Summer Of Weird Normal In Iowa Politics

Farm to Market

Farm to Market

This has been a summer of weird normal, especially for people who follow politics.

Given a presidential contest where many, including this author, predicted Hillary Clinton would be our next president before she announced she was running, nothing has happened to change that potential outcome. If anything, we are more confident than ever she will be our next president.

The focus has been on down ticket races… somewhat.

Last week Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner picked Cedar County, Iowa as a bellwether of the presidential race.

“The Washington Examiner has selected 13 key counties to watch in eight target states with 114 electoral votes that have been seriously contested in recent elections,” Barone wrote. “Each county has the potential to indicate who will carry these states.”

Cedar County owes its place on this list to the fact that it has come uncannily close to mirroring the Democratic and Republican percentages of the target state of Iowa in the last seven presidential elections, never varying more than 1.3 percent from average. Thus it voted 52 to 47 percent for Obama in 2012 and 54 to 44 percent for him in 2008; it voted 50 to 49 percent for Bush in 2004; and in the exquisitely close election of 2000, it went for Al Gore over Bush by a plurality of exactly two votes.

Mirroring percentages is one thing, however, based on my personal contacts with voters in Cedar County during the 2012 election, mirroring is not relevant to current races.

The Iowa Democratic Party placed an organizer in Cedar County this cycle, and if 2012 represents the best efforts to turn out votes for President Obama, 2016 will be even better for Hillary Clinton. That also benefits state-wide candidates Dave Loebsack, and to some extent, Patty Judge. Cedar County voters are willing to split the ticket. Expect them to do so in November.

Democrats are running out of time to nominate a candidate in Iowa House District 73, which includes Cedar County. For practical purposes, the clock ran out a week or so ago.

The Iowa Secretary of State filing deadline for state and federal offices is 5 p.m. on Friday, August 19, and in order to nominate a Democratic candidate, the state party would have to call a special convention that included Muscatine, Cedar and Johnson Counties where the district is situated.

There are plenty of potential candidates, however, those who ran in recent cycles are not interested, and no one else has come forward.

While there has been talk of a write-in candidate, the handicap of not being on the ballot will be a long shot in defeating incumbent Rep. Bobby Kaufmann.

The largest group of voter registrations in Cedar County is no party. On Aug. 1, the Secretary of State reported 3,128 Democratic, 3,792 Republican, and 4,414 No Party active, registered voters. Having worked the district, I don’t put much stock in these numbers. A house candidate from either party could win the district because of no party conversions, the City of Wilton, and six precincts in more Democratic Johnson County.

What makes August part of the summer of weird normal is the lack of political talk about almost anything but the Republican nominee for president. It is normal that a lot of voters activate during presidential election years. What is weird is a combination of things including regular people cozying up to Donald Trump; people who would bleed Democratic if cut saying they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton no matter what; and controversial issues, including climate change, abortion, school funding, incarceration rates, water quality and government spending, being sidelined to watch the national political show.

Life is going on, arguably not in a good way.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa

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