How forecasters see Iowa's 2022 Congressional races

As election year approaches, the leading national political forecasters have updated their analysis of the coming U.S. Senate and House elections. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball revised its House ratings on December 16, while Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales and the Cook Political Report did so on December 28 and December 29, respectively.

The consensus is that Republicans are favored to win most of Iowa’s Congressional races, but the one House district held by a Democrat is a toss-up.

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EMILY's List to play in Iowa; won't commit to positive Senate race

One of the leading Democratic-aligned political action committees endorsed three Iowa candidates this week. EMILY’s List, which backs pro-choice Democratic women seeking federal, state, or local offices, endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer on December 15 and U.S. House candidates Christina Bohannan and Liz Mathis in the new first and second Congressional districts on December 16.

The PAC endorsed U.S. Representative Cindy Axne for re-election in the third district in March.

This week’s announcements were no surprise, since EMILY’s List supported Axne and Finkenauer in their 2018 and 2020 U.S. House campaigns, and said in April that Senator Chuck Grassley was one of three Republicans the group planned to target in 2022 Senate races.

Backing from EMILY’s List helps candidates raise money through the organization’s large network of donors. Perhaps more important, it indicates the group is prepared to pay for advertising on behalf of endorsed candidates or against their opponents.

The big question is whether EMILY’s List will keep its messages positive before the June 2022 Senate primary, or also target Democratic rivals. I couldn’t get an answer from the group yesterday.

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First look at finalized Iowa maps, with incumbent match-ups

Iowa lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the Legislative Services Agency’s second redistricting plan on October 28, by 48 votes to 1 in the Iowa Senate and 93 votes to 2 in the House. Democrats had already committed to approving any nonpartisan maps. Republicans liked that this plan (unlike the first LSA proposal) creates four U.S. House districts that Donald Trump carried. It also gives the party an excellent chance to maintain their Iowa House and Senate majorities.

Republican State Senator Ken Rozenboom cast the only vote against the maps in the upper chamber. The plan puts him in the same district as his GOP colleague Adrian Dickey.

In the lower chamber, only GOP State Representatives Tom Jeneary and Jon Jacobsen voted against the redistricting plan. Both are placed in House districts with other Republican incumbents, but Jacobsen told Bleeding Heartland in a telephone interview that’s not why he opposed the plan. Rather, he said the legislative maps carve up Pottawattamie County outside Council Bluffs into several districts represented by incumbents who live elsewhere.

I’ll have more to say about some legislative districts in forthcoming posts. For now, here are the basics about the plan Governor Kim Reynolds will soon sign into law. UPDATE: The governor signed the bill on November 4.

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Why Miller-Meeks will likely move rather than run in IA-03

There are winners and losers in every redistricting plan. The second set of nonpartisan Iowa maps, which the Legislative Services Agency released on October 21, was much kinder to U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson than the first map, which put Hinson in a Democratic-leaning Congressional district.

Fortunes were reversed for U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks. The first plan put her in a district that Donald Trump carried by more than 10 points in 2020. Today’s proposal puts most of the territory she now represents in a district Trump carried by about 2 points. She was certified the winner last year against Rita Hart by six votes in a district Trump carried by 4 points.

Even worse, Miller-Meeks’ home in Ottumwa (Wapello County) is part of the proposed third Congressional district, where Trump outpolled Joe Biden by just 0.4 points.

On Iowa social media feeds today, I’ve seen some speculation about how Miller-Meeks might fare against Democratic Representative Cindy Axne, or about Democrat Christina Bohannan being able to run for Congress in an open seat covering most of southeast Iowa.

I wouldn’t spend a lot of time pondering those scenarios.

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Iowa's Plan 2: A status quo Congressional map

Part 8 in Evan Burger’s series on Iowa redistricting.

This morning, Iowa’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA) released their second redistricting proposal on October 21. Here’s a quick analysis of the Congressional map included in Plan 2; Laura Belin will write a companion piece examining the legislative maps later today.

The big takeaway is that this plan strongly resembles Iowa’s current map of U.S. House districts, especially when you look at the ten largest counties. Here is how Plan 2 groups those counties:

  • IA-01: Johnson (Iowa City), Scott (Quad Cities)
  • IA-02: Linn (Cedar Rapids), Black Hawk (Waterloo/Cedar Falls), Dubuque
  • IA-03: Polk (Des Moines area), Dallas (Des Moines suburbs)
  • IA-04: Story (Ames), Woodbury (Sioux City), Pottawattamie (Council Bluffs)

The current map groups those counties the same way, with the exception of Pottawattamie, which moves from the Polk district to the Story district.

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Delayed map didn't hurt Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising

Candidates running for U.S. House in Iowa raised a surprising amount of money from July through September, given that we have no idea what their districts will look like in 2022.

Follow me after the jump for highlights from the latest quarterly filings to the Federal Election Commission. Notable numbers from Congressional candidates’ fundraising and spending during the first half of 2021 can be found here.

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