Twenty Iowa House races to watch, with ratings

In some states, gerrymandering predetermines the outcome of most legislative races. But many Iowa House and Senate districts are in play every election year, thanks to our non-partisan redistricting system.

Drawing on voter registration totals, recent voting history, absentee ballot numbers, and where Democratic or Republican leaders have made large expenditures, I’ve identified the state House seats most likely to indicate whether Democrats can win control of the lower chamber, where Republicans now enjoy a 59-41 majority.

The districts are grouped in four categories: Democratic-held open seat, Republican-held open seats, Democratic incumbents facing strong challengers, and GOP incumbents facing strong challengers.

Figures on party registration and absentee ballots returned to county auditors come from the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. Important caveat: the early vote numbers tell us how many Democrats, Republicans, and no-party voters have cast ballots in each district. They don’t tell us for whom they voted. In some races, one candidate may attract a clear majority of the no-party vote or substantial support from voters affiliated with the other party. Those contenders will take a larger early vote lead into election day than we might guess from comparing the number of ballots returned by Democrats and Republicans.

For recent voting history, I relied on this Daily Kos Elections spreadsheet, showing how residents of each Iowa House district voted in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections and the 2014 statewide races.

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board’s website has links to finance reports that were due on October 19 and November 2. Each candidate’s “in-kind” filings reveal party spending on their behalf. In battleground Iowa House or Senate races, the state parties typically pay for most of the direct mail as well as television, radio, and digital advertising.

This post focuses on districts where one or both parties are spending significant funds, but that doesn’t mean these are the only House seats that could change hands. Every election brings at least one shocking result in an Iowa legislative race–sometimes several. Democratic wins in any seat like House district 28, 49, or 73 would suggest a large wave is at hand. Josh Hughes discussed several of the long-shot races near the end of this post. On the other hand, any surprise loss for Democrats in seats the GOP isn’t targeting (like House districts 26 or 83, which voted for Trump in 2016) could point to a washout.

DEMOCRATIC-HELD OPEN SEAT

House district 9

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 6,308 active registered Democrats, 5,436 Republicans, 7,151 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 1,844 Democrats, 1,392 Republicans, 825 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 54.3 percent for Barack Obama and 44.7 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012, 43.5 percent for Bruce Braley and 51.6 percent for Joni Ernst in 2014, 39.3 percent for Hillary Clinton and 55.3 percent for Donald Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Megan Srinivas: zero, according to her reports*

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Ann Meyer: more than $280,000

A strong fundraiser, especially for a first-time candidate, Srinivas donated more than $126,000 from her campaign account to the House Truman Fund, which supports Democratic candidates around the state. In return, the party spent nothing on her behalf.

*CORRECTION: Filings by Srinivas show no in-kind spending by the Iowa Democratic Party, so I assumed she had used her own campaign funds for her television and radio air time. However, Pat Rynard writes that other documents point to “over $133,000 in in-kind spending” in the Fort Dodge-based district where Helen Miller is retiring after serving eight terms. GOP-funded commercials touting Meyer’s career as a nurse had a larger and longer buy on Des Moines market stations. CORRECTION TO THE CORRECTION: Ben Glaser, deputy campaign manager for Srinivas, confirmed on November 8 that all television buys for this race “were paid for completely from Megan Srinivas’s own funds.” The House Truman Fund was “just an intermediary” in those transactions. The Srinivas campaign paid directly for radio advertising. In most of the battleground legislative races, the state party spent substantially more than what the Democratic candidate had raised.

Rating: likely Republican pick-up

REPUBLICAN-HELD OPEN SEATS

House district 30

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,380 active registered Democrats, 8,199 Republicans, 7,939 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,038 Democrats, 1,628 Republicans, 960 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 47.7 percent for Obama and 50.9 percent for Romney in 2012, 40.0 percent for Braley and 55.8 percent for Ernst in 2014, 38.5 percent for Clinton and 54.8 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Kent Balduchi: $2,500

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Brian Lohse: about $87,000

Although Democrat Joe Riding won this east Polk County district in 2012, Democrats didn’t invest in the district Zach Nunn is vacating to run for Iowa Senate district 15. Republicans spent some money here, but not the kind of resources they invest when they are worried about losing a seat. A narrow loss for Balduchi would indicate relatively strong Democratic performance. Given the rapid population growth in this area, not all of this territory will remain part of the same House district after the 2020 census.

