Friday, December 15, 2017

The Iowa Pendulum Is Ready For Another Swing Back Into Blue Territory


The Des Moines Register released a new Iowa Poll that bears out what many are taking away from the incredible surge in support for Democrats in beet red Alabama this week. Iowa is a purple swing state that had swung very blue in recent years-- and then swung back. Obama beat McCain in 2008, 828,940 (54%) to 682,379 (44%) and beat Romney in 2012, 822,544 (525) to 730,617 (46%). Last year however, Hillary gave up on Iowa early and didn't give Trump a real contest in the state, which backed him 800,983 (51.15%) to 653,669 (41.74%). The state PVI is now R+3 and each of the state's 4 congressional districts look-- at least out the rear view mirror-- redder than ever. Here are the PVI changes from 2015 to 2017:
IA-02- Rod Blum (R)- D+5 to D+1
IA-02- Dave Lobsack (D)- D+4 to D+1
IA-03- David Young (R)- Even to R+1
IA-04- Steve King (R)- R+5 to R+11
It looks scary, right? Looks can be deceptive and in Iowa's case, they definitely are. First of all, Iowans are over Trump. Other than with brainwashed evangelicals, he's pretty much toast there. Bottom line: Iowans believe the country’s headed in the wrong direction and that Trump isn’t doing a good job.
Sixty percent of respondents to this month’s Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll say the United States has gotten off on the wrong track, and 60 percent likewise disapprove of the job Trump, a Republican, is doing as president.

“It just seems like it’s one big mess,” said poll respondent Nick Ford, a Navy veteran and businessman from Cedar Rapids.

Ford, a 49-year-old political independent, lamented the “general craziness” of the country’s political arena and the “unprofessionalism” he sees in the White House.

The president, he said, “seems overwhelmed by the task. I didn’t vote for him, but I was hoping some things would change. I don’t think anything’s really changed-- for the better, anyway.”

Trump’s 35-percent job approval rating marks a sharp decline from earlier this year in Iowa. In the July Iowa Poll, 43 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s effort, while 52 percent disapproved, a differential of 9 percentage points. Now, he’s 25 points under water.

...Sixty-nine percent of women, 68 percent of Iowans making less than $50,000 a year, 67 percent of city-dwellers and 62 percent of independents disapprove of his performance.

“He’s not really a leader,” said Diana Fern, 56, a homebirth midwife from Fairfield. “Because he doesn’t have experience, he’s not really leading. I feel like he’s reacting to situations, and he hasn’t really stated a clear vision. And I think his integrity is in question.”

Fern described herself as a political independent, but said she favors female candidates and more often votes Democratic than Republican.

Across all the demographics recorded in the poll, just two show a majority approving of Trump: Republicans, at 78 percent, and evangelical Christians, at 51 percent.

...Iowans’ concerns about the direction of the country are even less optimistic than their views on Trump: Just 29 percent say the country is headed in the right direction.

That view is consistent across Iowans of different ages, incomes and locations. The only outlier is political affiliation: 62 percent of Republicans see the U.S. headed in the right direction, against 25 percent who say it’s on the wrong track.

Among independents, views are almost exactly the opposite: 26 percent say the U.S. is on the right track against 63 percent who say it’s on the wrong track.

After a wild 2017 that saw Trump take office, bruising congressional fights over health care and taxes, an ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling and, in recent weeks, rising attention on sexual harassment, a strong majority of Iowans say they’re increasingly repelled by politics.

Fully 61 percent of Iowans say they’re more turned off by politics now than they were at the time of the 2016 election, while just 33 percent say they’re more politically energized.

Poll respondent Jessica Thomas, a stay-at-home mom from Maquoketa, is among those feeling more turned off. When she engages with politics these days, it’s mostly with resignation.

“It’s gotten to the point now that you just ask, 'What has he done now?,'" Thomas, 38, a Democrat, asked. "What is he trying to do to us now?”

That distaste for politics is consistent across demographic groups: Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike say they’re more turned off than they are energized by the events of the past year.

The results run counter to a national narrative suggesting Democrats have been fired up and spurred to action by the early Trump administration. Indeed, 60 percent of Democratic respondents say they’re more turned off by politics than they were a year ago. Just 34 percent say they’re more energized.

A larger share of Republicans, in fact, reports heightened engagement in the Trump era. Forty percent say they’re more energized while 52 percent say they’re more tuned out. Among independents, two-thirds say they’re more alienated against 28 percent who are more energized.
So how does all this play out in the midterms? In Iowa, badly for the GOP. The same poll shows the Republicans are likely to lose at least 2 of their 3 congressional seats. It's very unlikely either Rob Blum or David Young will be members of the House when the new Congress is sworninin January, 2019. Jason Noble reported that the latest polling in the state shows 40% of Iowans would vote for a Democrat for Congress today and only 34% would back a Republican.
The finding is notable because Republicans hold three of Iowa’s four congressional seats, including two seen as among the most competitive in the country in 2018.

