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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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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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of September 28)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 10:20:00 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. Follow me after the jump for the latest tables. I took the numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State's website. Previous tables are here.

As of September 28, registered Iowa Democrats have requested about 40,000 more ballots than Republicans have. Democrats also claim to have generated a higher percentage of ballot requests than Republicans among Iowans who did not vote in the 2010 midterm election.  

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IA-Sen: "No Labels" group sucker punches Bruce Braley

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 27, 2014 at 17:01:02 PM CDT

Few members of Congress have done more to link themselves with the "No Labels" movement than U.S. Representative Bruce Braley. He spoke at the group's launch event in December 2010. He participated in the group's December 2011 release of a 12-point action plan to "Make Congress Work." In 2012, Braley co-sponsored "No Budget, No Pay" legislation supported by No Labels; similar language was included in a budget bill President Barack Obama signed the following year. A review of Braley's voting record on a wide range of issues shows many examples of the Democrat voting with the majority of House Republicans and against most members of his own caucus.

When Braley received the No Labels "Problem Solver Seal of Approval" this July, his U.S. Senate campaign enthusiastically spread the news along with a long list of his bipartisan accomplishments in the House.

It must have come as a shock when No Labels turned around and gave Republican State Senator Joni Ernst the same "Problem Solver Seal of Approval" a few days ago. Just in time for the Senate nominees' first debate on Sunday, without any bipartisan legislative accomplishments to speak of, Ernst got outside validation for her campaign's otherwise laughable pivot from the "mother, soldier, conservative" tag line to "mother, soldier, independent leader." All she had to do to gain equal status with Braley was pay lip service to the No Labels "National Strategic Agenda."

I've long believed that No Labels is an "astroturf" (fake grassroots) movement founded on false premises, and that Democrats who got mixed up with the latest incarnation of Beltway "centrists" were making a mistake. Braley may not be the last to learn this lesson the hard way. Follow me after the jump for more thoughts on No Labels' wrong-headed policy stands and political choices.  

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of September 25)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 26, 2014 at 10:20:00 AM CDT

Thousands of Iowans took advantage of the first day for in-person early voting yesterday. The latest totals for absentee ballots requested and returned, statewide and in Iowa's four Congressional districts, are after the jump. I took the numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State's website. To spot trends in the numbers, you can find tables from earlier this week here.

Both parties have been pushing early voting, and both have generated more absentee ballot requests than at the same point in Iowa's last midterm elections. For now, Democrats are running ahead in the early vote statewide and in each Congressional district, but the numbers are far from decisive.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of September 24)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 09:35:00 AM CDT

Based on the latest data from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office, I've updated tables showing how many absentee ballots Iowans have requested and returned, statewide and in the four Congressional districts. Democrats still lead in ballot requests statewide and in each district, as you can see below. The largest lead is in IA-02; the smallest in IA-04.

Tables from previous days can be viewed here. The number of ballots returned is creeping up slowly, but that will change very soon. Early voting in-person begins today, and every vote cast at a county auditor's office counts as a ballot requested and a ballot returned on the same day. Also, more and more Iowans who are voting by mail will receive their ballots by this weekend.

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of September 23)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 24, 2014 at 10:35:00 AM CDT

Based on the latest data from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office, I've updated after the jump tables showing how many absentee ballots Iowans have requested and returned, statewide and in the four Congressional districts.

Tables from previous days can be viewed here. Note that the number of ballots returned is still quite low, because most of the 99 county auditors are starting to mail ballots this week. In-person early voting begins tomorrow, 40 days before the general election.

Among the four Congressional districts, IA-02 has both the largest number of ballot requests so far and the largest difference between the Democratic and Republican numbers. That's bad news for Mariannette Miller-Meeks in her third attempt to unseat Representative Dave Loebsack, an uphill battle in my opinion. It may also be good news for Democrats hoping to maintain or expand their Iowa Senate majority, because several of the most competitive Iowa Senate districts are located within the second Congressional district (namely, Senate district 39, Senate district 41, Senate district 15, and to a lesser extent Senate district 49).

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Latest Iowa absentee ballot numbers (as of September 22)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 09:37:46 AM CDT

You might be an Iowa politics junkie if you are excited to see the new absentee ballot numbers in the morning. Follow me after the jump for tables showing the absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and in each of the four Congressional districts, updated to include the latest data from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office.

