U.S. House and Senate race discussion thread

It’s time for another discussion thread on any competitive U.S. House and Senate races. More detailed posts about the four Iowa Congressional districts are in progress, but after the jump I’ve posted the latest information on independent expenditures for and against the major-party candidates. Bleeding Heartland covered the third-quarter financial reports for the Iowa Congressional candidates here. Early voting totals for each of the four Congressional districts are here.

I’ve also added a few links on U.S. Senate races around the country. I’m amazed that Democrats still appear to be favorites to hold a small Senate majority. For me that has been one of the most surprising political stories of the year. Republicans could still win a majority, but they would have to run the table in the tossup races.


The National Republican Congressional Committee ran commercials against Bruce Braley this fall, but they stopped spending money in IA-01 in late September.

In contrast to the 2010 campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has not gone up on television to attack Braley’s challenger.

The American Future Fund reported more spending in mid-October on direct mail attacking Braley, but the 501(c)4 group’s involvement here is small compared to two years ago.

The American College of Radiology Association Political Action Committee is spending some money on mail supporting Braley.

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action and the National Right to Life Political Action Committee are spending some money on mail supporting Braley’s challenger Ben Lange.


The NRCC spent more here than in IA-01, but they cut off their anti-Loebsack tv ads earlier this month. The Cook Political Report recently changed its rating on IA-02 from “lean Democratic” to “likely Democratic,” noting that “Loebsack looks to have regained a strong upper hand in this race.” Similarly, Stuart Rothenberg removed IA-02 from his “upset watch list.”

“Some folks (Democrats and Republicans) might put Rep. Dave Loebsack (D) in Iowa’s 2nd on the list, and his race bears watching. But what I’ve seen so far in polling doesn’t currently justify putting challenger John Archer (R) on the list of potential upset winners.”

Few outside groups have gotten involved in this campaign. The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action and the National Right to Life Political Action Committee are both doing mailings for Archer.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran a couple of tv ads in 2010 attacking Loebsack’s challenger but has not gone up on the air in IA-02 this year.


Many groups have been polling this district, and judging from the independent expenditure reports, it’s still a tight race between incumbents Tom Latham and Leonard Boswell. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee continues to spend money on television commercials against Latham in the Des Moines and Omaha markets. The House Majority PAC has also spent more money this week on anti-Latham radio and tv ads. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund has a small radio buy against Latham’s position on Medicare.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is no longer up on television in IA-03, but the Congressional Leadership Fund and Karl Rove’s group Crossroads GPS have dropped more money on anti-Boswell tv ads during the past week.

The PAC of the Credit Union National Association and the Faith Family Freedom Fund are both running radio commercials supporting Latham. The National Right to Life Action Committee reported some spending on postage for Latham this week too.

Notably, the National Rifle Association is not spending money in IA-03. Boswell is one of the Congressional Democrats who consistently gets an “A” grade from the NRA.


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pulled its ad buy in IA-04 earlier this month, and the National Republican Congressional Committee also stopped spending money here. However, the race between Representative Steve King and former First Lady Christie Vilsack continues to draw outside spending by many groups. Since mid-October, the following independent expenditures in IA-04 have been reported to the FEC:

America’s Road Ahead Fund is spending money on direct mail supporting King. The Faith Family Freedom Fund made a small radio buy supporting King. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action is paying for phone calls and mail supporting King, and the National Right to Life Political Action Committee continues to spend money on pro-King direct mail.

CREDO Super-PAC is still employing staff who are working to defeat King. The Humane Society Legislative Fund is phone banking and advertising against King. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund put up a small radio buy against King’s position on Medicare. Planned Parenthood Votes is doing “persuasion phone calls” against King, and Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa is paying for direct mail against King.

The PAC of the Credit Union National Association is spending money on radio commercials and direct mail supporting Vilsack. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is spending some money on staff time supporting Vilsack, and Planned Parenthood Votes is doing “persuasion phone calls” for Vilsack.

The National Federation of Independent Business is running anti-Vilsack tv ads.

U.S. Senate races

Good news for Republicans: polls have tightened up in Wisconsin and Virginia, where Democratic candidates were favored a few weeks ago. Connecticut is not out of reach for the GOP either.

Good news for Democrats: their candidates are still hanging in there in Montana and North Dakota, which at one time looked like strong pickups for the GOP. Early voting numbers are strong in Nevada. Jon Ralston still considers Republican Dean Heller the favorite, but says “the [voter] registration surge by the Democrats has to worry him.”

In Indiana, tea party Republican Richard Mourdock has led Democrat Joe Donnelly in most polls, but Mourdock may have hurt himself with these comments during a debate on October 23.

Defending his stance that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, Mourdock explained that pregnancy resulting from nonconsensual sex is the will of God.

“I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

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  • Races

    Loebsack will win his race.  I will be voting for him for the first time in 2012.  The ad about John Deere that he got so much flack about is actually my biggest reason for supporting him.  

    No one should be surprised that Murdock said this stuff.  The Libertarian candidate in the race egged him on in both debates that I saw to stand by his principles more.  Murdock did play the Richard Lugar card here and I do think it will close the deal.

    Who would have guessed that Sherrod Brown would still be in the U.S. Senate in 2013 (more than likely) and Dick Lugar would no longer be there.  

    Dean Heller just doesn’t seem to offend people enough in order for Berkley to get closer or close the deal.  

    Carmona’s got a little Joe Biden in him.  The GOP always complains about the fact that we are too PC and then we give them candidates like Biden, Webb, Carmona etc. and they start screaming about sexism and bigotry.  

    • Reid outperformed

      his polling in 2010. Monumental Democratic GOTV is Berkley’s only chance in Nevada. Not likely, but possible.

      Sherrod Brown has talent, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. He is fortunate he wasn’t up for re-election in 2010 (just like Tom Harkin was lucky not to be up for re-election in 1994).

      Archer doesn’t have much going for him that I can see. I think Dolan could have given Loebsack a tougher race in IA-02.