# Jeff Merkley

Terry McAuliffe polling Iowans? Notes on a survey

I encourage activists to take notes on political surveys and share what they’ve heard. Bleeding Heartland user corncam did a great job. -promoted by Laura Belin

We can add one more name to the list of presidential candidates who may compete in the 2020 Iowa caucuses: former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. I completed a phone survey on January 14 that was ostensibly neutral, but I’m pretty sure it was sponsored by McAuliffe. I’ll tell you why below.

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Strange gatekeeping in first Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa caucus poll

A little more than a year before Iowa Democrats will start the process of selecting a challenger to face President Donald Trump, Selzer & Co has polled likely Democratic caucus-goers for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom. Brianne Pfannenstiel wrote up the key findings from the survey of 455 Iowans “who say they will definitely or probably participate in the 2020 Democratic caucuses.”

The toplines were not surprising, but I was baffled by some of the choices on which candidates to include.

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Part 4: How to corrupt Iowa agriculture

Latest deep dive by Tyler Higgs on money in Iowa politics. -promoted by desmoinesdem

There’s nothing more Iowan than farming, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a corrupt politician. Those idyllic Grant Wood images of Iowa farms and hard-working Iowa farmers are being replaced by logos of the Big Ag monopolies that exploit the Iowa family farmer for financial gain. That is how you corrupt Iowa agriculture.

In this article, I will show the finances of both candidates for Iowa secretary of agriculture, Republican Mike Naig and Democrat Tim Gannon. You can decide who is fighting for the family farmer and who is in the pocket of big agribusiness companies.

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Politico calls Rob Sand a "young Robert Mueller"

I wholeheartedly agree with Ed Fallon: grassroots activists are excited about the Democratic candidates for state auditor and secretary of state. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The excitement around November 6 is above and beyond what we normally experience leading up to an off-year election. Coast to coast, young, progressive candidates are fueling that excitement — as is growing discontent over President Trump’s reign of error. Even conservative voters are pulling away from the Tweeter in Chief over his:

— Escalating trade war with China,
— Support for pipelines and fracking,
— Belief that “eminent domain is a wonderful thing,” and
— Lack of a moral compass.

In Iowa, two candidates firing up voters are Rob Sand, running for state auditor, and Deidre DeJear, running for secretary of state. Check out the great story about Rob and Deidre in Politico this week — and the entertaining comparison of Rob to Robert Mueller.

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Interview: What drives Senator Jeff Merkley

“We need to use every tool we have to reclaim our country,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley told me during his latest visit to Des Moines. “We are at the verge of a tipping point, and maybe we’re almost past it, in which the power of the mega-wealthy is so profound that we can’t tip the balance back in to we the people.”

The senator from Oregon spent much of Labor Day weekend in central Iowa supporting Democratic candidates for the state legislature. His fifth trip here since the 2016 election won’t be his last: he will be a featured speaker at the Polk County Steak Fry later this month. During our September 2 interview, I asked Merkley about the most important matters pending in the U.S. Senate, prospects for Democrats in November, and his possible presidential candidacy.

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Grassley to vote no on Bernanke

Senator Chuck Grassley said today he will vote against giving Ben Bernanke another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. According to the Des Moines Register,

“I’ll vote no because of concerns of inflation and a pattern of resistance to accountability,” Grassley said. […]

Grassley dismissed the argument that defeating Bernanke would throw the financial markets off course. […]

“The Fed takes action once a month that affects the stock market,” Grassley added. “And we’re still going to have a Fed chairman. So, what’s the big deal?”

I find it odd that Grassley is concerned primarily about inflation in the current economic environment, and as Bleeding Heartland user PrairieBreezeCheese pointed out, even 1970s-like inflation is very different from the “hyper-inflation” Grassley warned about yesterday. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the only Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee to vote against confirming Bernanke last month, has laid out a stronger case against giving him another term. I am also in rare agreement with Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who has called for all senators to have a chance to review some unpublished Federal Reserve documents before voting on Bernanke’s nomination.

I’ve seen many different “whip counts” on Bernanke. It appears he will have little trouble gaining the support of at least 50 senators, and I doubt his nomination will be filibustered, because some Democrats who plan to vote against confirming him will vote for cloture.

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New thread on national election results and fallout

Jeff Merkley pulled ahead in the Oregon Senate race, which brings the Democrats a sixth seat gained in the upper chamber. (The others were in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado.)

We are headed for a recount in Minnesota, where Norm Coleman leads Al Franken by 0.03 percent of the vote. What is wrong with the 400,000+ people who voted for independent candidate Dean Barkley?

Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted in Alaska, where seven-time convicted felon Ted Stevens has a narrow lead over Mark Begich. They sure like their Republicans in Alaska.

The Georgia Senate race will go to a runoff in December, but Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss has to be heavily favored over Jim Martin.

If I could choose only one of the late-to-be-determined races to win, I would pick Oregon. Merkley has been very effective in the Oregon legislature and is going to be a huge asset to progressives in the Senate. Also, he is likely to have an easier time holding this seat than our candidates would in AK, MN or GA.