I'm compiling all the tables on this page to make it easier to spot trends in the numbers. Note that the number of ballots returned is still quite low, because most of the 99 county auditors are starting to mail ballots this week.

Yesterday, some Iowa Republicans were crowing about how much better their party is doing this year on early GOTV. Although Democrats have requested more ballots than Republicans, GOP ballot requests were up by a greater percentage than Democratic requests compared to the 2010 campaign. I suspect one factor is the Republican mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms, which hit mailboxes shortly after Labor Day and created a surge in ballot requests to county auditors.

The Iowa Democratic Party's mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms reached supporters between September 18 and 20. Over the next week to ten days, I'll be closely watching the Democratic numbers to see whether the "low-hanging fruit" produce a big jump in ballot requests. Since yesterday, Democrats added significantly more ballot requests than Republicans did in each of the four Congressional districts. Statewide, total ballots requested by Democrats increased from 57,869 as of September 21 to 63,485 as of September 22. Republican requests increased from 31,099 to 33,073.  

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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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IA-02: First Miller-Meeks ad draws contrast with Loebsack

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 12:58:00 PM CDT

Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is on the air with her first television commercial in her third campaign against Representative Dave Loebsack in Iowa's second Congressional district. Her debut ad from the 2010 campaign contained entirely negative material about the incumbent. In contrast, the new spot jumps quickly from saying Loebsack is part of the problem to positive statements about Miller-Meeks. That strikes me as a more effective message, especially for reaching voters in counties that weren't part of IA-02 during her previous two Congressional campaigns. Notably, Miller-Meeks is emphasizing her credentials as a doctor and a veteran. This ad says nothing about the three years she spent in state government running the Iowa Department of Public Health.

After the jump I've enclosed the video and transcript of "Problem." I am seeking comment from Miller-Meeks' campaign on where the commercial is running. The 24 counties in IA-02 are located in five separate media markets (Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, Des Moines, Ottumwa-Kirksville, and Quincy, Illinois), making it fairly expensive to reach all voters in the district.

Any comments about the IA-02 campaign are welcome in this thread. I consider this race an uphill battle for the challenger.

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IA-02: First Loebsack tv ad, and how close is this race anyway?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 11:59:09 AM CDT

If campaign strategy is anything to go by, four-term U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack is a creature of habit. Loebsack's debut television commercial launched late last week, and I've enclosed the video and transcript after the jump, with my initial thoughts about the message. The biographical information and visuals echo Loebsack's opening commercial from his 2010 re-election campaign. The ad highlights the same public policy he led with in 2012. The same narrator performs the voice-over. The mid-September launch is precisely when he went up on the air in 2010 and 2012. (Loebsack's not the greatest fundraiser in Congress, so he can't afford to advertise district-wide for more than a couple of months.)

Several Bleeding Heartland readers have asked me about last week's Loras College poll, showing Loebsack ahead of Miller-Meeks by 48.7 percent to 32.1 percent among 300 likely voters in the second Congressional district. I have a hard time believing those results, partly because Loras doesn't have a long track record with polling. In addition, the statewide sample for the Loras poll includes too high a proportion of no-party voters for a mid-term election. Although a plurality of Iowa registered voters are independents, no-party voters comprised only about a quarter of the electorate in the last three Iowa midterm elections (click through for reports on turnout in 2010, 2006, and 2002). Perhaps most important, Loebsack defeated the less-credible challenger John Archer by a little more than 12 percent in 2012, a presidential election year. So I consider it unlikely he's 16 points ahead of Miller-Meeks, who came fairly close to beating him in 2010.

By the same token, I don't believe the Tarrance Group survey that the Miller-Meeks campaign hyped in mid-August, showing her trailing Loebsack by just 45 to 42 percent. Internal polls are always suspect, especially when the campaign releases almost no information about the sample demographics, question wording or question order.

Miller-Meeks and her suporters are optimistic because the district leans less Democratic than the one where Loebsack won his first three elections to Congress. The old IA-02 had a partisan voting index of D+7, whereas the current district is D+4. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office indicate that the 24 counties in IA-02 contain 165,834 active registered Democrats, 139,034 Republicans, and 180,843 no-party voters. In contrast, Democrats had a voter registration advantage of nearly 48,000 in IA-02 going into the 2010 general election, when Loebsack defeated Miller-Meeks by about 11,500 votes. Notably, Loebsack's current district includes the Quad Cities area (Scott County), traditionally more Republican-leaning than the Cedar Rapids area (Linn County), which was part of his old district. Under the previous map, Bruce Braley narrowly lost Scott County to his GOP challenger Ben Lange in 2010.

