Friday, November 27, 2015

New Scientific Poll of Iowa Caucuses

By Steffen Schmidt

Ben Carson and Hillary Clinton lead in the race for president in Iowa, according to a new poll from Iowa State University and WHO-HD. Some of the other results are more surprising.

Of likely Democratic caucus goers Clinton has support from 49.5 percent, Bernie Sanders 27.8, 13.7 percent are undecided, and 6.3 percent said they would vote for someone else ("other.") Martin O'Malley came in with a surprisingly low 2.7 percent.

Of likely Republican caucus goers Ben Carson has support from 27.2 percent, Marco Rubio is second with 16.7 percent; undecided voters are third, making up 16.2 percent; and Donald Trump is fourth with 14.7 percent. This is the first major scientific poll showing Trump so far behind. The rest of the Republican field came in as follows:

· Ted Cruz - 8.9 percent
· Jeb Bush - 4.9 percent
· Rand Paul - 3.3 percent
· Carly Fiorina - 1.8 percent
· John Kasich - 1.1 percent
· Mike Huckabee - 0.9 percent
· Chris Christie - 0.4 percent
· Lindsey Graham - 0.4 percent
· Rick Santorum - 0.2 percent

These numbers suggest that many of the GOP contenders need to consider dropping out unless their numbers pick up soon.

Attention to the 2016 caucuses is very high with 81 percent of those polled saying they are following the race in Iowa either "very closely" or "somewhat closely."

About half of those polled also said they "definitely" have decided or are "leaning" towards supporting a specific candidate in the race. When asked what traits they found most important from candidates "honest and trustworthy" was first at 38 percent, while "takes strong stands" came in second at 20.8 percent.

"The economy in general" was cited by 22.2 percent as the most important issue for 2016. The other issues ranked as follows:

· Dissatisfaction with government, Congress - 10.9 percent
· Federal budget defect, federal debt - 10.0 percent
· Gap between rich and poor - 6.3 percent
· Terrorism - 6.2 percent
· Morality, ethics, religious issues family decline, dishonesty - 5.5 percent
· Health care, health insurance - 4.6 percent
· Foreign policy, foreign aid, focus overseas - 4.1 percent
· Immigration, illegal aliens - 4.1 percent
· Unemployment, jobs - 3.2 percent
· Education - 2.3 percent
· The Environment, pollution - 2.2 percent
· Poverty, hunger, homelessness - 1.1 percent
· Crime, violence - 0.7 percent
· Race relations, racism - 0.6 percent
· Judicial system, courts, laws - 0.1 percent

We expect terrorism to rise as an issue of concern in the coming days.

The most surprising response was the low ranking of illegal immigration, which has been featured so prominently in the media and the emphasis of the Republican candidates.

The poll was conducted by phone with 1,074 registered voters between November 2-15. Margin of error is approximately 3 percent. For more information please contact the ISU Political Science Department, 515-294-7256 Prof. Mack Shelley.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ernst says never to presidential run

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst tells the Sioux City Journal that she will never run for president.

Congressman Young statement on terrorism and refugees

Congressman David Young, a Republican representing the Third District, released the following statement on terrorism and refugees:

Congressman David Young
What happened in Paris is devastating and an act of pure evil. I know all across Iowa and America our hearts and prayers go out to France and her people.

Our hearts also go out to those refugees fleeing from the violence and terror in Syria. We are a generous nation and have always welcomed those from abroad who are escaping war and oppression. We will continue to be involved in providing assistance to these children, women and men.

However, we are in a very dangerous position as we consider opening our doors to those escaping violence in Syria and Iraq. It didn't have to be this way. From the beginning, President Obama has not taken the threat of ISIS as serious as a commander-in-chief should. On the morning of the Paris terrorist attacks, the president said ISIS was "contained" - just hours before they carried out one of the most deadly and sophisticated attacks since 9/11. The disconnect is alarming to Congress and to the American people.

Now the Obama administration is charging full speed ahead on a plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States with no reliable way to vet whether these individuals are members of ISIS or have ties to other terrorist organizations. This makes me think back to 2009, when a flaw in the screening of Iraqi refugees allowed two al Qaeda-linked terrorists to enter the United States and settle in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In the aftermath of this case the Obama administration halted the refugee program for Iraqis for six months.

It is clear, we need to press the pause button on the Syria refugee process. The most solemn and consequential responsibility of the federal government is to protect the American people. ISIS has publicly threatened to launch terror attacks on American soil, just like the threats they made to France before this attack and to Russia before downing a Russian passenger plane two weeks ago.

Department of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson said, "It is true that we are not going to know a whole lot about the Syrians that come forth in this process."

FBI Director James Comey stated, "My concern there is that there are certain gaps I don't want to talk about publicly in the data available to us."

It would be reckless for the Administration and Congress to not take ISIS threats seriously. We have an obligation to implement a well-thought-out process ensuring - without question - any refugee admitted to the United States has been extensively vetted.

That is why I joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 289 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act. This bill would require the Homeland Security Secretary, FBI Director, and Director of National Intelligence to certify refugees from countries with ISIS strongholds are properly vetted to ensure they are not affiliated with this terrorist organization. This is a commonsense step the federal government is required to take to fulfill its duty to protect Americans.

The refugee crisis is a symptom to the broader problem: the lack of a coherent strategy to combat ISIS. The refugee crisis will persist and the very real threat of terrorist attacks on American soil will loom until these terrorists are defeated.

