The latest polls have Republican Joni Ernst opening a commanding lead over Democrat Bruce Braley in the Iowa Senate contest. Braley is a clumsy gaffe-machine candidate who shouldn’t be within 10 points of her. (Considering how many objectively awful candidates Democrats have run in this election cycle, I feel a bit cynical that some of these contests are “races” at all. How can someone like Bruce Braley, or Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, still be in the running after actively insulting the voters? Is this some combination of low expectations and masochism among certain electorates?)
Anyway, Ernst is ahead 51-44 in the latest Des Moines Register poll, leading one pollster to remark that the race is pretty much “decided” because she’s over 50 percent and leading well outside the margin of error. That means it’s time for desperate Democrats to pull out all the stops. From the Jurassic era of politics lumbers the previous holder of the seat Ernst is about to take, Tom Harkin, to unload a full barrage of patronizing sexism of the sort that only Democrats can deliver without stopping the presses and sparking a nationwide media crisis. Buzzfeed has the quote:
“In this Senate race, I’ve been watching some of these ads,” Harkin said at the Story County Democrats’ annual fall barbecue last week honoring the retiring senator. “And there’s sort of this sense that, ‘Well, I hear so much about Joni Ernst. She is really attractive, and she sounds nice.’”
“Well I gotta to thinking about that. I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa.”
Try to imagine some old man from the GOP saying this about a young female rising-star Democrat candidate. Now try to imagine the Democrat woman is a military veteran, as Ernst is.
As much as Harkin deserves to be called out for patronizing Ernst, he’s really insulting the voters of Iowa here. He’s implying they’re a bunch of dolts who are easily swayed by a good-looking candidate. Remember, voters of Iowa – and everywhere else – how often Democrats have cracked under the stress of the past few weeks and revealed what they really think of you.
Update: Joni Ernst fires back on the Monday morning edition of Fox & Friends: “I was very offended that Senator Harkin would say that. I think it’s unfortunate that he and many of their party believe that you can’t be a real woman if you’re conservative and you’re female. If my name had been John Ernst attached to my resume, Senator Harkin would not have said those things.”