Saturday, October 29, 2011

Des Moines Register Iowa Poll

Poll Power...The key to popularity in Iowa right now is to rarely come to the state. O.K., I doubt any political scientist could prove that, but the new Des Moines Register Poll might give that thought to someone. Herman Cain finished at the top of the new poll. Mitt Romney finished one point behind in the poll of likely Republican caucus goers. Neither has been blazing any trails across the state this year but both enjoy a strong showing in this poll.

The Register last polled Iowans about the field in June (Perry wasn't in the race yet).

My thoughts on the numbers...then and now...

Romney 23% June...22% Now --Steady Eddie. Not losing, not gaining. Holds support from 2008. Good enough showing that we shouldn't expect him to pick up the campaigning in Iowa?

Bachmann 22% June... 8% Now --Flamed out? Needs major momentum reversal. How does she win people back after losing them? Cue Eric Woolson, Mike Huckabee 2008's Iowa miracle worker, who has taken over her efforts in the state.

Cain 10%...June 23% Now --Smoking hot. But...who keeps 'em burning with little Iowa campaign infrastructure? Romney already had a built-in base here. Where's Cain's?

Gingrich 7% June...7% Now --Hanging on. Gets praise for debate (mostly outbursts about the media) but not translating into growth here yet. And will he put together a staff to get the needed caucus turnout to allow him to continue?

Paul 7% June...12% Now --Mini-revolution. The Ron Paul revolution isn't storming the castle yet, but it's growing nicely. Can it grow enough for a caucus finish that will get national attention beyond Iowa?

Pawlenty 6% June... Dropped out. Endorsed Romney. Will he campaign here to help Romney?

Santorum 4% June...5% Now. Little Engine. He is about to complete his tour of all 99 Iowa Counties. But when will all that work show some better numbers?

Huntsman 2% June....who?

Perry....not yet a candidate in June. 7% Now. That's 5th in this poll if you're keeping score. Lot of work to do to make Romney sweat. Running tv ads (Paul is, too). Will reading scripted comments make up for the unscripted problems he has during debates? have the two businessmen at the top, then Paul's anti-governmentals and social conservative-favorites split the rest. Will all these candidates survive long enough to get to caucus night?

And for a dose or reality...O. Kay Henderson who reminds us who looked good in the Register's poll in October of 2007. Cue the Law and Order theme music now...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bachmann Campaign Names Eric Woolson Iowa Campaign Manager

Back at it...Michele Bachmann has been struggling for traction. She is turning to an Iowan who took a different candidate who was low in the polls all the way to an Iowa Caucus win. Eric Woolson will be named as Bachmann's Iowa campaign manager and continue to oversee communication, as well, according to two sources close to the situation. The announcement should come Thursday. Woolson held the same role in Mike Huckabee's seemingly improbable (at the time) win in the 2008 Republican caucuses. Woolson has been helping Bachmann's Iowa communications efforts after serving in a similar role for Tim Pawlenty, before Pawlenty bailed out of the race following a disappointing 3rd place finish in the Republican Party of Iowa's Straw Poll.

By the numbers, Woolson has some big work to do. A new Time/CNN poll shows Bachmann in 6th place with just 6%. And even Bachmann's most die hard supporters would have a hard time spinning how a 6th place caucus finish in January would be enough for her to continue towards a successful path towards the nomination. It's hard to see how she would even go forward at all with that kind of finish, especially as the native daughter in the race.

Interestingly, Bachmann has been working to connect with the church-going folks during her frequent weekend visits to Iowa. She's doing another one this weekend.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday in Iowa

Saturday Supper: College football, my Cardinals' World Series and presidential politics...that's what this Saturday brings.

I copied this schedule from Politico's presidential candidates' schedule for today. As you can see, it's very "heavy Iowa" for most candidates.