Last week Congress passed a bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act - the annual bill to set defense policies for the upcoming year. The bill would require the president to finally put together a strategy to end ISIS' occupation of the Middle East. President Obama has threatened to veto it. It's time for America to lead. The president needs to sign this bill and put together a strategy to protect America, aid Syrian refugees, and work with our allies to defeat ISIS. 

We must all work together to combat this international threat against our way of life. I will work with anyone willing to achieve the goal of peace and respect for all.

Older voters owned Carroll County, Iowa elections

73.6% of voters were 50 and older; and only 17 people under 25 voted in City of Carroll

Carroll Daily Times Herald

Just 39 people under age 25 voted in municipal elections throughout all cities in Carroll County Nov. 3, according to the Auditor’s Office.

That’s just 1.5 percent of the total voters who cast ballots in those elections. On Election Day, there were 1,105 eligible voters in Carroll County between the ages of 18 and 24.

“Without voting, they’re not really securing that representation,” said Carroll County Auditor Kourtney Irlbeck.

Meanwhile, continuing a trend the Daily Times Herald has reported over the last decade, older voters showed in up in relatively large numbers. Factoring in all city elections this November in Carroll County, 73.6 percent of the voters were 50 and older — and 42.3 percent were 65 and older.

Comparing U.S. Census and election data reveals that seniors in Carroll County dramatically increased the influence of their actual population in the local elections.

According to the 2014 Census estimate, 19.2 percent of Carroll County’s population of 20,562 is 65 and older.

Seniors also posted the highest turnout with 1,054 of the 3,106 registered voters over 64 — or 33.9 percent turning casting ballots.

Countywide, voter turnout for all ages stood at 21.4 percent.

The 440 voters between the ages of 35 and 49 made up 17.6 percent of the voters, and the 178 voters between the ages of 25 and 34 accounted for 7.1 percent of the total vote in the county.

The balance of power in local elections for seniors holds for the City of Carroll, too.

According to election data, of the 1,810 voters in the Carroll city election — in which there were three contested City Council seats — 75 percent of the voters were 50 and older. People 65 and older made up 44.3 percent of the total vote Nov. 3 in the City of Carroll.

There were only 17 people under age 25 who cast ballots in the City of Carroll in this last local election.

In the City of Carroll, the 115 voters between the ages of 35 and 49 represented 17.7 percent of the total vote in the city. And the 115 people ages 25-34 represented 6.4 percent of the total vote.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sanders statement on Trump Muslim comments

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders issued the following statement today on Donald Trump's call for the creation of a database system to register Muslims:

"This is an outrageous and bigoted statement. Mr. Trump should be ashamed of himself. We will not destroy ISIS by undermining the Constitution and our religious freedoms."

Friday, November 20, 2015

What would Opa Trump say?


Immigration was the centerpiece of Donald Trump’s campaign kickoff, and it was again at center stage at the recent GOP Fox Business debate. 

At his kickoff, Trump famously said of Mexican immigrants, “...they’re sending (immigrants) that have lots of problems. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

And there’s the supreme irony of Donald Trump’s crusade against immigrants:

He is one of them.

That’s right. Trump is the grandson of Friedrich Drumpf, a German immigrant.

So are over one-third of all Iowans.

That German heritage makes Trump’s scapegoating of Mexican immigrants especially ironic, since Iowans’ German forebears were similarly scapegoated for much of Iowa’s history.

Researching our documentary “Whiskey Cookers: The Amazing True Story of the Templeton Bootleggers,” we discovered that the German-American ethnic identity was an essential part of the bootlegging story in western Iowa.  It helped explain the socio-ethnic cohesion — especially in the face of the anti-German xenophobia — that created an environment where bootlegging was not only tolerated, but a pathway to express ethnic pride.

What does that have to do with Donald Trump and immigration? 


German immigrants settled Iowa from territorial days.  But in the years immediately following the 1848 German Revolution, when the United States had a population of 23 million, 1.5 million Germans emigrated to America, increasing the population by 6.5 percent.  In 1880, there were 261,650 foreign-born immigrants living in Iowa — fully 16 percent of the population.  Today’s immigrants in Iowa are a blip by comparison — just 97,000, or 3.2 percent.

Iowa’s German immigrants had a reputation for hard work.  They were also stereotyped and resented for speaking German, drinking too much beer, fighting too much, and their religion. 

In the 1850s, the anti-immigrant “Know Nothing” Party accused newly arrived Germans of stealing elections by buying the votes of their fellow immigrants with steins of beer or bottles of whiskey — the 19th century version of today’s ballot-security controversies.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union attributed much of the nation’s social ills to immigrants and their peculiar addiction — alcoholism.  The WCTU even set up a pavilion on Ellis Island to educate immigrants on the error of their ways before they set foot on the American mainland.
When World War I came, all hell broke loose.

Thousands of Iowans marched against the German Kaiser — including the German-American boys whose families had just emigrated from Germany.

Yet on the home front, another war was being waged — against many of those same German immigrants families.  In Denison, German-language books were burned.  In Manning, the offices of the German-language newspaper, Das Manning Herold, were vandalized.  In Audubon, a German-immigrant farmer was dragged around the square by a noose until he agreed to buy Liberty Bonds.  In Gray, a minister was nearly lynched for preaching in German. 

Throughout the state, and the nation, extra-judicial Citizen Defense Councils held kangaroo courts to determine if citizens were being sufficiently patriotic — with German-Americans frequently targeted. 

Iowa Gov. William Harding issued an executive order — the infamous Babel Proclamation — forbidding citizens from communicating in any language except English in any public place — including churches. 

