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===General election===
|Title=Possible match-up: Braley v. Whitaker  
|Title=Possible match-up: Braley v. Whitaker  

Revision as of 10:14, 26 November 2013


2014 U.S. Senate Elections in Iowa

General Election Date
November 4, 2014

Primary Date
June 3, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Incumbent prior to election:
Tom Harkin Democratic Party
Tom Harkin.jpg

Race Ratings
Cook Political Report: Toss Up[1]

Sabato's Crystal Ball: Toss Up[2]

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2014 U.S. House Elections

Flag of Iowa.png
Voters in Iowa will elect one member to the U.S. Senate in the election on November 4, 2014.

Iowa is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. The primary is closed, but voters are allowed to change their political party affiliation on election day.[3]

The election will fill the Senate seat currently held by Tom Harkin (D). Harkin was first elected in 1984. On January 26, 2013, Harkin announced that he would not seek re-election once his current term expires. Upon his retirement, he will have served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. Prior to this, he served in the U.S. House for ten years. He told USA Today, "I have mixed feelings. You know what, it's somebody else's turn. To walk away from this position and this power is not an easy thing. But I think it's the right thing."[4]

If no Republican candidate gets 35 percent of the vote in the primary, a convention picks the nominee.[5] The nomination would be decided by 2,000 delegates during the convention.[5] The convention process begins in January 2014 with precinct caucuses, which then go to a March county convention, a district-wide convention in April and ultimately a statewide convention on June 14, 2014.[5]


Note: Prior to the signature filing deadline, candidates will be added when Ballotpedia writers come across declared candidates. If you see a name of a candidate who is missing, please email us and we will add that name. As the election draws closer, more information will be added to this page.

Announced candidates

Potential candidates



Race background

Most vulnerable seats

The FiscalTimes compiled a list of the seven most vulnerable Senate seats up for election in 2014. The seven included in the list are: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. Going into the 2014 election, all seven seats are held by Democrats.[36]

Branstad endorsement

Gov. Terry Branstad spoke of his preference for Tom Latham to be the Republican nominee for Iowa's Senate seat at the National Governors Association on February 23, 2013.[37] Branstad said he believes Latham would be more electable statewide than fellow Rep. Steve King, who is also considering a run for the seat opened up by Harkin's retirement.[37]

Branstad also made it clear that he expects the two candidates to decide who will be running for the seat without a primary battle. “We’re not going to have a primary, and I’m going to support both of my congressmen. I just think that Latham would be the strongest candidate for the Senate at this time, and I feel confident that he would be a great vote-getter in our state.”[37]

Despite his preference for the strongest Republican nominee, Branstad has praised both candidates. He even suggested that he might support Steve King if Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) retires in 2016 and he makes a run for his seat.[37]

Branstad summed up the situation, stating “I’ve encouraged them to talk to each other, make the decision, but I would hope that and someday I’d love to see them both in the U.S. Senate, but I think Tom Latham would be the most experienced and the strongest candidate at this time.”[37]

Latham declined run

Less than a week following Gov. Terry Branstad's announcement that he would prefer Tom Latham as the Republican nominee, Latham announced he would not run in 2014.[27]

On February 27, 2014, Latham sent an email to his supporters announcing that he would not be running for the Iowa Senate seat.[27]

In the message he stated, "However, only 56 days ago I took an oath to 'faithfully discharge the duties' of an office with which the people of Iowa's Third Congressional District entrusted to me. I cannot in good conscience launch a two-year statewide campaign that will detract from the commitment I made to the people who elected me, at a time when our nation desperately needs less campaigning and more leadership."[27]

His decision not to run, many argue, could hurt Republicans' chances of winning the open seat.[27] His place within the party, association with United States Speaker of the House John Boehner, and early poll indications all pointed to him as a formidable nominee for the Republican party.[27]

February 2013 lead

A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling February 1-3, 2013, showed a slight Democratic lead in a general election between potential candidates within the state.[38] The poll found a race between Latham and Braley a tossup, with Braley leading only 44-41.[38] By contrast, Braley led King by 11, with a 49-38 matchup. That same poll showed King leading Latham 50-27 in a two-man primary.


Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition meeting

Four of the Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls spent the evening at a coalition meeting sponsored by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition on August 22, 2013, where they promised to defend life, traditional marriage, gun rights and Americans’ pocketbooks.[39] Each of the four candidates who accepted the invitation to the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition house party spent little time parsing the issues. Instead, they spoke of their shared values, their life experiences and Iowa common-sense.[39]

“We all agree on almost all of the issues,” Sam Clovis said.

“Anyone of us will be much, much better than a Bruce Braley in that seat,” added state senator Joni Ernst, referring to 1st district incumbent Bruce Braley.[39]

“There’s more common-sense on every street corner” in his hometown of Van Meter than in the nation’s capitol, David Young said, “and I will take it with me to Washington.”[39]

“We need a true conservative who will hold the line and say ‘no,’” said Matt Whitaker, who asked his audience for their support and for them to “go out and spread the word about the wonderful candidates you meet tonight.”[39]

That was, in fact, the point of the evening, according to Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a non-profit advocacy and voter education group.[39] He encouraged those in attendance to help spread the candidates’ messages, to volunteer for their campaigns and contribute money.

“Our members want to know about issues ranging from the defense of unborn life to what can be done to fix the economy, but we also want to know and measure the character of our candidates,” Scheffler said. “These meetings will help flesh those questions out.”[39]

The 2014 race takes on special significance, Scheffler said, because it’s the first time since 1974 there has been an open-seat Senate race in Iowa. He emphasized the importance of unity among conservatives if Iowans are going to replace retiring Tom Harkin with someone who shares their values.[39]

“I’m not asking you to compromise, but bottom line, all of these candidates will agree with us on much more than what divides us,” Scheffler said. While there are some “non-negotiables like such as life and marriage,” he advised at getting into “spitting matches over little details."[39]


General election

Possible match-up: Braley v. Whitaker
Poll Bruce Braley (D) Matt Whitaker (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
July 5-7, 2013
Harper Polling
November 23-24, 2013
AVERAGES 42% 36% 22.5% +/-3.46 826.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Possible match-up: Braley v. Clovis
Poll Bruce Braley (D) Sam Clovis (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
July 5-7, 2013
Harper Polling
November 23-24, 2013
AVERAGES 41.5% 33% 25% +/-3.46 826.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Possible match-up: Braley v. Ernst
Poll Bruce Braley (D) Joni Ernst (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
July 5-7, 2013
Harper Polling
November 23-24, 2013
AVERAGES 43.5% 34.5% 22% +/-3.46 826.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Possible match-up: Braley v. Jacobs
Poll Bruce Braley (D) Mark Jacobs (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
July 5-7, 2013
AVERAGES 34.5% 23% +/-3.46 826.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Possible match-up: Braley v. Young
Poll Bruce Braley (D) David Young (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
July 5-7, 2013
Harper Polling
November 23-24, 2013
AVERAGES 43% 33.5% 24% +/-3.46 826.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to


On October 7, 2013, Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced her endorsement of Joni Ernst for U.S. Senate.[40]

The endorsement is likely to give Ernst some momentum in the competitive, multi-way race for the Republican nomination.[40]

“Joni Ernst represents the best of the Republican Party; she represents the best of Iowa,” Reynolds wrote in a guest opinion column in the Des Moines Register. “Joni does more than just talk about the policies and values she holds dear. She fights for them.”[40]

Campaign donors

Bruce Braley (D) reportedly transferred $179,000 from his U.S. House campaign account to his U.S. Senate campaign, and spent $113,000 in the first three months of the 2013.[41] Braley ended the first quarter of 2013 with $1,004,606 in cash on hand and reported that he already received contributions from Iowans in all 99 counties.[41] He announced on July 2, 2013 that he raised $1.25 million in the second quarter, from April 1 to June 30, and had $2 million in cash on hand.[42]

Possible Republican candidate and current Representative Steve King reportedly raised $93,000 and had $90,000 cash-on-hand as of April 2013.[43]

On July 9, 2013 Republican candidate Matt Whitaker reported raising $110,506 in campaign cash in the 27 days since he entered the race on June 3, 2013.[44] He had 134 donors from Iowa, which represents 78 percent of his donors.[44] A fundraiser featuring U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley in Washington, D.C. is set for July 23.[44]

David Young (R) announced on July 9, 2013 his June 2013 fundraising efforts totaled $152,785 with $151,500 cash-on-hand at the end of the quarter.[45]