That analysis overlooks a few salient points, though. Since Iowa lawmakers adopted the current map of political boundaries, Loebsack has had three and a half years to build up his name recognition and support in the Quad Cities. He's attended hundreds of public events there. He's gone to bat for the Rock Island Arsenal, a major local employer. Nor are the new IA-02 counties a natural base of support for Miller-Meeks, who has spent most of her career in the Ottumwa area. In fact, her woefully under-funded opponent Mark Lofgren carried Scott County and neighboring Clinton County, as well as his home base of Muscatine, in this year's Republican primary to represent IA-02.

I suspect we would have seen a greater sense of urgency from Loebsack's campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee if Democratic polling indicated a close race here. The DCCC swooped in to rescue Loebsack in 2010, running a couple of negative spots against Miller-Meeks in the final weeks. I'll believe Miller-Meeks has a real shot if we see more independent expenditures for both candidates than occurred in IA-02 during the Loebsack's race against Archer. While the National Republican Congressional Committee placed Miller-Meeks on the top tier of their program for challengers, I have seen no sign that the NRCC plans to spend significant money on this race.

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Weekend open thread: Final Harkin Steak Fry edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 14, 2014 at 12:35:32 PM CDT

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

The weather is perfect in Indianola this afternoon for the roughly 5,000 people expected to attend Senator Tom Harkin's final "Steak Fry" event. At least 200 journalists will be on hand, mostly to see Hillary Clinton's first appearance in Iowa since the 2008 caucuses. If you see a lot of "Hillary doesn't appear to have much of an Iowa problem" stories tonight and tomorrow, remember that you heard it here first, and repeatedly.

I stand by my prediction that Hillary Clinton will face only token Democratic opposition in Iowa and elsewhere if she runs for president again. But in case she doesn't run, 2012 Harkin Steak Fry headliner Martin O'Malley is building up a lot of goodwill among Iowa Democrats. In addition to raising money for key Iowa Senate candidates this summer, the Maryland governor's political action committee is funding staffers for the Iowa Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch, and secretary of state candidate Brad Anderson. I still don't see O'Malley running against Clinton in any scenario.

President Bill Clinton will speak today as well. That's got to be a tough act to follow. No one can get a crowd of Democrats going like he can. I'll update this post later with highlights from the event and news coverage. I hope other Bleeding Heartland readers will share their impressions. C-SPAN will carry the main speeches, starting at 2:00 pm. That will be on channel 95 in the Des Moines area.

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Iowa reaction to Obama's speech on fighting ISIS

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 09:29:14 AM CDT

During prime-time last night, President Barack Obama spoke to the nation about the U.S. response to the terrorist group ISIS. You can read the full text of his remarks here. I don't have a lot of confidence that airstrikes will weaken support for ISIS where they are powerful, nor do I know whether there are enough "forces fighting these terrorists on the ground" for our support to matter. At least the president isn't sending massive numbers of ground troops back to Iraq.

After the jump I've posted comments from several members of Iowa's Congressional delegation as well as candidates for federal office. I will update this post as needed later today. Feel free to share your own thoughts about the appropriate U.S. policy in the region.

UPDATE: Added more comments below. As of Thursday evening, I have not seen any public comment on the president's speech from Senator Tom Harkin, Representative Bruce Braley (IA-01 and the Democratic nominee from U.S. Senate), IA-01 Democratic nominee Pat Murphy, his Republican opponent Rod Blum, IA-02 GOP nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks, or Representative Steve King (IA-04). I would think anyone who represents or wants to represent Iowans in Congress would want to weigh in about this policy, at least on whether the president should be able to act without Congressional authorization.

I agree with State Senator Matt McCoy, who posted on Facebook, "The President did not make a credible case for sending 475 Americans into IRAQ. The bar should be set very high before a President takes action without Congressional authorization. This crisis needs more dialog and study."

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Three reasons it's too soon for Iowa Democrats to celebrate an early voting lead

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at 16:35:42 PM CDT

Part of a series on GOTV in Iowa this year

Less than two weeks remain before county auditors start mailing absentee ballots to Iowa voters. On September 22, the Iowa Secretary of State's Office will start releasing updates on absentee ballots requested and returned statewide and by Congressional district. As in 2012, Bleeding Heartland will post those totals daily.