Nor did World War I’s conclusion end the anti-German hatred and discrimination in Iowa.
In the 1920s, Iowa’s German immigrants faced discrimination and hate from a group new to the Hawkeye state: the Ku Klux Klan.  The 1920s Klan was very active in the Midwest, and chose new targets: bootleggers, immigrants and Catholics — three groups they saw, not without reason, as overlapping.  The 1920s Klan in Iowa  burned crosses to intimidate immigrants, and trafficked in hysterical anti-Catholicism, circulating pamphlets claiming that the Catholic Knights of Columbus required their members to take an oath to, upon orders from Rome, murder their Protestant neighbors.
Western Iowa’s German-Catholics circled the wagons, organizing new Knights of Columbus chapters — a group founded on outreach to immigrants.  They continued to hold their German Saints Day feast, but added a new secular character: Uncle Sam.

And Opa Trump?

A recent book, “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire,” lays out the fascinating immigrant history — and paradoxes — of the Trump family.

Friedrich Drumpf arrived in the U.S. in 1885 — ironically, three years after passage of America’s first anti-immigrant law, the Chinese Exclusion Act — and promptly Americanized his name to Frederick Trump.  Trump came from Kallstadt in northern Bavaria, the same exact region from which many western Iowans emigrated. 

Once in America, Trump headed west, settling in Seattle and then the Yukon, where he ran saloons that rented “private rooms” — the sort of activity that sparked deep protest from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

One parallel between grandfather and grandson: they both prefer European brides.  Frederick Trump returned to the Old Country to court the “fräulein” next door — Donald Trump’s grandmother.
But like the immigrants of today, Opa Trump was incredibly hardworking, laying the foundation for the family dynasty that created the success that is Donald Trump.

Some may protest that Frederick Trump and his fellow German immigrants can’t be compared to today’s immigrants — while they were technically “undocumented” immigrants with no visa, they weren’t illegal immigrants. True.  But they were accused of being impossibly un-American, and incapable of being assimilated into America’s mainstream.  Political cartoons of the era portray German immigrants as subhuman and backward drunkards, unable to speak English and stealing ballot boxes at election time.

Given the Trump family history, and given the history of German-American Iowans being on the receiving end of anti-immigrant hatred, prejudice and violence, the anti-immigrant chords being struck in Iowa by Trump and others show shocking ignorance of our shared history.
It also shows a shameful insensitivity not just to today’s immigrants, but to the memory of Iowa’s own German immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents — and to Opa Trump.

Now, anyone who Googles my name could counter argue that (1) I’m not an Iowan; and (2) I’m a former Democrat political consultant.  Guilty as charged.  That said (1) my family came to Iowa in 1848, and I maintain deep ties to the state. (2) My great-grandfather John Klinkefus from Shelby County used to get bullied for speaking German; so this issue is personal for me. (3) As to partisanship, while I am former Democratic consultant, my bipartisan bona fides are equally strong — I have worked for several Republicans, including men who worked for Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger and George H.W. Bush. 

I can absolutely see why voters are drawn to Donald Trump.  I just want them to be honest about Iowa’s own immigrant past.

For the grandchildren of Iowa’s German immigrants to ignore our common immigrant history and to feel no empathy when dealing with today’s Latino immigrants is unconscionable. 

The starting point for Iowans when debating immigration surely has to be to acknowledge that we are the grandchildren of immigrants — and that our families have also suffered discrimination. 

Iowans should remember their own immigrant heritage, and their own immigrant history, and in so doing act with a bit more empathy on immigration.

(Editor’s Note: Dan Manatt is director of Democracy Films and of the documentary “Whiskey Cookers: The Amazing True Story of Templeton’s Bootleggers.”)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Breaking news from Carroll Daily Times Herald

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rubio campaigning in Carroll

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican candidate for the presidency, will be hosting a town hall in Carroll on Monday, Nov. 23 at Greasewood Flats Ranch located at 1607 Griffith Road.
Sen. Marco Rubio

Doors will open at 8 a.m. with the town hall starting at 8:30 a.m. The event is open to the full public.

Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers, an active Republican, and State Rep. Brian Best, R-Glidden, have endorsed Rubio.

The latest Real Clear Politics average of major national polls among Republican voters has real-estate mogul Donald Trump leading the GOP presidential field with 24.8 support compared with 24.4 percent for Dr. Ben Carson, a surgeon and author. Rubio is in third at 11.8 percent. The polling is an average running from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

U.S. Senate leader gives Jefferson Dairy Queen a shout out

Who needs sprinkles and nuts when you get glowing Congressional floor speech topping your ice cream.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky Tuesday talked about Jefferson’s Dairy Queen while spinning anecdotes about colleague Charles Grassley, the Iowa lawmaker who just passed the 12,000-vote milestone — the last 7,474 of them consecutive.

McConnell recognized Grassley’s work ethic, noting that besides not missing a Senate vote since 1993, the Iowan visits all 99 counties in his state every year — a feat known nationally — and generally spoken with great fondness and affection — as “The Full Grassley.”

Recently, Grassley, an Iowa Republican, completed another Full Grassley. And McConnell delighted in telling his Senate colleagues about Grassley’s way of treating himself after the town-hall, school-visit, business-tour endurance test.

“He gets a blizzard from Dairy Queen,” McConnell said in his Leader’s remarks to open Senate business. “Sometimes chocolate. Sometimes vanilla. But always swirled with Snickers. This year, he got to DQ so early he had to wait in the parking lot.”

And where was the Dairy Queen?

“He Tweeted about it,” McConnell said. “Here’s what he said: ‘I’m at the Jefferson Iowa Dairy Queen doing you know what.’”