Joni Ernst raised $252,000 in her first fundraising quarter, according to reports on October 10, 2013.[46]

In a statement, Ernst said: ”I am incredibly thankful to those who have been so generous with their support over the last several weeks. Each and every contribution, no matter the amount, helps my campaign to continue to grow in momentum. I am excited to continue traveling the state and meeting with voters to share my vision of taking our shared Iowa values to Washington, D.C.”[46]

Sam Clovis raised $75,000 in the third quarter of 2013, after raising just $14,000 in the previous quarter.[47] He ended the quarter with about $35,000 in cash on hand.[47]

Outside spending

The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced a new effort targeting representative Bruce Braley, “batting for Obamacare,” on August 16, 2013.[48] The group plans on releasing seven billboards in Des Moines accusing Braley of hurting Iowans by supporting Obamacare.[48] The billboards have a baseball theme, with four versions of a scoreboard that cite families, farmers, seniors and small businesses as the losers when it comes to the federal health care law.[48] As part of the effort the group will also launch a website,, which shows Braley wearing a baseball cap with the Obama campaign logo.[48]


Bruce Braley

At Tom Harkin's 36th Annual Steak Fry in September 2013, the proceeds of which go toward To Organize a Majority PAC, several key Democratic members endorsed Bruce Braley for Harkin's seat.[49]

“Folks, you have been so kind and generous to me in all of the years I have represented you in both the House and 30 years in the Senate,” Harkin said. “I want you to know there is only one person I want to pass that baton to, and that’s our next United States’ senator, Bruce Braley.”[49]

Vice President Joe Biden also endorsed Braley.[49]“I’ve gotten to get to know Bruce,” Biden said. “Tom admires him, and it’s why I think he is going to be a great senator. He is absolutely authentic. I told Bruce I would come campaign for him or against him, whichever would help him most.”[49]

Gabrielle Giffords, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, took part in a fundraiser in Des Moines on October 27, 2013.[50]

Election history


On November 2, 2010, Chuck Grassley won re-election to the United States Senate. He defeated Roxanne Conlin (D) and John Heiderscheit (L) in the general election.[51]

U.S. Senate, Iowa General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngChuck Grassley Incumbent 64.4% 718,215
     Democratic Roxanne Conlin 33.3% 371,686
     Libertarian John Heiderscheit 2.3% 25,290
Total Votes 1,115,191


On November 4, 2008, Tom Harkin won re-election to the United States Senate. He defeated Christopher Reed (D) in the general election.[52]

U.S. Senate, Iowa General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngTom Harkin Incumbent 62.7% 941,665
     Democratic Christopher Reed 37.3% 560,006
Total Votes 1,501,671

