Sabatos Crystal Ball

Iowa Races

Senate Outlook for 2008

Can Democrats Take Advantage of the Turf?

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Outlook: Solid Democratic

June 4, 2008 Update:

Businessman Christopher Reed will face off against Democratic incumbent Tom Harkin in November, after winning a Republican primary that flew under the radar in most media. Harkin is almost a certain bet to win reelection, especially since he sits as the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, one of the most important positions in the Senate for representing Iowa’s largely agricultural economy. As a popular incumbent wielding influence that directly affects the lives of his constituents, Harkin will hold this seat for the Democrats.

March 3, 2008 Update:

As much excitement as Iowa provided us with its caucus this past January, it doesn’t look like it will be able to replicate that once November rolls around. Democrat Tom Harkin, a one-time presidential candidate himself, should cruise to reelection without too much difficulty. Harkin is enjoying a 58 percent approval rating as of February polling, and the Republicans aren’t fielding what one would consider blue chip challengers. In fact only one, businessman Steve Rathje, has even filed with the FEC. In his end-of-year filings, Rathje reported $58.07 in cash on hand; Harkin has almost $3.5 million. The presidential race in Iowa may be interesting (John McCain is in a tight race with Hillary Clinton, but loses soundly to Barack Obama), but the Senate campaign promises much less entertainment.


Four-term incumbent Democratic Senator Tom Harkin had been dogged by retirement rumors until he put them to rest this spring. He may not have to run much of campaign, however, unless he has a definite Republican contender, which is currently not the case.

Many people are buzzing about the prospect of Congressman Steve King challenging Harkin in ’08, but he has yet to confirm his entry into any race. While incumbent Harkin has never garnered more than 55% of the vote in a senate election, he did take a ten point advantage in his last race in 2002.

Harkin currently has over $2.6 million in cash-on-hand, supported largely by his over $1 million raised in the second quarter. That financial base, coupled with his name-recognition, history, and entrenchment in the job, give him a great jumping-off point for a campaign. King is a serious contender, though, and Harkin’s fundraising shows that he’s not taking any opponent lightly.


Tom Harkin (I) – Democrat – current Senator

Christopher Reed – Republican – businessman