Are women better candidates than men? (And other curiosities from the 2016 Iowa House elections)

After taking a closer look at the 2016 Iowa House election results, Kent R. Kroeger believes Iowa Democrats have reasons to worry but also reasons to be optimistic about their chances of taking back the chamber. You can contact the author at kentkroeger3@gmail.com.

The dataset used for the following analysis of 2016 Iowa House races with Democratic challengers or candidates for open seats can be found here: DATASET

When former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine asked in her July 2016 Huffington Post essay, “Is 2016 the year of the woman?”, she can be forgiven if her underlying assumption was that the U.S. would be electing its first female president four months later.

We know how that turned out. Yet, her question had a broader vision and was not dependent on the outcome of one presidential race in one country. The question springs from an emerging body of evidence that women may make for better politicians than men. Given that only 19 percent of U.S. congressional seats are currently held by women, it may seem ridiculous to ask such a question. And since 2000, the percentage of women in state legislatures has plateaued (see graph below). Nonetheless, looking across a longer time span, there is no question more and more women are running and winning elective office in this country.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2016 Iowa primary election prediction contest

It’s that time of year. For your chance at bragging rights in the Bleeding Heartland community, post a comment in this thread with your answers to the following fifteen questions sometime before 7 am central time on Tuesday, June 7.

Anyone can enter, whether you now live or have ever lived in Iowa. It’s fine to change your mind about some or all of your answers, as long as you post a comment with your new predictions before the deadline.

Only comments posted in this thread will be valid contest entries. Predictions submitted by e-mail or posted on Facebook or Twitter will not be considered. Please try to answer every question, even if it’s just a wild guess. We’re all guessing anyway, since no public polls have been published for most of these races.

Bleeding Heartland user ModerateIADem won this blog’s primary election prediction contests in 2010 and 2012. There was no clear winner two years ago.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature (post-filing edition)

Now that the deadline to compete in the Democratic or Republican primaries has passed, the field of candidates is set in most of the 100 Iowa House districts and 25 Iowa Senate districts that will be on the ballot this fall.

It’s time for a first look at chances to increase diversity in the state legislature for the next two years. The proportion of white lawmakers is unlikely to change, while the proportion of women could move in either direction.

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Abbie Weipert sets up a competitive Democratic primary in Iowa House district 77

I had a feeling this open seat would prove too tempting for just one Democrat. Abbie Weipert announced at the Johnson County Democratic Convention on March 12 that she will run for Iowa House district 77. North Liberty Mayor Amy Nielsen declared her candidacy a few weeks ago, hours after Democratic State Representative Sally Stutsman made her retirement plans public.

Weipert’s campaign is on the web here and on Facebook here. I enclose below the statement she released today as well as information about her experience and and political priorities. Scroll to the end of this post for a map of House district 77, which includes North Liberty, Tiffin, Oxford, and other areas in western and southern Johnson County.

Bleeding Heartland will not endorse a candidate in this primary. Nielsen, Weipert, or others supporting their campaigns are welcome to post guest commentaries here. Before writing, please read the site guidelines on advocating for Democratic candidates.

Republicans Paula Dreeszen and Royce Phillips are also seeking to represent House district 77. The winner of the Democratic primary will be favored in the general election. House district 77 contains 7,736 active registered Democrats, 5,681 Republicans, and 7,070 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. President Barack Obama won more than 58 percent of the vote here in 2012, and Bruce Braley outpolled Joni Ernst by 9 points in the district despite the 2014 Republican wave.

Final note: I sincerely appreciate Stutsman’s sense of fair play in letting her constituents know last month that she did not plan to seek re-election. Iowa has an unfortunate bipartisan tradition of state lawmakers waiting until a day or two before the filing deadline to announce their retirement. That tactic allows insiders to hand-pick a replacement without giving other politically active people time to consider running for the open seat.

UPDATE: Forgot to add that the Iowa House Democrats sent out Nielsen’s campaign announcement. At this writing, the have not sent Weipert’s press release, which suggests that party insiders favor Nielsen.

SECOND UPDATE: I sought comment from Weipert on whether she was active in any of the presidential campaigns before the Iowa caucuses. She was a precinct captain for Hillary Clinton in Clear Creek Amana. Nielsen and Stutsman were also active Clinton supporters.

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Paula Dreeszen and Royce Phillips seeking GOP nomination in Iowa House district 77

Two Republicans are actively campaigning in Iowa House district 77, a Democratic-leaning seat where State Representative Sally Stutsman recently announced plans to retire this year. Both Royce Phillips and Paula Dreeszen filed documents forming House campaign committees earlier this month.

Dreeszen’s campaign Facebook page calls for efficient government, asserting that “Our state wastes too much money.”

Phillips is pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Coralville and the former mayor of Tiffin, the second-largest city in House district 77. He sought the Republican nomination in Iowa Senate district 39 in 2014, finishing third in the three-way primary. His campaign is on Facebook and Twitter, and his pitch is “a consistent conservative with a record of results.”

I enclose below excerpts from the Dreeszen and Phillips campaign announcements, as well as a map of House district 77.

The likely Democratic nominee is Amy Nielsen, mayor of North Liberty. That rapidly-growing city is the largest in the district. Click here for background on Nielsen. She’s on Twitter and Facebook and has a campaign website dating from her run for mayor.

I have not heard of any other prospective Democratic or Republican candidates for the open seat, though that may change before the March 18 filing deadline. Qualifying for the primary ballot is relatively easy, as candidates for the Iowa House need only 50 valid signatures from residents of the district on their nominating papers.

The Democratic nominee will be favored to succeed Stutsman, who easily defeated a GOP opponent in 2012. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, House district 77 contains 7,043 active registered Democrats, 5,213 Republicans, and 7,727 no-party voters. Those numbers do not include people who changed their party registration on February 1 to participate in the Iowa caucuses.

President Barack Obama won more than 58 percent of the vote among House district 77 residents in 2012. Bruce Braley outpolled Joni Ernst by 9 points here in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

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