Changing Iowa political landscape presents challenge to Obama re-election efforts

2012-07-10T05:09:00Z 2012-10-02T13:18:18Z Changing Iowa political landscape presents challenge to Obama re-election effortsBy JAMES Q. LYNCH, Lee-Gazette Des Moines Bureau Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

CEDAR RAPIDS, iowa --- Officially, President Obama will have a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids July 10 to talk about tax reform and growing a middle-class economy.

Unofficially, the president is making his second foray into Cedar Rapids this year because “he knows that he’s in trouble in Iowa and this is a key battleground state,” according to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

The fifth-term Republicans has some experience in campaigns, but less partisan political observers tend to agree that Obama is coming to Iowa – again – out of necessity.

In 2008, Obama won carried Iowa – in the first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses and in the general election – “times have certainly changed,” says University of Iowa political scientist Tim Hagle. Democrats still support Obama, “but with markedly less enthusiasm than 2008.”

Obama’s frequent visits – four this year and five more by his wife, First Lady Michele Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden – are attempts to excite the base in the state that launched the first-term Illinois senator on the road to the White House in 2008, adds Donna R. Hoffman, chairwoman of the University of Northern Iowa Political Science Department.

“Obama is counting on its strong organization in Iowa and “an economy that is better than average to give him the edge in the state come November,” she says.

Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, hasn’t seen any drop off in enthusiasm from four years ago, but agrees Iowa’s strong economy helps the president make his case. He notes the tickets for Obama’s visit were gone in less than 24 hours. Enthusiasm also can be measured in a local campaign office “overflowing with volunteers,” Olson says.

“There’s no question that the president believes he has a great so try to tell in Iowa about strengthening the economy and the importance to the campaign to win Iowa in November,” Olson says.

He chalks up the frequent visits to the relatively even divide between Democrats and Republicans in Iowa.

“Iowa is a purple state. We have a Republican governor, Republican House, Democratic Senate,” Olson says. “It’s not any reflection on the president. We are a state with lot of no party voters.

The growing number of Iowans registered as Republicans reflects “a disillusioned Iowa where voters are frustrated with President Obama’s failed policies and his empty, endless promises,” says Tom Szold, the Republican National Committee’s Iowa Victory campaign spokesman.

The latest report from the Secretary of State’s Office shows 11,516 more Iowans registered as Republicans at the end of June than in May. That increases the GOP advantage over Democrats to 21,378 voters.

The changing voter registration pattern and the frequent Obama team visits “speaks to the uncertainty of the election and the electorate,” says UNI political scientist Chris Larimer.

“Polls indicate many voters, particularly young voters, are not all that enthusiastic about voting,” he says. “Coupled with a static economy, the race is coming down to who can excite folks to get to the polls.”

In fact, Hagle says, for Obama “it appears it’s more a matter of stopping voters from moving away from him.”

Neither Obama nor Romney need to win Iowa to win the election, says Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. But Iowa has symbolic importance.

“The Iowa caucuses gave Obama a tremendous boost to winning the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, so losing Iowa in 2012 would generate a lot of negative media commentary,” she says.

Similarly, she says, Romney carrying Iowa “would not only be embarrassing for the Democrats, but also give a boost to Republicans.”

Romney has to make a case for himself, too, Hagle says. “We are no gimme for him either.”

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. Kernel
    Report Abuse
    Kernel - July 10, 2012 10:37 am
    azne69 said: "The sheeple will come out in droves to listen to the "boy that wants to be king" another 4 yrs, another 110 rounds of golf, another 35 trips around the country and world, antoher 5 trillion in debt, what the h3ll, it's only money that we don't have and he still won't get us out the the mess we're in."

    Obama has taken less days off in his time in office that Bush had during the same.

    He also didn't launch wars on two fronts while relaxing at the ranch, but who's keeping score, right?
  2. azne69
    Report Abuse
    azne69 - July 10, 2012 9:07 am
    Just speaking the truth "rejoe" something a lot of people like you can't handle
  3. reojoe
    Report Abuse
    reojoe - July 10, 2012 6:59 am
    azne69 said: "The sheeple will come out in droves to listen to the "boy that wants to be king" another 4 yrs, another 110 rounds of golf, another 35 trips around the country and world, antoher 5 trillion in debt, what the h3ll, it's only money that we don't have and he still won't get us out the the mess we're in."

    WHAT A COINCIDENCE!! I heard every line of what you wrote all day yesterday on AM radio and on Wiretap News!

    You gotta be sicick!

  4. azne69
    Report Abuse
    azne69 - July 10, 2012 5:54 am
    The sheeple will come out in droves to listen to the "boy that wants to be king" another 4 yrs, another 110 rounds of golf, another 35 trips around the country and world, antoher 5 trillion in debt, what the h3ll, it's only money that we don't have and he still won't get us out the the mess we're in.
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