Monday, August 11, 2008

Iowa U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Iowa U.S. Senate

August 11, 2008
85 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

Despite the fact that Iowa is considered a very politically competitive state, Hawkeye residents have been represented in the U.S. Senate since 1985 by Tom Harkin, one of the most unabashed liberal Democrats in the body. Every six years, he has seemingly been opposed by a Republican member of the state's U.S. House delegation and everyone prepares for a close race. More recently though, Harkin has been winning those reelection contests by margins larger than originally expected.

Perhaps because of that, no sitting Congressman stepped forward to challenge Harkin in 2008, and thus his streak of opponents was broken. However, three candidates did eventually emerge. They included a somewhat wealthy businessman who began running for the seat practically two years before the primary and a former State Representative, who got in the game late, and was probably considered the choice of the establishment GOP to make this uphill race. However, the surprise winner of the June primary was a virtually unknown businessman and Navy veteran named Christopher Reed, who utilized conservative votes to narrowly win the primary and survive a recount.

Few Republicans held out much hope for beating the well-trenched and well-funded Harkin this year, but the victory of a candidate like Reed, who has little name recognition and little money, guaranteed that Harkin would be considered safe. Indeed polls have shown that the incumbent is ahead by upwards of 20 points and many Iowans still do not know much about his opponent.

So, while the Presidential candidates are likely to focus on winning Iowa, it will be an easy reelection and another six years for Harkin. But if the young Reed impresses on the campaign trail or exceeds expectations in this David vs. Goliath matchup, he could make a name for himself in the political arena down the road.

Reed campaign link:

2008 U.S. Senate races predicted: 5 D, 4 R
Predicted Senate balance of power thus far: 44 D, 30 R


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