# IA-SEN



Iowa Democrats face bigger challenges than voter registration numbers

Top Iowa Republicans crowed this month when the state’s official figures showed the GOP had expanded its voter registration lead over Democrats. At this point in the 2018 election cycle, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats in Iowa by around 24,000. The current disparity is more than three times as large. According to the latest numbers released by the Secretary of State’s office, Iowa has 681,871 active registered Republicans, 597,120 Democrats, and 555,988 no-party voters.

The voter registration totals should concern Democrats, but two other trends facing the party’s candidates in this midterm election should worry them more.

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Can Chuck Grassley really lose?

Dan Guild is a lawyer and project manager who lives in New Hampshire. In addition to writing for Bleeding Heartland, he has written for CNN and Sabato’s Crystal Ball. He also contributed to the Washington Post’s 2020 primary simulations. Follow him on Twitter @dcg1114.

Asking if Senator Chuck Grassley could lose seems absurd. He has received more than 60 percent of the vote every time he has been up for re-election, beginning in 1986. He represents the opposition party at a time when President Joe Biden’s approval rating is below 40 percent.

The Des Moines Register has not released Biden’s approval numbers for their latest Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co, but in March they found Biden’s approval in Iowa was 35 percent, with 59 percent of respondents disapproving. Given the national trends, it is unlikely that the president’s numbers have improved in Iowa since then. Moreover, Republicans have made big gains in Iowa since President Barack Obama carried the state in 2012.

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How close are Iowa's races for Senate, governor?

If you listen to leading national forecasters, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Kim Reynolds are in no danger of losing this November. Inside Elections, the Cook Political Report, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball all put Iowa’s elections for Senate and governor in the “solid” or “safe” Republican category.

But last week, Mike Franken’s Senate campaign released partial results from an internal poll showing the Democrat within striking distance of Grassley. And the only poll of the governor’s race released this year showed Reynolds ahead of Democrat Deidre DeJear by just 8 points.

In past election cycles, media organizations commissioned more frequent political surveys. For instance, Survey USA tracked approval ratings for Iowa’s senators and governor on a monthly basis during the 2000s.

Unfortunately, polling has been another casualty of newsroom budget cuts. While campaign coverage should not focus excessively on the horse race, occasional independent snapshots of public opinion are important. Otherwise conventional wisdom can lead to genuinely competitive races being overlooked.

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What went right for Mike Franken and wrong for Abby Finkenauer

Retired Admiral Mike Franken decisively won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate on June 7, taking about 55 percent of the vote to 40 percent for former U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer and just under 5 percent for Dr. Glenn Hurst.

The nominee will face Senator Chuck Grassley, who defeated GOP challenger Jim Carlin by 73.5 percent to 26.5 percent.

While Franken appeared to have momentum in recent weeks, Iowa politics watchers weren’t expecting this margin of victory in the Senate race. Several factors were working in the winner’s favor and against Finkenauer as the primary approached.

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The answer: Admiral Mike Franken

Charlie Hodges is a Democratic activist in Polk County.

The first time I met Vice Admiral Michael Franken, we were both set to speak at an Urbandale Area Democrats meeting during the 2020 election cycle. Mike was running in the primary to face Senator Joni Ernst, and I was briefly dipping my toe into state politics (side note: don’t run for office based on an ideological binge).

Mike went first and captured my attention immediately. He exudes a calm and genuine demeanor, and every idea and policy proposal is well thought out. I asked him about gun control, which a lot of Democratic candidates wouldn’t touch publicly when I asked. Mike not only said he was in favor of common-sense gun laws, but also had (as I have now come to expect) a detailed proposal. I was extremely impressed.

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