October 31, 2014

Outside groups’ spending in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race tops $60 million

os_logo_homeDemocratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley says he finds some of the campaign ads running against him “painful” to watch.

“And remember, about 80 percent of the TV ads you’re seeing are not being put up by (Republican nominee) Joni Ernst or Bruce Braley and they’ve being put up by groups that don’t have to identify their donors,” Braley says. “They’re being put up by people who really don’t have a long-term stake in Iowa.”

According to the latest report from the Center for Responsive Politics, almost $61 million has been spent by outside groups trying to influence the outcome of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race. Braley says the ads from these groups are “drowning out” the voices of regular Iowans.

“Personally it’s very painful,” Braley says. “…In 23 seconds the truth can be destroyed by somebody putting up an ad that’s false and misleading.”

Braley supports efforts to require immediate disclosure of the names of those who are financing the outside groups. Braley made his comments today during an appearance before the Greater Des Moines Partnership, an organization that represents 21 chambers of commerce in central Iowa.

Ernst said recently she and her family have quit watching TV because of all the negative ads.

“What people really need to do is focus on the issues that are important to them and visit with the candidate,” Ernst said.

Ernst said that’s why she’s spend the past 39 days making 112 stops around the state, ensuring she’s made at least one campaign appearance in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Hillary Clinton rallies with Braley backers in eastern Iowa (AUDIO)

Hillary Clinton campaigning with Bruce Braley.

Hillary Clinton campaigning with Bruce Braley.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton campaigned for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley in Cedar Rapids this afternoon, speaking to about 400 supporters crowded into a union hall.

“This race comes down to one question about all others: Who’s on your side?'” Clinton said, and people in the crowd responded: “Bruce.”

Clinton continued: “That’s the right answer. Now you just have to get out there and convince everybody else that’s the right answer.”

Clinton acknowledged she was “talking to the choir” about Braley’s candidacy and she urged the crowd to do everything they could in the next six days to help Braley win a six-year term in the Senate.

“You never worried where Tom Harkin stood. He was a fighter for Iowa,” Clinton said. “You will never worry where Bruce Braley stands. He’s a fighter for Iowa.”

Braley is in a tight race with Republican Joni Ernst and Clinton criticized Ernst’s economic plans, including her opposition to a federal minimum wage, and Ernst’s willingness to consider privatizing Social Security.

“Why is the race so close and why are we here, getting everybody ginned up to go out and work?” Clinton said. “Well, because you know there is a flood of unaccountable outside money trying to muddy the waters here in Iowa and drown out your voices.”

Bruce Braley presented Hillary Clinton with a Hawkeye outfit for her grandbaby.

Bruce Braley presented Hillary Clinton with a Hawkeye outfit for her grandbaby.

Ernst would be the first woman elected to congress from Iowa, but Clinton suggested Ernst’s stand on certain issues, like abortion, put her out of step with the mainstream.

“It’s not enough to be a woman. You have to be committed to expand rights and opportunities for all women,” Clinton said, to extended cheers and applause from the crowd.

And Clinton criticized Ernst for not being willing to “answer the tough questions” from editorial writers for The Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Dubuque Telegraph Herald and The Des Moines Register.

“It truly seems like it should be disqualifying in Iowa, of all states, to avoid answering questions,” Clinton said.

According to Clinton, Braley has withstood “a withering barrage of negative ads and innuendo” from outside groups supporting Ernst.

“Don’t let anybody hide behind outside money and negative ads,” Clinton said.

AUDIO of Clinton’s remarks, 24:00

Clinton is campaigning with Braley in Davenport this evening. A spokesman for the Iowa Republican Party dismissed Clinton as “out of touch” with small business owners and entrepreneurs for suggesting earlier this week that corporations and businesses don’t create jobs, while the Iowa GOP spokesman stressed that Ernst supports “pro-growth” policies that help “job creators.”

Ernst is campaigning with Arizona Senator John McCain today.


Quinnipiac Poll shows Ernst ‘inching ahead’ of Braley, 49-45

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

A new poll of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race released this morning shows Republican Joni Ernst with a slight lead over Democrat Bruce Braley.

“The latest Quinnipiac Poll finds that Joni Ernst is inching ahead,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “She has a four point lead over Bruce Braley which is slightly outside the poll’s margin of error, but it’s still a very close race and anything can happen in the final week.”

Five percent of those surveyed were undecided. Ernst got the backing of 49 percent of those polled. Braley got 45 percent support.

“Certainly one would rather be in Joni Ernst’s shoes this morning than Bruce Braley, but with a week to go, anything can happen,” Brown says.

Ernst is leading among independent voters by nine points.

“And that’s a key to victory in a state like Iowa, which is a swing state with the two parties tightly bunched together,” Brown says. “…If Ms. Ernst wins by about 10 points among independents, she’ll be difficult to beat.”

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from last Wednesday through Sunday has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Nine percent of voters said they might change their mind between now and Election Day. The Quinnipiac Poll also found Governor Branstad with a 19 point lead over Democratic challenger Jack Hatch.

Loras Poll director says Iowa’s U.S. Senate race ‘still anybody’s game’

Another poll shows Iowa’s U.S. Senate race a “toss-up.” The Loras College Poll found support for Democrat Bruce Braley at 45.3 percent and Joni Ernst at 44.2 percent.