Rating: likely Republican hold

House district 43

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,970 active registered Democrats, 6,857 Republicans, 5,739 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 3,047 Democrats, 1,885 Republicans, 1,048 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 50.6 percent for Obama and 48.3 percent for Romney in 2012, 47.4 percent for Braley and 49.7 percent for Ernst in 2014, 52.5 percent for Clinton and 41.0 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Jennifer Konfrst: about $60,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Michael Boal: about $15,000

One of the most expensive state House battles was waged here in 2016, with the GOP spending more than $420,000 on behalf of House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow and Democrats putting in $200,000 for Jennifer Konfrst. I expected at least a token effort by Republicans to hold the district Hagenow represented for ten years; the GOP nominee is the son of House Chief Clerk Carmine Boal. However, Republicans never engaged here, and Democrats were never worried enough to run the television commercial they prepared for Konfrst.

I’ve been voting in this district my entire adult life, including my years as a college student out of state and living overseas for a decade. I’ve never been represented by a Democrat in the Iowa legislature. That’s going to change in January.

Rating: likely Democratic pick-up

House district 44

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,643 active registered Democrats, 10,072 Republicans, 11,296 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 3,294 Democrats, 3,172 Republicans, 1,910 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 42.5 percent for Obama and 56.6 percent for Romney in 2012, 38.2 percent for Braley and 59.5 percent for Ernst in 2014, 45.0 percent for Clinton and 47.8 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Kenan Judge: about $390,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Anna Bergman: about $435,000

Democrats did not even field a candidate against State Representative Rob Taylor in 2014 and 2016, but when Taylor retired in this fast-growing suburban district, retired Hy-Vee executive Kenan Judge stepped up. The internal polling must indicate a close race, because both parties have spent heavily on a mix of positive and negative television commercials.

For months, I’ve considered House district 44 a lean Republican seat. The voter registration totals and recent voting history are daunting, and Waukee city council member Bergman is a seasoned candidate. However, Judge has raised unprecedented amounts of money for a first-time state House candidate and is a relentless door-knocker. A small army of volunteers has helped Dallas County Democrats far exceed their past early vote totals. Finally, Judge will probably attract quite a few crossover votes, having been a Republican for most of his adult life.

Rating: toss-up

House district 47

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 5,834 active registered Democrats, 6,954 Republicans, 7,684 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,278 Democrats, 2,134 Republicans, 1,187 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 52.1 percent for Obama and 46.3 percent for Romney in 2012, 40.9 percent for Braley and 54.4 percent for Ernst in 2014, 38.3 percent for Clinton and 55.0 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of David Weaver: $24,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Phil Thompson: about $187,000

Democrats used to hold quite a few small town/rural Iowa House districts similar to this one, and Donovan Olson represented Boone County for four terms during the last decade. After a “perfect storm” helped Chip Baltimore defeat Olson by about a couple dozen votes in 2010, Baltimore held this district comfortably for three cycles. His retirement created an opportunity for farmer David Weaver, who faces Phil Thompson, a former clerk to State Representative Dawn Pettengill. GOP-funded television commercials for Thompson focused on his military service. A win for Weaver would be a very promising sign for Democrats.

Rating: lean Republican hold

House district 56

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 1,493 active registered Democrats, 1,984 Republicans, 984 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,278 Democrats, 2,134 Republicans, 1,187 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 52.0 percent for Obama and 46.7 percent for Romney in 2012, 41.0 percent for Braley and 54.0 percent for Ernst in 2014, 34.9 percent for Clinton and 59.8 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Lori Egan: $9,500

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Anne Osmundson: just under $70,000

Longtime nurse Lori Egan became a Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee “spotlight” candidate last year and faced an inexperienced candidate in Anne Osmundson, a former clerk for retiring Republican lawmaker Kristi Hager. But Egan raised little money, and apparently failed to make inroads in the northeast corner of the state, which swung hard to Trump. Republicans didn’t feel the need to spend heavily here, and Democrats hardly spent any money.

Rating: likely Republican hold

House district 68

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,106 active registered Democrats, 6,233 Republicans, 8,418 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,485 Democrats, 1,606 Republicans, 1,528 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 54.5 percent for Obama and 44.1 percent for Romney in 2012, 47.7 percent for Braley and 48.5 percent for Ernst in 2014, 48.2 percent for Clinton and 44.5 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Molly Donahue: about $73,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Randy Ray: just under $3,000

Like Konfrst, Donahue ran hard but fell short against a Republican incumbent in 2016. The GOP reportedly had trouble recruiting a candidate here after State Representative Ken Rizer decided to retire. As in House district 43, Republicans decided to cut their losses rather than spend money trying to hold this territory in the Cedar Rapids suburbs, which is trending away from them.

