IA-03: How vulnerable is Cindy Axne?

Ninth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

U.S. Representative Cindy Axne was among 32 House members added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Frontline” program, Stephanie Akin was first to report for Roll Call on March 1.

Putting Axne on the list of potentially vulnerable House incumbents is a no-brainer. Iowa’s third Congressional district was one of only seven in the country that voted for both President Donald Trump and a Democratic candidate for U.S. House. Speaking to members of the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee in December, Axne noted that she is the only House Democrat to win two elections by less than a 2 percent margin in a district Trump carried. She’s also the only current member of her caucus to win twice with less than a 50 percent vote share.

Iowa won’t adopt a new political map for at least another six months, and Axne has not confirmed whether she will seek re-election. (She is sometimes mentioned as a possible candidate for governor.) Nevertheless, the 2020 results in IA-03 inform some educated guesses about Axne’s prospects in a third Congressional campaign.

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Lessons of 2020: Every Iowa Congressional district favors Republicans

Seventh in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

Hawaii became the 50th state to certify its 2020 election results this week. The Cook Political Report’s national popular vote tracker shows Joe Biden received 81,282,376 votes (51.3 percent) to 74,222,576 votes for Donald Trump (46.9 percent).

With the books closed on the popular vote for president, we can fill in some details on a reality that came into focus last month: Iowa no longer has any Democratic-leaning U.S. House districts.

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Iowa Democratic Party vs Democratic voters: Can the shepherd find the sheep?

Glenn Hurst: “Democrats across Iowa are looking for a candidate who is not playing to the middle, the establishment. They want to vote for someone who runs as a Democrat and espouses Democratic values.” -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2016, when Bernie Sanders lost the primary to Hillary Clinton and then Donald Trump won the presidency, Iowa Democrats were at each other’s throats. Blame was laid on the left-leaning voters for not turning out for Clinton. The establishment was accused of running a system to “fix” the nomination for an unpopular candidate.

This intraparty drama was such a common phenomena across the country that a reconciliation committee, a.k.a. the “Unity Panel” was formed to address the conflict.

If my Facebook wall and Twitter feed are a measure of political discontent, the party is absolutely pacified. There has been a relative lack of backroom chatter regarding the presidential outcome this year compared to 2016. The Joe Biden win appears to be taken as a relief and eyes have turned away from questioning why he lost in Iowa. This does not mean the Iowa Democratic Party has wiped its brow and is moving on with business as usual.

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Eight lessons of election week 2020 in Iowa

Bill Brauch is a former Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee member and Third District Central Committee chair. -promoted by Laura Belin

Election week 2020 felt like an anti-gravity bungee jump for Iowa Democrats. We went from the depths of despair on election night, suffering losses we never expected, to huge relief — euphoria even — on Saturday when it was clear Joe Biden had won the presidency. That our next vice president will be a woman of African and Indian descent added to the joy of knowing that Donald Trump’s occupation of the White House will soon come to an end.

But there is no question Iowa Democrats are hurting. We lost statehouse seats we should have won. We did poorly in the U.S. Senate and presidential races. We lost one — maybe two — U.S. House seats. (We were not alone in this. Democrats even lost seats in states Biden won!)

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First thoughts on another disastrous election for Iowa Democrats

Bleeding Heartland will analyze the Iowa election results from many perspectives in the coming weeks. For now, let’s review the big picture: just like in 2016, the outcome was more devastating than any Democrat’s worst nightmare.

Turnout set a new record: Iowans cast at least 1,697,102 ballots, roughly 107,000 more than the high water mark of 1,589,951 people voting in the 2012 presidential election.

But as we learned in November 2018, high turnout doesn’t only help Democrats.

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