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November 29, 2014

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October 31, 2014

The Recount Rules Guide for 2014

The Recount Rules Guide for 2014
(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After the polls close Tuesday, it’s likely at least a handful of House and Senate races will be too close to call.

What would happen next for these tight contests? In most cases, once all the votes are collected and counted, it’s a pesky procedure that keeps candidates and canvassers up at night for days or weeks: the recount.

Recount laws vary by state, so we’ve rounded up what triggers one and any notable fine print in states with anticipated close contests.

ALASKA

Sen. Mark Begich (D) vs. Dan Sullivan (R)
Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Tilts Republican

Trigger: Only an exact tie triggers a recount in the El Dorado of the North. But if the race does not end in a tie, a losing candidate or 10 qualified voters can still request a recount.

Fine Print: In a statewide election, the recount requestor must deposit $15,000 with the recount application, unless the margin is less than 0.5 percent, at which point the state covers the cost. The deposit is refunded if the recount changes the election results.

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October 24, 2014

7 Nail-Biter House Races

7 Nail Biter House Races

Martha McSally, a Republican, is running in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Less than two weeks before Election Day, the parties don’t agree on much — except these House races will be decided by the slimmest of margins.

Candidates in these contests are expected to have a long wait on the evening of Nov. 4. In fact, some of these races will be so close that the winner might not be known for days — even weeks — after Election Day.

Last cycle, nine House races were too close to call on election night. One candidate even attended freshman orientation the following week, before officially losing the race and heading home.

In alphabetical order, here are the House contests this cycle that operatives expect will come down to the wire on Election Day:

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October 20, 2014

For House GOP, a Wave … Or a Trickle?

For House GOP, a Wave ... Or a Trickle?

Kirkpatrick is one of the most endangered Democrats this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans are on track to make gains this cycle, but two weeks before Election Day, it’s still unclear whether the party will procure a wave of double-digit gains in their quest to extend the majority.

Members of Congress and operatives alike note this is a toxic time for Democrats on the ballot that should result in huge losses for the president’s party. But a race-by-race evaluation of the House map shows Republicans are more likely in a position to pick up a net of around six seats this cycle.

“After two successful cycles for House Republicans, the playing field confines the upper limits of pickups that can be had,” said Brock McCleary, a Republican pollster.

Public surveys show President Barack Obama’s unpopularity, as events in the Middle East and Ebola on the home front drag down Democrats coast to coast. House Democrats are defending more seats than Republicans this cycle.

But this midterm is shaping up to be one of the most perplexing in recent memory. Both parties are on offense, and both parties are on defense. In private polling, dozens of races are too close to call. Given the unpredictability, it’s also possible the next 14 days could exacerbate Democratic losses.

Here’s why most political operatives estimate Republican will have a net gain in the mid-single digits:

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October 17, 2014

Iowa Senate Race Becomes Headache for House Democrats

Iowa Senate Race Becomes Headache for House Democrats

Ernst, right, is running for Senate as a Republican in Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A competitive Senate contest in the Hawkeye State is creating a ripple effect down ballot, causing headaches for national Democrats as Election Day nears.

Recent polls show state Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, with a small lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat. But the Republican’s advantage has percolated to three of Iowa’s four House contests, keeping one competitive district in contention for Republicans, plus putting two Democratic seats in play.

In particular, Ernst’s performance is buoying former Capitol Hill aide David Young, the Republican nominee in the competitive 3rd District, which is currently rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Privately, Iowa Republican operatives said Young is running a lackluster campaign against former state Sen. Staci Appel, a Democrat.

In the end, Ernst might be the one to pull him over the edge.

“I do think it looks to be like a pretty good year for Republicans in Iowa,” said John Stineman, an Iowa Republican operative. “It’s kind of a nail biter, but both Young and Ernst should be able to pull this out if we keep the momentum.”

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October 9, 2014

Poll: Democrat Opens Lead in Top Iowa House Race

Poll: Democrat Opens Lead in Top Iowa House Race

Young hopes to keep Iowa's 3rd District in the Republican column. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Former state Sen. Staci Appel has opened up a significant single-digit lead over her Republican opponent in a competitive open-seat race in Iowa, according to a tracking poll conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Appel led former Capitol Hill aide David Young, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll. Nine percent of respondents were undecided.

