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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Iowa and national 2018 election results thread

Polls just closed in Iowa, and I will update this thread frequently throughout the night as results come in. Separate posts on some of the statewide and Congressional races will be forthcoming once the outcome is clear. The Secretary of State’s website is compiling vote totals here. Anecdotal evidence suggests turnout far exceeded 2014 levels on election day.

Early voting already set a record for an Iowa midterm election. This post includes tables showing absentee ballots requested and returned in all four Congressional districts from October 9 through November 6. The numbers aren’t quite final; absentee ballots can be hand-delivered to county auditors today, and ballots arriving by mail later this week can be counted with a postmark dated November 5 or earlier.

What we know: at least 538,043 Iowans voted before election day this year. The total early vote in 2014 was 465,166. Iowa Democrats cast 186,269 early ballots in 2014. As of this morning, 230,294 Democrats had already voted. Republicans cast 178,653 early ballots in 2014 and were at 189,961 this morning. Turnout among no-party Iowa voters typically drops sharply in non-presidential years. Four years ago, 99,491 independents cast ballots; the comparable number today is 114,878.

Earlier today, I reviewed the nine Iowa Senate races most likely to be competitive and 20 Iowa House races that will likely decide control of the lower chamber.

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A Jew, a German, and 2 Ames residents meet outside a Steve King event

Tanya Keith‘s first-person account from Representative Steve King’s November 1 appearance in Des Moines. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On Tuesday, I got a Facebook wall post from a friend of mine in California that said, “Go get em Tanya and call him out on his anti-Semitism.” The post included a link to a Des Moines Partnership event: “2018 Candidate Forum with Congressman Steve King.”

I live in Des Moines, outside Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. I am well known for not ever being a fan of King–especially lately, as a Jew who used to live on the edge of Squirrel Hill while attending Carnegie Mellon University. I had an appointment until 11:30 am on the day of the event, but I sat smoldering in disgust that the Partnership would give a platform to a racist who uses anti-Semitic language.

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IA-04: Five reasons Steve King could be in trouble

The Cook Political Report changed its rating on Iowa’s fourth Congressional district today from “likely” to “lean” Republican. Although eight-term U.S. Representative Steve King carried this R+11 district by more than 20 points in 2016, several factors make a winning path for Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten seem more plausible than a few months ago, when forecasters moved IA-04 from “safe” to “likely” Republican.

Change Research announced last night that its new survey showed King leading Scholten by just 45 percent to 44 percent. The incumbent quickly released results from an internal poll by WPA Intelligence, showing King ahead by 52 percent to 34 percent, with 11 percent undecided and 3 percent inclined to support a third-party candidate.

FiveThirtyEight.com still gives King a 5 in 6 chance of winning a ninth term, but he could have set himself up much better for next Tuesday. Consider:

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