There are still a few U.S. House races to be determined. It looks as if Democrats will end up with a net gain of about 19 or 20 seats, which gives them a solid majority of about 250 (there are 435 seats in the House of Representatives).

However, there’s no getting around the fact that many analysts were forecasting Democratic gains of 25 to 30 seats before the election. Republicans have to feel good about protecting most of their incumbents from the Obama wave. The Democrats did not make enough of a case for why a Democratic Congress would be a force for good, and the Republicans may have energized their base with warnings about one-party rule.

As for the presidential race, some of John McCain’s staffers and conservative talking heads are already trying to blame Sarah Palin for dragging down the Republican ticket. They are complaining about her clothes shopping spree and her refusal to accept preparation for her interview with Katie Couric. I agree that Palin hurt McCain, but get real: whose fault is it that such an uninformed, unprepared candidate was on the ticket?

If Fox News goes along with the effort to discredit Palin (and judging from this clip, they will), it will be interesting to see if the network’s ratings decline. Palin now has a loyal following among ideological conservatives who are the core viewers for Fox. If you watch Fox or listen to any right-wing talk radio, post a comment or write a diary about how the various hosts are explaining McCain’s loss. I am curious to see how many parts of the right-wing noise machine try to undermine Palin, and how many will keep encouraging her to run for president in 2012.

Also, if you know Republicans who were active in supporting a presidential candidate this past year, do you think they would stick with that candidate in 2012, or might they prefer Palin?

Looking to the future on the Democratic side, Clinton White House staffer Mike Lux explains what’s wrong with the conventional wisdom about Clinton’s so-called “overreaching” in 1993 and 1994.

Early analysis of the presidential voting is already appearing. Obama did better than Al Gore or John Kerry among protestants and evangelicals, including frequent church-goers.

At Swing State Project, Crisitunity has already calculated the new partisan voting indices for all 50 states, taking into account the 2008 election results. The partisan voting index looks at the popular vote in each state from the last two presidential elections, and compares that to the nationwide popular vote. So, in a state that is R+5, the share of the vote garnered by Bush in 2004 and McCain this year is about five percent higher than the share of the national popular vote Bush and McCain received.

Although Obama did substantially better than Al Gore and John Kerry in many states, he also outperformed those candidates in the national popular vote. The result is that the change in partisan voting index is minimal for most states. Crisitunity explains,

In most people’s minds, this was a sea change election, a total map-changer… but if you look closely at the underlying data and not just the colors on the TV screen, it wasn’t. Most of the states behaved exactly as you’d expect them to, coming in a few points more Democratic in a year where the Democratic candidate performed a few points better than the previous few Democratic candidates. In other words, most states’ boats were lifted the same amount by the one overall rising blue tide.

There were some big shifts and drops, though; where were they? The states where the PVI most notably shifted to the Democrats were Colorado (+3), Hawaii (+6), Indiana (+3), Montana (+4), Nevada (+3), New Mexico (+3), North Dakota (+3), South Dakota (+3), and Vermont (+5). With the exception of Hawaii (favorite son effect) and Vermont (large 2000 Nader effect falling out of the equation), the explanation for these states seems to be a combination of two factors: Obama’s greater appeal (maybe personality-wise more so than policy-wise) to midwestern and western states, and the fact that the Obama campaign actually put a lot of ground game effort into these states instead of treating them as an afterthought.

Based on the 2000 and 2004 presidential election results, Iowa had a partisan voting index of D+0, meaning the state as a whole closely mirrored nationwide popular voting for president. Dropping the 2000 numbers and adding the 2008 results, Crisitunity calculated a PVI of D+1 for Iowa, meaning our state has a very slight Democratic tilt compared to the national electorate.

This is an open thread for any thoughts you have about the election or anything interesting you’ve read lately about the results.

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What to do when you don't care for your party's nominee

In yesterday’s thread on the race between Dave Loebsack and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, secondtonone referred to the fact that a right-wing Republican group put Miller-Meeks on their “Wall of Shame.”

I assumed that this was related to bad blood from the hard-fought Republican primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district, but a commenter claiming to be a member of that group posted the following:

We would have included anyone from that race on the Wall of Shame. There was no candidate that we could have supported in that race. They all left us wanting. What do you do when it is a trio of unsatisfactory candidates?

It’s a good question, and not just a theoretical one for many of us who follow politics closely. On several occasions I have not been thrilled with any of the candidates in a Democratic primary. Many more times I have volunteered for a primary campaign, only to have a different candidate win the nomination.

What is the best way to handle this situation?

One of my dad’s favorite expressions was, “There is more than one right way,” and I think that fits the bill here.

Many people become active supporters of their party’s nominee. Regular Bleeding Heartland commenter lorih has been out knocking on doors for Barack Obama, even though she strongly preferred Hillary Clinton for president. Bleeding Heartland user secondtonone is supporting Becky Greenwald for Congress, despite having backed William Meyers in the fourth district primary.

A group of bloggers who supported Clinton created the “Clintonistas for Obama” blog, where they write regularly about the race. This group includes a few people who preferred two candidates to Obama–first John Edwards, and then Clinton after Edwards dropped out of the race.

