Living in Society

Before the Big Poll

On the North Shore Trail in Lake Macbride State Park.

The Des Moines Register announced the first installment of their annual pre-election Iowa Poll will be released at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The poll is by Selzer & Co., and is usually an accurate predictor of the results of the general election. They will begin with online release of the polling results for the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Mike Franken. Grassley is expected to lead in the poll. The question is by how much.

Hands down, the main issue among voters this cycle is the economy. Yesterday’s Consumer Price Index reported year-over-year the index rose by 8.2 percent, which number is typically used as the rate of inflation. President Joe Biden said in a statement, “Today’s report shows some progress in the fight against higher prices, even as we have more work to do. Inflation over the last three months has averaged 2 percent, at an annualized rate. That’s down from 11 percent in the prior quarter.”

Because of a higher CPI, Social Security benefits recipients will get an 8.7 percent increase in 2023. This takes the sting out of inflation for pensioners, which in Iowa are 17.7 percent of the population according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

The unknown this cycle is how overturning Roe vs Wade in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision will impact the election. There are reports of more women registering to vote, and they are expected to turn out. How they will vote is another question, except that Iowans will be Iowans with an expectation new voters will follow their party. That is, unless Dobbs changed their minds.

I’m not sure yet don’t believe women will discuss reproductive rights honestly with an anonymous pollster. The issue will be a jump ball in Iowa and elsewhere. Getting church-goers to register to vote and support anti-abortion candidates was a key characteristic of the 2016 Iowa elections when Senator Ted Cruz won the Republican caucus and Donald Trump won the state by significant margins in both 2016 and 2020. More women registering to vote could mean more support for a statewide abortion ban.

The Democratic ground game is not going as well as I had hoped. The state party eliminated the coordinated campaign this cycle and as a result campaigns are reaching out to me individually because I have been active in the past. In the last 72 hours, there have been many distinct requests to volunteer in multiple ways. I can only work on one campaign at a time.

I’m a precinct captain and that carries some unique requirements as well. In a coordinated campaign Democrats would all pull in a single direction, as much as we ever do. That’s not what’s going on now with campaigns competing for a limited pool of experienced canvassers.

A caller on Thursday asked me to join in door knocking this coming Saturday in North Liberty. I asked how they were approaching my precinct and the other eight rural precincts in House District 91. They had no answer. That leads me to use what information I have to canvass my own precinct apart from the county party effort. In the end, what happens close to home matters as much as the broader statewide and national results. I hope to stanch the changeover to being a solidly Republican precinct. The 2022 midterms may be my last chance.

Before the big poll I don’t see how Democrats will win any statewide races. At the same time, I’m hopeful Mike Franken will win as U.S. Senator. The Iowa Poll will show the way. I’m also hoping to elect a few Democrats locally, the ones who have the wherewithal to find enough no-preference and Republican voters to vote for them and overcome the Republican advantage. I’m not sure the Iowa Poll is relevant to that. I’ll be clicking on the link to the poll shortly after it is posted.