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John Edwards Surging in Early Iowa Polling

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While momentum shifts have not been so noticeable in national polls for the Democratic nominee for president (nearly all of which have Hillary Clinton with a significant lead over Barack Obama), such shifts have occurred in early polling at the state level, including Iowa, which will hold the first contest for delegates in the nation in January 2008. In the latest survey by American Research Group—its fourth poll since December 2006—a surge in support for John Edwards has put him in a virtual tie with Clinton.

The last field date of the ARG survey, conducted March 19-22, overlapped one day with the news cycle in which Edwards and his (very popular) wife Elizabeth announced her cancer had returned. The press coverage following that announcement for Edwards, and his decision to continue his campaign, was exceedingly positive.

In the ARG poll, Clinton remains at the top, the preference of 34 percent of likely Democratic caucus voters. Clinton's support has remained consistent across all four surveys—hovering around one-third in all of them (31, 35, 31, and 34 percent respectively from December to March).

Edwards now polls at 33 percent, up from 27 percent in February and 18 percent in late January. The rise in support for Edwards is correlated with former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's decision to drop out of the race in February (Vilsack was polling in the low double digits in the Hawkeye State) as well as a tapering off in the buzz over Barack Obama. Obama's support of 16 percent in Iowa in March is down from 23 percent in February and close to his original level of support in late January before Vilsack ended his presidential bid (14 percent).

It is unclear whether or not Vilsack's reported endorsement of Clinton (likely to come on Monday) will give Clinton any boost in support, or whether Edwards will get a further bump (particularly from female voters) in light of the developments with his wife's health. Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen speculates the 'sympathy factor' for Mrs. Edwards will likely have significant political currency with the Edwards campaign in Iowa.

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Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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