Republican Joni Ernst said he knows how to castrate hogs on an Iowa farm, enabling him to understand pork cutting in Washington. “Washington’s full of big spenders. Let’s make them squeal.” Ernst now faces Democratic Theresa Greenfield.
According to Open Secrets, that great interest in the race has brought the Greenfield campaign a massive fund influx to raise over $11.5 million as of June 30. The national spotlight opened a line of attack for Greenfield’s detractors.
“Theresa Greenfield won’t say where she stands, but the millions spent to elect her from liberal extremists who will defund police, raise taxes and destroy Iowa jobs tells you all you need to know.”Ernst campaign ad
On the other hand, Greenfield publicly said that she is against defunding the police and favors tax plans impacting the wealthiest. Greenfield has focused her message primarily on health care and Social Security. Drawing from her experience of relying on Social Security survivor benefits to help make ends meet after her husband’s death has ignited her desire to preserve such services.
Political nonprofits or “dark money” groups are referred to as such since they can take unlimited amounts of money without revealing their donors. An investigation of the Associated Press showed that top aides to Ernst created an external group that meticulously raised funds for her reelection. They said based on documents it reviewed that the level of overlap could be illegal.
Meanwhile, Ernst had focused on the economy and law and order while persuading voters that she is still the one who can make Washington squeal. Melissa Deatsch, a spokesperson for Ernst, focused on the outside money backing Greenfield’s campaign.
“Iowans can’t trust Theresa Greenfield, who is hiding behind nearly $100 million that she and her liberal special interest allies are spending trying to buy Iowa’s Senate seat.”Melissa Deatsch
According to Open Secrets, outside spending supporting Greenfield had more than that for Ernst at $10.2 million for the Democrat in contrast to $6.8 million for the Republican. External spenders pitched in $38.5 million to oppose Ernst, while $33.7 million spent to oppose Greenfield, also according to the site.
On the one hand, Ernst has made the economy one of her primary focuses. A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll presented that 31% of likely voters polled said the economy was the most vital issue in the election, with 18% followed by law and order, 15% for the pandemic, and 13% for health care.
Ernst has enticed Iowa’s rural voters by proposing to decrease regulations for businesses and fight for an equal playing field for farmers in trade. Trump’s trade dispute with China also has upset farmers. While they may suffer in the near term, some say they believe that the guidelines will benefit.
A mid-September Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll found 56% of likely Iowa voters felt Ernst hadn’t done enough to help the state during her office, including 19% who plan to vote for her anyway. Of the likely voters polled, 43% said Ernst’s relationship with Trump was “about right,” while 37% said they are “too close.”
That opens the question of how much of Ernst’s political future is tied to Trump’s.
“My feeling is that if Iowa goes for Trump in the presidential race, Ernst is going to win [in the senatorial race] because I can’t envision that people that are going to vote for Trump are not going to vote for Ernst.”Professor Timothy Hagle
Ernst’s run this time is different from last. Academics interviewed by CNBC also considered Greenfield a stronger candidate than Ernst’s final opponent in 2014, then-Rep. Bruce Braley, since Greenfield’s message, has been more straightforward than Braley’s, Iowa State University political science professor Dave Peterson said.
“Ernst had that six years ago… She started with that ‘make ’em squeal’ ad that became famous, and there was a sort of sense of who she was and how she was going to shake things up. And Greenfield has that this time… That’s where Greenfield running a good campaign can make her an attractive alternative.”Professor Dave Peterson
Peterson said numerous Iowans would be inclined to accept the incumbent, but with the pandemic’s effect on the economy, voters may be seeking alternatives.