Dan Guild

A worrying headline for Chuck Grassley

The headline certainly caught my attention. “In new Iowa Poll, nearly two-thirds say it’s time for someone new,” the Des Moines Register noted.

Senator Chuck Grassley is 87. Among currently serving senators, only Dianne Feinstein is older (by about two months). The Social Security Administration estimates an 87-year-old has a life expectancy of five years. If re-elected to a six-year term at age 89, Grassley’s odds of dying while in office are significant. It makes sense that many would answer this question this way.

So is Iowa’s senior senator really in trouble?

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A race that ends where it began

Dan Guild: Donald Trump’s presidency is defined by the stability of its unpopularity, and elections with incumbents are defined by perceptions of their job approval. -promoted by Laura Belin

I wrote at Crystal Ball in April that elections with incumbents are defined by perceptions of their job approval. In a post for this site in July, I suggested that Trump’s approval, and the sense across the country that things were out of control, reminded me of the difficulties that Jimmy Carter faced in his re-election.

On the eve of the election I find myself thinking about the parallel to 1980 again.

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Why the Selzer poll may be wrong

Dan Guild argues that Selzer & Co’s latest Iowa survey for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom may be missing a portion of the electorate. -promoted by Laura Belin

Talk to many Democrats about the election, and they will say, “I think Joe Biden is going to win, but the polls were so wrong last time.” There was, though, a notable exception to the list of flawed opinion polls from 2016: Ann Selzer’s final Iowa survey for the Des Moines Register

So when this year’s last Selzer poll shows Donald Trump winning Iowa by 48 percent to 41 percent, and Senator Joni Ernst beating Theresa Greenfield by 46 percent to 42 percent, people take notice. Selzer’s record within the polling community is arguably the best there is. How could she be wrong this time?

And yet, as I will show, I think she is.

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Youth vote could be decisive in Iowa, other states

Dan Guild digs into polling data for clues on how big an opportunity the youth vote represents–not just in Iowa, but in every close race across the county. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the aftermath of 2016, the press focused on a number of reasons for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Rural voters were appropriately at the center of that discussion. Less discussed was what happened with those under age 30.

In the aftermath of that election, I researched the impact of young voters. I found that had Clinton carried the youth vote by the same margin as Barack Obama, she would have won 306 electoral votes.   

Exit poll data on the youth vote isn’t perfect, but even with its limitations, evidence suggests the decline in Democratic support among those between the ages of 18 and 29 was arguably the decisive factor in how Democratic margins declined from 2012 to 2016. 

More than a third of Donald Trump’s margin was made up from defections among those under 30 years of age. In Iowa, he won the youth vote.

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Donald Trump's last, best hope?

Dan Guild: Contrary to the usual dynamic of a debate between an incumbent and challenger, Donald Trump now looks like the risky alternative. -promoted by Laura Belin

To candidates who are behind, debates are “the thing with feathers.”

They offer one last chance to change the trajectory of a race. Historically they have mattered on occasion. In an unusual year, how they might matter is very, very, strange.

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When it comes to the Senate, all roads lead to Iowa

Dan Guild: The Senate incumbent massacre that took place in 1980 seems more relevant to this year’s election with each passing day. -promoted by Laura Belin

It is clear that Iowa (along with North Carolina) is ground zero in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate. With Democratic control of the House almost a certainty given generic ballot polling, and Joe Biden the overwhelming favorite in the presidential race, I think the Iowa Senate campaign is the most important single race in the country. 

Without Iowa, a President Biden will find it difficult to get much accomplished (even if they do get to 50 seats in the Senate). With it, his margin to pass a public option for health insurance and act on climate change becomes much more manageable.

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