(SIOUX CITY, IA) - Senators from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota have all announced they're retiring in 2014 opening up the race for Washington here in Siouxland.
With legacy leadership now stepping away from the limelight, we wanted to know, what's in a name? Siouxland News did it sown voter survey.Senators Tom Harkin, Mike Johanns and Tim Johnson have been politicians in their respective states for a combined 94 years. However, even with their years of experience, voters had trouble recognizing them. So what does that mean for *new* candidates trying to fill those seats in 2014?
"Who is that?" we asked of Nebraska resident, Marv Swick, while holding a photo of Harkin.
"Tom Harkin," Swick correctly answered.
"I can't tell you his name right off hand right now," said Dean Dressler, South Sioux City, when looking at a photo of Johnson.
"Oh my gosh. Is that Johanns?" correctly answered Stacie Johnson of Sioux South City.
"Iowa guy," said Dressler of Harkin, blanking on his name.
Briar Cliff Political Science Professor David Wiltse said, if you didn't recognize them looking at their pictures, you're not alone.
Siouxland News asked 14 people if they could recognize all three Senators. Only three of them could, but Wiltse said people recognize names more than faces.
"You're not going to be able to get people to recite the name of a politician, particularly a U.S. Senator, but they'll certainly recognize it amongst a group of names that they see like a ballot," said Wiltse.
So we tested that theory.
"Can you pick out Iowa's Senator?" we asked of Briar Cliff University student Mark Samuelson from a list of politicians' names.
"Terry Branstad," guessed Samuelson.
We had to tell him Branstad is Iowa's Governor.
"Mike! Mike Johanns!" correctly answered Matthew Cintron and Robiel Tesfaldet, both Briar Cliff students.
We asked 10 people to pick the names of their respective state Senators. Four of them identified Harkin from Iowa, three picked Johanns from Nebraska and only two knew Johnson is a South Dakota Senator.
Now, voters will have to get to know new faces in the running for those open seats with names that may be much more difficult to recognize.
"There's a lot of literature that we can use. So it's our fault if we don't know who they are," said Stacie Johnson.
"I want to be more informed as well as people my age. I mean if we're going to have someone new who hasn't been there for 34 years," said Samuelson.
Wiltse said these open races put Democrats in a vulnerable position. He believes the party has to get most of the open races to hold onto the Senate.
"Expect some big Republicans. Expect some big Democrats coming to Iowa to support whomever these nominees will be," said Wiltse.
Regardless of who gets nominated, Wiltse said he can almost guarantee Nebraska and South Dakota will go Republican in the election, but Iowa could go either way.