There must have been a better way

Everyone knew Iowa’s State Canvassing Board wouldn’t have the final word on the 2020 election in the second Congressional district when it certified a six-vote win for Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks on November 30. Most politics watchers expected Democratic candidate Rita Hart to file for an election contest.

Instead, the Hart campaign announced on December 2 that it will bypass Iowa’s process and appeal directly to the Democratic-controlled U.S. House.

This won’t end well.

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Messaging matters in political campaigns

Bruce Lear: Iowa Democrats trying to appeal to independent voters fell victim to messaging from safe Democratic districts, where slogans only have to appeal to one party. -promoted by Laura Belin

Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Democratic strategists should read and re-read this quote before every campaign.

The election corpse isn’t cold and the autopsy knives are sharpened and poised to attack. What happened in Iowa? I’ve no ambitions to become a full-time paid pundit, but here are some thoughts.

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Iowa's unstrung quartet — Chuck, Joni, Kim, and Terry

Herb Strentz envisions a musical inspired by top Iowa Republicans’ “unquestioning obedience” to President Donald Trump. -promoted by Laura Belin

We’ve had Broadway musicals inspired by American history, such as 1776 and Hamilton.

Now how about an Iowa take on the nation’s future with a political song and dance called Iowa’s Un-Strung Quartet? The musical would deal with U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and Governors Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds in their attempts to harmonize with the persistently off-key Donald Trump.

The dark humor driving the discord would be the fact that Trump does not demand loyalty from his aides and his supporters.

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First thoughts on another disastrous election for Iowa Democrats

Bleeding Heartland will analyze the Iowa election results from many perspectives in the coming weeks. For now, let’s review the big picture: just like in 2016, the outcome was more devastating than any Democrat’s worst nightmare.

Turnout set a new record: Iowans cast at least 1,697,102 ballots, roughly 107,000 more than the high water mark of 1,589,951 people voting in the 2012 presidential election.

But as we learned in November 2018, high turnout doesn’t only help Democrats.

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Iowa justice won't comment on recusal from post-election cases

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Matthew McDermott declined to comment on whether he would recuse himself from post-election litigation involving Republican candidates or party organizations, judicial branch communications director Steve Davis told Bleeding Heartland on November 2.

McDermott should decline to hear such cases, in light of his past legal work for Republican entities and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.

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Joni Ernst learned the wrong lesson from Chuck Grassley

Senator Joni Ernst shouldn’t be in this position.

Given Iowans’ tendency to re-elect incumbents and the state’s rightward drift this past decade, she should be running ten points ahead.

Instead, Iowa’s Senate race is universally seen as a toss-up. Ernst has led in only two polls released since the June primary. Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield has led in fourteen polls during the same period.

Not all of Ernst’s political problems are her own creation. The COVID-19 pandemic and President Donald Trump’s disastrous leadership have put at risk several GOP-held seats that once seemed safe.

But Ernst could have set herself up better to survive a tough environment for her party. Her most important strategic error was not following the example Chuck Grassley set as a 40-something first-term senator.

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