Monday, January 23, 2017

Can The Democrats Win The 3 GOP-Held Seats In Iowa In 2018?


Saturday, as millions of women and their allies, not just in the U.S., but around the world, marched against Trump, one DC wag asked "where was all that energy during the election?" My response-- "at Bernie Sanders rallies-- drew hysterical anger from thin-skinned Clinton die-hards. It took some cheating, but Clinton managed to win the Iowa caucuses against the then largely unknown Democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, 49.9% to 49.6%. Most counties were pretty 50/50 but the biggest disapritiy between them came in Jefferson County where Bernie won 72.7% of the votes to her 27.3%. The biggest county in the state, Polk, was closer. Hillary won with 12,122 votes to Bernie's 10,525. Yesterday, women from Fairfield in Jefferson County carpooled and bused up to Des Moines to march against Trumpism. In 2016 Hillary's biggest rally in Iowa was about 3,000 people. Saturday's march in Des Moines drew 26,000-- Hillary supporters, Bernie supporters... as well as independents and perhaps even Republicans who had elected Iowa delegates for Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz... even Jeb Bush.

In the general, Trump kicked Clinton's ass. He beat her in the classic swing state 798,923 (51.8%) to 650,790 (42.2%)-- turning Obama's 2012 52-46% win on it's head. In 2012 two of the state's four congressional districts elected Democrats and two elected Republicans. These were the results for the Democratic candidates in each:
IA-01- 57%
IA-02- 55%
IA-03- 44%
IA-04- 45%
With Hillary on the top of the ticket in 2016, Iowa Democrats fell apart at every level. These were the congressional candidates' results:
IA-01- 46.1%
IA-02- 53.7%
IA-03- 39.8%
IA-04- 38.6%
The only Democrat Iowa has left it it's 6 person delegation to Washington is Dave Loebsack. The district's PVIs, by the way, don't favor Republicans:
IA-01 D+5
IA-02 D+4
IA03- even
IA-04- R+5
You can't fully blame Hillary for the Democrats loss in "safely" blue IA-01 though. The DCCC (and the toxic, deadly EMILY's List) insisted on "former" Republican conservative Monica Vernon, who was backed by the New Dems as well. A weak, garbage candidate, she lost to an unimpressive Republican extremist, Rod Blum, 206,273 (53.9%) to 176,447 (46.1%)-- in Iowa's most Democratic district. IA-01 has 20 counties. Vernon won only 2, Linn (Cedar Rapids) and Black Hawk (Waterloo)-- and each just barely. In 2012, Obama won Linn with 68,028 votes and won Black Hawk with 39,338 votes, almost 60% in each county. Hillary limped to sad 1 point wins over Trump in each county. Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley (who won 17 of the 20 counties) took 66,682 votes in Linn and 40,268 votes in Black Hawk. Vernon beat Blum 58,269 to 55,140 in Linn and 31,724 to 30,749 in Black Hawk. The DCCC and their allies wasted $2 million in the primary against a progressve, Pat Murphy, who could have won. In the general, Vernon outspent Blum by a million dollars-- $2,856,502 to $1,853,837. She was a truly bottom-of-the-barrel candidate who couldn't even commit to a $10 minimum wage, making a Republican argument that a "big" minimum wage increase would hurt small businesses. None of this augers well for the Democrats in 2018, does it?

That depends. There's another former Republican in the hunt, Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, formerly everybody's favorite Republican but now a Democrat everyone is trying to figure out. He was a Bernie backer; he's a total environmental guy. He voted to raise the county minimum wage to $10/hour... but they proposed putting it on hold until they could see what the very right-wing GOP-dominated state legislature would do. Someone complained that he wrote a paean to Fidel Castro on his Facebook page when the former Cuban president died but that isn't something I would hold against anyone. The big hope was that former state Rep. Nate Willems, a true and tested progressive, would run but I spoke with him today and he had reasons that were easy to understand for why he couldn't in 2018. And then there's a very young and very progressive state Rep., Abby Finkenauer (Dubuque), a strong advocate for a living wage and someone who several people are trying to draft. After spending some time on the phone with her today, I'd say she's leaning in that direction. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from her soon. Obviously that's the district where the Democrats have to start. If they can't win back IA-01, they can't win any other Iowa districts and they can't win back control of the House.

Pat Rynard, writing for IowaStartingLine, is optimistic.
Many Democrats in Iowa are concerned that 2016 wasn’t simply an aberration, but the start of a shift in voting trends. Pointing out that Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by three million is cold comfort to Iowans who saw their state go from Obama +6 in 2012 to Trump +10 in 2016.

Will Iowa snap back that fast if Trump is an unpopular president? That’s what many potential candidates are asking themselves right now. Running for office is a big personal commitment, in time, money and the scrutiny it brings down upon you. People should run because they feel it’s the right thing to do and/or they have a cause to champion, but it’s tough to fault some from passing on a race that seems unwinnable.

Fortunately, though we’re only into the third day of the Trump presidency, many encouraging signs are already emerging.

For one, that enthusiasm gap between the parties that folks liked to talk about during the general election? It sure seems like it’s flipped to the Democrats’ and progressives’ favors considering the dueling crowd sizes of the inauguration and Women’s March. The D.C. rally was estimated at twice the size of the crowd for Trump’s swearing-in.