Monday, November 02, 2015

Huckabee: If abortion is made illegal, women shouldn't be punished for having one

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is pro-life. He’s opposed to abortion and believes life begins at conception.

So what if his position prevails, and abortion is again illegal in the United States? In that case, what should the penalty be for a woman who has an abortion or a physician who performs one?
Mike Huckabee

The Carroll (Iowa) Daily Times Herald put the question to Huckabee Friday during an interview on the sidewalk outside of Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches in downtown Carroll.

Here’s Huckabee’s answer:

“The penalty shouldn’t be upon the woman,” Huckabee said. “In most every case, the woman having an abortion is also a victim. She’s either been talked into it by her friend, her boyfriend, her mother, her grandmother.”

Leading Chicago Latino: Rubio ‘callous’ on immigration

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia
Marco Rubio wants to change the very immigration system that allowed his family to migrate to the United States from Cuba.

And the Republican presidential candidate’s call in the CNBC debate last week for a move from immigration based on family ties to a merit evaluation won’t sit well with the Latino community, says Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County (Illinois) Commissioner whose progressive campaign forced a run-off in the recent Chicago mayoral campaign.

“It seems rather inconsistent and callous because I think immigration in America has always had a connection to family,” Garcia, a Chicago political veteran who drew national attention with his challenge to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in an interview with this newspaper in Des Moines Saturday.

Ending family chain migration abruptly doesn’t make sense, Garcia said.

“Family is a great connector of people who are being productive and contributing to this country,” Garcia said. “While it shouldn’t be the only factor in determining who can come here, it has to remain one of the central facets of our immigration system.”

Garcia, who dramatically boosted Latino turnout in his mayoral bid, said it is going to be challenging for Rubio to maintain his position on immigration.

“It may be beneficial to him in winning the Republican nomination,” Garcia said. “But in a general election it will come back to bite him.”

The topic of uniting families is “near and dear” to Latinos, Garcia said.

In CNBC debate Rubio called for a major overhaul to the immigration system.

“Today, we have a legal immigration system for permanent residency that is largely based on whether or not you have a relative living here.,” Rubio said. “And that’s the way my parents came legally in 1956. But in 2015, we have a very different economy. Our legal immigration system from now on has to be merit-based. It has to be based on what skills you have, what you can contribute economically.”

Garcia attended the League of United Latin American Citizens dinner and awards banquet at the Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn where he, among other things, advocated for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders.

Sanders doesn’t take money from Super PACs, and that’s key, Garcia said in a speech.

“Big special interests have come to dominate politics in our country,” he said, adding that he has been a “long-time admirer” of Sanders’ politics.

Friday, October 30, 2015

O’Malley reaches for reins as Obama’s loyal heir

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley spoke to about 20 people at a union hall in Denison, Iowa today.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley Friday afternoon sought to position himself as the fresh face of his party with challenges to what he says are electability and loyalty issues with his primary opponents.

“We’re not going to solve our problems by debating the pros and cons of socialism,” O’Malley said. “We’re not going to solve our problems by declaring that all Republicans are our enemies.”

O’Malley added, “I do believe our country is looking for a new leader and they’re going to find it in one party or the other.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders self identifies as democratic socialist. Hillary Clinton said in the CNN Democratic debate that some of the enemies she is most proud of making are Republicans.

Saying it is “compare and contrast” time, O’Malley, during speech at the United Food and Commercial Workers Union hall in Denison, said Sanders betrayed President Obama before the 2012 election cycle by seeking to recruit a more left-leaning primary challenger for Obama. O’Malley did not identify any of the potential 2012 Democratic candidates.

“A lot of us like Barack Obama,” O’Malley said. “In fact, when Senator Sanders was trying to get somebody to primary Barack Obama four years ago I was stepping up and working very hard for his re-election.”

After the speech the Carroll Daily Times Herald asked O’Malley directly if he thinks Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, exhibited disloyalty to Obama during the president’s re-election campaign.

“Yes, I do,” O’Malley said. “I think that the president inherited a big mountain of challenges and what he needed was support in being re-elected. He didn’t need a challenge from the left or a challenge from within the party.”

O’Malley said he was out “early and strong” for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

“Senator Sanders, meanwhile, was trying to recruit somebody to primary the president,” O’Malley said.

In an interview Saturday night in Des Moines, Sanders’ state campaign director Robert Becker dismissed the O’Malley claim as unfounded political nonsense. He said Sanders and Obama are friends.

Becker, who attended the League of United Latin American Citizens dinner in Des Moines, pointed out that Sanders continues to draw large, enthusiastic crowds in Iowa.

About 20 people attended the O’Malley event in Denison.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Loras College Poll finds Braley and Ernst tied

DUBUQUE, Iowa— With less than a month to go, the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is all tied up according to the results of the new Loras College Poll released today. The first October Loras College Poll of the U.S. Senate race in Iowa yielded the following result:

Bruce Braley              42.1 percent
Joni Ernst                  42.4 percent
Other Candidate         3.7 percent
Undecided                  11.8 percent
These new results from a survey conducted October 1-3, 2014, indicate a rise in support for Ernst since the Loras College Poll taken at the beginning of September. That poll showed Braley with the advantage.