Rating: likely Democratic pick-up

TARGETED DISTRICTS WITH DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENTS

House district 14

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 5,835 active registered Democrats, 4,203 Republicans, 4,999 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 1,911 Democrats, 1,327 Republicans, 639 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 59.3 percent for Obama and 39.3 percent for Romney in 2012, 46.8 percent for Braley and 47.9 percent for Ernst in 2014, 47.7 percent for Clinton and 47.3 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Timothy Kacena: $46,570

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Robert Henderson: just under $132,000

The GOP made a big play for this district on the west side of Sioux City, where Robert Henderson lost an open-seat race to Timothy Kacena by only 239 votes two years ago. Democrats didn’t spend anything in-kind here until a week before the election. Here’s hoping they weren’t caught napping. A loss for Kacena would be crushing for his party; this House seat makes up half of Senate district 7, one of the top Democratic targets in the upper chamber.

Rating: likely Democratic hold

House district 15

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 5,339 active registered Democrats, 4,509 Republicans, 6,316 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 1,472 Democrats, 1059 Republicans, 676 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 57.1 percent for Obama and 41.2 percent for Romney in 2012, 46.2 percent for Braley and 46.8 percent for Ernst in 2014, 41.9 percent for Clinton and 51.5 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Charlie McConkey: about $128,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of LeAnn Hughes: about $9,500

McConkey seems to be the only House member Democrats were worried about this year. Omaha is the state’s most expensive television market, so it’s not surprising Republicans opted not to spent a lot of money on a long-shot race.

Rating: likely Democratic hold

TARGETED DISTRICTS WITH REPUBLICAN INCUMBENTS

Before anyone gets upset, let me be clear: I am not saying these are the only GOP incumbents who could lose. Rather, I am focusing on races where one or both parties have spent a significant amount of money.

House district 38

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,224 active registered Democrats, 7,492 Republicans, 7,475 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,705 Democrats, 1,836 Republicans, 1,227 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 49.3 percent for Obama and 49.2 percent for Romney in 2012, 42.3 percent for Braley and 53.5 percent for Ernst in 2014, 42.9 percent for Clinton and 49.8 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Heather Matson: about $388,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Kevin Koester: about $330,000

The first time Heather Matson ran for the House two years ago, Republicans spent little money defending Kevin Koester, who won another term by a roughly 1,500-vote margin. Matson has their attention this year, though. After a brief run for a positive television commercial about Koester, the GOP shifted to a couple of dumb attack ads that are still in heavy rotation on Des Moines stations. The early vote numbers look strong for Matson, especially if no-party voters favor Democrats this year. Worth noting: Jason Kander’s organization Let America Vote chipped in nearly $13,000 of in-kind support, mostly for interns who knocked doors over the summer.

Rating: toss-up

House district 39

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,428 active registered Democrats, 9,761 Republicans, 8,940 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 3,131 Democrats, 2,656 Republicans, 1,656 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 43.0 percent for Obama and 55.8 percent for Romney in 2012, 38.8 percent for Braley and 58.3 percent for Ernst in 2014, 43.9 percent for Clinton and 49.0 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Karin Derry: just under $232,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Jake Highfill: about $293,000

Attorney Karin Derry has run a hell of a campaign in extremely difficult territory. Let America Vote PAC provided a lot of canvassing help over the summer here too. Like Kenan Judge in nearby House district 44, Derry will receive many more votes from registered Republicans than incumbent Jake Highfill will get from area Democrats. Although the early vote numbers are encouraging, the recent voting history makes me doubt that this part of the Des Moines suburbs can be considered a true toss-up district.

Rating: lean Republican hold

House district 42

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,610 active registered Democrats, 6,818 Republicans, 6,240 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,839 Democrats, 1,969 Republicans, 1,045 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 49.8 percent for Obama and 48.8 percent for Romney in 2012, 45.5 percent for Braley and 51.5 percent for Ernst in 2014, 51.2 percent for Clinton and 42.2 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Kristin Sunde: about $506,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Peter Cownie: about $696,000

Growing up in the suburbs of Des Moines during the Reagan years, I never would have imagined Democrats could have a voter registration advantage in this part of town. But like Americans in many similar areas, West Des Moines residents have steadily drifted toward Democrats as Republicans pursue an extreme agenda wherever they hold power. Whereas Obama barely carried this district in 2012, Clinton easily outpolled Trump despite losing the state badly.

Even a year ago, I would not have imagined any Iowa House election could cost $1.2 million, but here we are. Republicans spent more than $350,000 in 2016 to help Cownie fend off Claire Celsi, who received very little help from her party leaders. This cycle, Cownie faces a well-funded challenger.