8:00 AM
Rick Perry
Participating in the Col. Bud Day pheasant hunt with Congressman Steve King
• Loess Hills Hunting Preserve, 19813 C43, Merrill, Iowa

Maybe Perry will shoot something. He hasn't been exactly on target with Iowans so far, according to the polls. Isn't Iowa a must win for Perry, or at least close to it? Perry hasn't been here much lately. If he looks to get thumped in New Hampshire, doesn't he really need to up his efforts in Iowa?

10:00 AM
Ron Paul
Hosting a town hall meeting at Embassy Suites on the River
101 E. Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa

Paul is pushing numbers this weekend. The campaign claims more than 1,200 supporters at his events so far this weekend and it is also spending about $2 million to take on Perry, Romney and Cain for supporting the bailouts (a little Cain vs. Paul tea party tempest?)

12:00 PM
Michele Bachmann
Hosting a town hall meeting at Madison County Dessert Factory
57 East Jefferson, Winterset, Iowa

Bachmann needs some post-Straw Poll win mojo in a hurry. As I write this, her campaign is pushing back against stories her New Hampshire paid staff just bailed on her. And ABC reports other staffers haven't been paid in a month. Tough times. Tough times.

1:00 PM
Mitt Romney
Visiting Romney for President New Hampshire offices
361 Elm St., Manchester, N.H.

Romney just held his first Iowa stops since the Summer. But he's back in New Hampshire, even as 5 other presidential campaign in Iowa. Some things don't change.

2:00 PM
Michele Bachmann
Hosting a town hall meeting at the Creston restored train depot
116 W. Adams St., Creston, Iowa

All aboard? Or derailed? What will the headline be from her efforts this weekend?

2:00 PM
Rick Santorum
Attending the Iowa State University homecoming football
1800 South 4th St., Ames, Iowa

The little engine that could needs steam fast. He better hope he gets a better reception at the Cyclones game than Bachmann. Bachmann's half Cyclone/half Hawkeye jersey didn't go over so well with some of the fans.

5:00 PM
Speaking at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition fall banquet
3000 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa
Michele Bachmann
Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich
Ron Paul
Rick Perry
Rick Santorum

5 candidates, 1 meal. But which can add to his/her faithful?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Iowa Sets Its Caucus Date

Caucus Time: Iowa Republicans could have waited and waited some more to decide when to hold the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. They could have waited for Nevada to budge and move its January 14th caucuses back a few days (to make New Hampshire happy). They could have waited for New Hampshire to finally set its date, which as of right now, may or may not be January 10th. They could have waited until some other rogue state tried to jump into the "first 4" (IA, NH, NV, SC). But, no, tonight the Iowa Republican State Central Committee voted for a January 3rd date, the same date as 4 years ago.

So, now, at least we know, Iowans will have some company for the holidays. And dare we hope this WILL be the actual date? Maybe Nevada won't budge. If Republicans there want a Saturday caucus, they seem stuck with January 14th. South Carolina already picked January 21st. So, what if New Hampshire really goes off here and picks a December 6th or 13th primary date? Will Iowa move? Why should it? Perhaps, New Hampshire will only shoot itself in the foot setting its 2012 primary in 2011. The national media and campaigns could downplay the results. And could that mean Iowa will be that much MORE important?

If Mitt Romney keeps dancing around Iowa until then...let's say he wins New Hampshire, would he really want to risk a 2nd or 3rd place finish in Iowa by not really playing here when the caucuses take place about a month after New Hampshire? Wouldn't that risk taking away any momentum he gets from New Hampshire? Same with Rick Perry. If Perry can't win New Hampshire, would he want to also want to risk infrequent visits and lower results in Iowa on caucus night? That could damage him right out from the beginning. Imagine if Romney DID play in Iowa in this scenario and he won New Hampshire in December and then Iowa in January. Could he then run the table? Just something to think about.

Here's the release from Iowa GOP State Chair Matt Strawn--note the comments about those other states:

Des Moines – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn tonight made the following statement after the Party’s State Central Committee approved a motion to hold Iowa’s First in the Nation Precinct Caucuses on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. (Iowa time).