More important was the turnout in cities across the country. Des Moines saw 26,000 show up to the local Women’s March outside the Statehouse, while crowds of hundreds popped up around the state. That should give Iowa Democrats reassurance that the backlash against Trump won’t skip Iowa.

Comparisons to the energy of the Tea Party were apt-- there’s now clearly an energized grassroots base ready to fight. Some might question if it’s mostly made up of the people who voted for Clinton, as in it’s not an expansion of the party’s base. Even if that was the case, the biggest turnout for a rally Clinton ever got in Des Moines was about 3,000. With a 26,000 turnout yesterday, it’s clear Democrats will be much more united and enthusiastic when they’re fighting against Trump alone.

Trump’s first few days also haven’t really impressed. His inauguration speech didn’t do much to reach out to Americans beyond his core base of support. It’s still important to be cognizant of why he remains so popular among a slice of America, but he’s shown a complete inability to grow into the job so far.

And press secretary Sean Spicer’s “press conference” yesterday in which he just yelled at reporters was borderline unhinged. Now that he’s in the Oval Office, Trump needs to start producing results. It seems obvious he’s still fixated on petty appearances and grudges. That doesn’t bode well for a successful presidency.

On the state level, yesterday’s Iowa Democrats chair election produced a result that should unify activists. In the hours immediately after Derek Eadon’s victory, the vast majority of the SCC members from both Sanders and Clinton sides seemed happy and enthusiastic about moving forward and getting to work.

So while it’s obviously much too early to make any sort of prediction about the 2018 elections, Democrats have to feel good about what they’re starting to see. Assumptions that midterms would automatically be good for the party out of power isn’t a sure bet in Iowa now, but things appear to be moving in the right direction. There’s real reason for optimism, something many Democrats haven’t felt since election night.

UNRELATED To Iowa... But Noteworthy

This evening all the Senate Republicans except Rand Paul, who said he was worried that Pompeo's "desire for security will trump his defense of liberty," voted to confirm Trump's nominee for CIA Director. The Democrats who will own whatever unconstitutional crap Pompeo, a big torture enthusiast, pulls are:
Joe Manchin (WV)
Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Tim Kaine (VA)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Maggie Hassan (NH)
Mark Warner (VA)
Chuck Schumer (NY)
Jack Reed (RI)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Brian Schatz (HI)
Angus King (I-ME)
As long as we're talking about the U.S. Senate, the names above that have been bolded are all incumbent senators who will face reelection in 2018 (except Feinstein who will be retiring, although she hasn't announced that yet). Blue America has endorsed just 5 incumbents so far. You can find them all by tapping on the thermometer below (spoiler: no one who voted to confirm Pompeo).
Goal Thermometer

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At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My money is on Feinstein (85 in 2018) running again, which will tick off a lot of Democrats who don't want to wait six years to run for the Senate. We progressive Californians want a retiring Feinstein; we are not gonna get it.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

She's telling people she trusts that she's nothing to run

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Check this out.

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to IA districts, the DCCC isn't going to give any money to a true liberal. So they'll have to find private donors to fund their very iffy runs against entrenched Rs who will probably get all the $$ they need.

As with 2016, the money will determine most of the possible opponents for R incumbents. And that means more Democraps serving the corporations vying against Rs serving the corporations.

So there's that.

At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what keeps CA progressive's from running a real candidate in the 2018 senate primary and publicizing it as soon as possible? It might be the missing bit of deterrent that will finally discourage Sen F from running again.

John Puma

At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Trump won for many reasons, but one big one was that people did not see the horror of Trump. So many Democrats voted for alternative candidates. My cousin, for one, really looked down on me quite snottily and nastily, because I swung over to Hillary from Bernie, claiming it was a poor reason to vote for her just to stop him. Really? Wouldn't even Nixon have been better than this dangerous nutcase? EVERYONE should have seen the danger of this man - his traits were out there all along for all to see - his absolute insanity, megalomania, narcissism and vindictiveness, along with his incredible stupidity, ignorance and disregard for facts. I am still pissed off at my cousin about this.

Iowa has a long history of racism and anti semitism. My fried from grad school, from Iowa, had parents in the John Birch Society. An uphill battle for sure.

The Democratic Party had better get their heads together and have strong candidates who speak the truth and take a stand on policies. If nothing else, Trump has howed that speaking out attracts voters. If the Dems swing to the middle as per usual to attempt to gain Republican votes, we will all lose big time. Getting out the vote in a grass roots way is the only way to go. The deplorables are still deplorable and we should not count on reason and logic to attract them as they are quite lacking in that department.

At 6:14 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Anonymous at 8:41. I should be saying this but... we have a new secret weapon at the DCCC who isn't going to let progressives be shit on anymore. So far it's working. So far. I'll be writing more about this when it's safe to go public with it. If it pans out the way I hope it will, the DCCC isn't going to be the enemy of progressives the way it has since (at least) 2006.

At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DWT, this secret weapon better have leverage over the donors who fill their coffers. If too many Berniecrats start getting elected, the money will stop pouring in. Goldman-Sachs isn't going to pay for actual bank reform and regulation.


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