Sabato's Crystal Ball

Iowa Races

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Iowa (01) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted Bruce Braley (D) defeated Mike Whalen (R) with 55% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Bruce Braley (D) will defeat Mike Whalen (R). Both men have impressed us in debates and frankly, for unelected officials, both strike us as some of the better candidates running for Congress this year. That said, this district is fundamentally Democratic, and we would be surprised to see Whalen hold it for his party tomorrow.

September 12, 2006 Update:

In this Democratic-leaning district, one of the more urban in Iowa, the political winds are favoring Democratic attorney Bruce Braley as the election cycle nears the homestretch. But Republican resaurateur Mike Whalen is getting plenty of high-profile help and support from GOP presidential hopefuls eager to meet future caucus-goers, and we’re not ready to move this race out of the tossup column quite yet.

June 29, 2006 Update:

Republican restaurateur Mike Whalen and Democratic attorney Bruce Braley won their respective party primaries on June 6th, and will face off in a general election sure to be one of the nation’s closest. We’d guess the fundamental Democratic lean of this district will advantage Braley in November, but we’ll first have to see how successful Republicans are at painting him as a liberal trial lawyer out of step with this northeastern Iowa district.


February 2006 Outlook:

Republican Rep. Jim Nussle‘s long-awaited bid for governor has left this Democratic-leaning Northeast Iowa district open, producing competitive primaries on each side. Both parties’ nomination battles are likely to be highly regionalized affairs, and national party committees are wisely staying above the fray for now.

On the Democratic side, Iowa Trial Lawyers Association head Bruce Braley and Dubuque area redevelopment officer Rick Dickinson are the favorites over former State Sen. Bill Gluba, who has contested this district twice before unsuccessfully. Braley has been especially successful courting donations from networks of his fellow trial attorneys around the state.

On the Republican side, State Rep. Bill Dix, consultant Brian Kennedy, and hotelier Mike Whalen are all actively vying for the nomination, with Dix perhaps taking an early lead as the leading fundraiser of the pack. This race is almost certain to go down to the wire in November 2006, though Republicans will certainly hammer Braley for his active trial lawyer leadership if he emerges from the Democratic field. For now, this is a pure toss-up.

Candidates

Bruce Braley (I) – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,942,317.11 | Total Spent: $1,600,983.73
Website

Mike Whalen – Republican – Total Raised:$1,324,752.53 | Total Spent:$1,658,277.22
Website

Iowa (02)

Outlook: Leans Republican


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Watch List” of the next 25 House races worth keeping an eye on.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Dave Loebsack (D) defeated Rep. Jim Leach (R) with 51% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Jim Leach (R) will win reelection over Dave Loebsack (D). Leach’s problem isn’t a strong challenger; it’s the fact that he is a perennially uninterested fundraiser in one of the most Democratic districts in the country still held by a Republican. College professor Loebsack has received some considerable grassroots support, but we pick the moderate Leach to win yet another term by at least several points.


Candidates

Jim Leach (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $446,725.45 | Total Spent: $471,291.30

David Loebsack – Democrat – Total Raised: $365,313.34 | Total Spent:$330,001.57

Iowa (03)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

As the Crystal Ball predicted Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) won reelection over Jeff Lamberti (R) with 52% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) will win reelection over Jeff Lamberti (R). The greatest obstacle to reelection for Boswell over the course of this cycle has been his health, but he has run an energetic campaign this fall and we simply doubt Lamberti will be able to topple him in a Democratic year.

September 8, 2006 Update:

The chatter about Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell’s health has reduced considerably, and the incumbent has been making regular appearances on the trail as of late. Still, GOP State Sen Jeff Lamberti remains one of the GOP’s best candidates this cycle, and national Republicans continue to be committed to keeping this a competitive race.

June 29, 2006 Update:

GOP State Sen. Jeff Lamberti continues to run a strong campaign against the national tide in this central Iowa district, outraising incumbent Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell nearly 2-1 so far this year. Boswell’s health seems to have improved since our last writing, but it is unclear whether he will be able to run the kind of energetic race he needs to in order to fully escape danger this year. As Democratic incumbents go, Boswell is a rare target for the national GOP in 2006.


February 2006 Outlook:

Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell has held this district ably since 1996, although Iowa’s capital of Des Moines was only added to the seat in 2002’s round of redistricting. Boswell’s moderate profile and farming and veteran roots have served him well electorally, and he has dispatched several challenges from Republican Stan Thompson with fairly comfortable margins in the last two cycles.

In 2006, Boswell will face a credible challenger in State Sen. Jeff Lamberti, who has already been campaigni
ng for many months. But an equally tough obstacle to reelection for the incumbent may be his health. Boswell, 71, was in the hospital for several weeks recently for surgery to remove an “abdominal mass,” which has led more than a few Iowan observers to question whether he is still up to the job. Only recently has he returned to daily congressional work, and the ailing Boswell was narrowly out-raised by his GOP foe during the last period of 2005. Still, Boswell, who flies his own plane around the district, retains a solid cash-on-hand advantage heading into the election year and remains the favorite to win a sixth term in Washington.

Candidates

Leonard Boswell (I) – Democrat – Total Spent: $1,928,263.51 | Cash on Hand: $1,795,682.95
Website

Jeff Lamberti – Republican – Total Raised: $1,493,537.05 | Total Spent: $1,457,963.89
Website