“On behalf of over 600,000 Iowa Republicans, I’m excited to announce the first step Iowans will have to replace Barack Obama and his failed presidency will be next January 3 at our First in the Nation Iowa Caucuses,” said Strawn. “A January 3 date provides certainty to the voters, to our presidential candidates, and to the thousands of statewide volunteers who make the Caucus process a reflection of the very best of our representative democracy.”

Iowa’s precinct caucuses, which occur at over 1,700 precinct locations across the Hawkeye state, are best-known for the presidential preference poll that occurs along with traditional party organizing activities such as the election of precinct committeemen and platform discussions.

Strawn noted that the decision to hold the precinct caucuses on January 3 mirrored the decision made by Iowa Republican and Democrat officials during the 2008 presidential cycle when Iowa held the First in the Nation Caucuses on January 3 and New Hampshire held the First in the Nation Primary on January 8, 2008.

Strawn noted this process is best served with Iowa and New Hampshire continuing in lead-off roles as the First in the Nation Caucus and First in the Nation Primary, respectively. He said, “At a time when more and more Americans feel disconnected from our national leaders, we need places like Iowa and New Hampshire that require those who seek to lead us, actually meet us, look us in the eye and listen to our hopes and concerns for our families and our Nation.”

Strawn also expressed solidarity with his counterparts in New Hampshire, “I will do everything in my power on the RNC to hold Florida accountable for creating this mess, but the culpability for creating a compressed January calendar does not end there. The actions of early state newcomer Nevada have also exacerbated this problem and unnecessarily crowded the January calendar. Time remains for Nevada to respect the process, honor tradition and rectify the problem in a way that will restore order to the nomination calendar.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Missing Woman/Grandson

Developing...What a bizarre story out of eastern Iowa tonight. A woman picked up her grandson from his house yesterday morning, supposedly to go shopping, according to the Iowa State Patrol. Later in the day, authorities found her car about half an hour away. But neither grandma or child was inside. Late tonight, we got another release from the state patrol saying the grandma's new vehicle (don't know where she got it) broke down in Indiana and both family members were fine and would return to Iowa Monday. Weird. Nothing from the patrol on why the grandma would have taken off with the child.

Here are the two releases:

This is the original with their pictures and descriptions.

This is the update.

Insiders, Patty Judge and Mike Mahaffey

Insiders followup: Former Democratic Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge made her debut this weekend on Channel 13's "Insiders". It's the first time I got to talk to her in this setting since she and Governor Chet Culver lost the election last year. Judge blames the defeat on the duo's failure to spread their message. She didn't have much bad to say about Culver. I mentioned to Judge that I didn't understand why the administration didn't have anything in place to track the nearly $800 million IJOBS plan (statehouse Democrats resisted strongly that name, by the way, realizing that all the focus would be on how many jobs the program created). I did stories last summer on the outdated IJOBS website and the governor's changing predictions about the number of jobs the program would bring.

In the end, the administration never could give us actual numbers, despite the millions of dollars of taxpayer money spent. Judge admitted she didn't understand why the jobs weren't tracked either. The only other possible critical moment of the show could have been when former GOP Chairman Mike Mahaffey questioned whether Culver was really "engaged" in governing, especially during Culver's last 2 years in office. Judge didn't say anything, neither agreeing or disagreeing with Mahaffey's assertion. Does that mean she agreed with Mahaffey, or perhaps, she was just being polite and not interrupting as the conversation continued?

Judge also had an interesting take on the "Occupy" movement that's now spreading across the world. I asked whether the movement will have any staying power in bringing any actual change. She mentioned being a student at the University of Iowa during the 1960s when students took over the building (she wasn't part of that, though, she pointed out) to protest the Vietnam War. And, of course, it was those students who helped join others nationwide that ultimately fueled the movement to get American combat troops out of Vietnam.

Here's the show in case you missed it this morning.

