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Election Profile: Iowa U.S. Senate

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The eighth profile in the series is the Iowa U.S. Senate contest.

Candidates:
Democrat: Tom Harkin (4-term incumbent)
Republican: Christopher Reed

History:
Senator Harkin is looking to join Republican Charles Grassley in winning his 5th consecutive term to the U.S. Senate from the Hawkeye State. Harkin was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, winning by 11.8 points over 1-term Republican incumbent Roger W. Jespen. Unlike Grassley, Harkin has not enjoyed particularly comfortable re-election campaigns to date: Harkin won by 9.1 points in 1990 (over Thomas J. Tauke), by 5.1 points in 1996 (over Jim Lightfoot), and by 10.4 points in 2002 (over Greg Ganske). Grassley, by contrast, has won his four re-election campaigns by 32.4 points, 42.4 points, 37.9 points, and 42.3 points in 2004.

Harkin chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and also serves on the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Republican Christopher Reed, a businessman and Navy veteran, is running on a platform of “Iowa values, conservative principles.? Reed’s priorities include achieving peace through strength, winning the War on Terror, having stricter border enforcement, decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil through more domestic drilling, and decreasing taxes.

For the first time since 1990, there will be no third party candidate on the ballot in a U.S. Senate race in Iowa.

Overall, since popular vote Senate elections began in 1914, Republicans have won 22 races in Iowa, compared to just 12 for the Democrats. That means Harkin has won one-third of all Democratic electoral victories to the U.S. Senate in state history.

Outlook:
Harkin has enjoyed approval ratings above 50 percent in nearly four-dozen public opinion polls conducted this decade – with ratings averaging in the mid-50s during the past year. While not quite as popular as his Republican counterpart Grassley, Harkin should breeze to his fifth consecutive Senate victory.

Previous post: Election Profile: Iowa's 5th Congressional District (2008)
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District (2008)

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Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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