Data from a few of the larger counties indicate that the Iowa Democratic Party's head start on canvassing this summer has produced a clear advantage on absentee ballots requested. Iowa Republican blogger Craig Robinson is fretting about the GOP "getting out worked when it comes to early voting." Former Iowa Senate GOP staffer Don McDowell is upset with conservatives who refuse to vote before election day. He has seen more than a few statehouse races lost narrowly after Republican candidates were crushed in the early vote.

However, it's way too soon for Democrats to be over-confident about this year's early vote lead, for three reasons.

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When will our culture recognize domestic violence as violent crime?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at 08:49:37 AM CDT

Not being a football fan, I had never heard of Ray Rice until the Baltimore Ravens running back received a pathetic two-game suspension for beating up his fiancee Janay Palmer (now his wife) earlier this year. Rice finally lost his job yesterday, after a leaked video showed him punching Palmer in an elevator. But Louis Bien's timeline of key events in the case underscores how many authority figures bent over backwards to help Rice avoid any serious repercussions.

For months, top management for the Ravens made clear they hoped Rice would continue to play football with minimal interruption. The team's official twitter account promoted the idea that Palmer shared some responsibility for getting knocked out. Having given other players one-or two-game suspensions for domestic violence incidents, the National Football League didn't ask the Atlantic City casino for video footage before deciding on an initial consequence for Rice. Unbelievably, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell interviewed Janay Rice about the incident in the presence of her husband. In a meaningless gesture, the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely yesterday--after the Ravens had ended his contract.

Instead of moving forward with aggravated assault charges, New Jersey prosecutors offered Rice a deal involving probation and anger management counseling rather than prison time. The "pretrial intervention" agreement means that Rice can avoid trial and even have the criminal charges expunged, as long as he complies with the program. I'm all for abusers getting counseling, in addition to facing legal consequences for their actions. Rice's deal seems way too lenient, given the evidence prosecutors had on videotape. The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office says Rice "received the same treatment in the court system that any first-time offender in similar circumstances has received," which doesn't inspire confidence in the court system.

Rice is lucky that he'll probably never serve a day in prison for this assault, yet football legend Mike Ditka noted sympathetcally yesterday that Rice is "not a bad guy" who has seen his life "ruined" and his earning power "destroyed." Right-wing media darling Ben Carson loves to talk about "personal responsibility." But when asked about Rice yesterday, Carson said, "Let's not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy. He obviously has some real problems. And his wife obviously knows that because she subsequently married him. [...] let's see if we can get some help for these people." In what other context would a conservative show such sympathy for a man who had beaten someone unconscious? Yes, Rice has problems. Let him get help while he faces responsibility for his crimes.

By the way, Carson spent a few days in Iowa during the last week of August. The possible 2016 presidential candidate headlined fundraisers for the Polk County Republican Party and GOP Congressional candidates Rod Blum (IA-01) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02). I hope that Blum, Miller-Meeks, and Polk County GOP Chair Will Rogers will repudiate Carson's comments about Rice. Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violent crime in Iowa, affecting tens of thousands of people every year.

UPDATE: Worth reading Vice President Joe Biden's comments on Rice and our cultural attitudes toward violence. Biden was the lead author of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.

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The 2014 Iowa ground game: 12 Canvassing dos and don'ts

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 12:21:02 PM CDT

First in a series of posts on GOTV in Iowa this year

Air time for television advertising has become the most expensive line-item in many election campaigns. Outside groups have spent millions of dollars already on Iowa commercials targeting U.S. Senate candidates Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst, with millions more to be spent over the next 60 days. Nevertheless, I don't know many people who believe attack ads will determine the outcome of close races like Iowa's U.S. Senate battle. Barring some extraordinary campaign event (such as a meltdown in the debates), the winner will be the candidate whose side does a better job of identifying its supporters and turning them out to vote.

The number of Iowans who voted in each of the last two midterm elections was about a third lower than the number who had voted in the most recent presidential election. If that trend holds, approximately 1.1 million Iowans will cast ballots in the 2014 general election. Braley and other Democrats can't afford to have turnout resemble 2010, when only 56.5 percent of registered Iowa Democrats voted, as opposed to 69 percent of registered Republicans.