Indy Crash

Wow...that Indy crash today was horrific. I must admit, I'm not a huge racing fan. I don't have anything against the sport; I just don't watch it much. That 15-car, fiery crash today is just stunning. Dan Wheldon died in the crash. He won the Iowa Corn Indy 250 three years ago. Thousands of fans watched what happened after his car flew through the air and crashed into the fence. Who knows how many watched live on tv. Sad for the racing community. Sadder still for the family of Wheldon. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

This is video of the crash. ABC actually had a camera mounted in Wheldon's car.

Wheldon had written on his blog about his frustrations with issues with his car before the race. That brought one challenge made even more challenging still by a promotion. He started in 34th position of the 34 cars. But as part of a challenge, he would get split $5 million with a racing fan if he won. What an awful crash.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nevada Caucuses

Viva Las Vegas--It's a great place to visit, but not if you are a presidential candidate, at least not some of them. Wow, what a mess for the Republicans right now. Iowa wants January 3rd (or maybe the 5th) for its caucuses. New Hampshire wants January 10th. South Carolina wants January 21st. And Florida wants January 31st. And then there's Nevada, which is supposed to be among the "First 4" states in the primary contest. Nevada wants a Saturday for its caucus: January 14th. But New Hampshire doesn't like that since it's too close to New Hampshire's date of the 10th. That could mean candidates spend some of the time in Nevada instead of time they would normally spend in the Granite State. So Nevada should wait until January 17th. But, again, Nevada wants a Saturday caucus. The 17th is a Tuesday. Problems. Big problems. It's tough to see how everyone can be happy here. If Nevada sticks to its desire to hold a Saturday caucus and tries to appease New Hampshire by waiting, then it would have to pick Saturday, January 21st. But, again, that's South Carolina's date. So, unless Nevada gives up its wishes for Saturday and takes the 17th or a date near it, I don't see how this ends. In the meantime, it's interesting to watch how the candidates treat this battle.

Rick Santorum's campaign said he's canceling his Nevada events (pretty sure he may mention that a time or twelve during his Iowa stops this week). Santorum joins Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann in announcing they will boycott campaigning in that state until this mess gets figured out. Two of the bigger names in the race, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, haven't joined in the boycott movement. In fact, Romney goes to Nevada this week to open his campaign headquarters. And Ron Paul is making some kind of "major announcement" in Nevada this week, too. Ahh, the politics of politics.

One other random note...Nevada's State GOP Chair is Amy Tarkanian. I had to wonder if she is related to "Tark the Shark", Jerry Tarkanian, the former UNLV men's basketball coach. Apparently, she is his daughter-in-law...just in case your mind wonders about random things, too. I don't know when he wants the caucuses held.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Iowa Republican Picks Perry

Picking Perry: Now that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said, again, that he won't run for president in 2012, a prominent Iowa Republican who tried to recruit him to the race, said he will back Rick Perry for president. Businessman Gary Kirke, of West Des Moines, just sent out a statement saying he will back Perry. Kirke said, "I believe Governor Perry offers the skills, ideas and conviction we need to be victorious in November."

Kirke was one of 7 Iowans who flew to New Jersey this summer to recruit Christie. Kirke told me shortly after he returned to Iowa he felt Christie was thinking about the possibility.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Cain Staffer Quits

Cain Change: Another departure of a key staffer for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, according to CNN. CNN reports National Communications Director Ellen Carmichael resigned. I had very few dealings with her since Cain has been such an infrequent visitor to Iowa, despite telling us he is "serious" about running in Iowa. Here's another CNN story on previous defections (although, it's Kevin "Hall", not Kevin "Hart" as the story reports).

What does this mean? Who knows. If you read the first CNN story that includes Carmichael's comments, you'll notice an interesting "no comment". Does that signal problems?

Cain downplayed the other staffers who quit this summer. But, of course, he would downplay it. I don't think I recall a candidate ever saying something like, "Holy Crap! I suck! No wonder people don't want to work for me". Far from it. Cain told us staff changes happen in a campaign, just like they do in a business.