Pour One Out For Sam Clovis. He Done.

Iowa’s Sam Clovis will not be the USDA’s top scientist. Clovis withdrew his name from consideration this morning after it was revealed earlier this week that he had encouraged Trump campaign staffers on their outreach efforts to Russian contacts. He still has a job in the administration as the senior adviser to the White House on agriculture, though the White House didn’t confirm or deny that he would be staying there. Clovis’ nomination to be the USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics was already highly controversial for a whole host of reasons. For starters, Clovis is not a scientist. […]

Could Iowan Sam Clovis’ Actions Take Down Donald Trump?

In the middle of today’s stunning news of indictments and guilty pleas in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election collusion, a familiar name popped up this afternoon that Iowa politicos know all too well: Sam Clovis. The former conservative radio talk show host and Morningside College professor has been identified by Yahoo News as the “Campaign Supervisor” in George Papadopoulos’ guilty statement, which extensively highlights the Donald Trump campaign’s internal discussions and actions on Russia (read it all here). Given what the Campaign Supervisor is listed as doing in the document, Clovis could be in very serious legal trouble – […]

Take Our Video Tour Of Iowa’s Changing Voting Trends By Precinct

Here at Starting Line, I’ve written several posts looking at precinct-by-precinct results from both the 2016 election and the Iowa Caucus to give readers a sense of how and why Iowa’s voting trends are changing. No swing state shifted more than Iowa in the general election (from Obama +6 in 2012 to Trump +10 in 2016), but to really understand it all you need to look at individual precincts to see where the changes occurred. Fortunately, a data lover by the name of Ryne Rohla compiled the voting data for every precinct in the United States and put it all in […]

How Dubuque County Went Republican For The 1st Time Since Eisenhower

The election of 2016 provided many surprising results to longtime Iowa politics watchers, but one county shaded in red stood out most of all: Dubuque. The working class Catholic river town of Northeast Iowa was won by the Republican presidential candidate for the first time since 1956, when it was Dwight Eisenhower on the ballot. With just under 100,000 residents, Dubuque is Iowa’s seventh-largest county, and often gives the Democrats healthy victory margins (about a 10,000 vote margin in 2008, 7,000 in 2012). Not in 2016, though. Barack Obama took Dubuque County with a 15-point victory in 2012, winning there 56.5% to Mitt […]

The Sentence I Didn’t Get To Write In 2016

As we count down the hours until the end of this much maligned year of 2016, many are eager to forget all the awful memories from a such a volatile, nasty year. As for writers like myself, the end of a year comes with regrets about planned stories not written and projects never completed. I have notepads filled with story ideas that I just plain ran out of time to finish. But one abandoned post in particular sticks out, not one that was cut due to lack of time, but by a change in circumstance. I had planned on writing a personal reflection on […]

The Iowa Caucus Emerges From 2016 In A Strong Position

A lot of American institutions came out worse for the ware from the volatile 2016 presidential election. Except for one: the Iowa Caucus. The always-at-risk lead-off contest will come out of this year in a much stronger situation than previously thought. A Donald Trump presidency and a Democratic Party in turmoil makes it considerably more likely that Iowa’s place in the primary process remains. Now, let me first make perfectly clear: Yes, there’s way bigger consequences that came out of this election, and no Democrat is going to be happy that the caucus is saved due to Donald Trump’s election. […]

The Fight To Take It All Back Begins Today

Last night was a very bad night for the Iowa Democratic Party and the future of our state. Iowa was engulfed in a red tidal wave that wiped out the party’s majority in the Iowa Senate, handing full control of state government over to the Republicans. The legislative session will be a frightening one, and many Democrats are wondering today whether the party can ever claw it’s way back from this red state status. The answer is a simple one: we can. Despite the incredible difficulties that lie ahead and the vast shift in Iowa policies certain to come, there are real […]

Iowa Democrats Obliterated At All Levels: The Fallout

It could take years for Iowa Democrats to recover from the utter shellacking they took on Tuesday night, when a total realignment in voting trends struck the state hard. Some rural and blue collar counties that went for Barack Obama in 2012 saw swings to Donald Trump by as much as 30 points. Democrats lost every single one of the highly competitive senate and house races and even a few that weren’t on the playing field. Here’s a look at how the important races shook out: President Trump won Iowa by 10 points, a 16-point swing from Obama’s 2012 result. […]

What Numbers To Watch In Iowa Tonight

Here we go! Election night approaches, and we’ll start getting a sense of who has won and lost in Iowa starting at 9:00 PM when polls close. Here’s a handful of things that I think will be important for Iowa politics watchers to keep their eye on tonight. If you want to follow me live, I’ll be on WOI/ABC 5 from 9:45 to 10:45 to discuss down-ballot races. I’ll update with posts tonight as much as I can, but I’m not sure where all I’ll be. The Polk County Early Vote Longtime Iowa politics watchers know that the first big piece […]

Where The Early Vote Stands On Election Day

Voters streamed into auditor’s offices across Iowa on Monday, getting their vote in one day before Election Day arrived. Long lines were seen in Polk, Black Hawk, Johnson, Linn and Scott counties. Voters who still had their absentee ballots hopefully brought them into auditor’s offices or planned on taking them to the polls – sending them in at this point means they won’t arrive on time. The Secretary of State’s office released their usual early vote report Monday afternoon. In 2012 they also gave an update on Election Day, so it’s possible we get one more bit of information on the […]