Democrats should worry about Joni Ernst

“I think you could also see a lot of interest shift from Michigan to Iowa,” said one Republican strategist with an eye on the national picture, referring to another midterm battleground where the presumed GOP nominee, Terri Lynn Land, has struggled to answer basic reporters’ questions.

Iowa leans left in presidential elections: Although President George W. Bush won it in 2004, the Democratic nominee has claimed the state’s electoral votes in every other presidential election since 1988. Despite its heavily white electorate, President Obama won comfortably there in 2012 by six points.

But Republicans have done well in the Hawkeye State’s undercard races. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has easily won every one of his election since first entering the Senate in 1980, and GOP Gov. Terry Branstad earned a fifth term in office in 2010 with a 10-point victory.

Democrats, for their part, maintain they see the same race they always have: Competitive, but one they’ll ultimately win without much fuss. Ernst is unproven and shown little ability to raise much money, they argue, and will struggle to adjust her message for a general election.