New thread on the 2010 U.S. House races in Iowa

Last year all five Iowa incumbents in the House of Representatives were re-elected by double-digit margins. The main challengers failed to win even 40 percent of the vote against Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02), as well as Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05).

I’ve long assumed that none of Iowa’s Congressional districts would be competitive in 2010. Although Republicans have put Leonard Boswell (IA-03) on their long list of House targets, several other analysts share my view that Boswell is safe for next year. To my knowledge, the only declared candidates against Boswell are the little-known Dave Funk and Pat Bertroche. Boswell’s 1996 opponent Mike Mahaffey is thinking it over too.

Isaac Wood and Larry Sabato released new House race rankings, and they included IA-03 among 47 Democratic-held districts that are “likely” to remain Democratic:

The “likely” category is reserved for those competitive races where one party has a distinct advantage over the other. Most of these races feature either strong challengers or weak incumbents, but not a combination of the two that would warrant a more competitive designation. Consider these races as a watch list which could turn into heated battle with a single misstep by an incumbent or positive fundraising report.

I could see Iowa’s third district becoming competitive, but only if the economy is in terrible shape next fall and Republicans fund a well-known candidate with a base in Polk County (the population center of the district).

I question Wood and Sabato’s decision to put Loebsack’s district in the “likely” category as well. So far right-winger Steve Rathje is definitely running against Loebsack (he narrowly lost the 2008 GOP primary for U.S. Senate). Mariannette Miller-Meeks is also considering a rematch. She’s an impressive woman, but I frankly can’t imagine this district becoming competitive in 2010. IA-02 has much stronger Democratic voting performance than IA-03, which tracks closely with the nationwide vote in presidential elections.

Share any thoughts or predictions in this thread.

  • WTF?

    Looks like Sabato just threw every upset winner from 2006 on the “Likely” list. He offers no explanation as to why Loebsack is anything less than solid. Like I’ve been saying since BEFORE the 2006 election, the real fluke is that Jim Leach held the seat as long as he did. MMM kept saying Dave was a Pelosi clone like that was a bad thing, and she couldn’t even keep her own party united behind her.

    Only thing I can see that would justify attention from Sabato was a re-election just barely below 60 percent — chalk that up to a Green in the race.

    • I agree with you

      I am looking forward to Swing State Project’s House rankings. Sabato seems to swing pretty wildly. Six months ago he was projecting no Republican gains in 2010, I think based on Obama’s approval rating, even though history suggests that Republicans should pick up some seats. If the Republican net gain is less than 10 seats, I would consider that an outstanding night for the Dems.

      Loebsack was nearly 20 points ahead of Miller-Meeks. The only Republican in the country who represents a D+7 district is Mike Castle in Delaware (not counting the ultimate fluke, Joseph Cao in LA-02). I don’t see IA-02 becoming competitive at all.

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