Name Identification and Favorability—Comparison of Loras College Poll Results

Bruce Braley                          October                      September                  June              

Heard of, favorable                 37.0 percent                36.3 percent                35.8 percent  
Heard of, unfavorable             35.8 percent                33.7 percent                25.7 percent
Heard of, no opinion               18.8 percent                20.3 percent                25.0 percent
Never heard of/refused             8.4 percent                  9.6 percent                13.5 percent              

Joni Ernst                              October                      September                  June              

Heard of, favorable                 42.5 percent                36.9 percent                42.2 percent
Heard of, unfavorable             37.2 percent                39.5 percent                29.2 percent
Heard of, no opinion               14.7 percent                16.8 percent                20.3 percent
Never heard of/refused             5.6 percent                  6.8 percent                  8.3 percent

“Our latest results indicate that State Senator Ernst has recaptured some of the momentum she possessed at the beginning of this important race for control of the U.S. Senate,” commented Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D.

“Ernst’s favorability ratings have returned to levels we found immediately following the June primary. While our September poll found Ernst’s unfavorable rating higher than her favorable rating, this most recent poll finds Ernst has righted that ship. It is important to note that despite the campaign advertising, Congressman Braley has managed to always have his favorable rating above his unfavorable in our poll results. That is impressive given the media barrage on both candidates,” said Budzisz.

Preferences of No-Party Registrants

The Loras College Poll asked respondents to identify their party registration and their sense and strength of partisan affiliation.

“Braley and Ernst displayed similar patterns of support from their respective parties, with both enjoying strong support from the party faithful. The battle appears to be for those who are registered as No-Party. Traditionally, this segment of the Iowa electorate accounts for around a quarter of all voters in a midterm election,” Budzisz commented.

Of those all-important, No-Party registrants (comprising 21.5 percent of our random sample), the results for the U.S. Senate race were as follows:

No-Party Registrants

Braley                          34.1 percent
Ernst                            42.6 percent
Other Candidate           6.2 percent
Undecided                  17.1 percent

Beyond the No-Party registrants, Democratic and Republican registrants may view themselves more as independents than partisans, and still others may respond that they are unsure as to which party they see themselves belonging.

“Amongst all those voters who responded that they view themselves as politically independent or with an unsure affiliation, regardless of their specific registration, the news for Congressman Braley is better as he and Ernst exactly split this group 37.7 percent to 37.7 percent,” said Budzisz.

Sentiments of voters on President Obama’s performance in office and the direction of the country serve as an important backdrop to this midterm election. The Loras College Poll surveyed likely voters in Iowa on both of these issues.

Job Performance of President Obama
Comparison of Loras College Poll Results

October                       September                   June               
Approve                      40.8 percent                40.7 percent                42.5 percent
Disapprove                  52.2 percent                53.0 percent                54.2 percent
Unsure/Refused            7.0 percent                  6.4 percent                  3.4 percent

President Obama’s job performance ratings remain virtually unchanged from previous polls.

“Many Iowans remain critical of President Obama, and it is clear that this fact is having an impact on the Senate campaign from ads and mailers to campaign talking points,” Budzisz remarked. “The same general persistent negative pattern holds for the assessment of the direction of the country as it has for President Obama’s job approval.”

Direction of Country
Comparison of Loras College Poll Results

                                    October                       September                   June               
Right Track                 27.5 percent                24.8 percent                30.7 percent
Wrong Direction         58.0 percent                59.5 percent                58.5 percent
Unsure/Refused          14.5 percent                15.7 percent                10.9 percent

Military Action and the Islamic State

Given President Obama’s recent deployment of U.S. military forces in coalition operations against the Islamic State, or ISIS, the Loras College Poll asked voters whether they support this military action and whether or not they believe that the current strategy will be successful in defeating this organization.

Current U.S. Military Action against Islamic State/ISIS

Support Action                                   66.0 percent
Oppose Action                                    15.3 percent
Unsure/No Opinion                             18.7 percent

While a clear majority of respondents support the current military action, a plurality (43.3 percent) of respondents do not expect the current strategy to succeed in defeating the Islamic State.  Nearly a third more are unsure of the strategy’s expected success.

Expectation that Strategy will succeed

Yes, expect it will succeed                 24.8 percent
No, expect it will not succeed            43.3 percent
Unsure/No Opinion                             31.8 percent

The Loras College Poll surveyed 600 likely 2014 general election voters; statewide results have a 4 percent margin of error.  The survey was conducted October 1-3, 2014.

·         Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters (from official Iowa Secretary of State voter file) who voted in the 2012 general election or who have registered since the 2012 election.
·         Likely voter was defined within the sample drawn as those self-indicating they were “extremely likely” or “very likely” to vote in the 2014 election.
·         While the sample was balanced for standard demographic variables such as age, gender and geography, it was not weighted for party.
·         Survey included both landlines (80 percent) and cell phones (20 percent).
·         The survey was conducted using live operator interviews through a contracted professional call center.
·         Script development and methodology used for the survey received input from Republican campaign consultant Steve Grubbs, and Democrat campaign consultant Dave Heller.

Al Jazeera America Presents Behind-The-Scenes Look at U.S. Politics and Three Definitive Political Races in “Midterms”

New Three-Part Documentary from Director AJ Schnack (“Caucus”) Goes Inside Four Key Political Races in Three Swing States: Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina -- October 19, October 26 and November 2

NEW YORK– September 18, 2014 - Al Jazeera America today announced that Midterms, a three-episode documentary series focused on the upcoming American elections in 2014, will air Sunday, October 19th, Sunday, October 26th and Sunday, November 2nd at 9p ET/6p PT.

Chronicling four bellwether races in three swing states – Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina --Midterms is a portrait of the campaigns, issues and individuals in the year’s most heated political races. AJ Schnack, who directed the 2013 film “Caucus” about the 2011-12 Republican race in the Iowa Caucus, gained unprecedented access to the candidates and their staffs, going inside races that have the potential for political upsets that could predict the national mood come November 2014.  An up-close, unbiased examination of U.S. politics, Midterms shows the personal and human side of running for office and the issues that may define the 2014 national elections, including health care, immigration and government spending in Washington.

