In one of the most hotly contested Senate races, the most recent debate between Joni Ernst, incumbent Republican Senator, against Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, showed precisely how distanced a candidate can get from their state. Iowa is one of the senate seats that the Democrats think they may flip in November.
In 2014, Senator Ernst ran at the perfect time. The midterm election was a heavy Republican wave and a referendum on the Obama Administration. She easily defeated Bruce Braley by almost 9 points. This result was a surprise. Obama won Iowa twice and had a good approval rating.
The 2014 race may have been a leading indicator of President Trump’s victory in 2016. In January, Ernst’s approval rating was close to 37%. I assess that her approval was probably closer to 50% based on Iowa’s voting history, Iowa’s trending history, and President Trump’s approval rating at the time. Morning Console Polling, who conducted this survey, is one to which I seldom turn, but given the dearth of information available for January 2020, this is it.
Even though Theresa Greenfield was not the official Democratic candidate In January, she trailed Ernst by almost 12 percentage points.
Five months ago, Joni Ernst had not been endorsed by anyone. However, Greenfield’s endorsements have been rolling in from Ohio and Hawaii Senators, Iowa state representatives, and former Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg. Iowans have been hit hard during the Trump era. The Chinese retaliatory tariffs on soybeans, climate change induced flooding, and the coronavirus has made for a perfect storm. At the beginning of the year, no one would have stated that Senator Ernst’s seat was vulnerable. Ten months later, that red seat may turn blue.
Looking at the Real Politics Poll averages, Theresa Greenfield is up by 5 points. Senator Ernst is one of the Republicans that hitched her wagon to President Trump. With his approval rating plummeting in Iowa, so has hers. Early on in the pandemic, she parroted President Trump’s view that the coronavirus was just the flu. She has supported Trump all of the way, and she is feeling the repercussion. The Democrat Party has dumped almost $100 million into the Iowa Senate race. President Trump’s Presidential race has less than $65 million in its coffers and greatly affected the down-ticket money. With Ernst’s latest debate failure, which showed how disconnected she has become from Iowa, and Iowa leaning towards Biden, I see both Trump and Ernst issuing concession speeches instead of victory speeches come the 4th.