IA-04: Don't bet on Steve King losing his 2020 primary (updated)

U.S. Representative Steve King kicks off a series of public meetings this weekend with an event in O’Brien County. He hasn’t held this kind of town hall in a long time. The newfound commitment to showing up for constituents indicates that King was shaken up by his narrow victory over J.D. Scholten in November. He also faces growing discontent in Republican circles, both in Iowa (where he faces multiple primary challengers) and in Washington, D.C. (where he lost his House committee assignments).

Some commentators have speculated that residents of the fourth Congressional district are ready to move on to a representative with less baggage. For my money, the only way King won’t be the 2020 nominee is if GOP insiders somehow convince him not to seek a tenth term.

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The 18 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2018

Sometimes I feel nostalgic for my “past life” covering Russian politics. Social media didn’t exist, and my colleagues and I had no information about which articles most interested our readers. Potential for clicks or shares didn’t factor into our story selection. We wrote up what seemed important to us.

On any given day, a half-dozen or more newsworthy Iowa politics stories present themselves, but I only have the capacity to cover one or two. I look for ways to add value: can I highlight events not covered elsewhere? Can I offer a different perspective or more context on the story everyone’s talking about?

Although chasing traffic will never be my primary goal, doing this for more than a decade has given me a decent sense of which topics will strike a chord with readers. But you never really know. Just like last year and the year before that, surprises lurked in the traffic numbers on Bleeding Heartland posts published during 2018 (353 written by me, 202 by other authors).

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IA-04: Five reasons Steve King could be in trouble

The Cook Political Report changed its rating on Iowa’s fourth Congressional district today from “likely” to “lean” Republican. Although eight-term U.S. Representative Steve King carried this R+11 district by more than 20 points in 2016, several factors make a winning path for Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten seem more plausible than a few months ago, when forecasters moved IA-04 from “safe” to “likely” Republican.

Change Research announced last night that its new survey showed King leading Scholten by just 45 percent to 44 percent. The incumbent quickly released results from an internal poll by WPA Intelligence, showing King ahead by 52 percent to 34 percent, with 11 percent undecided and 3 percent inclined to support a third-party candidate.

FiveThirtyEight.com still gives King a 5 in 6 chance of winning a ninth term, but he could have set himself up much better for next Tuesday. Consider:

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IA-04: What needs to happen for J.D. Scholten to beat Steve King

Representative Steve King is making national news again, this time for re-tweeting a neo-Nazi British politician. King’s long had a thing for European right-wingers who stir up racist fear about non-white immigration. As usual, no House Republicans are calling for King to resign, nor has any prominent Iowa Republican denounced the sentiments. King repeated his warning about immigration this morning.

J.D. Scholten won the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district convincingly with 51 percent of the vote in a three-way field. He will be the underdog in November. All the major election forecasters rate this district as safe for Republicans, since King won more than 60 percent of the vote in 2014 and 2016.

On the other hand, a few months ago, a Democrat won a special election in a Pennsylvania U.S. House district with a partisan voting index of R+11–the same as IA-04. More recently, a Republican barely won a special election in an R+13 Arizona House district.

Here’s what Scholten needs to pull off what would be a huge upset:

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