“Midterms is a fly-on-the-wall look at some of the most hotly contested political races in the country,” said Shannon High-Bassalik, senior vice-president, documentaries and programs. “AJ’s unique access to the campaigns gives us a sense of what the candidates are really facing, as they tackle issues like outside money, negative campaigning, controversial ads, and the changing demographics in their districts.”

“We want the audience to have a close-up, intimate portrait of these candidates and the issues that will define 2014,” says Midterms director AJ Schnack. “We're thrilled to be working with Al Jazeera America to bring viewers a truly unprecedented, bi-partisan look at these races as they are unfolding.”

In Iowa, where 40% of voters are neither Democrat nor Republican, Midterms follows two tightly contested races. Al Jazeera America goes inside the race for the first open Senate seat in Iowa in nearly 40 years between Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley and Republican State Senator Joni Ernst. There, Ernst’s TV ads have helped even up a race that many had thought was safely democratic.

Schnack follows the Iowa race for one of the most competitive seats in the country: the House race for retiring Republican Tom Latham’s seat between former Democratic Iowa State Senator Staci Appel and Republican David Young.

In swing state Colorado, Midterms tracks a race in the competitive 6th district in the eastern suburbs of Denver, with Republican incumbent Mike Coffman challenged by former Democratic Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. “Mike Coffman’s taking Spanish, Mike Coffman’s learning Korean,” Lynn Bartels, political reporter for The Denver Post, says about the candidates’ efforts to address the district’s changing demographics.
And in closely contested North Carolina, we follow what could be a $100 million Senate race between Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan challenged by North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis.
Midterms is directed by AJ Schnack with producer Shirley Moyers and director of photography Nathan Truesdell. They are joined by series producer John Mernit, acclaimed filmmaker/editors Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol) and Jason Tippet (Only the Young), noted illustrator for the Des Moines Register, Mark Marturello and graphics designers Juan Cardarelli and Eric Levy (Undefeated).
Al Jazeera America’s documentary unit brings critically-acclaimed, long-form storytelling to audiences on Sunday evenings as part of the “Al Jazeera America Presents” strand.  Previously aired documentaries Borderland, a four-part documentary series on immigration; The System with Joe Berlinger, an eight-episode series by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger that explores the criminal justice system in the United States, and Edge of Eighteen by Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney.
Al Jazeera America is available in more than 60 million homes in the U.S. on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV Channel 347, Dish Network Channel 215, Verizon FiOS Channel 614 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 1219. To find Al Jazeera America in your area, visit
About Al Jazeera America
Al Jazeera America is the new U.S. news channel that provides both domestic and international news for American audiences. It is headquartered in New York City with bureaus in 12 cities across the United States.
Visit Al Jazeera America online at for the latest updates.You can also like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @AJAM ( and join the conversation using #AlJazeeraAmerica.
About AJ Schnack
AJ Schnack is a nonfiction filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.  He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of Southern Illinois.
His most recent film is Caucus (2013), a cinéma vérité portrait of the 2011-12 Republican race to first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus. The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto and celebrated its US Premiere in June as the Closing Night Film at the inaugural AFI Docs in Washington, D.C.
Schnack also recently released We Always Lie to Strangers (2013), about four families dealing with change and economic challenges in the tourist town of Branson, Missouri. The film debuted at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, where it won the jury prize for Directing. His previous films include the ensemble documentary Convention (2009), which was released by IFC Films/Sundance Selects; Kurt Cobain About a Son (2006), which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was released theatrically in North America, France, Japan, Brazil, Australia and aired on More4 in the United Kingdom; and Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns (2002), which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and was released theatrically in North America by Cowboy Pictures.
In addition to the 2013 SXSW Directing Prize, Schnack won the award for Best Director at the 2013 Philadelphia Film Festival for Caucus. He was also nominated for a 2007 Independent Spirit Award for Kurt Cobain About a Son and was the first recipient of AFI Silverdocs' Cinematic Vision Award for that same film.  He was recently an editor on Michael Rapaport's Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics and won the Producers Guild Award for Best Documentary.
He is the Founding Director of the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking, which held its 7th annual ceremony at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City in January 2014.  From 2005-2011, he wrote the popular nonfiction film blog, All these wonderful things.  He has served on juries at Sheffield Doc/Fest, CPH:DOX, DokuFest Kosovo, Los Angeles, AFI Silverdocs, Miami, Sarasota, Denver, Ashland and the Independent Spirit Awards & has curated panels at Sheffield Doc/Fest, AFI Silverdocs and True/False.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Braley holds lead in Loras poll as Ernst's favorabilty numbers plunge

Senator Joni Ernst
Congressman Bruce Braley
DUBUQUE — Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley holds a 4.8 percent edge over Republican State Senator Joni Ernst in one of the key races for control of the U.S. Senate. The post-Labor Day Loras College Poll of the U.S. Senate race in Iowa yielded the following result:

Bruce Braley              45.3 percent
Joni Ernst                  40.5 percent
Undecided                  14.2 percent

These new results show a decline in support for Ernst from the Loras College Poll taken immediately after the primaries in June. That poll showed Ernst leading the race 48.0 percent to 41.7 percent.

The U.S. Senate race in Iowa has garnered national attention, with two competitive candidates vying for the open seat created by the retirement of Democratic Senator Tom Harkin.

