Third-party candidates on ballot for all Iowa federal, statewide races (updated)

For the first time, at least one third-party candidate has qualified for every Congressional or statewide office in Iowa. Although third parties haven’t traditionally fared well in Iowa, Libertarians had their best showing ever here in 2016 and have nominated a record number of candidates for this November. Since several U.S. House or statewide races could be very close, even a small percentage of the vote for candidates other than the Democratic or Republican contenders could become significant.

With the filing period for Iowa’s general election ballot closed as of 5:00 pm on August 25, it’s time for an overview of the landscape. The full candidate list is posted on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. UPDATE: John Deeth notes that candidates may have filed on the last day, which wouldn’t be reflected on the version currently posted online. I will update as needed; the key point is that there will be no statewide or Congressional races in Iowa this year with only Republican and Democratic options on the ballot. SECOND UPDATE: The Secretary of State’s office uploaded an amended candidate list on August 27. No new candidates filed for statewide office, but one additional person qualified for the ballot in the fourth Congressional district. Scroll down for further details.

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Iowa Republicans blame horrific murder on immigration policy (updated)

The monthlong search for University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts ended in heartbreak today. Cristhian Bahena Rivera led investigators to the victim’s body in a cornfield. He reportedly confessed to the crime and faces first-degree murder charges.

Because Rivera is from Mexico and has been living in this country without authorization for several years, Iowa’s top Republican elected officials moved quickly to blame Tibbetts’ tragic death on immigration policy.

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Election forecaster moves IA-03 to toss up, IA-04 to likely R

Two of Iowa’s Congressional districts are among the seventeen U.S. House seats where Sabato’s Crystal Ball has adjusted its ratings in favor of Democrats. Until now, the non-partisan election forecaster saw Iowa’s first district (Rod Blum) as a “toss-up” race, IA-03 (David Young) as “lean Republican,” and IA-04 (Steve King) as “safe Republican.”

Today analysts moved Young’s race to “toss-up” and King’s to “likely Republican.”

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IA-03: Five promising signs for Cindy Axne, three for David Young

Two of Iowa’s four Congressional campaigns are among the most competitive U.S. House races in the country. On July 18, the Cook Political Report moved the third district contest from “lean Republican” to “toss up,” saying Democratic challenger Cindy Axne “has developed into a serious threat” to two-term Republican incumbent David Young.

While it’s always been clear IA-03 would be in play this cycle, insiders in both parties and election forecasters have generally seen Young as less vulnerable than GOP Representative Rod Blum. Iowa’s first district has been widely acknowledged as a toss-up race for months. Even now, Young looks better positioned to survive a possible Democratic wave election than Blum.

Here’s why Democrats and Republicans have grounds to feel optimistic about IA-03:

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Interview: Ann Selzer stands by sampling method for primary polls

J. Ann Selzer has earned a reputation as “the best pollster in politics” through “old-school rigor” and not adjusting her data to fit guesses about the structure of the electorate. Des Moines-based Selzer & Co. is one of only five polling firms in the country currently rated A+ by FiveThirtyEight. Like many media pollsters, the firm uses a random digit dial method to find respondents for surveys about a primary or Iowa caucus. Most internal polls commissioned by campaigns draw the sample from a registered voter list, with an emphasis on past participants in either a Democratic or Republican nominating contest.

I sought comment from Selzer on her methodology because of Fred Hubbell’s and Cindy Axne’s unexpectedly large margins of victory in this year’s Iowa Democratic primary. In a telephone interview with Bleeding Heartland last week, Selzer explained why she will stick with her sampling method for future primary elections.

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