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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When another strong Congressional candidate missed an Iowa primary ballot

Theresa Greenfield’s failure to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot in Iowa’s third Congressional district was one of the strangest plot twists in our state’s recent political history. With influential endorsers and the funds to compete on television, Greenfield would have been a strong contender to either win the nomination or prevent any candidate from clearing the 35 percent threshold on June 5. EMILY’s List might have stayed out of a race with two pro-choice women in a field of four candidates, rather than spending heavily to help Cindy Axne in the final weeks.

Greenfield’s unsuccessful mad dash to collect a new set of petitions on the last day of the filing period reminded tipster Darrell Hanson of a last-minute scramble to salvage another well-known candidate’s Congressional bid.

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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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Woeful results from Bleeding Heartland's 2018 Iowa primary prediction contest

The results are in for our Iowa primary election prediction contest. Since the first time we played this kind of game in 2008, the Bleeding Heartland community has never done so poorly trying to guess how Iowans would vote.

The errors began when I forgot to include a question about the Republican primary in the fourth Congressional district. Cyndi Hanson raised little money and has rarely been in the news since her unsuccessful challenge to Steve King’s nominating papers. She received about 25 percent of the vote, which surprised me. State Senator Rick Bertrand ran a much more active campaign against King in 2016 and only received about 35 percent in the GOP primary.

On to the results from the ten questions that were part of this year’s contest. You can view all the entries in this comment thread.

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