I haven’t written much about the race in Iowa’s second Congressional district, not because I have anything against Dave Loebsack. I simply don’t consider this race competitive.
IA-02 has a partisan voting index of D+7, meaning that the presidential vote in the last two elections in the district was seven points more Democratic than the national average. That was before Democrats made massive gains in voter registration in Iowa. In 2004 registered Republicans slightly outnumbered Democrats in this state. Now there are about 100,000 more registered Democrats.
Furthermore, Barack Obama is going to win handily in this district and in its population centers (Johnson County and Linn County). John McCain has reportedly shut down his field office in Iowa City.
As if that weren’t enough, Loebsack’s main opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, faced a tough three-way Republican primary that depleted her cash on hand. As of June 30, she had $16,458 in her campaign account, while Loebsack had nearly $470,000 on hand. (The latest round of Federal Election Commission financial reports cover the period through September 30 and are not yet publicly available.)
What has Loebsack been doing with all that campaign cash? I saw on his website that he is running this television commercial:
It’s a fairly standard positive message about what he stands for, without much detail about what he has accomplished. Bleeding Heartland readers in the second district, are you seeing this ad a lot? Have you seen other Loebsack spots on tv? Is he up on the radio? Does he have lots of yard signs out?
Note: Although Loebsack didn’t get help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, I’d like to see him donate at least 10 percent of his cash on hand to the DCCC this fall so that they can get behind more strong challengers.
On the Miller-Meeks campaign website there are several videos on the front page. Two look like positive television spots about the Republican candidate’s background, and one sounds like a 60-second radio ad slamming Loebsack for “not getting the job done.” I’d appreciate comments or private e-mails from second district residents about how visible the Miller-Meeks campaign is in the media.
The great blog about campaigns and elections, Swing State Project, does a weekly roundup of independent expenditures in Congressional races. I noticed in the latest edition that OPHTHPAC, the Political Action Committee of the American Academcy of Ophthalmology, is spending $12,500 on behalf of Miller-Meeks. Has anyone seen or heard these ads, or any other ads by independent groups supporting Miller-Meeks?
Looking at the page on OPHTHPAC at campaignmoney.com, this PAC seems to donate to a large number of incumbents in both parties. I assume they are supporting Miller-Meeks because she is an eye doctor, but I am curious about whether they are promoting her or making a case against Loebsack (and if so what case they are making). They’ve given to dozens of Democratic incumbents this election cycle.
This is an open thread for any comments or observations about the race in IA-02.