“Most analysts have had the Ernst-Braley race as a ‘toss-up,’ and our new poll finds Congressman Braley with a slight edge, with the trend in his direction,” said Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D. “It’s clear that the heavy negative advertising has taken its toll on Ernst.  In June, 42 percent of likely voters viewed her favorably, while just 29 percent had an unfavorable view. Her unfavorable rating has now jumped to over 39 percent and exceeds her favorable rating. Both candidates have seen their unfavorable rating increase, but Ernst’s is a more notable increase,” Budzisz remarked.

Comparison of September and June Loras College Poll Results

Bruce Braley                          September                              June______

Heard of, favorable                 36.3 percent                            35.8 percent              
Heard of, unfavorable             33.7 percent                            25.7 percent
Heard of, no opinion               20.3 percent                            25.0 percent
Never heard of/refused             9.6 percent                            13.5 percent              

Joni Ernst                              September                              June______

Heard of, favorable                 36.9 percent                            42.2 percent
Heard of, unfavorable             39.5 percent                            29.2 percent
Heard of, no opinion               16.8 percent                            20.3 percent
Never heard of/refused             6.8 percent                              8.3 percent

Beyond favorability, the Loras College Poll asked respondents to choose which candidate best represents the values of the respondent and whose position on issues is closest to their own.

Candidate Who Best Represents Your Values

Braley                                      38.6 percent
Ernst                                        37.6 percent
Undecided/Refused                23.9 percent

Candidate Whose Positions on Issues Closest to Your Own

Braley                                      39.8 percent
Ernst                                        37.8 percent
Undecided/Refused                22.3 percent

“Looking at the values and issue position question, it appears that neither candidate has a clear advantage,” Budzisz remarked.

Looking at specific issues, however, differences clearly emerge between Braley and Ernst supporters, as well as the undecided. The Loras College Poll asked respondents to rate the importance of a number of issues as they consider the upcoming election. Below is the percentage of a candidate’s self-reported supporters who rated the specific issue as “critically important” or “very important.”  Complete issue results available by clicking here.

Illegal Immigration—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          42.9 percent
Ernst                            65.8 percent
Undecided                  53.2 percent

National Debt—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          46.6 percent
Ernst                            80.5 percent
Undecided                  61.4 percent

Income Equality—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          52.5 percent
Ernst                            20.6 percent
Undecided                  32.2 percent

Environmental Issues—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          59.3 percent
Ernst                            23.0 percent
Undecided                  32.7 percent

Foreign Affairs and National Security—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          74.4 percent
Ernst                            81.3 percent
Undecided                  66.1 percent

Jobs and Economy—rated as critically or very important

Braley                          79.9 percent
Ernst                            77.0 percent
Undecided                  73.1 percent

“We found the differences in issue importance largely track with established partisan lines.  Within the results you can also see reflected some of the recent heightened attention on foreign affairs and national security, as well the continued mixed economic news and sentiment,” said Budzisz. “While jobs/economy is traditionally the most important issue voters list, foreign affairs and national security is certainly on the minds of Iowans. Over the past several months, there has been substantial media attention on international developments and national security, and I think we are finding that this is impacting Iowans as they consider the upcoming election.”

While the survey sample was balanced for standard demographic variables such as age, gender and geography, it was not weighted for partisanship/party registration. Respondents were asked to self-identify their partisan affiliation and its strength.

Self-identified partisan affiliation within random survey sample:

Strong Democrat                     23.8 percent
Not Strong Democrat               8.8 percent
Not Strong Republican             8.8 percent
Strong Republican                  21.4 percent
Independent                           33.8 percent
Unsure/Refused                        3.3 percent

The Loras College Poll surveyed 1,200 likely 2014 general election voters; statewide results have a 2.82 percent margin of error.  The survey was conducted September 2-5, 2014.
·         Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters who voted in the 2012 general election or registered since the 2012 election.
·         Likely voter was defined as those self-indicating they were “extremely likely” or “very likely” to vote in the 2014 election.
While the sample was balanced for standard demographic variables such as age, gender and geography, it was not weighted for partisanship.
Survey included both landlines (80 percent) and cell phones (20 percent).
The survey was conducted using live operator interviews through a contracted professional call center.
Script development and methodology used for the survey received input from Republican campaign consultant Steve Grubbs, and Democrat campaign consultant Dave Heller.

For more on today’s announced results, please click here.  Results for the gubernatorial election will be released on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, followed by results from the congressional races on Wednesday, September 10, 2014.

The Loras College Poll is conducted several times each year. Loras College faculty and student researchers work as part of the survey research team to develop poll questions, analyze and interpret data, and assist with sharing the final results with local, regional and national media.  Surveys are administered by professional, live callers through a contracted call center.

Capitalizing on its location in the politically vital and vibrant state of Iowa, the Iowa Presidential Caucuses serves as a cornerstone of the Loras College Poll, with additional surveys focused on current events, social issues, economic issues, politics and more.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Jindal: It’s 'gotcha' tactic to ask pro-lifers about penalties for abortion

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaking in Carroll in the fall of 2012.

"This isn't about locking up women."

— GOP presidential contender Bobby Jindal

"The provider should be punished."

— U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst

State Sen. Joni Ernst deserves points for candor on her pro-life stance on abortion.

The Red Oak Republican's stated position would be that the person performing the abortion should be punished — if the leading goal of her social ideology is realized, and abortion is criminalized.

Her exact words, reports The Hill:  "The provider should be punished, if there were a personhood amendment."

Not all pro-lifers are comfortable talking about the penalty phase that would be involved in punishing doctors and/or women were abortion illegal again.

