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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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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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