Dan Guild

Trump's long shadow and Iowa's pivotal Senate race

Dan Guild has “never seen anything like it. The president so dominates the landscape that senators don’t have a distinct political identity.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Selzer & Co. is out with a new Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom.  It found President Donald Trump tied with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, each supported by 47 percent of likely voters surveyed. 

Iowa is not considered likely to be decisive in the race for the Presidency. But it may be decisive in determining control of the U.S. Senate. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, for example, currently rates only two states as toss-ups: Iowa and North Carolina. Since they predict that the rest of the Senate will split 49-49, the importance of Iowa’s race is clear.

As Brianne Pfannenstiel reported for the Des Moines Register, both sides recognize just how important Iowa is: $155 million has been spent or has been committed to influence the outcome.

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The wrong message at the wrong time

Dan Guild: Donald Trump has positive ratings on handling the economy. But he’s staking his campaign on a “law and order” message. -promoted by Laura Belin

Politics can be as complicated as you like. You can build statistical models to calculate the odds of a candidate winning. Complicated ideological positions can be constructed precisely delineating what is right and wrong.

Most of the time, politics isn’t that complicated.

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Joe Biden got small bounce but has commanding lead

Dan Guild has four takeaways from the first round of presidential polling following the Democratic National Convention. -promoted by Laura Belin

I wrote here frequently in 2016 about conventions and bounces. Four years ago, polling showed that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton received a good bounce from their conventions. Did Joe Biden?

This is the first time since 1964 that we did not have high-quality polling between the conventions. The data, such as it is, shows four things.

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Does a presidential nominee's choice of running mate matter?

Dan Guild sees Joe Biden’s choice as influenced by Bill Clinton’s counter-intuitive but “phenomenally successful” pick for vice president. -promoted by Laura Belin

After weeks of speculation, Joe Biden has made his choice: Kamala Harris. He wasn’t late. As the table below shows, his announcement was actually a little earlier than most by a day or two.

Will it matter? Political scientists have studied the matter and usually concluded no. I think the answer is more nuanced than that. 

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With four months left, Donald Trump follows in Jimmy Carter’s footsteps

Dan Guild continues to explore parallels between this year’s presidential campaign and what unfolded 40 years ago. -promoted by Laura Belin

I wrote in April that President Donald Trump was on the same path that led to the wholesale rejection of Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party in 1980. With each passing day the similarities become stronger.  

U.S. Senate seats once considered safe for Republicans, like Iowa’s, are now dead heats. States that shifted to the Republicans in 2016 (Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio) have moved decisively toward the Democrats. Texas is in play, and this week saw a very good pollster find Joe Biden with a 13-point lead in Pennsylvania.

Two enormous events–the Black Lives Matter protests and the COVID-19 crisis–have upended American politics, just as an oil crisis and a hostage crisis upended politics in 1980. Events seem out of control, as they did in 1980, and like then, the president seems completely out of his depth.

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The ghost of 1980

Based on the latest Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register, Dan Guild wonders whether history will repeat itself, with an unpopular president taking down U.S. senators from his party. -promoted by Laura Belin

The presidential election of 1980 was by far the most important election of my lifetime. It gave power to social conservatives who had never tasted power before (Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were both pro-choice). It also brought to fore and gave explicit expression to white racial resentment when Ronald Reagan spoke of “welfare queens” driving Cadillacs.

The 1980 election changed not only Republican politics (every GOP nominee since has been pro-life) but also Democratic politics. In the aftermath of the Reagan presidency, Democrats began talking about “ending welfare as we know it.” President Bill Clinton signed a major welfare reform bill 45 days before the 1996 election, in which he had a significant lead.

What is difficult to explain to those who have no memory of 1980 is how shocking the results were. It was not just that Reagan won, but that Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in decades. The GOP picked up twelve Senate seats, beating some well-liked Democrats with national reputations.

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