What happened in Iowa's fourth Congressional district?

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.

  • William Meyers

    Should have gone with “William the Winner”.  Hope Democrats in the 4th have learned their lesson.

    However, after looking at the results from last night, I do not think Latham is beatable.  He is a very likeable guy who has a good bi-partisan record to stand on.  I liked that about him and that’s why I voted for him.    

    Maybe Democrats should focus elsewhere.  

    Greenwald could not even crack 40 percent.  That is kind of embarrassing considering that she had Harkin and Obama on the ballot above her.

    If she thinks she’ll run again in 2010, she’ll probably face a similar fate.  William would be a better choice.

    At any rate, interesting to see how it all plays out down the line here in the next year.

    • or maybe Latham should focus elsewhere

      It’s going to be an awfully long climb back for the GOP in the House. Does Latham want to be in the minority indefinitely, or might he try running for governor instead?

      Perhaps his likability and “bi-partisan” record could put him over the top against Culver. I doubt it, but who knows?  

      • I dont know

        I think Grassley will retire, maybe that is just wishful thinking, but he is getting old and has brought it up before.

        Maybe Latham will try there?

        • maybe

          you should run secondtonone?

          You seem to know it all.

          Or are you too busy campaigning in Thor?

          • why the ad hominem attack?

            Secondtonone has volunteered for several Democratic candidates this year.

            Your comment is unproductive.

          • Now I know who you are.

            Nice touch on that picture you made. Corey showed it to me the other day.

            I may run someday, but not this time.

            You really blew it man. Becky got smoked and if you would have just layed low you could have been a front runner this time, being as the 20% defecit will really turn off anyone who would have ran.

        • if Grassley retired

          I bet Latham would take a shot at that seat. He might be the GOP’s strongest candidate for it. Don’t know what Nussle is going to be doing after the Bush administration, but he might also come back to Iowa to run for office.

  • You owe our party an apology DesMoinesDem

    DesMoinesDem – you owe true liberals an apology for all the ink you gave Greenwald all over the blogasphere.  You were blind in your support for her with numerous posts that were misleading and full of inaccurate facts about how that race was really playing out.  She ran a horrible race up to her bailout blunder — after that it was more than over — it was a dead cause – unsaveable.  But you blindly marched on and most likely caused precious financial resources – that could have been used on closer races where actual pick-ups were still within our grasp – to be directed to Becky’s bumbling blundering campaign of woe and disaster.  21 points?!?!?  Think of what the money spent by the UAW and Emily’s List and the many other groups that were misled into tossing cash because you and others made them think that anyone over at Greenwald knew what the heck they were doing.

    Case in point – Al Franken alone could have benefited from that UAW money — that could have made the difference — but it was wasted on a waste of a campaign and candidate.  Or how about Don Cazayoux who lost in LA?  Kansas Congresswoman Nancy Boyda could have saved her seat with the EMILY’s List funds wasted on Greenwald.

    You owe Democrats an apology for your misjudgment on this one.

    All the best — NOT William Meyer.

    • I replied to this in the thread under your diary

      You are misinformed about many things.

      EMILY’s List spent no money in IA-04, by the way.

      • Wrong

        You are still misleading people about the Emily’s List and the candidacy of Rebecca Jo Davis Greenwald (that’s what is on her FEC report that you apparently don’t look at).

        $5,000 is a lot of money – maybe not to you – but it is to me.

        I am struggling to get by and to suggest that $5000 is nothing – that’s elitist.  

        $5000 is “no money”?  I’m sorry to have to disagree!

        • it's not enough for a Congressional campaign

          to make a significant media buy, and it’s not a lot compared to how much EMILY’s List invested in several other candidates.

          When Tom Latham had more than $700,000 cash on hand, around half of it raised from PACs, Greenwald needed more than $5K from EMILY’s List and zero from the DCCC to compete on the airwaves.

  • warning to joethewelder

    Post your opinions about the Greenwald campaign without including identifying details about Bleeding Heartland users.

    This is your warning.

    Your identifying details are inaccurate, but that’s beside the point.

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