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Smart Politics Projections: Federal Races in Iowa

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Through November 3rd, Smart Politics will be running a series of electoral projections for Upper Midwestern federal and state governmental contests. The first projections in the series are federal races in the State of Iowa.

Iowa: President.
Barack Obama has never trailed John McCain in three-dozen non-partisan polls taken of Iowans dating back to December 2006. Iowa has temporarily shed its battleground state status in this election cycle, with Obama seeking to register the second largest Democratic victory in a presidential race in Iowa since 1936, and the third largest Democratic victory in Hawkeye State history. Smart Politics Projection: Democratic Pick-up (from 2004).

Iowa: U.S. Senate.
Tom 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 Charles Grassley, Harkin will breeze to his fifth consecutive Senate victory by double-digits. Smart Politics Projection: Democratic Hold.

Iowa: U.S. House-01.
Bruce Braley has more than the incumbency advantage on his side in his first defense of his U.S. House seat. Braley’s 1st Congressional District has been a strong supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid throughout his campaign, which should give the freshman Representative an additional boost down the ticket. Smart Politics Projection: Democratic Hold.

Iowa: U.S. House-02.
If popular, moderate 15-term GOP incumbent Jim Leach could not defeat David Loebsack in 2006, it is hard to imagine what Republican candidate would stand a better chance against Loebsack this year, given the current political environment. Smart Politics Projection: Democratic Hold.

Iowa: U.S. House-03.
Having captured and held the 3rd Congressional District (and the lone Democratic seat) during the height of the Republican Party’s popularity in the Hawkeye State in the mid- and late 1990s, Blue Dog Democrat Leonard Boswell will do his part to insure Iowa will send a Democratic majority-led congressional delegation back to D.C. for a second consecutive session for the first time since 1974-1976. Smart Politics Projection: Democratic Hold.

Iowa: U.S. House-04.
The north-central region of the Hawkeye State has voted Republican in U.S. House contests in each race for the last two decades, and provided Tom Latham with six consecutive double-digit victories. Representing the more vulnerable of Iowa’s two Republican-held House seats, should a Democratic landslide take place on November 4th, Latham will nonetheless return to D.C. for an eighth term. Smart Politics Projection: Republican Hold.

Iowa: U.S. House-05.
Steve King represents the most conservative and reliably Republican district in the Hawkeye State: in 2004, George W. Bush carried 27 of the 28 counties comprising the 5th District. King’s return to D.C. for a 4th term will continue the streak of at least one Republican representing Iowa in the U.S. House in every year since 1856. Smart Politics Projection: Republican Hold.

Previous post: Humphrey Institute / MPR Poll: Franken and Coleman in Tight Race
Next post: Smart Politics Projections: Federal Races in South Dakota

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No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


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