Midterm Races in Iowa

We have finally reached the end of the road and it ends in Iowa.  The retirement of Democratic incumbent [mc_name name=’Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’H000206′ ], one of the most liberal Senators, has created a race of massive importance and one that the Democrats believed was their’s to win when [mc_name name=’Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001259′ ] announced his intention to run for the seat.  Before getting to that race, there are the congressional races and a gubernatorial race to consider.

The current House delegation is evenly split 2-2.  None of these districts are exceptionally partisan one way or the other.  With Braley vacating the 1st District, we have an open race that pits Democrat Pat Murphy against Republican businessman Rod Blum.  Blum lost the 2012 GOP primary.  This district takes in the northeastern part of the state and some fairly reliable Democratic territory.  For Blum to prevail, he will have to make inroads here and do particularly well in Delaware County.  Polling puts Murphy ahead by about 5 points and I believe it will stay that way through Election Day.  In the southeastern based 2nd District, the DCCC has recently committed more resources to shoring up Democratic incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’L000565′ ] against his Republican opponent Marianette Miller-Meeks.  Given the political mood of the country and using Iowa as a bell weather, both parties are heavily invested here.  However, I am predicting a Loebsack victory by about 10 points.

The Third District has given Iowa some of its closest races.  Leonard Boswell was defeated by Republican [mc_name name=’Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’L000111′ ] in 2012, but had served in the House since 1994 representing the 5th District which the state lost via the 2010 Census.  In actuality, this is a Democratic-leaning district that will feature GOP candidate David Young, who won a crowded primary, against Staci Appel who ran unopposed in their primary.  If there is to be any bright spot for the Democrats in this year’s midterms, this may be one, but it will be hard fought and it will be close.  However, despite Young’s attempts to portray himself as a moderate, most ominously his pronouncement that “Obamacare is here to stay,” he has turned off his base and any chance of victory.  A Republican portraying oneself as a Democrat is no way to win in Iowa.  Prediction: Appel by 4-6 points.  Finally, there is the Fourth where GOP firebrand Steven King will face off against Democrat Jim Mowrer.  Although this may be a decent chance for the Democrats, they are also attempting to take down a fairly popular, well-known Republican in the most GOP friendly Iowa congressional district.  Prediction: King by 9 points.

There was a time when the Iowa gubernatorial race was considered if not attainable for the Democrats, then at least interesting.  This race will pit GOP incumbent Terry Branstad against his Democratic opponent, Jack Hatch.  Beginning in spring, a series of allegations against Branstad put a ding in his armor and approval ratings which may have unnecessarily raised Democratic hopes.  I am not going to spend too much time on this race other than to predict that Branstad will win reelection by double digits, most likely in the 15+ point range.

Which brings us to the Senatorial race pitting [mc_name name=’Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001259′ ] in the blue corner against Joni Ernst in the red corner.  Ernst had to survive a contentious primary from which she emerged apparently a stronger candidate than most had originally given her credit for.  Ernst made a name for herself during the primary with her commercials, particularly one about castrating pigs and carrying “more than lipstick” in her purse.

While Ernst has built on that primary momentum and surging in the polls.  The Leftist press is trying to portray Ernst as now playing out the clock.  For example, the Washington Post ran a story that she snubbed the Des Moines Register in an endorsement interview.  Note to the Left: No one really cares about newspaper endorsements any more.  Furthermore, why should she sit down with editorial boards with newspapers when they lay in wait with “gotcha questions” and have already likely made up their minds.  Mainstream Iowa newspapers are just like others throughout the country- slanted to the Left.

Even still, Braley has inflicted so many wounds upon himself that Ernst has to do little.  Whether it was dissing Chuck Grassley because of his farming, not lawyerly roots (in a farming state) to other gaffes, Braley has come off a political boob.  Further, Michelle Obama’s mispronunciation of his name is one thing, but when the White House puts out the transcript of a follow-up, damage control speech by Mooch and incorrectly identifies Braley as the candidate for Governor, the whole amateur theme is taken to another level.  That had some Democratic operatives calling on the White House to just shut up until after Election Day.

This is one of the most heavily polled races this cycle which gives us a decent indication of which way this race will go.  The early lead enjoyed by Braley has all but evaporated.  Only three of 11 polls conducted in October show Braley with any kind of a lead.  When the dust settles, whether it was Ernst “running out the clock” or just the sometimes utter stupidity of the Bruce Bailey campaign, Joni Ernst will likely win this race by 2-3 points.

Thus ends this series.  Tomorrow, I will make any adjustments since this series first started.  To summarize, the GOP picks a net total of one Governor’s office.  On the national scene, the Republicans will pick up 8 Senate seats and a net total of 6 House seats.