Decision 2012

Tony Fischer / Flickr

The last time politicians had an open race for a Senate seat in Iowa, Paul McCartney & Wings were topping the charts with "Band on the Run" in 1974. On today's River to River we talk about the likely contenders for retiring Senator Tom Harkin's seat.

Stephen Cummings / Flickr

Iowa holds the coveted first in the nation contest to decide who will be nominated for President. But, how secure is the future of the Iowa caucuses? Ben Kieffer talks with David Yepsen of the Paul Simon Institute and JoDee Winterhof, who helped lead Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, about how Iowa can keep its leadoff spot. Then, an Iowa State University researcher is causing courts to rethink eyewitness testimony in criminal cases.

Politics Day

Nov 14, 2012
League of Women Voters of California / Flickr

After many in the GOP forecast a big win for Mitt Romney, it turns out he received fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008. Ben Kieffer talks with political experts, using  a week of hindsight to tackle some of the biggest questions in the aftermath of the 2012 election.


CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley made history just before the election, when she became only the second woman to moderate a presidential debate.

Crowley visited Iowa State University Tuesday night to discuss the results of the 2012 election.

And she spoke with Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon by phone. Sarah began by asking Crowley what stands out to her from the 2012 campaign.

Bill Roehl / Flickr

After months of campaigning, it’s all over. Ben Kieffer talks with political experts Christ Larimer from the University of Northern Iowa, and Dennis Goldford of Drake University, to analyze the election results for Iowa’s Congressional, legislative, and judicial races.


An effort by religious conservatives to oust  another Iowa Supreme Court Justice has failed.  Iowans voted yesterday to retain Justice David Wiggins on the court. Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell reports.

Latham Stays, Boswell's Out

Nov 7, 2012
Clay Masters / IPR

With two elder statesmen going head to head in Iowa’s third Congressional district, it was a given that Iowa would lose an incumbent. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports that democratic Congressmen Leonard Boswell’s concession to Republican opponent Tom Latham was also a retirement speech.

It may have been a night of disappointment at Republican headquarters in Des Moines… but there was a bright spot. Tom Latham will be returning to Congress for a tenth term…

Iowa's importance in the 2012 election was arguably more important than ever. IPR's news staff traveled the state and reported on the candidates' messages long before the Iowa caucuses. Here are some of the photos IPR reporters took along the campaign trail. 

Amy Mayer

Nearly one-third of Story County voters requested ballots for early voting. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer reports, many people remain loyal to in-person voting on Election Day.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Most people will have the experience of voting in an election but few of us will ever know what it is like to be on the ballot. We talk with two former Iowa congressmen - Democrat Dave Nagle (1987-1993) and Republican Jim Ross Lightfoot (1985-1997) to find out what election day is like from the candidates' perspective.

Christian Montone / Flickr

We all remember how George Bush defeated Al Gore by 269 votes in 2000, but how about when Grover Cleveland edged out James Blaine in the election of 1884, an ugly campaign that was the beginning of modern mudslinging. In this tight election year we’ll look back at other hard won presidential elections in our history with guests Tim Walch, former director of the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, and Cary Covington, a University of Iowa professor of political science.

Clay Masters / IPR

After a long and contentious presidential election season, the candidates made their closing arguments Monday. Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan made his last visit to Iowa on behalf of Mitt Romney. And President Barack Obama held the final campaign event  of his political career in Des Moines.

While both men were still trying to drum up every last vote in a close election, they were also here to thank the voters who by now, have grown used to their constant visits.

Eagle.Dawg / Flickr

Analysts are saying the outcome of this election hinges on one factor – turnout. Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa party officials across the state to find out what the major parties are doing to get out the vote.Then, Greg Hamot a University of Iowa College of Education professor, and Rachel Willis, executive director at Kids Voting USA, talk about how kids perceive the candidates and the discussions parents can have with them about the election.

Photo Illustration/Clay Masters

After all the winners and losers of Election Day are decided many campaigns and strategists will look at what they did right or wrong. This year there’s a whole new factor thrown into the election, the landmark Supreme Court ruling called Citizens United has changed the game for down ticket races.

Clay Masters / IPR

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney descended on Dubuque Saturday in the final days of their campaigns. Both candidates were promoting their own brand of change.