Take for instance a Sept. 26, 2012 interview I did with Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Louisiana Republican, and likely presidential candidate in 2016, following a campaign stop he made in Carroll, Iowa, to ostensibly support Mitt Romney and challenge gay marriage. Ernst said what Jindal doggedly dodged.

Here is the complete text of the Daily Times Herald exchange with Jindal on abortion:

Daily Times Herald: “A lot of people here today share your views on anti-abortion. It’s a very pro-life crowd here. I understand that you don’t provide for exceptions for rape and incest with your position on abortion. Should your pro-life position prevail, and abortion be criminalized again, what do you think would be a fair penalty for a woman who has an abortion or a doctor who performs one?”

Govenor Jindal: “I think it’s a great gotcha question. This is not about ...”

Daily Times Herald: “It’s not a gotcha question. Isn’t that the end game of your position, sir?”

Governor Jindal: “Çan I answer your question now?”

Daily Times Herald: “Well.”

Governor Jindal: “Let me finish the answer, all right?”

Daily Times Herald: “But it’s not a gotcha question.”

Governor Jindal:
“It is. And let me answer your question. It’s a great gotcha question. Like many others dedicated to the pro-life cause, this isn’t about locking up women. This is about creating a culture of life where every child is loved and accepted in our society, creating a consistent culture of life where we value every innocent human life and want them to be born and nurtured and raised in our society. This isn’t about locking up women. This is about accepting those babies. This is about loving all human life and protecting innocent human life, and certainly that takes a lot more work. It’s not as simple as simply passing a law or even passing a constitutional amendment. It truly is about creating a consistent culture of life, where every child is valued, loved, nurtured and protected.”

Daily Times Herald: “So if it’s illegal ...”

Governor Jindal: “I gotta catch a ride.”

SBA List Slams Braley Ad Attacking Ernst’s Pro-Life Values

Dannenfelser: Braley’s claim in TV ad ‘laughable’, ‘needs to look in the mirror’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) today slammed Iowa Congressman and senatorial candidate Bruce Braley (D) for his support for late abortion and for cosponsoring legislation to enshrine abortion on demand up until the moment of birth. Today, the Braley for U.S. Senate campaign launched an ad attacking his opponent Joni Ernst’s pro-life values. Ernst has been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund.

“Congressman Braley’s claim that Joni Ernst has a ‘radical’ position on abortion is laughable, and he clearly needs to look in the mirror,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.  “In Congress, Braley has been a rubber stamp for the abortion industry. Not only has he voted for taxpayer-funded abortion, he opposed a common sense limit on abortion after 5 months of pregnancy.  Braley even co-sponsored legislation to wipe out all state limits on abortion and enshrine abortion on-demand until birth.”

“Iowa women and children deserve better than Bruce Braley. As both a mother and a soldier, Joni Ernst knows what it means to protect the weak and vulnerable. Her courageous leadership is urgently needed in the U.S. Senate, where there are currently only two pro-life women serving.”

Joni Ernst has received the endorsements of incumbent Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and former Gov. Sarah Palin. Reynolds and Palin were both previously endorsed by the SBA List Candidate Fund.

The Susan B. Anthony List and its affiliated Political Action Committees, the SBA List Candidate Fund and Women Speak Out PAC, are dedicated to pursuing policies and electing candidates who will reduce and ultimately end abortion. To that end, the SBA List emphasizes the education, promotion, mobilization, and election of pro-life women at all levels of government.  The SBA List is a network of more than 365,000 pro-life Americans nationwide.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Businesswoman, political consultant, author and advocate for women's issues Kathy Groob will be keynote speaker at the 50-50 in 2020 Blueprint for Winning Academy banquet, taking place Friday night, January 10, 2014, at the West Des Moines Marriott.

Groob, who founded and facilitates, is author of "Pink Politics: The Women's Practical Guide to Winning Elections."

As as entrepreneur who served as senior vice president of a $716 million construction and real estate company in her home state of Kentucky, Groob has been a mentor and advocate for women in the workplace throughout her career. Her own experiences in running for and holding local and state offices provides Groob with real-world lessons in politics that she uses to instruct women candidates on how to inspire voters and get the most from campaign teams.

"I am honored to take part in Iowa's 50-50 in 2020 Blueprint for Winning Academy to train and prepare more women to hold public office," Groob said. "Iowa is one of four states that have never sent a woman to Congress. The leaders of 50-50 in 2020 are taking strong steps towards changing the face of politics in Iowa forever."

Complimentary copies of "Pink Politics" will be given to all those attending the Blueprint for Winning Academy and to those purchasing two tickets for the January 10 academy banquet. Dinner tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased through the 50-50 Web site at

Participation in 50-50's bi-partisan Blueprint for Winning Academy is open to all Iowa women considering running for state, legislative or congressional office, and their campaign managers. The academy takes place Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10-11, at the West Des Moines Marriott and features classwork in campaign finance and organization, getting media coverage, using social media, and one-on-one image and message coaching by nationally-known expert Chris Jahnke.

This is the second time 50-50 in 2020 has offered its Blueprint for Winning Academy. Results from the group's 2012 training program showed that 40 percent of academy graduates won office, compared to just 14 percent success by women who did not take part in the Blueprint for Winning Academy.

The goal of 50-50 in 2020 is to recruit and elect enough women so that by 2020 – the 100th anniversary of the year American women won the right to vote – Iowa will have elected females to fill half the Iowa Legislature, half of Iowa’s congressional delegation and the office of governor. Currently in the Iowa Legislature, only 23 percent of the seats are held by women, who make up 53 percent of Iowa voters. Iowa and Mississippi remain the only states to have never elected a women governor nor sent a woman to Congress.