Angry Mouse, who was a tireless and often lonely advocate for Clinton at Daily Kos during the primaries, now writes occasional diaries supporting Obama at that blog.

Another approach is to vote for the nominee you don’t care for, but focus your energy on other candidates you can support wholeheartedly. Anyone who’s been reading this blog since the spring will be aware that I am not satisfied with the representation I get from Congressman Leonard Boswell. Since he defeated Ed Fallon in the third district primary, I have mostly ignored him. Because I want the Democrats to have a large majority in Congress, I will vote for Boswell in November, as will just about every Fallon voter I know. (A few may leave that line of their ballot blank.) But I see no reason to keep re-fighting the third-district primary, even though many of the attacks on Fallon from the Boswell camp were ridiculous.

Obama’s not my favorite politician either, to put it mildly, so I decided to volunteer for down-ticket candidates in Iowa.

The blogger RDemocrat  has also focused his political energy in a constructive way since John Edwards left the presidential race. RDemocrat isn’t a fan of Obama but has spent many hours volunteering for Heather Ryan, the Democratic candidate in Kentucky’s first Congressional district.

Tough primaries are a fact of life. If you think Iowa saw some bruising ones this spring, you should have seen the battle between Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Oregon. Merkley won that race narrowly, and I think he’s a fantastic candidate, but many Oregon-based bloggers preferred Novick.

Are those activists spending their time taking pot-shots at Merkley? No, if you read the Democratic community blogs Loaded Orygun and Blue Oregon, you will see that they are putting their political energy to use in other ways. Here’s an example of a post in which a Novick supporter gives Merkley some credit, even though he isn’t a big fan of the candidate.

Incidentally, Novick himself has gone above and beyond the call of duty, strongly supporting Merkley’s general election campaign despite what must have been a very disappointing loss in the primary. I remember that Paul Hackett was not nearly as gracious after Sherrod Brown defeated him in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio two years ago.

By the same token, Hillary Clinton has been out stumping for Obama in key states like Ohio and Florida and has raised about $8 million for Obama’s campaign, even as she tries to retire her own campaign debts.

If you dislike your party’s nominee and you can’t find a different candidate you strongly support, I advise you to get involved with a non-profit organization. So many groups can use a few good volunteers, and no matter where you live, I’m sure there is some cause worth your time.

Getting back to the question at the top of this post, what is a voter to do if all of his or her party’s candidates are unacceptable? Some people might vote for a third-party candidate, as Ron Paul is asking his supporters to do in the presidential election.

My preference is to vote for the least-bad candidate if it’s a primary election. If it’s a general election, I usually hold my nose and vote for the Democrat despite my personal feelings. Only on very rare occasions have I written in someone’s name or voted for a third-party candidate rather than for the Democratic nominee.

Use this thread to share thoughts and suggestions for voters who are disappointed in their party’s nominee.

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How demoralized are the Republicans?

Very demoralized, judging by Steve King’s latest comments to the press:

Iowa 5th District Congressman Steve King said a lack of enthusiasm in the Republican Party will make it difficult for the GOP to regain control of the U.S. House.

Democrats wrested control from Republicans in November 2006, putting lawmakers who had only known serving in the majority into the minority. King said Monday he’s doubtful the House, which now has 236 Democrats and 199 Republicans, can swing back.

“The math doesn’t look good,” King said.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Republican turnout in King’s own district this November is substantially down on 2004 levels, because John McCain has never been popular with hard-core conservatives.

Less than a week remains in the second fundraising quarter–go give some cash to Rob Hubler, who is challenging King.

So the U.S. House races don’t look great for Republicans. What about the Senate?

Well, Senator John Ensign of Nevada chairs the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and he said two weeks ago that losing only three Senate seats “would be a terrific night for us, absolutely.” He added that Barack Obama is likely to help Democratic challengers in some states, such as Oregon.

Apparently Republican Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon agrees. This commercial tells you a lot about how Smith views the political climate:

Keep in mind that Smith endorsed John McCain early in the presidential contest. Yet clearly Smith believes that in Oregon, the less said about McCain, the better for his own re-election prospects.

Several bloggers have pointed out that this ad is misleading, since it implies that Obama has somehow endorsed Smith. Of course, Obama is solidly behind Smith’s Democratic opponent, Jeff Merkley.

Moreover, this commercial’s claim that Smith “helped lead the fight for a cleaner environment” is not supported by his voting record. Sarah Lane, netroots coordinator for Merkley, notes that Smith has a 29 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

It’s not the first time Smith has tried to run away from the Republican Party in this campaign. This earlier tv ad portrayed him as someone who has stood up to President George Bush. I don’t think voters are going to buy this makeover.

If you want to follow the House and Senate races across the country, bookmark this page to read the frequent roundups by Daily Kos front-pager brownsox.

Getting back to our state, leading Iowa Republicans have been pessimistic about the coming election for months. The low turnout in the GOP primary races on June 3 can’t be encouraging for them.

Find a few statehouse candidates you believe in and give them money before June 30. Strong fundraising in the second quarter will help the candidates both directly and indirectly (by driving the media narrative about greater Democratic enthusiasm this year).

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