A ‘rock star’ caucus won’t serve rural America

A ‘rock star’ caucus won’t serve rural America

Gazette Column
If rumors are believed, this is the day Iowa Democrats have either been wanting or dreading: Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her entry into the 2016 presidential contest. The past few weeks have seen the official entry of Republicans Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, also to mixed emotions from the GOP faithful. Unfortunately, my concerns following the 2008 and 2012 contests are growing. I’m not convinced the new normal of Iowa caucus life as a string of mega-events, requiring tickets for entry and little time for truly critical audience participation allow for an adequate airing or thoughtful discussion on the complex issues surrounding rural communities. Campaign stops and events surged to unprecedented proportions in the 2008 contests. During his first trip into Iowa following a 2007 announcement, for instance,…
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Has UKIP arrived in Iowa?

Has UKIP arrived in Iowa?

Gazette Column
A significant (and I believe growing) number of Iowans no longer fit neatly into the two historic political categories that have dominated American politics, and they are owning it. While there have always been political outliers — those who align with the majority of one platform or the other, but are holdouts on specific topics — the current shift is different because people are self-identifying differently. At political events in 2008 and 2012 it was not uncommon to meet Iowans who described themselves as a specific brand of party supporter. For instance, “pro-choice Republican” or “pro-gun Democrat.” Even while differentiating themselves from a larger political perception, Iowans continued to claim a party brand. Recently, however, some of those who previously identified “centrist Democrat” or “moderate Republican” have dropped the party…
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Political spin turning voters off

Political spin turning voters off

Gazette Column
A  new study by a Philadelphia media watchdog group has found that, in the lead-up to the 2014 midterm elections, more time during broadcast newscasts was devoted to paid advertisements by political campaigns and third-party groups than actual information or discourse on policy issues. Researchers found that ad time outpaced news on political issues at a ratio of nine to one. “ ... By the numbers, it was no contest. Political ads vastly outnumbered political stories of any kind and that difference was monumental when it came to political stories that addressed any of the public issues that were raised in the ads.” While we don’t yet have solid research regarding the amount of time Iowa newscasters spent discussing policy issues in comparison to the amount of time spent airing…
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Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Gazette Column
If research from Dartmouth is any indicator, Joni Ernst may have already lost the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. In fact, she may never have had a chance. The white paper, published this week, details how gendered facial cues can predict electoral success for female politicians. In other words, researchers wanted to determine if feminine appearance — especially facial cues of femininity — was correlated to success in political contests. [caption id="attachment_206" align="alignright" width="300"] State Sen. Joni Ernst appears at the Family Leader Forum at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa, on Friday, April 25, 2014. (Alison Sullivan/The Gazette)[/caption] While research has shown political success for male candidates is linked to perceptions of competence and attractiveness, this white paper demonstrates gender cues uniquely predict a female candidate’s success beyond…
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Mailer uses ‘pants on fire’ attack against Braley

Mailer uses ‘pants on fire’ attack against Braley

Gazette Column
Mailers recently distributed into Iowa’s 1st Congressional District by a Virginia-based organization and attacking U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley use messaging previously deemed false. [caption id="attachment_196" align="aligncenter" width="232"] Front of a mailer by Virginia-based Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_197" align="aligncenter" width="237"] Back of a Front of a mailer by Virginia-based Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.[/caption] The mailers, shown above, were distributed Wednesday and Thursday. They encourage voters to contact Braley, the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, regarding his support of health care reform. The messaging is nearly identical to an earlier television ad buy, which was labeled as “pants on fire” by PolitiFact. Both the television ad and the mailers were produced by a funding group with ties to brothers Charles and David Koch. According to the Washington…
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