The pressure continues to build on Chuck Grassley over the Supreme Court hearings, and national political analysts now see it as having an impact in his reelection bid. Grassley faces blowback both at home and nationally on his refusal to hold a hearing for nominee Merrick Garland. That led Larry Sabato to move Grassley’s race from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican” in his Crystal Ball ratings today.
Sabato cited the influence of national politics with the Supreme Court hearing and Patty Judge’s entrance into the race on the Democratic side as indications that Grassley may not have a cakewalk of reelection like he usually does. He also noted that if his opponent is Judge, it would be the first time since 1980 he’s faced an opponent who has won statewide before.
But the report also cautioned against betting on a Grassley defeat, considering his longtime service and favorability ratings:
At least so far, however, Grassley remains popular despite the ongoing Supreme Court debate. A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll pegged his approval/disapproval at 57%/28%, a strong showing in this day of political frustration, particularly in a closely-divided swing state. The Hawkeye contest moves from Safe Republican to Likely Republican, mostly out of an abundance of caution. It’s also worth noting that while the DC Democratic establishment is with Judge, many local Democrats back Hogg, so Judge has some work to do even within her own party.
And of course, “likely Republican” is still likely. While Democrats in Iowa are excited about having a legitimate chance to take on Iowa’s senior senator, they’re still realistic about it. Defeating Grassley would be a massive upset in Iowa electoral politics and would likely still need some additional factors to come into play, like a huge Donald Trump Republican wipeout (and it’s not assured that he’ll be the nominee).
But right now Democrats are simply happy to have a real reason for hope. And even if Grassley prevails in the end, having an exciting race near the top of the ticket is helpful to Democrats across Iowa. So today’s Crystal Ball ratings should serve as a welcome sign and reassurance to Democrats that they’re not simply imagining Grassley’s new weakness.
by Pat Rynard