Democratic declines in key counties: A turnout or persuasion problem?

Twelfth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

One of the hottest debates in Democratic activist circles relates to strategy for winning statewide and national elections. Does the party need to fix a base turnout problem by nominating contenders who will inspire passionate support among progressives? Or is the more urgent task appealing to voters who used to back Democrats, but lately have favored Republican candidates?

This post doesn’t claim to settle that argument, but searches for clues in the results and turnout rates from key Iowa counties where Fred Hubbell underperformed in his bid to unseat Governor Kim Reynolds.

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How Iowa's 2018 Congressional hopefuls did compared to Clinton, Trump

Eleventh in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

David Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report, planted the seed for this post when he observed last month,

Iowans Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Cindy Axne (IA-03) delivered two of those newly-Democratic House seats. I wondered: how did they and their opponents perform compared to their party’s last presidential nominee?

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Lessons of 2018: Three keys to Abby Finkenauer's win in IA-01

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.

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Weekend open thread: Incredible 2018 election stories

Hope Bleeding Heartland readers had a happy, meaningful Thanksgiving and will enjoy some time off this weekend. If you have lots of extra food from the holiday meal, here are four ways to make soup from leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, or sweet potatoes, and here’s one way to use up cranberry sauce.

It’s been too long since I put up an open thread. All topics are welcome in the comments section.

I’ve been thinking about the many historic results from this year’s election. In Iowa alone, we saw the first woman elected governor, the first two women elected to the U.S. House, the first Democrat elected state auditor in decades, a record number of women elected to the state legislature, a Democratic sweep of targeted state House seats in the Des Moines suburbs, and at least seven newly-elected lawmakers who had run for office unsuccessfully in 2014 or 2016.

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Lessons of 2018: Fred Hubbell outperformed Cindy Axne in IA-03

Sixth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2018 state and federal elections.

Cindy Axne beat two-term U.S. Representative David Young in Iowa’s third Congressional district, while Fred Hubbell lost to Governor Kim Reynolds. So Axne must have done better than Hubbell, right?

Wrong.

Hubbell received more votes than Axne in each of IA-03’s sixteen counties, according to unofficial results. And contrary to what the red and blue counties above might lead you to believe, Hubbell outpolled Reynolds in the third Congressional district as a whole.

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County election maps don’t tell the whole story

Randy Richardson comments on the outcome in Iowa’s third Congressional district. -promoted by desmoinesdem

During the 2016 presidential election. I began to notice that several news channels made extensive use of county maps to explain election results. Following the 2018 midterm elections, several Iowa newspapers used similar maps to highlight the rural/urban split in election results.

However, those maps tend to give a skewed view of the election.

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