How Iowa's 2018 turnout increased by party, age, gender

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

Immediately after the November election, it was obvious turnout in Iowa was unusually high for a non-presidential year. Now that the Secretary of State’s office has published the statewide statistical report, we can get a closer look at which demographic groups were most engaged. Let’s dive in:

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Democratic statewide candidates need sharper rhetoric

Joe Gorton: “Fred Hubbell’s campaign for governor is the most recent example of a candidacy that failed to couple a strong emotional tone to strong content.” -promoted by Laura Belin

For the third consecutive time, Iowa Democrats are licking our wounds after a gubernatorial campaign loss. Not surprisingly, there are many competing explanations for what went wrong. Within those explanations one factor is largely ignored: dull campaign rhetoric.

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Iowa DHS withheld records on "fishy" Medicaid deal before election

For weeks this fall, the Iowa Department of Human Services stonewalled a journalist’s request for easily accessible public records that would have cast an unflattering light on management of the state’s Medicaid program.

Three days after Governor Kim Reynolds won the election, the department sent a copy of one key document to Ryan Foley of the Associated Press. DHS released other relevant files on December 6, allowing Foley to confirm Director Jerry Foxhoven had cut a deal in April allowing UnityPoint Health affiliates to keep nearly $2.4 million they had been overpaid for services provided to Medicaid patients.

The settlement agreement came shortly after UnityPoint agreed to remain part of the network for Amerigroup, one of the private companies DHS picked to manage care for Medicaid recipients.

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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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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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