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June 8th, 2010

Iowa Primary Predictions

The only poll that counts is the one they take on Election Day. The polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close this evening at 9 p.m. It is likely that we will know the winners of each of these contests before the 10 o’clock news is over.

There are six major Republican primaries going taking place today. The primary that has garnered the most attention is the gubernatorial race. While that race will be the focus of most of the news coverage tonight and tomorrow, it is the congressional races in the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts that will be exciting to watch.

There are also two other statewide primaries that could be very close. The Secretary of State and the State Treasurer primaries pit well-qualified candidates against one another. Regardless of who wins, Republicans will have an outstanding candidate on the ballot in November.

I have asked the regular contributors on this website to submit their predictions for who they expect to win in these races tonight. The only race that everyone agrees on is the State Treasurers race, where all six writers believe Dave Jamison will win the nomination.

The Reasoning Behind My Picks:

Governor: Branstad has run an exceptional campaign, however it wasn’t always smooth sailing. From his retirement from Des Moines University in October to his official announcement in January, the Branstad campaign seemed adrift. Branstad’s campaign turned the corner when they began to travel the state and hired a field staff.

Branstad has run an extended media campaign and is the only candidate who made a point to push its supporters to vote absentee. Over 20,000 Republicans have voted absentee, and it is likely that 75% of those are for Branstad. He has run the most disciplined and thorough campaign. That will be evident tonight.

1st Congressional District: If there is one race that I have not followed very closely it’s this one. Ben Lange is a young attorney who has been an aide to a congressman, while Will Johnson is a connected with the Campaign for Liberty people and is a veteran of the Navy.

Neither have much for resources, but Lange has some. He also has an impressive campaign manager helping him out. In a debate held by the Scott County Republicans, Johnson said that he would not support Lange if Johnson doesn’t win the primary. That left a sour taste in the mouths of a number of Republicans who were at the event. While money is not a factor in the race, Lange’s ability to pay for a staffer and yard signs gives him the advantage, and he should win comfortably.

Second Congressional District: The 2008 nominee, Dr. Miller-Meeks is the frontrunner in the race. She won by 214 votes in 2008 over Peter Teahen. This year, she faces a much tougher field of candidates. While it’s doubtful that any of her challengers will beat her in the popular vote tonight, I do think there is a reasonable chance that her opponents will garner enough support to take the nomination to a special convention.

Miller-Meeks’ problem is that each of her three opponents takes votes from her in certain segments of the Republican Party. Steve Rathje ran strong in Linn County in 2008 when he ran for the US Senate. He has run a better campaign this time around and should perform well in Linn County again.

Christopher Reed, who also ran for the US Senate in 2008, ran well in the rural part of the district. It is likely that he will continue to appeal to rural voters in the district, an area where Miller-Meeks was basically uncontested in 2008.

Rob Gettemy is a solid Christian conservative who attends a large church in Linn County. Gettemy also has ties to the business community. While he is unknown, he has spent the most money on TV, and in an election where nobody knows what to expect in terms of turnout, Gettemy could do very well.

Miller-Meeks’ opponents don’t need to win tonight; they just need to prevent her from getting to 35% of the vote. If that happens, anything is possible in a special nominating convention in the 2nd District.

Third Congressional District: Conventional wisdom is that this race will be determined at a special nominating convention. I don’t see it. Both Brad Zaun and Jim Gibbons have had a strong media presence, but Gibbons is the only candidate running the majority of his ads on broadcast TV.

That little nugget of information is critical in making a prediction in this race. Zaun’s media buys have been heavy on WHO radio and Fox News. That makes perfect sense, but it is unlikely that rural voters are seeing many of his TV ads. In fact, unless you have cable, Zaun’s ads are not reaching you. The rural voters who get their cable television through a satellite dish or their local telephone company are not getting Zaun’s ads, but they do see the ads that Gibbons is running on broadcast TV.

Gibbons was also wise to start running his ads early while the Branstad campaign was working the absentee votes. While it’s safe to assume that a majority of those absentees are votes for Branstad, no one knows what name these voters checked in the congressional race. Gibbons was the only candidate with a large enough media presence to communicate to those people.

Gibbons wins a close one over Zaun, the other candidates will tail them significantly.

State Treasurer:
Both Dave Jamison and Jim Heavens are good candidates. I’d be happy with either, but Jamison has a big advantage over his opponent in that he’s been involved in Republican politics for decades. Jamison also has an impressive statewide network of Republican county elected officials. I think that, combined with his presence on the radio in certain parts of the state, make him a clear favorite to win tonight.

Secretary of State: Youth vs. Experience is the best way to sum up the race for Secretary of State. While Republican voters are excited about Brenna Findley’s campaign for Attorney General, a lot of them are equally impressed with and excited about Matt Schultz.

Schultz has done one thing exceptionally well in this race, he has consistently talked about voter fraud and requiring photo ID to vote, as well as being a business friendly Secretary of State. Schultz’ talking points are perfect for the office he is seeking, and he is the only candidate driving that message on the radio. Paul Pate, the last Republican to hold the office, is also his campaign chair.

George Eichhorn has also been good on the stump, but he isn’t as memorable as Schultz has been. Eichhorn touts his experience as a legislator and has an impressive list of endorsements, but that’s pretty much the extent of his campaign activity. Chris Sanger, the third candidate in the race, has not traveled the state and is unknown to most voters. I think Schultz wins a close one.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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