nebraska

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.  

Key Races in 2016: Politicial Landscape Taking Shape

A few key races across the country next year will determine the balance of power in the Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

   

Election Day is more than a year away, but the field of most competitive Senate and House races is already starting to take shape. While the political environment could change over the next 17 months, the landscape is largely set as a handful of races in each region will likely decide the majorities in the next Congress.  

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Plains Region

Blum faces a competitive race in Iowa to hold onto his seat in the House. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

   

Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Plains Region includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.  

Election Eve Updates from The Rothenberg Political Report

With just hours before Election Day, the only question is how good of a night it will be for Republicans.  

In the Senate, the following states have been updated: Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and West Virginia .  

A Good Year May Not Save These Three Vulnerable House Republicans

Southerland has disappointed in his bid for re-election, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In his recent column, “Weak GOP Candidates May Need More Than a Good Year ,” Stu Rothenberg pointed out how a handful of under-performing Senate candidates could cost Republicans the majority. Similarly, though the House of Representatives is not in play, a trio of GOP incumbents could cost their party larger gains in the House.  

Even as the House landscape continues to shift in Republicans’ favor , Reps. Lee Terry of Nebraska, Steve Southerland II of Florida and Michael G. Grimm of New York are perched atop the list of most vulnerable incumbents . And it’s not hard to see why.  

GOP Opportunities Expand in the House

Regardless of whether you want to call it a wave, the fight for the House continues to creep into Democratic territory.  

Many of the Republican incumbents who were expected to have challenging races this cycle, including New York Rep. Chris Gibson, Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman and Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, are starting the general-election sprint in stronger-than-expected position. Also, some Democratic incumbents, such as New York’s Dan Maffei, are in much closer races than anticipated. And now some hot spots, such as Hawaii’s 1st District, are popping up as potential Democratic headaches and look vulnerable.  

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Plains States

Ernst campaigns at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There aren’t many competitive races in the Plains States, but the region features some critical contests that could signal how well Republicans and Democrats are faring across the country.  

A trio of races dropped off the regional top five list since last summer . The South Dakota Senate race is a likely Republican takeover and not worth watching at this point. Neither is the Nebraska Senate race after former Bush administration official Ben Sasse won the Republican primary. And Iowa’s 1st District is a long shot for Republicans.  

Rating Change: Nebraska’s 2nd District

Lee Terry is a Nebraska Republican. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., has a history of making races closer than they need to be — and 2014 appears to be no different.  

Even though midterm turnout in Nebraska’s 2nd District should benefit the Republican, his inability to boost his own numbers and the potential that two third party candidates will make the November ballot raise questions about the Republican’s electoral health. It’s been a roller coaster race for Democrats who touted and then lost their top recruit in Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen. But the party bounced back with state Sen. Brad Ashford, who appears to be a credible candidate.  

Lee Terry's Seat Gives Republicans Heartburn in Nebraska

Terry is a Republican from Nebraska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., could be in a heap of political trouble this year  — again.  

Earlier this month, Terry posted a lackluster primary performance , winning his party's nod by just 8 points over a lesser-known competitor. Since then, a conservative spoiler has entered the November race with Terry and the Democratic nominee, state Sen. Brad Ashford.  

Ben Sasse, Mystery Man

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I am not at all certain who or what Ben Sasse is. I interviewed him in February, and heard him speak to a large, sympathetic group not long after that. And, of course, I’ve seen him interviewed by others. But I still don’t have a handle on what kind of senator he will be.  

In that regard, at least, the Nebraska GOP Senate nominee is very different from Sen. Ted Cruz. After talking with Cruz a couple of times when he was still seeking the GOP nomination last cycle, I understood the Texan’s philosophy and his approach to politics in general and the legislative process in particular.