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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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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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