The Iowa Democratic Party has been crowing about its bigger and better "coordinated campaign," an effort to build on the successful 2012 early voting program here. No question, Democrats got a big jump on the ground game while the Iowa GOP was mired in poor fundraising and a messy leadership transition. Democrats have had canvassers out every weekend for months, and so far have generated many more absentee ballot requests than Republicans. The Iowa GOP has stepped up its door-knocking over the past several weeks, and Governor Terry Branstad will spend part of his war chest to assist the early voting efforts.

Knocking on doors is one of the most valuable ways to volunteer for a campaign. For those willing to spend a few hours on a weeknight or a weekend afternoon, I've enclosed my best advice for canvassing after the jump. Please feel free to share your own experiences with canvassing (on either side of the door) in this thread. Six years ago, a guest diarist posted his top tips here.

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IA-02: First Loebsack and Miller-Meeks debate live-blog and discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 19:01:27 PM CDT

Four-term Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack and his three-time Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks are debating in Iowa City tonight, starting at 7 pm. Iowa Public TV is live-streaming the event here. I'll post updates after the jump.

Any comments about the race in Iowa's second Congressional district are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The archived video is now available at IPTV's site. My comments are below.  

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In Des Moines, a rare left-wing take on 1950s nostalgia and American exceptionalism

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 09:49:25 AM CDT

Sunday night, the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines marked its 100th anniversary at a dinner gathering downtown. The gala was unusual in several respects. For one thing, I don't recall seeing such a large and bipartisan group of Iowa politicians at any non-political local event before. Attendees included Senator Chuck Grassley, Governor Terry Branstad, State Senator Jack Hatch, Lieutenant Governor nominee Monica Vernon, Representative Bruce Braley, State Senator Joni Ernst, Representative Dave Loebsack, IA-03 candidates David Young and Staci Appel, State Senator Matt McCoy, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, State Representatives Helen Miller, Marti Anderson, and Peter Cownie, and several suburban mayors or city council members. (Insert your own "a priest, a rabbi, and an Iowa politician walk into a bar" joke here.)

The keynote speech was even more striking. It's standard practice to invite a Jewish celebrity to headline major Federation events. This year's guest was award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. But other than a "Borscht belt"-inspired opening riff about learning to nod and say "Yes, dear" to his wife, Dreyfuss left obvious material aside. He didn't dwell on humorous anecdotes from his Hollywood career, or talk about how being Jewish helped his craft. Instead, Dreyfuss reminisced about a cultural place and time that could hardly be more foreign to his Iowa audience, regardless of age or religious background.

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Third-party and independent candidates in Iowa's 2014 elections

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 11:25:50 AM CDT

The filing period for general election candidates in Iowa closed last Friday, so it's a good time to review where candidates not representing either the Democratic or Republican Party are running for office. The full candidate list is on the Iowa Secretary of State's website (pdf(. After the jump I discuss all the federal, statewide, and state legislative races including at least one independent or minor-party candidate. Where possible, I've linked to campaign websites, so you can learn more about the candidates and their priorities.

Rarely has any Iowa election been affected by an independent or third-party candidate on the ballot. Arguably, the most recent case may have been the 2010 election in Iowa's first Congressional district. Final results showed that Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley defeated Republican challenger Ben Lange by 4,209 votes, while conservative candidates Rob Petsche and Jason Faulkner drew 4,087 votes and 2,092 votes, respectively.

Any comments about Iowa's 2014 elections are welcome in this thread.

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Hillary and Bill Clinton to headline the final Harkin Steak Fry

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:10:00 PM CDT

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will be the star guests at Senator Tom Harkin's final steak fry on September 14 at the Indianola Balloon Field. Doors open at 12:30 pm, event runs from 1-4. Traffic can be slow on the highway leading to the balloon field, so my advice is to allow extra time.

All of Iowa's Democratic candidates for federal and statewide office typically speak at the steak fry, but the big crowds will be there to see Hillary Clinton in her first Iowa appearance since the January 2008 caucuses. While she's in central Iowa, I would not be surprised to see her do an event for Staci Appel, Democratic nominee in the third Congressional district. Then State Senator Appel appeared at numerous events for for Hillary during 2007.

My opinion hasn't changed regarding Clinton and the 2016 Iowa caucuses: if she runs for president again, she wins here. Vice President Joe Biden and everyone else are far behind in every Iowa poll I've seen. Other presidential hopefuls are waiting in the wings, in case Clinton decides against running, but are in no position to challenge her for the nomination.

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