See also

External links


  1. Cook Political Report, "2014 SENATE RACE RATINGS FOR JULY 18, 2014," accessed August 5, 2014
  2. Sabato's Crystal Ball, "2014 Senate Races," accessed August 5, 2014
  3. Iowa Secretary of State Website, "Voter Registration FAQ," accessed January 3, 2014
  4. USA Today "Iowa Sen. Harkin will not seek re-election," January 26, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Roll Call "Rare Convention Presents Hurdle in Iowa Senate Race" Accessed July 9, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Wall Street Journal, "Harkin's Exit Heralds Scramble for Senate Seat," January 26, 2013
  7. Sioux City Journal, "Iowa's U.S. House 1st District GOP field doubles; Pate, Rogers join race," accessed September 16, 2013
  8. The Iowa Republican, "Grassley Chief of Staff David Young set to enter U.S. Senate race," May 23, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Washington Post "Northey won’t run for Iowa Senate seat, hopes Steve King will" Accessed May 2, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 KMALand, "Ernst still undecided on Senate bid," May 23, 2013
  11. Des Moines Register, "Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker pursues open Senate seat," May 6, 2013
  12. Roll Call "Matt Whitaker Announces Senate Campaign Team #IASEN | Shop Talk" Accessed June 11, 2013
  13. Des Moines Register "Sioux City radio host to reveal U.S. Senate intentions Monday" Accessed June 7, 2013
  14. The Gazette, "Sioux City radio host considering U.S. Senate run," May 23, 2013
  15. Des Moines Register "Sioux City radio host Sam Clovis joins U.S. Senate race" Accessed June 12, 2013
  16. Des Moines Register "Senate candidate David Young: Bruce Braley is ‘vulnerable’" Accessed June 18, 2013
  17. Daily Times Herald "Kuemper alum Schaben plans U.S. Senate bid" Accessed July 10, 2013
  18. Des Moines Register "Candidate for U.S. Senate suggests African American wife is evidence he’s not racist" Accessed July 10, 2013
  19. Politico "Iowa Republican Senate primary 2014 a free-for-all" Accessed May 28, 2013
  20. Des Moines Register "Joni Ernst announces bid for Senate seat" Accessed July 10, 2013
  21. Buzz Feed Politics, "Iowa Conservative Bob Vander Plaats Weighing Senate Run," accessed September 16, 2013
  22. Politico, "Iowa Republican Senate primary 2014 a free-for-all," May 24, 2013
  23. Des Moines Register, "Mark Jacobs, possible Senate candidate, hosts education reform forum," May 8, 2013
  24. The Des Moines Register, "Vilsack will not seek U.S. Senate seat in 2014," February 15, 2013
  25. Globe Gazette "Loesback won't seek U.S. Senate seat" Accessed May 31, 2013
  26. Des Moines Register "Iowa House Democratic Leader McCarthy “absolutely” won’t seek higher office" Accessed May 31, 2013
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 The Hill "Rep. Latham won't run for Senate" accessed February 28, 2013
  28. Radio Iowa, "Iowa Ag Secretary discussing a run for the U.S. Senate," March 1, 2013
  29. Washington Post "Northey won’t run for Iowa Senate seat, hopes Steve King will" Accessed May 2, 2013
  30. Des Moines Register "Matt Schultz flies to D.C. to size up GOP Senate bid" Accessed May 15, 2013
  31., "Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz travels to D.C. as he mulls Senate bid," May 15, 2013
  32. Washington Post "Matt Schultz won't run for Senate in Iowa" Accessed May 31, 2013
  33. Washington Post "Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds won’t run for Senate" Accessed May 2, 2013
  34. Washington Post "Steve King is out. The next phase of the Iowa Senate race starts now." Accessed May 25, 2013
  35. Fox News "Iowa's Steve King rules out GOP bid for Senate in 2014" Accessed May 25, 2013
  36. Fiscal Times "7 Senate Seats Most at Risk—Hint: They’re All Blue" accessed February 15, 2013
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 Politico, "Terry Branstad prefers Tom Latham for Senate race," accessed February 25, 2013
  38. 38.0 38.1 Public Policy Polling "Dems start out ahead in Iowa Senate election" accessed February 28, 2013
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 39.8 The Gazette, "GOP Senate hopefuls tell faith voters any one of them better than the alternative," accessed August 26, 2013
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 Des Moines Register, "Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds endorses Joni Ernst in U.S. Senate race," accessed October 7, 2013
  41. 41.0 41.1 Des Moines Register "Braley Raises 1.07 millino for U.S. Senate Race" Accessed April 16, 2013
  42. Des Moines Register "Braley has $2M on hand for U.S. Senate run" Accessed July 3, 2013
  43. Roll Call "Steve King’s Cash Raises Eyebrows, Doubts About Senate Bid" Accessed April 17, 2013
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 Des Moines Register "Republican Matt Whitaker raised $110,000 for his U.S. Senate race" Accessed July 9, 2013
  45. Iowa Republican "Young Raises $152,000 for US Senate Campaign" Accessed July 10, 2013
  46. 46.0 46.1 Des Moines Register, "Ernst raises $252,000 for her U.S. Senate campaign," accessed October 11, 2013
  47. 47.0 47.1 Des Moines Register, "Radio talk show host Sam Clovis raises $75,000 for U.S. Senate race," accessed October 11, 2013
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 48.3 Des Moines Register, "Republicans swing at Braley for ‘batting for Obamacare’," accessed August 16, 2013
  49. 49.0 49.1 49.2 49.3 Iowa State Daily, "Joe Biden endorses Bruce Braley’s campaign for senator at Tom Harkin's Steak Fry," accessed September 16, 2013
  50. Huffington Post, "Gabrielle Giffords To Campaign For Bruce Braley," accessed September 16, 2013
  51. 'U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010"
  52. 'U.S. Congress House Clerk "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008"