Cownie has one thing going for him: his positive tv ads are higher-quality than similar spots for other central Iowa Republican lawmakers. The continued heavy GOP spending indicates that the initial attacks on Sunde didn’t resonate, though. Late in the game the GOP started running a new negative spot, featuring former State Representative Libby Jacobs. She retired from the legislature in 2008, the first year Cownie was elected. Yes, Iowa voters are old, but in our mobile society, how many current residents of House district 42 remember Jacobs?

The absentee ballot numbers look good for Democrats, in part thanks to canvassing assistance from Let America Vote. Sunde should also benefit from Congressional candidate Cindy Axne’s work to mobilize women voters in West Des Moines, where she lives.

Rating: toss-up

House district 55

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 5,881 active registered Democrats, 6,520 Republicans, 7,143 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,683 Democrats, 2,288 Republicans, 1,573 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 55.2 percent for Obama and 43.4 percent for Romney in 2012, 45.6 percent for Braley and 50.3 percent for Ernst in 2014, 43.5 percent for Clinton and 50.6 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Kayla Koether: just under $125,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Michael Bergan: about $168,000

While many Democratic challengers are running in compact city districts, Koether has a lot of ground to cover. She has strong connections in the farming community and has held campaign events in every small town in her district. I was concerned when Democratic leaders left her out of their early television ad buys, but Koether is on the air now. Activists in the Decorah area are highly engaged in this race.

Though Bergan has only served one term in the legislature, he was previously a Winneshiek County supervisor. He postures as a moderate Republican and has opposed a few high-profile GOP policies, such as the so-called “sanctuary cities” legislation and a terrible energy bill. Then again, he voted for the most extreme abortion ban in the country, a cruel overhaul of workers’ compensation, and the bill shredding public workers’ collective bargaining rights.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Koether win this race, but Bergan’s incumbency advantages stopped me from calling this district a toss-up.

Rating: lean Republican hold

House district 57

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 7,950 active registered Democrats, 6,708 Republicans, 8,382 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 3,104 Democrats, 2,184 Republicans, 1,529 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 49.0 percent for Obama and 50.0 percent for Romney in 2012, 42.7 percent for Braley and 53.4 percent for Ernst in 2014, 37.3 percent for Clinton and 57.5 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Nancy Fett: just under $390,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Shannon Lundgren: about $265,000

I expected the GOP to outspend challengers in every Iowa House district, but this race proved me wrong. Democrats went all in for Nancy Fett and started airing her introductory tv ad six weeks before election day. Lundgren’s not an entrenched incumbent either; she’s just finishing her first term. Both parties are working hard to get out the vote in Dubuque County, home base for Representative Rod Blum and challenger Abby Finkenauer in the first Congressional district race.

Rating: toss-up

House district 60

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 6,773 active registered Democrats, 7,163 Republicans, 7,716 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,640 Democrats, 2,272 Republicans, 1,280 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 50.2 percent for Obama and 48.9 percent for Romney in 2012, 44.0 percent for Braley and 53.8 percent for Ernst in 2014, 45.2 percent for Clinton and 48.7 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Dave Williams: about $248,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Walt Rogers: about $297,000

Finally, Democrats are going after Representative Walt Rogers. The four-term incumbent has been re-elected by wide margins the last few election cycles. Longtime John Deere worker Dave Williams is the first challenger to have the full backing of his party.

Rogers chairs the House Education Committee and has cultivated an image as a “true champion of education.” Yet he’s voted for budget bills that underfund public schools and state universities, along with collective bargaining changes that hurt the University of Northern Iowa, a huge employer in his district. My gut says Rogers is better positioned than some of his GOP colleagues to survive a bad electoral environment.

Rating: lean Republican hold

House district 67

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 6,621 active registered Democrats, 7,252 Republicans, 8,382 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,124 Democrats, 1,763 Republicans, 1,405 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 49.2 percent for Obama and 49.5 percent for Romney in 2012, 43.7 percent for Braley and 53.1 percent for Ernst in 2014, 47.2 percent for Clinton and 45.7 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Eric Gjerde: about $265,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Ashley Hinson: $172,000

Another district where Democrats are outspending Republicans. Gjerde is an excellent and hard-working candidate, and his tv ad was particularly strong. I give the edge to Hinson because as a former television reporter, Hinson has much higher name ID than that of the average first-term incumbent. Media personalities often become effective candidates. Also, even though Clinton carried House district 67, Republicans have represented this part of the Cedar Rapids suburbs in the state legislature for a long time.

