Here’s the latest news today out of Iowa:
Democratic Challenger Theresa Greenfield maintains a modest lead in her race for Senate against Republican incumbent Joni Ernst. With less than two weeks to go until the election, the latest PoliticalIQ poll of Likely Iowa Voters shows Greenfield with 46% of the vote and Ernst with 43%. The survey, conducted by Scott Rasmussen, shows 3% voting for some other candidate and 7% unsure. The margin of error is 3.5%.
Given the difficulty of projecting turnout amidst a pandemic, Rasmussen’s PoliticalIQ polls release three separate turnout models – Baseline, Strong Republican Turnout, and Strong Democratic Turnout. This approach incorporates how modest differences in turnout can significantly impact election results.
In the case of a strong Republican turnout, the race becomes a tie – 45% to 45%. Alternatively, in a strong Democratic turnout, Greenfield stretches her lead to 7 points, 48% to 41%. In 2014, Ernst beat Democratic challenger Bruce Baley by 8% points.
Here’s some more Iowa polling from this week:
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 21, 2020
— Emerson College Polling (@EmersonPolling) October 21, 2020
Slate interviewed Andrew Batt, senior producer at Iowa PBS, to explain why the race is close:
Now, Joni Ernst having to fight so hard to keep her seat, it isn’t just surprising because she’s a Republican star. It’s that once you win a statewide seat in Iowa, you usually stick around.
Iowa has a history. Before Joni Ernst won her election in 2014, we had two senators that didn’t lose. Incumbency was a very strong thing in this state. Chuck Grassley won a Senate race in 1980. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, won a Senate race in 1984. And those were the Republican and Democratic senators in Iowa for 30 years. … So there’s the sense that Iowans that get this statewide race, they might be able to hold onto it as long as they want.
So why did the Democrats think she might be vulnerable here?
I think 2020 is a lesson [for] either party that you never just cede something like a U.S. Senate race. I don’t know if a lot of Democrats thought she would be vulnerable, to be quite honest. Donald Trump won this state by 9 percentage points, more than he won the state of Texas in 2016. This is a state trending Republican. Joni Ernst is a star in the Republican Party. She’s a strong candidate. This wasn’t really viewed as a vulnerable race for Republicans two years ago.
When did that change?
Late spring, early summer, of 2020, when Theresa Greenfield won this nomination in June. Most Republicans saw her as the presumptive nominee. She had the support of Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee way back in 2019, so she was a proverbial favorite in this race. But when you really saw that change was over the summer, with polling and when you started seeing more money come into this race.
Voter registration deadline in Iowa is October 24th. Click here to register to vote.
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