Midterms, Caucuses And Polls, Oh My!

Rep. Bruce Braley

Rep. Bruce Braley

It must be tough being the newspaper Iowa depends upon for Republican news. First the Rasmussen polls showing U.S. Senate candidates Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst in a statistical dead heat with 44 -45 percent of 750 likely Iowa voters respectively. There is no story there unless the horse race is like yesterday’s Belmont Stakes where there is a potential triple crown winner to spark interest. Even so, the thoroughbreds come out of the gate with the same distance to go, even-Steven, so the poll doesn’t mean much.

The Des Moines Register faithfully reported that the Rasmussen poll has a GOP bias, but what about the headline they chose, “Polls following primary show Ernst leading Braley?” That must have been based upon the Loras College poll of 600 likely general election voters, which shows Ernst with a bigger lead over Braley. The primary was five days ago, and the Loras poll only shows how much Ernst has to lose during the campaign.

Then there was the Selzer poll of 400 likely primary-goers released yesterday showing a wide open race for Republicans in 2016. No sh*t Sherlock, it’s more than eighteen months until caucus night. One expects potential presidential candidates to get to Iowa and help candidates during this year’s midterms, and a number of Republicans did show up to support Ernst in the primary. After Labor Day, this story about Republicans might have more meaning.

As a person who has polled tens of thousands of potential voters and caucus-goers at their doors and on the telephone, over several election cycles, I’ve found there is something more important going on in Iowa that presents a real threat to Bruce Braley and the Democrats. What if Republicans abandon the Bob Vander Plaats and Ron Paul splinter groups of their party?

Soon the Republicans will choose a new party chair to replace Danny Carroll who was elected when A.J. Spiker resigned to pursue a job with Ron Paul’s political action committee. Is there another potential chair, not affiliated with the Family Leader, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition or Ron Paul libertarians? If there is, and that person were elected as Republican party chair, they might actually have a chance to regain direction and become more effective than their perennial clown car of candidates makes them out to be.

The Des Moines Register highlighted the problem the Republican Party has. During the Carroll’s balloting, seven central committee members “voted yes for Carroll, mistakenly thinking they were casting a vote to close nominations and move to ballots.” Partisan Democrats may be gleeful about such mishaps and foibles, but the truth is that with six months until the Nov. 4 midterms, it is conceivable Republicans could get their act together sufficiently to attract enough no party voters to get their slate of candidates in.

If Democrats care about electing Bruce Braley, retaining the Iowa Senate and gaining some seats in the Iowa House, they had better quit being entertained by the antics of the other party, and start closing the deal with the disaffected no party voters. For those of us who remember 2010, it is not a given that they will.

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