The poll showed Appel increasing her lead from the DCCC’s last poll on Sept. 15, when Appel led Young 47 percent to 44 percent. 

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October 6, 2014

DCCC Cuts Airtime in 8 TV Markets

DCCC Cuts Airtime in 8 TV Markets

Steve Israel of New York is the DCCC Chariman. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has started to pull back its advertising buys in several congressional districts around the country, according to an aide.

At this point in the cycle, the cancellations — also known as “triage” — serve as a signal the party does not see a path to victory for these candidates or races. House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, has already pulled some of its buys in the same districts.

For now, House Democrats are only canceling airtime reservations in open-seat races or offensive opportunities. In some cases, the DCCC is still airing advertisements in some of the affected races for the next couple weeks.

In addition to the cancellations, the DCCC is also moving money to other districts, including other open-seat opportunities, districts held by Democrats and one GOP incumbent target.

House Democrats must net 17 seats to win the majority, but it’s more likely they will lose seats in November. These cuts allow the DCCC to use the party’s resources in other reasons where the party has a higher likelihood of winning.

The cancellations include:

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October 3, 2014

Grassley Aide Attempts to Parlay His Boss’s Popularity in House Race

Grassley Aide Attempts to Parlay His Bosss Popularity in House Race

Young, left, and Grassley, right, walk through the Iowa State Fair in August. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

FARRAGUT, Iowa — Locked in a highly competitive House contest, Republican David Young is looking to capitalize on some of his former boss’s goodwill in the final days of the race.

Grassley Aide Attempts to Parlay His Bosss Popularity in House RaceThis week Young, ex-chief of staff to Iowa GOP Sen. Charles E. Grassley kicked off a four-day tour of Iowa’s 3rd District with the popular senator in tow — hitting each of the district’s 16 counties to greet voters and drum up support for his bid. It’s a pared-down version of what Iowans affectionately dub, “The Full Grassley,” in which the 81-year-old senator traverses every one of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties annually.

On Thursday, the tour reached Fremont County, a sparsely populated pocket of farm country in the southwestern corner of the state. About a dozen and a half folks showed up to greet the duo at a dusty and aging Masonic Temple in a town Young joked has “more deer than people.”

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September 30, 2014

Republican Cavalry Starts Spending on House Races (Finally)

Republican Cavalry Starts Spending on House Races (Finally)

Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For months, Republicans feared outside groups would skip over House races this cycle, saving their cash for the battle over Senate control.

But the conservative cavalry has finally arrived.

Republican groups — which have mostly sat on the sidelines in House contests this cycle until recently — have reserved nearly $12 million on the television airwaves in competitive races through Election Day, according to two sources tracking ad buys in House contests across the country. The reservations, placed over the last two weeks, are a mix of GOP pickup opportunities and defensive ground.

The reservations include:

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September 10, 2014

Iowa Poll: Democrat Leads in Top House Contest

Iowa Poll: Democrat Leads in Top House Contest

Young is a Republican running in Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A new poll found former state Sen. Staci Appel, a Democrat, with a 6-point lead over GOP nominee David Young in a top-target House contest in Iowa.

Appel leads Young, 40 percent to 34 percent, just outside the poll’s margin of error, with 24 percent of voters undecided, according to the independent survey conducted by Loras College and released on Wednesday. Full story

August 21, 2014

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Young, left, and Grassley, right, campaign at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ADEL, Iowa – When David Young first became Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s chief of staff seven years ago, the senator sat him down for a talk. Young thought he was in for the riot act or a long list of rules.

Once a GOP Staffer, Candidate Now Vies to Be Main Event

Instead, as he tells it in the parking lot where people are shucking corn for the Adel Sweet Corn Festival, Iowa’s beloved senior senator recounted some advice he received when he first came to Washington.

“He said, ‘[whatever] your constituents want, anything and everything, you do it,’” Young recalls. “‘If they want you to cut their toenails, you cut their toenails.’”

A few weeks later, Young went out and bought enough toenail clippers for the entire staff as a reminder of their mission. Today, Young recounts that tale as a candidate for Iowa’s open 3rd District. Grassley tells the same story in Young’s first general election radio ad.

Young jokes that he probably needs to start carrying around toenail clippers. “Undoubtedly, someone’s going to come up to me and say, ‘Cut ‘em Dave,’” he jokes, saying he might also need “a 5 gallon Purell pump” to finish the job.