Rating: lean Republican hold

House district 91

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 5,756 active registered Democrats, 5,819 Republicans, 7,432 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 1,837 Democrats, 1,947 Republicans, 976 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 57.6 percent for Obama and 41.0 percent for Romney in 2012, 44.1 percent for Braley and 51.3 percent for Ernst in 2014, 43.7 percent for Clinton and 49.8 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Laura Liegois: just under $270,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Gary Carlson: about $346,000

Republicans have clearly worried about this seat; they went negative against Liegois early. Carlson isn’t a charismatic guy. He “distinguished” himself this legislative session as the front man for the energy bill no one but utility companies wanted. Though Democrats have been upbeat about their chances, and Muscatine progressives defeated some incumbents in last year’s local elections, the absentee ballot numbers concern me. Democrats often rely on an early vote lead to overcome the traditional GOP advantage in election-day voting.

Rating: lean Republican hold

House district 92

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 5,808 active registered Democrats, 5,956 Republicans, 8,854 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 2,033 Democrats, 1,785 Republicans, 1,335 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 53.9 percent for Obama and 45.0 percent for Romney in 2012, 43.5 percent for Braley and 53.3 percent for Ernst in 2014, 42.3 percent for Clinton and 51.6 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Jean Simpson: about $124,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Ross Paustian: about $53,000

Through late October, Democrat leaders had spent nothing on this race. With a week to go, they dropped $124,000 on various forms of advertising.

The optimistic view would be that internal polling pointed to an opening for Simpson. I suspect this was more of a “Hail Mary” pass. If Democratic leaders realized some of their earlier House targets weren’t going to pan out, then expanding the field might look more appealing than sinking more money into lost causes.

Rating: likely Republican hold

House district 94

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 6,374 active registered Democrats, 8,759 Republicans, 9,974 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 3,046 Democrats, 3,301 Republicans, 2,296 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 45.2 percent for Obama and 53.9 percent for Romney in 2012, 39.8 percent for Braley and 57.8 percent for Ernst in 2014, 43.9 percent for Clinton and 50.1 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Joan Marttila: just under $103,000

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Gary Mohr: about $218,000

As in House district 92, Democrats spent little here through late October, then dropped six figures for the final week. Presumably they sensed possible weakness after Republicans made large tv ad buys for Mohr. He may not be well-known among voters in his district, since he’s only run for the legislature once and was unopposed in 2016.

Pat Rynard commented at Iowa Starting Line,

Republicans are now pouring nearly $300,000 into Roby Smith’s senate seat right at the end, with Democrats getting Marie Gleason up with late TV ads. Meanwhile, the HD 94 race was a quiet affair up to now. Joan Marttila was earlier seen as a race Democrats would pick up if it was a particularly good night and the party already had 51 seats. Now she might be the lynchpin for the majority. A lot of eyebrows were raised when Gary Mohr made a large, late TV ad buy. So, keep your eyes on Bettendorf on election night, because something’s happening out there.

I’m skeptical this district will flip, but the late spending here proves Josh Hughes was right to peg this district as a “bellwether” in his review of the Iowa House landscape seven months ago. He explained in that post, “If election returns show Mohr easily dispatching challenger Joan Marttila, then Iowa Democrats might be in for another upsetting election night. But if it’s close or even a Democratic win here, all signs point to a wave.”

Rating: likely Republican hold

House district 95

Voter registration totals as of November 1: 6,404 active registered Democrats, 6,452 Republicans, 8,447 no-party voters

Absentee ballots returned as of November 5: 1,672 Democrats, 1,279 Republicans, 1,008 no-party voters

Recent voting history: 52.0 percent for Obama and 46.7 percent for Romney in 2012, 43.7 percent for Braley and 52.5 percent for Ernst in 2014, 41.9 percent for Clinton and 51.6 percent for Trump in 2016

In-kind spending by Democrats on behalf of Christian Andrews: about $64,000*

In-kind spending by Republicans on behalf of Louis Zumbach: about $225,000

If Christian Andrews falls just short here, Democratic leaders should kick themselves for not investing more in the race. Republicans obviously don’t feel confident about Louis Zumbach’s prospects. The first-term incumbent bolstered his claim to be a moderate by voting against two of the worst GOP bills of the 2018 legislative session. But Andrews has been hitting the doors hard all year. I’d feel better about this district if Democrats had built up a larger absentee ballot lead.

*UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: As in House district 9, the Iowa Democratic Party’s spending on Andrews behalf matched what Andrews had brought in (his campaign gave $61,500 to the state party in mid-October). In many other battleground districts, the state party spent far more than what the candidate had raised.

Rating: lean Republican hold

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