Republicans are worried about Iowa Senate district 30, with good reason

Voters in Cedar Falls, Hudson, and part of Waterloo will elect a new state senator on March 19. Three candidates are on the ballot for Iowa Senate district 30: Republican Walt Rogers, Democrat Eric Giddens, and Libertarian Fred Perryman.

Republicans took some advantages into this campaign, which is on a shortened timetable because Senator Jeff Danielson resigned during the legislative session. Rogers was better-known than Giddens, and Governor Kim Reynolds scheduled the vote during spring break for the University of Northern Iowa and Cedar Falls public schools, when many people in Democratic-leaning constituencies would likely be out of town.

But since Bleeding Heartland previewed this race in late February, Giddens has emerged as the favorite. Republicans tacitly acknowledged their weaknesses by launching a second over-the-top negative television commercial on March 15, rather than closing on what was supposed to be Rogers’ selling point: giving Black Hawk County and UNI a voice in the Iowa Senate majority caucus.

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On polling eleven months before the Iowa caucuses

Valuable historical perspective from Dan Guild on the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom. -promoted by Laura Belin

If you know something about the history of the Iowa caucuses, you know three things:

1. Most people don’t really make up their minds until the last month, and often until the last week. Just before the 2016 caucuses, I wrote a post here called “Front runners beware,” which turned out to be fairly accurate.

2. But. BUT. – Iowa caucus polls are consumed like some sort of smartphone app you just can’t put down. You know it isn’t good for you. BUT it HAS to mean something, right? Isn’t the best prediction of what people do in elections is what they say the will do know.

3. And when it is the Des Moines Register poll, people listen. It’s a bit like the old Merrill Lynch television commercial: When Ann Selzer talks, people REALLY listen.

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Steve Bullock's testing these messages among Iowa Democrats

Although Montana Governor Steve Bullock has not yet declared plans to run for president, a group supporting his ambitions has been polling Iowa Democrats to test positive messages about Bullock and several other declared or likely contenders.

I’ve long encouraged readers to record or take notes on political surveys. This post draws on a recording an Iowan provided after receiving the call on the evening of March 7. (Bleeding Heartland never provides identifying information about respondents; I’m only interested in the questions asked.)

The latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom found Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders well ahead of the rest of the Democratic field in Iowa, with 27 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Bullock was among several candidates at 1 percent. Later today, Bleeding Heartland will publish analysis by Dan Guild, taking a historical view of polling this far out from the Iowa caucuses.

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Dead reckoning

Gary Kroeger, who endorsed Bernie Sanders before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, challenges some conventional wisdom in progressive Democratic circles. -promoted by Laura Belin

“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

I use that Mark Twain quote quite often. The “wisdom” is what is necessary if we are to extract the truth from an event, but that wisdom is often hard to find. I thought of this as former Vice President Joe Biden was dismissed the other day in a CNN focus group of Democrats.

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Does “electability” matter?

Dan Guild reviews past polling data for clues on how Democratic voters will pick a favorite presidential contender. -promoted by Laura Belin

“I am for him/her because they can win”. I have been active in New Hampshire and Iowa presidential primary politics for over 30 years. In that time I have found if you ask someone why they are for a candidate, likely as not they will say “because they can win.” The press mirrors this and will write often about which contender is “electable”.

I am skeptical electability is ever decisive.

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First thoughts on Elizabeth Warren's prospects in Iowa

In the two weeks it’s taken me to collect my thoughts on U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s first swing through Iowa, three four more Democrats launched presidential campaigns (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard). More than a dozen people will seek the Democratic nomination in 2020, and eight of them will have visited Iowa this month alone.

Tracking such a large field presents challenges. Bleeding Heartland has already profiled some candidates and their pitches, including U.S. Representative John Delaney and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. I have posts in progress about most of the others. My intention is to write at least one in-depth piece about every serious contender, for the benefit of caucus-goers who want to research all options. With such a strong field, I expect the majority of Iowa Democrats to be late deciders this cycle, myself included.

I’ve transcribed below extensive portions of Warren’s stump speech and Q&A in Des Moines and Ankeny, and also enclosed audio clips for those who would rather listen than read. First, a few of my takeaways:

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