Iowa is a state that backed Republican President Donald Trump by a commanding margin in the 2020 presidential election and in which the GOP was expected to hold on to a Senate seat in 2022 even without 88-year-old incumbent Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
Now, Grassley has decided to run again, despite months of statewide polls that revealed voters overwhelmingly feel it is time for him to go after serving 60+ years in some form of elected office. And the immediate expert political reaction to this news is that it greatly enhances Republican standing headed into next year?
A Curious Poll
If you want to see machinery in action, observe The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s leading newspaper, on Sept. 24 reported that its new poll had Grassley holding a 55%-to-37% edge over the likely Democratic Senate nominee, former Representative Abby Finkenauer.
The story was published three days before Grassley announced he was running for a mind-boggling eighth six-year term. My, what a coincidence. “The results show that Grassley, 88, would enter the race as a strong contender should he choose to seek an eighth term in office. He has not yet said whether he plans to run for reelection,” The Register wrote.
The newspaper knew it had some explaining to do and set out to do so with alacrity. It had to acknowledge that it had released multiple well-publicized polls over the past few months that revealed the vast majority of Iowans surveyed want Grassley put out to pasture.
Here’s how The Register handled the sudden jarring contradiction in its polling:
“In June, likely voters were asked if they would vote to reelect Grassley, but the question did not name an opponent. Just 27% said they would vote to reelect him, and 64% said they would prefer ‘someone new.’ But in this poll, against a named opponent, most likely voters prefer Grassley.”
That’s not much of an explanation, is it? The paper then quoted a couple of Republicans who voiced their approval of – if not enthusiasm for – yet another Grassley run. That didn’t sound very convincing either.
The Register’s account of its June poll is more telling:
“If [Grassley] does [run], political analysts expect his near-universal name recognition and deep ties to the state would still make him the early favorite to win. But the new [June] Iowa Poll appears to show an underlying feeling among Republicans and Democrats alike that he’s served long enough.”
This paints a more believable scenario: that Grassley may start out high due to name recognition, but his advanced age and careerist baggage will serve as a major drag on his campaign every step of the way afterward. The key word is underlying. As in undertow.
Let’s recap. At a time when Democrats are in deep disfavor, a poll in Iowa’s top newspaper comes out that perfectly sets the table for an entrenched career politician most state residents want to see retire by utilizing the immediate name recognition that comes with incumbency. But does Grassley trying for another six years in the Senate reflect what is really happening in Iowa today?
What is occurring is a solid move to the red ledger fueled not by the Chuck Grassleys or (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnells (R-KY) of the GOP, but by surging support for former President Donald Trump and his core theme of Draining the Swamp.
The Guardian, a leftist establishment newspaper published in the United Kingdom and no friend of Trump, wrote on Iowa in November 2020:
“In 2008, [Barack] Obama won half of Iowa’s 99 counties. Two weeks ago, Biden took just six. That was a pattern repeated across midwestern farmlands as Trump solidified support in America’s rural heartland, deepening a divide with the region’s cities that delivered victory to Biden in key swing states.
“‘Out here, I think 2016 was less a vote for Trump than a vote against Hillary [Clinton],’ said [farmer and county Republican chair Neil] Shaffer. ‘A lot of people were not sold on her and so they were willing to roll the dice on Trump. Now they are Trump people. They believe in him. They came out in force.’
“Shaffer said Trump commands a loyalty among a core of rural voters that he has not seen for a president before, and that it isn’t going away even when he leaves office.”
These rural Trump stalwarts are likely to be even more fired up in 2022, as they seek to punish the Biden administration at the ballot box for numerous overreaches and follies. Everything points to an electoral disaster for Democrats next year, thanks to Team Biden’s bumbling performance on a myriad of issues, notably Afghanistan and the border crisis.
It should be a cake-walk for Republicans to present Biden as the face of a tired, old D.C. establishment clinging to power by its fingernails. Other older Democrats can be featured as well, including 81-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 82-year-old House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and 88-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Combined years in office in Washington by those three alone: 105.
How to blunt this momentum for change? Foist a man who has been in elected office since 1959 on voters who are thoroughly disgusted with the political lifers forever feasting at the taxpayer trough by the banks of the Potomac.
~ Read more from Joe Schaeffer.