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney flew into the Dubuque airport and greeted a crowd of more than 2,000 people in a hangar behind a sign that read “REAL CHANGE ON DAY ONE”.

Appearing with Romney was his wife Ann and NASCAR legend Richard Petty… who offered a race car driver’s perspective on the economy.

A crowd of nearly one thousand packed a gymnasium at the University of Northern Iowa Friday afternoon  to hear Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan tell them why he and Mitt Romney should lead the country.

Gage Skidmore / flickr

Award-winning journalist and foreign policy analyst Robin Wright is visiting Iowa this week. She’s spent decades exploring new trends in the Islamic world. We get her take on the major policy challenges for the United States and the West. Also, a conversation with incumbent Republican Tom Latham who is facing another incumbent Leonard Boswell for Iowa’s new 3rd district.


Iowa Public Radio's Sandhya Dirks joins Sarah McCammon to discuss the real meaning of "momentum" ... and whether either campaign can claim to have it.  Iowa State University physicist John Hauptman weighs in.

Clay Masters / IPR

It’s the last full week of presidential campaigning and here in Iowa, we expected to see the presidential candidates a bit more. But Hurricane Sandy changed things. For the most part we got wives and vice-presidential candidates. Paul Ryan will be in Waterloo today and Vice President Joe Biden made stops in Muscatine and Fort Dodge Thursday. 

Judicial Retention

Nov 1, 2012
Shane Vander Hart / Flickr

As it was two years ago during the midterm election, judicial retention is again a contentious issue in Iowa. Ben Kieffer talks with members of the Iowa State Bar Association to help lay out all the facts and arguments pertaining to the retention of Justice Wiggins, as well as the different opinions on what makes a judicial system political.

Clay Masters

Iowa has been in the center of the presidential campaign since mid-2011. In less than a week campaigning will end, and governing will begin. It’s the last politics day before the election. Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa asses where things stand.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

With the presidential election looming, hardly anyone is paying attention to Ron Paul anymore. The Texas Congressman ran for the GOP nomination, but has not endorsed his party’s nominee. In several places including the battleground state of Iowa, many of Paul’s supporters are still involved in politics – but not on behalf of Mitt Romney. As Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon reports, they’re keeping the focus close to


Legislative Services Agency website

We hear from the two candidates vying to represent Iowa's new 2nd congressional district, which covers the southeast corner of the state. Incumbent Democrat from Iowa City, Dave Lobesack, will defend his three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives against challenger John Archer, a Republican and corporate attorney from Bettendorf, who tells us why he thinks he would be better for the people of Iowa in the second district.

A battle is underway for control of the Iowa Senate where Democrats hold a slim one-vote majority.   After next  month’s elections, religious  conservatives are hoping a  new Republican majority will  vote their way on social issues including same sex marriage and abortion.     They say defeating the Senate’s top Democrat would be their biggest prize.

courtesy photo

When Congress recessed for the election season without passing a new farm bill, many observers thought farmers would demand explanations as campaign trails blazed through small towns. In conjunction with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer has this look at how the farm bill is playing on the stump.

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican incumbent Steve King and his democratic challenger, Christie Vilsack squared off in a debate last night in Carroll for the newly drawn 4th congressional district. Polls show King with a slight lead over Vilsack. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, the two drew sharp contrasts. 

Post-Debate Wrap-Up

Oct 23, 2012

Viewership slipped from the first to the second Presidential debate, and is expected to dip even more as the candidates discuss foreign affairs. Clay Masters, guest hosts for Ben Kieffer, to spotlight some of the news from the final debate of the campaign. Masters talks with analysts from other battleground states to find out how the debates have impacted the campaign and voters watching in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa.

Watching the debate in Iowa

Oct 23, 2012
Sandhya Dirks

Both Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama took the stage for their final debate in Florida last night. In Iowa, the campaigns staged watch parties. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports that both camps believe their candidate went home with the win.  

Clay Masters / IPR

Both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will make campaign stops Wednesday in eastern Iowa. Recent polls show the race is still up in the air. Romney has a solid hold on rural counties here. But in a state that’s population is shifting from rural to urban, the candidates will have to take the suburbs to win. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters reports.