“The last poll which we conducted at the beginning of October had them in a dead tie and this one has Congressman Braley up one percent, so I would say in terms of trends, there’s not much other than it’s persistently a close race,” Budzisz says, “and anybody’s game at this point,” says Loras College political science professor Christopher Budzisz, who directs the poll.

The Loras College Poll found Republican Governor Terry Branstad holding a 20-point lead over Democratic challenger Jack Hatch. The poll, which was conducted Tuesday through Friday of last week, has a margin of error was just under three percent.

Governor’s race getting least attention with heated congressional contests

Jack Hatch

Jack Hatch (file photo)

A University of Northern Iowa political science professor says the power of incumbency is definitely helping Republican Terry Branstad’s bid for a sixth term, but UNI’s Christopher Larimer says Branstad’s status as an incumbent means the race isn’t getting as much attention in 2014.

“I think the gubernatorial race is kind of losing out just because it’s not competitive. You know you have the Ernst/Braley race. Then in the first district you have Murphy and Blum and in the third district you have Appel and Young and even in the fourth and second district there’s competition there,” Larimer says. “The gubernatorial race is the one where we pretty much know what the outcome is going to be.”

Democratic challenger Jack Hatch hasn’t raised much money and had to pull his TV advertising off the air a few weeks ago. Hatch is back on the air with a closing ad this week that emphasizes the message that it’s time for a “fresh start.”

Governor Terry Branstad.(file photo)

Governor Terry Branstad.(file photo)

Larimer says that’s a hard argument to make. “Simply because you’re asking Iowans to ignore some of the positive economic things going on in the state, ignore the fact that well over 50-percent if not two-thirds of Iowans think the state is on the right track, so why should we change course?” Larimer said. “I mean Iowans tend to like incumbents generally.”

Larimer recently analyzed Branstad’s 2010 race which was a battle of two incumbents. “Incumbent governors in Iowa, there’s been a pretty long tradition of them staying in office, really, for as long as they want, with the exception of Governor Culver,” Larimer says. “And I think a lot of it comes down to two things: do Iowans connect with the governor and do they feel comfortable with the governor?”

Branstad has served almost three decade inside the statehouse, first as a state representative, then as lieutenant governor and, for almost 20 years, as governor. Polls have consistently shown Branstad leading Hatch by double-digits.


Vice President Biden campaigns with Democrats in Davenport

Vice President Joe Biden. (file photo)

Vice President Joe Biden. (file photo)

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Davenport today for fellow Democrat and U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley. The Vice President stuck to familiar Democratic themes saying, income equality, job creation, and Medicare are at stake in Iowa and across the country.

And he says the upcoming election is more important than 2008 and 2012 because of the rising influence of “right-wing conservatives.” “This is not your father’s Republican Party. If we don’t stop the march of the Tea Party now, those majority republicans who know better are never going to have the courage to stand up and vote the right way,” Biden says.

Braley continues to trail his Republican opponent, State Senator Joni Ernst, by a small margin in the polls. Biden directly attacked Ernst and her views on education. He chuckled several times before saying, “She’s amazing,” and then was interrupted by someone shouting in the crowd, before continuing, “No no no no no! She’s backed an old bad idea: Eliminate the Department of Education. You know, they’ve tried that one once. You know, I mean, twice, three times, five times.”

Biden’s visit wrapped up the Iowa Democratic Party’s 99-in-24 tour, an effort to campaign for candidates in all 99 counties in 24 hours. Ernst is on the campaign trail today with Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley as she is in the midst of visiting all 99 counties.


Chris Christie this past weekend, both Clintons this week

Governor Terry Branstad shakes hands with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Governor Terry Branstad shakes hands with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Iowa Democrats gathered Saturday night for a fundraiser in downtown Des Moines while at the same time Iowa Republicans gathered in a Des Moines suburb for Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign fundraiser.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — the big name get for Branstad’s “Birthday Bash” — used most of his 15-minute speech to blast President Obama.

“We’ve now had six years where the world has been adrift because of the lack and failure of American leadership,” Christie said.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.

“Chris Christie is actually here to film a movie sequel: ‘The Closed Bridges of Madison County,'” Klobuchar said, to laughter from the crowd.

Last fall aides to Christie ordered lanes on a heavily traveled bridge to be blocked, causing traffic snarls in a town where the mayor had not endorsed Christie’s bid for reelection. Christie has said he had no knowledge or involvement in the bridge closure.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was featured at the Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was featured at the Democrats’ annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

On Sunday at noon, Iowa Democrats launched a tour designed to hold an event in each of Iowa’s 99 counties within 24 hours. The blitz will conclude with a rally in Davenport late this morning featuring Vice President Joe Biden.

Also on Sunday Republican House Speaker John Boehner campaigned with David Young, the GOP candidate in Iowa’s third congressional district. Boehner plans to campaign with Republican Rod Blum in the first district and Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the second district today.

Senator Chuck Grassley will make eight campaign stops with GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst today, plus Arizona Senator John McCain and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are due to campaign with Ernst this week as well.

On Wednesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will headline two campaign rallies in eastern Iowa for Bruce Braley, the Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, then her husband — former President Bill Clinton — will campaign here for Braley on Saturday.

Photos provided by the Branstad Campaign, Democratic Party.