Weekend open thread: Iowa demographics edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? A few links related to Iowa demographics are after the jump, along with highlights from this week’s "Iowa Press" program, featuring Republican Party of Iowa Chair A.J. Spiker and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Tyler Olson.

This is an open thread.

You can look up basic demographic information by Congressional district as well as by state, county, or metro area on the U.S. Census Bureau’s "Easy Stats" page. The tables contain information drawn from the 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Be warned: playing around on this website can suck up more time than you’d planned. I’ve been looking at various statistics from Iowa’s four Congressional districts.

Iowa’s new political map was based on figures from the 2010 census. According to those numbers, the four new Congressional districts were extremely close in population size, ranging from a low of 761,548 people in IA-01 to a high of 761,624 people in IA-02.

Based on estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2011 survey, IA-03 is now the most populous district in the state with 770,819 residents, followed by IA-02 (766,120 residents), IA-01 (763,903 residents), and IA-04 (761,467 residents).

IA-03 also has the largest youth population of the four districts and the smallest number of senior citizens. Not surprisingly, IA-04 contains the most seniors (an estimated 128,119 people age 65 or older), followed by IA-01 (118,709 seniors), IA-02 (112,818 seniors), and IA-03 (98,544 seniors).

The community survey indicates that IA-03 has the largest Black or African American population (an estimated 28,278 people as of 2011), followed by IA-02 (26,257 people), IA-01 (24,510 people), and IA-04 (9,213 people).

The Iowa Congressional district with the largest Hispanic or Latino population of any race is IA-03 (48,201 people), followed by IA-04 (44,288 people), IA-02 (36,455 people), and IA-01 (24,297 people).

IA-03 has the largest Asian-American population as well (20,012 people), followed by IA-02 (15,476 people), IA-04 (12,130 people), and IA-01 (8,422 people).

Because it contains Tama County, the first district has the largest estimated American Indian and Alaska Native population (4,490 people), followed by IA-04 (3,038 people), IA-03 (2,312 people), and IA-02 (2,169 people).

Median household income is highest in IA-03 ($54,641), followed by IA-01 ($50,125), IA-02 ($47,391), and IA-04 ($45,454). One reason for the disparity is that the third district has the highest levels of educational attainment among residents over age 25. The percentage of high school graduates is comparable across the Congressional districts, but in IA-03 some 31.1 percent of residents over 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That figure is 26.1 percent IA-02, 24.9 percent in IA-01, and 21.0 percent in IA-04.

IA-01 contains the largest estimated population of civilian veterans (60,307), followed by IA-04 (57,179), IA-03 (54,944), and IA-02 (54,307).

There’s much more information about Iowa as a whole, counties, metro areas, and Congressional districts on the “Easy Stats” page.

The gap between the wealthiest 20 percent of Iowans and the poorest 20 percent has been growing over the past decade, though income inequality is higher in many other states than in Iowa.

Speaking of demographics, on February 9 Mitch Henry posted this list of Latino elected officials in Iowa on his Facebook page. It’s embarrassingly short.

Jose Zacarias – West Liberty City Council

Sara Huddleston – Storm Lake City Council

Pete Rodriguez – Denison City Council

Dawn Hernandez – Postville City Council

Bernabe Rodriguez – Columbus Junction City Council

Rita Vargas – Scott County County Recorder

Patt Zamora – Davenport School Board

Brenda Garcia-Van Auken – Muscatine School Board

Paula Recinos – Mason City School Board

Paul Castro – Bettendorf School Board

Moving to other political news, I watched Iowa Democratic Party Chair Tyler Olson and his counterpart in the Iowa GOP A.J. Spiker on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program. The video and full transcript are available on Iowa Public TV’s website. They spent most of the time discussing the upcoming U.S. Senate race. Neither Olson nor Spiker were willing to endorse a candidate in the primary, and both talked up their party’s prospects in the 2014 elections generally. Olson dodged questions about whether he plans to run for governor.

Henderson: Mr. Olson, question for you.  Are you going to run for governor?

Olson: Well, we need a new governor.  I mean, just look at the last couple of weeks. Governor Branstad has pushed forward proposals to cut education spending —

Borg: But the question is, does that put you in the race?

Olson: Well, that’s a decision that will be made over the course of some weeks and months.  But we need a new governor.  He has pushed cuts to education funding, he is opposing access to health insurance for 155,000 Iowans, cutting funding for clean water and that is just in the last couple of weeks.  His record over the last two years reflects the same thing, vetoing middle class tax cuts for Iowans, trying to end our preschool program which meant 25,000 Iowa four year olds would have been out on the street.

