Tenth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.
Abby Finkenauer’s triumph over two-term U.S. Representative Rod Blum in the first Congressional district was one of this year’s most satisfying wins for Iowa Democrats.
The outcome wasn’t unexpected; leading forecasters saw IA-01 as a “lean Democratic” district for two months. Even so, the pick-up was hardly a given. Iowans tend to re-elect incumbents. Some of the 20 counties in IA-01 experienced the state’s biggest swings toward Republicans in 2016, and Blum ran about 5 points better than Donald Trump did in his district. Last month, Blum and his allies had claimed the incumbent was gaining on Finkenauer in internal polling.
But Blum’s campaign strategy–an aggressive mix of race-baiting television commercials, taxpayer-funded mailings that resembled electioneering, and Trump-like petty shots at journalists–couldn’t deliver the goods. Finkenauer received 170,342 votes to 153,442 for the incumbent (51.0 percent to 45.9 percent), according to official results.
Let’s take a closer look at how the second-youngest woman ever elected to Congress (after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York) assembled that margin of victory.