If Rod Blum tanks, how many Iowa House Republicans will he take with him?

A New York Times poll of Iowa’s first Congressional district this week found Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer leading two-term Representative Rod Blum by 51.5 percent to 37 percent. Finkenauer led by double digits in every turnout model the pollsters applied to the raw data. Blum’s favorability of 35 percent was even lower than President Donald Trump’s 39 percent approval rating among respondents.

As national Republican strategists and GOP-aligned advocacy groups write off Blum and election forecasters increasingly view IA-01 as a probable Democratic pickup, I’ve been thinking about how a Blum implosion could affect down-ballot Republicans. With no straight-ticket option for Iowa voters this year, coat-tails may be less important than they were in the past. Nevertheless, it can’t be good for GOP legislative candidates that Finkenauer’s campaign has had field organizers working across the district for at least six months to identify and turn out supporters.

Democrats need a net gain of ten Iowa House seats to win a majority in the lower chamber (currently split 59 R/41 D). At least eight potentially competitive GOP-held state House districts are located within the first Congressional district.

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Five ways ending straight-ticket voting could affect Iowa's 2018 election

For the first time in living memory, Iowans will not have the option of filling in one oval to vote a straight ticket for a political party in this year’s general election. Republicans eliminated straight-ticket voting here in 2017, as GOP legislators have done in several other states in recent years. The more publicized provisions of Iowa’s new law, on voter ID and signature verification, will benefit Republicans by creating obstacles for eligible voters in groups that tend to favor Democrats (people with lower incomes, college students, racial minorities, and senior citizens).

By contrast, the impact of eliminating straight-ticket voting is less clear. More Iowans filled in the Republican oval than the Democratic one in the 2014 election, the only midterm for which such statistics are available.

One thing is for sure:

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Iowa Republicans left many Democratic lawmakers unchallenged

The Republican Party is not fielding a candidate in more than two dozen Democratic-controlled Iowa House or Senate districts, while Democrats have left only seven GOP-held legislative seats uncontested. The disparity in party strategies is a departure from the last midterm election, when each party failed to nominate a candidate in more than two dozen state House districts alone.

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What to do if you get push-polled or message-tested (2018 edition)

Revised from a Bleeding Heartland post first published ten years ago.

Republicans have polls in the field this week testing negative statements about Democrats and praise for their GOP opponents in targeted Iowa House races. Two years ago, similar surveys informed talking points used for Republican-funded direct mail or other kinds of advertising.

Activists often become angry when they hear biased or misleading claims about candidates they support. But if you want to help Democrats win elections, my number one piece of advice is do not hang up the phone.

Do not hang up the moment you hear an automated voice on the other end.

Do not hang up the moment you are asked to participate in a brief survey.

Do not hang up the moment you realize that the poll is asking skewed questions about your candidate.

Stay on the line and either start recording or grab a pen and paper.

Follow me after the jump for further instructions.

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Part 2: How to corrupt the Iowa House

Second in a series by Tyler Higgs, an activist and former candidate for Waukee school board. He previously explored how to corrupt a school district. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Let’s say that you are a shady politician, and you want to take a whole lot of money from one source. Normally, campaign laws would require you to disclose your donor’s name, which could be problematic or politically damaging. Here’s how you can get around the laws:

    1. Have your shady donor(s) hire an attorney to create a Limited Liability Company (LLC). That way, the business isn’t in the donor’s name and can’t be traced back to them.

    2. Have your shady donor(s) put their money into the the LLC.

    3. Accept all the money you want from the LLC. It doesn’t have to disclose who donated!

    4. Hope your donor doesn’t send threats to people, exposing who they are.

A similar process seems to have occurred in Waukee.

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Democrats will get outspent in Iowa House races again. Here's why

Democrats have opportunities to make big gains in the Iowa House this year. Thirteen of the 59 Republican-held seats in the lower chamber are open. A number of Democratic challengers have done well on fundraising, in some cases even out-raising the GOP incumbents in their districts. The past year’s special elections for Iowa House seats suggest that Democratic turnout may be much higher than the level seen in Iowa’s last two midterms, thanks to extreme laws enacted by statehouse Republicans and an unpopular president in Washington.

But winning a state legislative race often requires more than a favorable political environment. Bleeding Heartland observed in February that “the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.”

Unfortunately, the latest fundraising numbers tell the same old story.

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