Debate buzz

July 2, 2019 0 Comments

The political world is abuzz about whether the first set of Democratic debates have “reshaped” the race for the Democratic nomination.  New polls from CNN/SSRS and Suffolk University/USA Today suggest Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are “surging” due to their debate performances, while former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders are losing […]

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Will Mueller’s statement change anything?

May 30, 2019 0 Comments

Following Robert Mueller’s press conference yesterday, YouGov rereleased findings from a poll taken earlier this month regarding agreement with the statement: “Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.”  The result: 86 percent of Democrats said the statement was “definitely or probably true,” compared to just 40 percent of Republicans. Mueller is generally regarded as highly […]

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Understanding vetoes under unified control

May 28, 2019 0 Comments

The two recent vetoes by Governor Reynolds may seem a bit peculiar.  After all, her party controls the legislature, so a veto is a very public display of intraparty disagreement.  However, the reality is that governing with unified control can be quite difficult.  In my own research on Iowa governors I spoke to two former […]

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Reflecting on the 2019 legislative session

May 6, 2019 0 Comments

Much has already been written about the specific bills that were passed in the 2019 Iowa legislation session, so I want to focus instead on three more general observations. 1.)        The saying of “elections have consequences” holds true.  Because Iowa Republicans have majority control in the statehouse, they were able to push through a very […]

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Why 99, not 40, is the more important number for Senator Ernst

May 5, 2019 0 Comments

As James Lynch reported on Friday, the latest approval rating for U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (40%) does not mean her reelection chances are sunk for 2020.  In fact, as I communicated to James, based on my own research of other Iowa incumbents (governors), a sub-50 approval rating is nowhere near a guarantee of defeat at […]

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Unelectable electables

May 2, 2019 0 Comments

Today’s column from The Crystal Ball newsletter (found here) is a good reminder of the limits of political forecasting.  As Kyle Kondik documents, while those who follow electoral politics are fascinated by the concept of “electability, the truth is that voters, pundits, and political operatives struggle to define the concept until after it happens (i.e. […]

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A message in defense of voters

April 24, 2019 0 Comments

Dear pollsters: Before you spend too much time wondering what Iowa voters think of the 19 Democratic candidates running for president, consider the following passage from the book, Democracy for Realists, by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels: “The folk theory of democracy celebrates the wisdom of popular judgments by informed and engaged citizens. The reality […]

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Reacting to the Mueller report

April 18, 2019 0 Comments

Putting aside Congressman Massie’s peculiar question, “How do you get a bachelor of arts in a science,” can we please stop pretending that political science isn’t useful for understanding politics today? Yes, the Mueller report was released today.  But let’s put this in perspective. Voters are rarely persuadable, voters tend to engage in motivated reasoning, […]

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Iowa will remain a good place to study politics in 2020

April 15, 2019 0 Comments

Congressman Dave Loebsack’s announcement that he will retire at the end of his current term in 2021 adds another layer of competitiveness to the 2020 elections in Iowa. As my colleague, Donna Hoffman, and I have argued at length, the recent electoral history and demographics of the state continue to make Iowa a “swing state” […]

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Spring time approval, summer time gridlock

March 28, 2019 0 Comments

Approval of Congress is at 26%! That may not seem like something to write home about, but it is the second highest approval rating since November of 2009 (approval reached 28 percent in February of 2017).  In fact, congressional approval has exceeded 19 percent in each of the first three months of the year, which […]

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