Obama's caucus victory 10 years later: A look back in photos

Many thanks to Jordan Oster, a public affairs consultant and clean energy advocate from Des Moines, for this review of a remarkable Iowa caucus campaign. -promoted by desmoinesdem

January 3 marked the tenth anniversary of Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 Iowa Democratic Precinct Caucuses.

Like a number of supporters and former staffers, I took to social media earlier this week to share photos and memories from his campaign. You can check out the full Twitter thread here.

As this anniversary approached, I began to gather photos and recollections of the Obama campaign. The Iowa caucuses have long captivated me, and I have tried to do my part to preserve and keep its unique history alive. A camera is usually a required accessory when I attend presidential events, and I have filled many memory cards with photos of presidential candidates since I first got involved with campaigns in 2003.

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Weekend open thread: Final Iowa polls and last-minute GOTV edition

No need to ask what’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers. Three days from now, this election will be over except for the recounts. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have released their closing arguments to television viewers. Clinton’s 60-second ad “Roar” is a lot more upbeat than Trump’s two-minute “Argument for America.” UPDATED to add: the Trump commercial pushes some anti-Semitic buttons.

Nearly 600,000 Iowans have already voted. I enclose below the latest absentee ballot figures, as of today and at the same point in the 2012 campaign. The Democratic lead in ballots received by county auditors stands at 41,881. On the Saturday before election day 2012, Democrats had banked 65,099 more votes than Republicans.

The Des Moines Register released toplines from Selzer & Co’s final Iowa poll of the year a few minutes ago. It’s not good news for Democrats: Trump leads Clinton by 46 percent to 39 percent, with 6 percent supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson and 1 percent the Green Party’s Jill Stein. Last month’s Selzer poll showed Trump 4 points ahead.

The latest surveys from Simpson College/RABA Research and Emerson College both showed Trump leading Clinton by 44 percent to 41 percent in a field including multiple candidates.

Loras College in Dubuque released its final Iowa poll earlier today: Clinton 44 percent, Trump 43 percent, Johnson and Stein 3 percent each, and 7 percent undecided. Loras found a 10-point advantage for Trump (47-37) among respondents who said they had not yet voted. Clinton’s net favorability (-8) was substantially better than Trump’s (-36). I enclose below excerpts from the Loras polling memo and Jason Noble’s write-up of the Selzer poll in the Des Moines Register. I’ll update later with more details as the Register publishes further results.

Lots of pundits have written off Iowa already, given the demographics that favor Trump (a mostly white population, older than in other swing states and with a relatively small proportion of college graduates). Clinton’s campaign is working GOTV hard. A field office near you could use your help these last few days. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers on the phone or at the doorstep, you can bring food to campaign staff and volunteers, or offer to be a poll watcher on election day.

I can’t remember more perfect weather for canvassing the weekend before a general election. For those planning to hit the doors tomorrow, Monday, or Tuesday, here are my best tips and pointers from superstar volunteer Laura Hubka, the Howard County Democratic Party chair.

Some GOTV “scripts” are geared toward voters already identified as supporters of Democratic candidates. These people don’t need persuading. Volunteers will remind them of their polling place location and opening times and will ask for their plan to vote. Research has shown that when people articulate their plan (for instance, before work or after dropping the kids off at school), they are more likely to follow through and cast a ballot. Clinton’s campaign has an online tool for voters and hilarious YouTube video of Joe Biden (enclosed below) on why making a plan “is like the whole secret of life.”

All 99 county auditors’ offices will be open for early voting in person on Monday, November 7, from 8 am to 5 pm.

Important reminders for absentee voters who have not yet mailed back their ballots: late-arriving absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 7 in order to be counted. Post offices no longer routinely attach postmarks, so either 1) take your ballot to a post office on Monday and request a postmark, 2) hand-deliver your ballot to your county auditor’s office by 9 pm on November 8, or 3) ask a campaign volunteer to pick up your completed ballot so it can be hand-delivered on time.

Make sure to follow instructions carefully: fill in ovals completely, seal the marked ballot in the secrecy envelope, seal that envelope inside the affidavit envelope, and sign and seal the affidavit envelope.

If you’ve changed your mind about voting absentee, bring your unmarked ballot to your regular polling place on November 8, so you can “surrender” it and receive a regular ballot. If you don’t have your absentee ballot with you, poll workers will make you fill out a provisional ballot instead.

Final note: political junkies can enter Bleeding Heartland’s Iowa election prediction contest by posting a comment in this thread before 7 am on November 8.

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Weekend open thread: Top moments from the DNC in Philadelphia

Last weekend, when internal Democratic National Committee correspondence published by Wikileaks was all over the media, and Hillary Clinton inexplicably reacted to the scandal by giving outgoing DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz an honorary role in her campaign, I feared the worst. Would Democrats fail to clear the very low bar Republicans set at their “disastrous” convention in Cleveland?

The DNC turned out to be the best I’ve ever seen, and I’m not alone in that assessment. I’ll be surprised if Clinton doesn’t get a substantial boost in the next few days’ polling. Who knows whether this year’s race will conform to trends Dan Guild described in his deep dive into the history of convention bounces. But I’m with Steven Mazie: if Clinton loses to Trump in November, it won’t be because of anything that happened in Philadelphia.

In a week with many good speeches, First Lady Michelle Obama’s was the highlight for me. So well-crafted, so well-delivered. The full video is after the jump, along with some other notable prime-time DNC appearances.

