Chuck Grassley Faces His First Election Fistfight in Forty Years
If the U.S. Senate seat battle were a boxing match, it would be down to the final round. Longtime undefeated political heavyweight Chuck "The Champ" Grassley vs. political rookie Michael "the Admiral" Franken are throwing punches but landing few.
Franken, the upstart political candidate, sought and won the opportunity to represent Democrats in the fight few believed he could win. In a recent online video, Grassley seemed dazed and confused about his campaign. Still, politics is a funny business, and underdog upsets occasionally happen.
Recent polling shows the Grassley vs. Franken battle to be much closer than believed. The dynamics are such that this is likely to be Grassley's most brutal reelection fight in four decades.
A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows Grassley leads with 46% of the vote to Franken's 43% among likely voters. Another 4% would vote for someone else, 4% would not, and 3% are unsure.
Like many longtime boxing champions, politicians can be caught off-guard. They and their fans believe them to be invincible after the long run toward greatness. But the truth is many have yet to face quality competition in years. So strong contenders weigh the odds and take a pass leaving it to a weak candidate to face daunting odds.
Often it's a self-fulfilling prophecy with the champ deluding themselves, their supporters, and the media into believing they are untouchable. The challengers typically raise meager funds only to go down in a blaze of glory, yet defeated, and their party deflated.
The recent poll has pundits from Des Moines to D.C. talking about Franken as a potential upset. But, of course, polling results are tricky, and statistics are easy to manipulate to present a less-than-accurate scenario to shift the narrative and jumpstart fundraising.
While it makes for great drama and news copy, the survey of 804 Iowa adults, including 620 likely voters, was conducted nearly two weeks ago between October. 9-12. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; it's plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the questions asked of likely voters.
When pollsters ask "Iowa Adults," it's vital to note whether people polled are registered and frequent voters in every election, especially those who regularly vote in off-year elections like this one. Specifically, voters over 60 since they are the most "likely" of Iowa voters.
Grassley Campaign Ad
Besides his longevity in the Senate, Chuck Grassley hasn't done anything recently to raise the ire of Iowans. Sure he's getting along in years, but so are most Iowa voters casting a ballot in 2022. Compared to many Iowa senior voters, Chuck remains relatively quick on his feet and his mind sharp.
So, while Grassley's longevity confounds the pundits, his politics aside, Chuck's age demographic represents "likely" Iowa voters.
Franken Attack Ad
Franken, meanwhile, deserves kudos for taking on the fight and for the fact that he's still standing against the undefeated Chuck Grassley. Previous candidates were out of contention long before the battle started, much less remaining within the margin of error in a Des Moines Register poll a month before Election Day.
Unfortunately for the Admiral, while Iowans know it's vital to till the soil and rotate the crops, they're not usually open to trading out politicians without cause.
Franken appears to be a bright, friendly, soft-spoken guy, but nice guys don't usually win Senate seats against political giants such as Grassley.
Franken's made a case from all indications, but I wouldn't bet the farm that it's solid or compelling enough to get voters to fire Chuck and hire him as the replacement. He'll have to bring more firepower to the fight during the campaign's final days.
Franken's Contrast Ad vs. Grassley
Besides, Chuck's ads practically have him up with the roosters doing one-arm pushups, sprinting up the stairs at the Des Moines art museum, and mowing the lawn before the crack of dawn.
While the polling news pumps some life into a relatively lackluster campaign season in Iowa, Franken's numbers from early October may also indicate his campaign is peaking too soon.
You never want to allow your opponent, with vast resources like Chuck's, time to respond. So Franken needs to get Grassley on the ropes and deliver the knockout punch just as time expires and before Chuck knows what hit him.
Now, from a strategic standpoint, Chuck has been forewarned and knows that he's in a real fight. So, knowing Grassley's penchant for cutthroat politics and guessing he still has a few sly moves up his sleeve, look for Grassley to come out swinging hard during the final round of this election battle.