What the debates taught us

Ira Lacher: “For many Americans who only experience candidates through email appeals or in prepackaged videos, the debates provided an opportunity to see them as people.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Now that the first Democratic presidential debates have come and gone, what have we learned?

Forgetting and ignoring what the national media have said, here’s what I learned from my own and others’ observations from two nights of debate-watching parties.

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Republicans are worried about Iowa Senate district 30, with good reason

Voters in Cedar Falls, Hudson, and part of Waterloo will elect a new state senator on March 19. Three candidates are on the ballot for Iowa Senate district 30: Republican Walt Rogers, Democrat Eric Giddens, and Libertarian Fred Perryman.

Republicans took some advantages into this campaign, which is on a shortened timetable because Senator Jeff Danielson resigned during the legislative session. Rogers was better-known than Giddens, and Governor Kim Reynolds scheduled the vote during spring break for the University of Northern Iowa and Cedar Falls public schools, when many people in Democratic-leaning constituencies would likely be out of town.

But since Bleeding Heartland previewed this race in late February, Giddens has emerged as the favorite. Republicans tacitly acknowledged their weaknesses by launching a second over-the-top negative television commercial on March 15, rather than closing on what was supposed to be Rogers’ selling point: giving Black Hawk County and UNI a voice in the Iowa Senate majority caucus.

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Steve Bullock's testing these messages among Iowa Democrats

Although Montana Governor Steve Bullock has not yet declared plans to run for president, a group supporting his ambitions has been polling Iowa Democrats to test positive messages about Bullock and several other declared or likely contenders.

I’ve long encouraged readers to record or take notes on political surveys. This post draws on a recording an Iowan provided after receiving the call on the evening of March 7. (Bleeding Heartland never provides identifying information about respondents; I’m only interested in the questions asked.)

The latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom found Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders well ahead of the rest of the Democratic field in Iowa, with 27 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Bullock was among several candidates at 1 percent. Later today, Bleeding Heartland will publish analysis by Dan Guild, taking a historical view of polling this far out from the Iowa caucuses.

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