This is an open thread, so all topics are welcome. But please share your own favorite moments from the DNC.

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Weekend open thread: Trade-offs

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Prestage Farms didn’t get the incentives package it wanted from Mason City, but the company is actively seeking other communities in Iowa willing to offer tax breaks in exchange for a $240 million pork processing plant. Unfortunately, the construction of that and other proposed new plants “could push some older plants in Iowa and Nebraska to close,” Donnelle Eller reported for the Des Moines Register on Friday. I assume Governor Terry Branstad’s administration will count the jobs created in the new facilities but not the jobs lost if and when plants close if Perry (Dallas County), Columbus Junction (Louisa County), and Denison (Crawford County).

According to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice, white males comprise about 37.5 percent of the U.S. population but 66 percent of appellate state court judges. Currently five men (four white, one Asian-American) and four women (three white, one Asian-American) serve on the Iowa Court of Appeals. All seven Iowa Supreme Court justices have been white men since 2011. No non-white judges have ever served on our state’s high court, and only two women have done so. Governor Terry Branstad appointed Linda Neuman to the Supreme Court in 1986; she served until her retirement in 2003. Branstad appointed Marsha Ternus in 1993; she became chief justice in 2006, an office she held until Iowans voted against retaining her and two other justices in 2010.

Following those retention elections, the State Judicial Nominating Commission recommended nine candidates to fill the three Supreme Court vacancies. Twelve women were among the 60 candidates who applied to serve, but only one woman ended up on the short list: a University of Iowa professor whom Branstad would never appoint. I suspect some commissioners passed over several women with strong qualifications, hoping to make Branstad look bad by picking an all-male trio of justices.

Diversity improves the judiciary, so in theory, I would like to see more gender and racial balance on the Iowa Supreme Court. Thinking pragmatically, I am in no hurry to give the governor another high court vacancy to fill, especially now that he has appointed a bunch of conservatives to the State Judicial Nominating Commission, which reduces the applicant pool to a few finalists. Some important cases in recent years have led to 4-3 split decisions. On several occasions–relating to open meetings law, solar power project financing, a key administrative rule on water quality, and multiple cases about juvenile sentencing–the three dissenters were Branstad’s 2011 nominees. Three justices are up for retention this November. They won’t be ousted because of the 2009 Varnum v. Brien case, because LGBT marriage equality is now settled law. However, I’m concerned anti-retention forces could exploit a backlash against a possible divided court ruling to expand felon voting rights. The Supreme Court is expected to announce a decision in the Griffin v. Pate case on felon disenfranchisement later this month.

Speaking of white male judges, mass outrage over the light sentence given to convicted rapist Brock Turner seems to have been the talk of everyone’s town this past week. The victim’s powerful impact statement, Vice President Joe Biden’s open letter to the victim, and many other reactions to the case have gone viral.

On the plus side, the Brock Turner case has raised awareness about rape culture, victim-blaming, and judges empathizing with wealthy white male defendants. One of the best commentaries I’ve read on the sentencing was by California defense attorney Ken White. He explained why Turner is the “sort of defendant who is spared ‘severe impact.’”

But some sexual assault survivors have found it overwhelming to see reminders of their worst experiences all over their social media feeds, day after day. The letter from the rapist’s father may have struck a sympathetic chord with the sentencing judge but was painful for many women to read. (One friend: you can tell that guy’s never been on the receiving end of “20 minutes of action.”) If news about the Stanford rape case is triggering traumatic memories for you, Peter Levine’s work on healing trauma may be helpful.

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Thoughts on the political fallout from Grassley's obstruction of a Supreme Court nominee

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has put a spotlight on Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. After wavering last week on whether he would be willing to hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Scalia, on Tuesday Grassley joined all other Republicans on the committee to vow that no Supreme Court nominee will get any consideration this year. Not only that, Senate Republican leaders will refuse to meet with the nominee. Grassley is open to discussing the Supreme Court vacancy with the president, but only as an “opportunity to explain the position of the majority to allow the American people to decide.”

Grassley’s hypocrisy is evident when you compare his recent statements with what he said in 2008 about the Senate’s role in confirming judicial nominees, even in the final year of a president’s term. His refusal to do one of the key tasks of the Judiciary Committee may also undercut what has been the central slogan of the senator’s re-election campaigns: “Grassley works for us.”

UPDATE: Former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge is thinking about jumping in to the U.S. Senate race, because of Grassley’s “double-speak” and “deliberate obstruction of the process.” My first thoughts on a possible Judge candidacy are here. I’ve also enclosed Grassley’s response to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid at the end of this post.

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Yes, Maybe, We Still Can

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts on issues or candidates. -promoted by desmoinesdem

For the past several months, both online and out in the real world, I have advocated for the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. I believed then as I believe now that he is an honest, principled advocate for the concerns of working people who are seeing their livelihoods imperiled on a daily basis by political process that is rigged against them and an economic system that favors massive, inherited wealth and fosters inequality. I believed then as I believe now that the vast and growing gap between the wealthy elite and the struggling masses threatens the very foundation of our collective society and that the only way to prevent a new-fangled aristocracy from permanently seizing the reins of power would be for immediate and drastic actions to not only stop but reverse this devastating growth of inequality. I believed then as I believe now that, even though Secretary Hillary Clinton is an eminently qualified candidate to lead our nation, it was necessary for someone like Senator Sanders to challenge her to confront these issues and speak to and up for the losers of our economic system.

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