What candidates said about health care, reproductive rights at the Hall of Fame

Nineteen presidential candidates had five minutes each to make their case to more than 1,000 activists at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event in Cedar Rapids on June 9. Most offered at least one really good applause line. Teams of reporters from the Des Moines Register and Iowa Starting Line pulled together some of the memorable parts of each speech here and here.

I decided to focus on how the candidates spoke about health care and women’s ability to access abortion for a couple of reasons. First, while the candidates highlighted a wide range of problems and proposals, almost all of them addressed those topics in some way.

Second, this post represents my gesture toward what media critic Jay Rosen has called the “citizens agenda” approach to covering campaigns. Although I lack survey data to know for sure what Iowa Democrats want the presidential contenders to be talking about, I believe health care and reproductive rights are among the most salient for caucus-goers, because:

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Joe Biden will probably lose Iowa

Dan Guild examines what history tells us about how to interpret the latest Iowa Democratic caucus poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register, Mediacom, and CNN. -promoted by Laura Belin

It has been two months since the last good Iowa caucus poll. This is actually unusual: you have to go back to 1996 to find a similar gap. So the latest poll by Selzer & Co (what does the Des Moines Register have against Saturday nights?) was eagerly anticipated.

Joe Biden announced his candidacy to great fanfare on April 25. Within two weeks, national polling showed him picking up between 10 and 15 points. But there is no national primary. I wrote here in March that I Biden was a VERY weak front runner based on his Iowa polling to date.

Ed Kilgore speculated around the time of Biden’s announcement that he had a “shock and awe” strategy.

Did that strategy work? Has it moved votes in Iowa?

Tonight the Des Moines Register provided its verdict: No.

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Faith and opportunity

Ira Lacher argues that Democratic presidential contenders should accept an invitation from a leading social conservative in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

From the moment the first Pilgrim set foot in the New World, the American cloth has been sewn by those motivated by religion. Our uniqueness results largely in part from those who brought their religious traditions with them, and by their descendants, who tailored those traditions to acclimate to their inherited country.

The Southern black church gave birth to the civil rights movement; marchers at Selma included Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Jesuit priests Daniel and Philip Berrigan helped define the Vietnam peace movement. Muslims Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali rose to the top of their sports. Thousands of others have used their faith traditions to make significant impacts on every aspect of American life. As President Barack Obama told PBS in its 2010 series God in America, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers.”

But that ecumenism has been sundered. Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 declared abortion to be a right, evangelical Christians, anointing themselves guardians of faith, have been determined to make the word of the Lord, as they interpret it, the law of the land.

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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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On polling eleven months before the Iowa caucuses

Valuable historical perspective from Dan Guild on the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom. -promoted by Laura Belin

If you know something about the history of the Iowa caucuses, you know three things:

1. Most people don’t really make up their minds until the last month, and often until the last week. Just before the 2016 caucuses, I wrote a post here called “Front runners beware,” which turned out to be fairly accurate.

2. But. BUT. – Iowa caucus polls are consumed like some sort of smartphone app you just can’t put down. You know it isn’t good for you. BUT it HAS to mean something, right? Isn’t the best prediction of what people do in elections is what they say the will do know.

3. And when it is the Des Moines Register poll, people listen. It’s a bit like the old Merrill Lynch television commercial: When Ann Selzer talks, people REALLY listen.

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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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