Becky Greenwald is losing by 20 points in D+0 IA-04 and appears to have lost all 28 counties in the district. I wasn’t optimistic about winning that race, given the lack of tv and radio advertising on her behalf, but I thought she’d come closer than she did, with a strong turnout for Barack Obama and Tom Harkin in the district. I absolutely expected her to win Story County at least.
Ultimately, Greenwald lacked the resources to define her opponent or even respond to his ads that defined her. Tom Latham’s last radio ad pulled quotes from the Des Moines Register’s endorsement of Greenwald, making it seem as if they had rejected her for toeing the Democratic line. If you heard the ad but hadn’t read the paper, you would think the Register endorsed Latham because of his bipartisan leadership.
Latham was able to run away from his voting record, with a big assist from the Democratic leadership that gave him two chances to vote against the unpopular bailout bill.
Latham might have survived even against a well-funded challenger who ran a perfect race. Instead, he faced an under-funded challenger who made her share of mistakes.
Greenwald got in the race late and had to spend a lot of money to get through the Democratic primary. Then she spent most of the summer fundraising instead of getting out in the district to raise her name recognition.
Probably her biggest error was to go up on tv in mid-September with a commercial that did nothing to make the case against Latham. It wouldn’t have been terrible as the first in a series of tv ads, but it was completely inadequate as a stand-alone ad–especially since Greenwald was hardly able to run any commercials during the final month of the campaign.
This gamble might have paid off if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or EMILY’s List had decided in late September to commit to this district. However, it looks like a poor call in retrospect. Greenwald should have saved her cash for a strong direct-mail campaign in October, or perhaps two weeks of tv ads right before the election.
It’s also important to look at Iowa’s fourth district in the context of House races nationwide.
As in 2006, this is shaping up to be a Democratic wave election in which Democratic women candidates are not doing nearly as well as Democratic men.
“Sam” Bennett lost by double digits in D+2 PA-15.
Linda Stender lost in R+1 NJ-07 (an open seat and one I thought she’d win, because she almost beat the retiring Republican incumbent in 2006).
Victoria Wulsin lost by a big margin in OH-02.
Anne Barth didn’t come as close as many people expected in WV-02 either.
I hope Darcy Burner pulls through in WA-08, but the early returns are not encouraging.
Jill Derby also doesn’t appear likely to win in NV-02.
Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes was considered a great candidate but didn’t come very close in MO-06.
Most surprisingly, incumbent Nancy Boyda lost in KS-02.
(UPDATE: Matt Stoller has a more comprehensive list of Democratic women challengers and how they did.)
The DCCC put a lot of money behind quite a few of these women challengers, but it wasn’t enough to carry the day, even with the strong presidential-year turnout.
There were a few bright spots for Democratic women challengers tonight. Jeanne Shaheen won the Senate seat from New Hampshire, and Kay Hagan won the Senate seat from North Carolina. Betsy Markey beat the horrendous Marilyn Musgrave in CO-04, and Dana Titus may win in NV-03.
But there’s no escaping the fact that women Democratic challengers for the U.S. House are for the most part falling short. I don’t know why, but that’s how it is.
UPDATE: NCDem Amy reminds me that North Carolina just elected its first woman governor, Bev Perdue. Also, some people at Open Left think I am writing off Darcy Burner too quickly.
Final note, to the person whose diary on IA-04 I deleted earlier tonight: exposing the real name or other identifying details of any Bleeding Heartland user is prohibited on this blog. More site guidelines are here.