Henderson: That may have been your first speech on the campaign trail.  Can you be both?  Can you be party chair and governor?  Or is this party chair thing just a precursor helping you ramp up?

Olson: Well, I’m focused on making sure that Iowa democrats are in a spot so that when we get to a year from now our nominees, no matter who they are, have the resources they need, have the organizational structure that they need to be successful in 2014.  We are in a strong spot but we’re not going to stand still.  We’re going to keep moving forward and making sure that our organization is strong.

Henderson: It can’t hurt to have the ability to travel to all 99 counties and introduce yourself to people.

Olson: Again, my focus is going to be on building that organization no matter who our nominees are going to be.  We’re in a strong spot, we’re going to keep moving forward.

Borg: Let me ask it this way.  Up until Tom Harkin’s announcement that he wasn’t going to run again we thought it was Bruce Braley who was a prime candidate, democrats did too I think, to go against Governor Branstad, who you raised your hand a moment ago and said I think he’s going to run again.  But doesn’t this now attention — isn’t this a game changer, the announcement, and doesn’t it shift all the energy, if not maybe all, a good share of the energy and momentum now toward that Senate race and away from the governor’s race, money and attention?

Olson: Well, I think there’s going to be a lot more attention on Iowa because Senator Harkin’s decision not to run for re-election —

Borg: Is that going to make it harder for the democrats to run someone strong against Governor Branstad?

Olson: I think it’s going to benefit democrats running at all levels of office.  Senator Harkin talked in his speech announcing that he was not going to run for re-election about the need for a fresh perspective, for voices that understand the world today and maybe not what it was 30 years ago and that is the case that I think democrats are going to make against Governor Branstad as well.

Spiker avoided answering a question about his relationship with Branstad. Last fall, he strongly objected to Branstad’s criticism of the Ames straw poll, a major fundraiser for the Iowa GOP.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette picked up on these comments near the end of “Iowa Press.”

Henderson: Mr. Spiker, there is a group of republicans who are meeting with the goal of eventually getting the GOP to accept same-sex marriage or at least not make it a central point of any campaign.  What are your thoughts on that effort?

Spiker: Well, the party wants to be welcoming and we’re a big tent and we want to have people of a lot of different views that are part of the party.  But what they also need to understand is that there is a gay marriage party in the state of Iowa and that is the Iowa Democratic Party.  The Republican Party embraces one man, one woman marriage and embraces the right of the people to vote on the definition of marriage.

Feel the inclusion! Spiker is only in his early 30s, by the way. In a few decades, he’ll be embarrassed not to have joined the cause of Iowa Republicans for marriage equality.

The Iowa Democratic Party sent out a press release on February 8 highlighting the contrast between Spiker and Olson on this issue.

AJ Spiker: “We are the Party of One Man and One Woman”

RPI chair uses ‘Iowa Press’ segment to reinforce his opposition to marriage equality

Des Moines – Today, during an appearance on Iowa Public Television, new Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rep. Tyler Olson discussed how Democrats are united and focused on the future, while Republican Party Chair, AJ Spiker, demonstrated once again that his party is still fighting the battles of the past.

“There is a gay marriage party in the state of Iowa and that’s The Iowa Democratic Party,” Spiker said. “The Republican Party embraces one-man/one-woman marriage and embraces the right of the people to vote on the definition of marriage.”

The response followed a question from Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson regarding recent meetings between Iowa Republicans who are concerned that the GOP will continue to lose with younger voters who embrace marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rep. Tyler Olson joined Spiker as a guest on this week’s Iowa Press, where they also discussed Iowa’s political climate, including the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin in 2014.

Olson struck a very different tone than Spiker, stressing that Iowans have “moved on” from the fight over same-sex marriage.

“Iowa Democrats are focused on job creation, economic development, and expanding access to health care,” Olson said. “These are the issues that are important in Iowans’ daily lives.”

“It’s disturbing that Chairman Spiker and the RPI are committed to fighting about issues that have long since been settled.”

This segment of Iowa Press will be broadcast Friday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 10 at noon. The program will also be broadcast on IPTV WORLD (.3) Saturday, February 9 at 8:30 a.m. Iowa Press will be available online beginning Friday evening at www.iptv.org .

  • Stats

    Interesting stats.  I wonder if the demographics could give Dems a permanent lock on IA-1 going forward, I doubt it.

    • I don't think so

      It’s a D-leaning district but not overwhelmingly D. Running a well-known moderate R from Linn County, I think they would have a shot. The question is whether a moderate Republican could get through a GOP primary.  

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