Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics’ official projections. The eighth profile in the series is the Iowa U.S. Senate contest.

Candidates:
Democrat: Tom Harkin (4-term incumbent)
Republican: Christopher Reed

History:
Senator Harkin is looking to join Republican Charles Grassley in winning his 5th consecutive term to the U.S. Senate from the Hawkeye State. Harkin was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, winning by 11.8 points over 1-term Republican incumbent Roger W. Jespen. Unlike Grassley, Harkin has not enjoyed particularly comfortable re-election campaigns to date: Harkin won by 9.1 points in 1990 (over Thomas J. Tauke), by 5.1 points in 1996 (over Jim Lightfoot), and by 10.4 points in 2002 (over Greg Ganske). Grassley, by contrast, has won his four re-election campaigns by 32.4 points, 42.4 points, 37.9 points, and 42.3 points in 2004.

Harkin chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and also serves on the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Republican Christopher Reed, a businessman and Navy veteran, is running on a platform of “Iowa values, conservative principles.�? Reed’s priorities include achieving peace through strength, winning the War on Terror, having stricter border enforcement, decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil through more domestic drilling, and decreasing taxes.

For the first time since 1990, there will be no third party candidate on the ballot in a U.S. Senate race in Iowa.

Overall, since popular vote Senate elections began in 1914, Republicans have won 22 races in Iowa, compared to just 12 for the Democrats. That means Harkin has won one-third of all Democratic electoral victories to the U.S. Senate in state history.

Outlook:
Harkin has enjoyed approval ratings above 50 percent in nearly four-dozen public opinion polls conducted this decade – with ratings averaging in the mid-50s during the past year. While not quite as popular as his Republican counterpart Grassley, Harkin should breeze to his fifth consecutive Senate victory.