Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics, especially campaigns and elections, state government, social, and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also covers presidential policies and what the Iowans in Congress are up to.
Drew Miller and Chris Woods launched Bleeding Heartland in January 2007. Writing as “desmoinesdem,” Laura Belin joined the team of front-pagers in April of that year and has been the primary author and sole editor at Bleeding Heartland since early 2008. She continued to use the handle desmoinesdem through 2018 and now writes about Iowa politics under her own byline.
Belin found her love of politics growing up with parents and siblings who discussed current events at the dinner table. She has followed Iowa elections closely since the 1980 caucuses, when she took on the role of liberal Republican candidate John Anderson for a classroom debate. She first participated in an Iowa Democratic caucus as a Paul Simon supporter in 1988.
She found her love of writing about politics as an analyst for the Prague-based Open Media Research Institute and later for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She covered Russian campaigns and elections, parliamentary politics, and media issues full time from 1995 to 1998 and on a freelance basis for RFE/RL from 1999 to 2005, spanning most of Boris Yeltsin’s presidency and the early Vladimir Putin years.
Des Moines Cityview’s “Civic Skinny” called Belin “probably the hardest-working — and perhaps the best — political reporter in the state” and “one of the best investigative reporters in the state.” The Fix at the Washington Post named Belin as one of Iowa’s outstanding political reporters in 2020 and previously named Bleeding Heartland among the “best state-based political blogs.” Politico put Belin on its list of “early state must-follows.” Charles Pierce of Esquire has called Bleeding Heartland an “essential Iowa political blog.”