Joni Ernst learned the wrong lesson from Chuck Grassley

Senator Joni Ernst shouldn’t be in this position.

Given Iowans’ tendency to re-elect incumbents and the state’s rightward drift this past decade, she should be running ten points ahead.

Instead, Iowa’s Senate race is universally seen as a toss-up. Ernst has led in only two polls released since the June primary. Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield has led in fourteen polls during the same period.

Not all of Ernst’s political problems are her own creation. The COVID-19 pandemic and President Donald Trump’s disastrous leadership have put at risk several GOP-held seats that once seemed safe.

But Ernst could have set herself up better to survive a tough environment for her party. Her most important strategic error was not following the example Chuck Grassley set as a 40-something first-term senator.

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When it comes to the Senate, all roads lead to Iowa

Dan Guild: The Senate incumbent massacre that took place in 1980 seems more relevant to this year’s election with each passing day. -promoted by Laura Belin

It is clear that Iowa (along with North Carolina) is ground zero in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate. With Democratic control of the House almost a certainty given generic ballot polling, and Joe Biden the overwhelming favorite in the presidential race, I think the Iowa Senate campaign is the most important single race in the country. 

Without Iowa, a President Biden will find it difficult to get much accomplished (even if they do get to 50 seats in the Senate). With it, his margin to pass a public option for health insurance and act on climate change becomes much more manageable.

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Top Iowa Republicans dare not distance themselves from Trump

President Donald Trump’s unhinged and at times frightening behavior during his first televised debate “worried” and “alarmed” some of his most influential allies. The next day, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Washington Republicans criticized the president’s failure to condemn white supremacists. Former Republican National Committee chair Marc Racicot even revealed that he had decided to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, after concluding Trump is “dangerous to the existence of the republic as we know it.”

True to form, Iowa Republicans offered no hint of dissent from the president this week. They either said nothing about Trump’s debate performance or put a positive spin on it.

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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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Joni Ernst turned her back on Iowans

Kay Pence is Vice President of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans. -promoted by Laura Belin

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is no longer working for Iowans. She is working at the behest of President Donald Trump, no matter what he says or does. She has become a puppet to Trump no matter how low he sinks, voting with the president more than 91 percent of the time and following his lead to attack our healthcare and defund Social Security.

The Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans recently invited Ernst and her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield to virtual forums celebrating the anniversaries of Medicare and Social Security. I was not surprised when Ernst failed to show up for either forum, because she has such a dismal record on both issues.  

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The Joni Ernst/Chuck Grassley combo in Iowa's U.S. Senate races

Herb Strentz explores rhetoric from Iowa’s 2014 and 2020 U.S. Senate campaigns and finds parallels between our two Republican senators. -promoted by Laura Belin

Labor Day in even-numbered years usually brings more public interest in politics and the final stage of hopeful campaigns for Congress or the presidency.

This time around, many are driven by dread — dread of elections past, and, oh yeah, fears for the one coming on November 3.

Small wonder, given what “We the people” have inflicted upon ourselves.

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