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August 13, 2014

It’s the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State Fair

Grassley hams it up in the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — At the Iowa State Fair, the walk from the William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building to the swine barn should take about five minutes.

But with Sen. Charles E. Grassley, it takes 45.

Its the Chuck Grassley Show at the Iowa State FairSince the Republican was first elected to the Senate in 1980, Grassley, the Hawkeye State’s senior senator, has never been re-elected with less than 64 percent of the vote. At the Iowa State Fair, it is easy to see why.

On Friday, Grassley could not travel more than 10 feet without people stopping to shake his hand, get a picture or tell him how he great he is. GOP candidates agree with that sentiment: He was at the fair to campaign with Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for Senate to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

“I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is Joni Ernst, she’s running for Senate,” Grassley says, time and time again. Full story

August 6, 2014

House Candidate Launches First Ad in Open Seat Race

Iowa Democrat Staci Appel is airing her first TV ad Wednesday in a highly targeted, open-seat race for House Democrats.

Appel is squaring off with Republican David Young, a former staffer for Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, in one of the most competitive House races. The two are vying for the seat of retiring GOP Rep. Tom Latham.

The ad, a positive bio spot provided first to CQ Roll Call, is the first from either major party nominee. It will run district-wide on cable and network TV, though the campaign did not provide the size of the buy.

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June 23, 2014

Pick Your Clinton: Democrats Want Duo on Trail

Pick Your Clinton: Democrats Want Duo on Trail

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton are exciting Democrats who hope for their help in the midterm elections. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Democrats are gearing up to unleash the Clinton Dynasty.

They hope deploying the popular former White House occupants could help drum up money and hype in what could be a tough election year for the party. Democrats see the power couple as an asset, especially because Republicans have no singular unifying figure who can hit the trail.

But good thing there’s two of them.

Democratic operatives say each half of the Clinton duo appeals to different segments of the electorate — so assignments to races must be deliberate and strategic.

North of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi River is former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton territory — replete with voters who have already warmed to electing women to Congress. Former President Bill Clinton, party officials say, plays better in the South and Midwest, where he performed well with traditional Yellow Dog Democrats who relate to the party’s economic message but tend to be more conservative on social issues.

Together, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say there are few areas where the Clinton duo wouldn’t have a positive impact.

“Both Clintons can go into any competitive district in the country and be enormously helpful to Democratic candidates,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said. “The second Secretary Clinton is ready, we’d love to have her campaigning for House Democrats.”

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June 21, 2014

Iowa GOP Convention Picks Nominee for Top House Race (Video)

Iowa GOP Convention Picks Nominee for Top House Race (Video)

An Iowa GOP convention picked a nominee to try to succeed Latham, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Capitol Hill aide David Young won the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 3rd District on Saturday, overcoming five other Republican opponents in an hourslong nominating convention.

Young defeated state Sen. Brad Zaun, 276 votes to 221 votes, in the fifth round of balloting among hundreds of local delegations, according to the Republican Party of Iowa. Young now moves on to face the Democratic nominee, former state Sen. Staci Appel, in November.

Young’s win comes as a relief to Republicans, who hoped the nominating convention would turn out a candidate other than Zaun.

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June 5, 2014

Iowa Republicans Face Unpredictable Convention for Coveted House Seat

Iowa Republicans Face Unpredictable Convention for Coveted House Seat

Iowa Republicans will use a convention to pick a nominee to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Latham, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In Iowa, a rare and unpredictable convention will pick the Republican nominee in one of the country’s most competitive House districts — and the results could determine whether Republicans hold the seat in 2014.

None of the six Republican candidates received the 35 percent necessary to win the nomination outright in the 3rd District. Instead, the nomination fight continues at a June 21 convention, in which hundreds of party activists select the nominee.

It’s a process that has only happened twice in 50 years. The last time was in 2002, when now-Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, won the nomination.

“Any one of them could win legitimately,” said Doug Gross, a former chief of staff to Gov. Terry E. Branstad and a 3rd District convention delegate. “Anybody who tells you they can handicap that race is smarter than anyone around or is lying — one of the two. No one knows what is actually going to happen.”

Although the convention is unpredictable, some GOP operatives in the Hawkeye State said the process gives them a second chance to avoid state Sen. Brad Zaun as their nominee. Zaun finished first with 25 percent in Tuesday’s primary, among a field of six candidates.

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