iowa

Where House and Presidential Races Converge

Coffman, R-Colo., faces a tough re-election race in a true presidential swing state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s going to be hard for most House races to get any attention this year, with a competitive presidential race and the fight for control of the Senate. But a handful of districts have the luxury of not only hosting a competitive House race, but also being swing areas of presidential battleground states.  

In states such as New York, California or Minnesota, House strategists and campaigns are largely on their own to motivate voters and get them to the polls. But in a few districts, House strategists and candidates can focus on persuading voters, since the presidential nominees, national parties and, in some cases, the Senate campaigns will have done the heavy lifting to get out the vote.  

Handicapping the GOP Race Past Iowa

While Trump, center, and Cruz, right, have established themselves as front-runners, Rubio has broken away from other establishment candidates. (Scott Olson/Getty Images File Photo)

Have we entered a new period in American politics, when establishment candidates on the GOP side don’t win their party’s nomination? That is the question I posed in a June 4, 2015 column . It is still a relevant question.  

While I answered that it is a mistake to assume that the establishment candidate would inevitably win the GOP nomination, I doubted that combative candidates such as Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, could pass the smell test for most Republicans.  

Trump Plays Veterans Trump Card

Santorum, left, and Huckabee, right, attended the rally that Trump, center, held after they finished their undercard debate. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Donald Trump's veterans' rally at Drake University started with a stark admission from the GOP front-runner: "I didn't want to be here. I have to be honest with you."  

The sentiment didn't seem to dampen the crowd's enthusiasm, which waited several hours in line in the cold and a couple before the candidate took the stage on Thursday to launch into a relatively standard stump speech -- the trade deficit, foreign policy, etc. --  that wove in nods to veterans' sacrifices.  

Hillary and Jeb: Destined to Play the Long Game?

Clinton greets the crowd during a Get Out the Caucus event with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at in Marion, Iowa, on Sunday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

In a previous election cycle, or maybe a previous decade, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush might, at this point, be coasting to their parties’ nominations. This cycle, however, both resemble tragic heroes — politicians who have worked hard to prepare themselves for the presidency yet face possible rejection by voters.  

Some Clinton and Bush supporters hope their candidates have an advantage that is still being underestimated: their ability to remain in their respective presidential nominating contests until voters decide to turn to them.  

Obama Suggests Trump's Dominance Is Doomed

Republican presidential candidate Trump arrives at an event at the Living History Farms Visitor Center in Urbandale, Iowa, on Jan. 15. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama poured cold water on Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican presidential primary, saying Friday he bets voters soon will look to other candidates.  

Obama suggested Trump’s big lead nationally could be doomed, saying it is merely the latest example of a long-running trend of bombastic candidates getting a lot of attention early in the process. But when it comes time to actually vote, Americans tend to get "serious" and vote for other candidates, Obama said during a YouTube-hosted online interview.  

Can Rubio Win Even If He Loses?

Rubio does not fit the typical Republican presidential candidate demographic. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Can a candidate win the Republican presidential nomination without winning one of the first three contests – Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina? We may just find out this year.  

History, of course, has already provided something of an answer. Democrat Bill Clinton didn’t win a contest in 1992 until March 3rd in the Georgia primary. He had already "lost" the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the Maine caucuses and the South Dakota primary. (Fortunately for Clinton, no one in the field won more than one of the first four contests, and his solid second-place finish in the Granite State was regarded as a  victory of sorts.)  

Ted Cruz Might Not Need Trump Supporters

Cruz and Trump embrace at a September rally at the Capitol to oppose the Iran nuclear deal. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is poised to absorb Donald Trump’s supporters when the billionaire exits the race for the GOP presidential nomination, according to one of the campaign’s most common narratives. But how many Trump supporters are open to supporting another candidate?  

The quickest analysis of the Republican race divides candidates into distinct establishment and anti-establishment lanes, including lumping Trump, Cruz and Ben Carson supporters together as a monolithic force that is interchangeable between the candidates.  

Top Races in 2016: The Plains States

Supporters of Joni Ernst celebrate on Election Night 2014 after hearing that their candidate had won. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

This is the fifth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races in 2016. The Plains Region covers Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.  

Iowa 3rd District: Democrats are targeting freshman Rep. David Young, but the congressman’s district isn’t as favorable for a challenge as GOP Rep. Rod Blum’s 1st District. Obama won the 3rd with 51 percent in 2012 and 52 percent in 2008. Three Democrats are in the race including investment executive Mike Scherzan, Iraq War veteran/former Steve King challenger Jim Mowrer, and businessman Desmund Adams. This is a must-win seat for Democrats in a race that will probably be dominated by spending from the campaign committees.  

Why Trump Would Get Out of the Race

Trump speaks Tuesday before a public signing for his new book at the Trump Tower Atrium in New York. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

For Donald Trump and his brand, “winning” is of utmost importance. While his relentless talk about American exceptionalism is appealing to GOP primary voters, Trump’s personal success in life and his front-runner status in the Republican contest are other elements of the billionaire businessman’s appeal. Everybody likes a winner, after all, especially when that winner is sticking it to the establishment.  

Unfortunately for Trump, his early lead in the polls and his belief in the certainty of his success have sown the seeds of his own inevitable political destruction.  

Don’t Blame Gerrymandering for GOP Civil War

Some believe that Boehner's run as speaker was a victim of redistricting, but that's not the whole story. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Blame the earmark ban or Republican leaders. Blame Ted Cruz or even Justin Bieber. But don’t blame gerrymandering for the fighting in the House.  

As Republicans labor through replacing Speaker John A. Boehner, bemoaning redistricting has become a common refrain in explaining the GOP civil war.