The results of a so-called “generic ballot” question provide insight into how Iowans’ views have shifted after voting heavily in favor of Republican Donald Trump in 2016, said Nathan Gonzales, an elections forecaster and publisher of the nonpartisan Inside Elections newsletter.

“It sounds like voters are more skeptical about Republicans going into the 2018 elections,” he said.

Democrats are favored among women, all age groups, those earning under $70,000 and people living in cities and towns. A narrow plurality of 31 percent of independents say they would back a Democrat, compared with 28 percent who say they’d vote Republican.

...The results are starkest in Iowa’s 1st congressional district, which encompasses 20 northeast Iowa counties and is currently held by two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Rod Blum.

Despite the GOP incumbent, 47 percent of poll respondents in the district say they would vote for a Democrat, while just 29 percent say they’ll vote Republican. Those represent the highest Democratic numbers in the state, eclipsing even the 2nd District, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack is a six-term incumbent.

...The generic ballot question isn’t the only indicator that the 1st District is tilting Democratic.

Sixty-three percent of respondents in the district disapprove of Trump’s job performance, and 62 percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction-- the highest readings of any district in the state.

The divide between supporters of Democratic and Republican congressional candidates is much narrower in Iowa’s three other districts. In the 3rd, which includes the Des Moines metro, 36 percent of respondents say they’d vote for a Democrat for Congress, compared to 35 percent who would vote Republican. The seat is held by Republican U.S. Rep. David Young.

In the strongly Republican 4th District, 39 percent say they’d vote for a Republican, while 36 percent would back a Democrat and 14 percent aren't sure. The seat is held by U.S. Rep. Steve King, an eight-term incumbent.

In the 2nd, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack has held office since 2007, 44 percent of respondents say they'd vote for a Democrat, compared to 34 percent who would back a Republican.
And Trump isn't the only factor weighing down the Republican incumbents in Iowa. Another poll shows that Paul Ryan's disapproval is absolutely stunning in Iowa. Take IA-03 for example-- the district that stretches from Des Moines through southwest Iowa right to the Missouri River Nebraska border and the suburbs east of Omaha. Trump's approval/disapproval is 43/53%. That's pretty bad, but the same folks have an even worse opinion of Ryan. His approval is just 24%-- and 65% of IA-03 respondents give Ryan a thumbs down. This is particularly important because David Young, the weak Republican incumbent, is widely seen as a lockstep Ryan rubber-stamp, which helps explain why Ryan is likely to retire. Yesterday I had a conversation with the most exciting candidate Iowa has had running for anything in years, Austin Frerick, the former Treasury Department economist running for seat David Young is temporarily occupying. Some excerpts:
David Axelrod likes to say that DC is the last place to get the news. The 2016 election made it clear that most Americans aren’t happy with the status quo, yet those at the highest levels in our corporate and government worlds don’t seem to notice this divide because they’re thriving in this 2nd Gilded Age. I saw this delusion up close at Treasury but unlike them, I also saw how folks are barely getting by here in Iowa, including my own family.

...Speaking of Gilded Age, remember the book The Jungle by Upton Sinclair from that era? Well, here’s another Gilded Age parallel, the meat industry is now more concentrated than when he wrote that book. I also want to share with you one of my favorite Sinclair quotes because it describes David Young perfectly. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” David Young may seem nice, but he’s hollow and corrupt and he’s not looking out for Iowans. His average donation is $1,638. Mine is $63. Do you think he’s going to address climate change when he took a $1,500 from Exxon Mobil last April? Do you think he’s going to be for raising the minimum wage when he took over $7,500 from Wal-Mart this year? Do you think he’s going to stand up for family farms when he took $5,000 from Monsanto last September? We all know the answer. No.

...The past doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. Don’t forget that the 1st Gilded Age produced that Progressive Movement. Now, let’s seize this moment to usher in the 2nd Progressive Movement and finally enact Medicare-for-All, take the money out of politics, and enact family friendly policies like paid leave and universal childcare. This economic concentration message is how we defeat David Young, and more importantly, how we defeat Donald Trump.

...The results of this election will reverberate far beyond Iowa’s 3rd District. The 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for Editorial Writing, Art Cullen of Storm Lake, Iowa, articulated this point in a recent op-ed. “It is undeniable that Iowa is trending redder. Voter registration totals show that in 2017 the gap between Democrats and Republicans grew to 50,000 - twice what the gap was 10 years before.” He concludes, “As Iowa goes, so goes Ohio. And as Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” We can resist consolidation by promoting diversity. That's what our campaign is about. We want to diversify our perspectives, diversify the voices that contribute to our conversations, and diversify the avenues about which we can campaign for change. We need your support. Add it to this conversation. Together, we’ll create a more balanced future.

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At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced. Farmers are reportedly committing suicide in larger numbers than any year in recent memory, and the DINO-Whigs have not demonstrated any reason to have hope that they will improve anything. Funny how corporatist exploitation leading to despair causes religion to fade into the background, impotent and ineffective.


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