Seven Iowa lawmakers who had crossover appeal in 2020

The Daily Kos Elections team performs an incredible public service every two years, calculating top-ticket results for every state legislative district in the country. Last week the staff published raw vote totals and vote shares for Joe Biden and Donald Trump in all 100 Iowa House districts and 50 Iowa Senate districts.

Take my advice and bookmark that spreadsheet, as well as an updated Daily Kos Elections spreadsheet showing how residents of each Iowa legislative district voted for president in 2012 and 2016, for governor in 2014 and 2018, and for U.S. Senate in 2014. Even though Iowa’s state legislative boundaries will soon change, the data will remain useful as evidence of changing voting patterns.

For today I want to dive into crossover voting in Iowa, which was the focus of a Daily Kos Elections post on July 26. Ticket-splitting is rarer now than it used to be, but six current House members won last November, even though their constituents preferred the other party’s presidential candidate. Four sitting state senators represent districts that voted for the other party’s presidential candidate in 2020. However, only one of them was up for re-election last year. We can’t know how the other three would have performed compared to Trump or Biden.

This post covers the legislators whose districts went the other way for president, with thoughts about how each House or Senate district might change on Iowa’s next political map.

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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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The politics of Ashley Hinson's balancing act in IA-01

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

During her first six weeks serving in the U.S. House, Representative Ashley Hinson has been speaking in two distinct voices.

In many public statements, she has positioned herself as a unifier within the House Republican caucus and Congress at large, willing to work with anyone for the benefit of her constituents. Meanwhile, she has regularly demonized Democrats as threats to America, especially when speaking to perceived supporters or on conservative platforms.

The dual messaging reflects Hinson’s dependence on Donald Trump’s base in a swing district where future Republican victories are not assured.

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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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How many Iowa candidates "won" under rules Republicans forced on unions?

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

Republican lawmakers and Governor Terry Branstad set out to cripple public sector unions in 2017 by enacting a law that eviscerated bargaining rights and established new barriers to union representation. Under that law, public employees must vote to recertify their union in each contract period (in most cases, every two or three years). Anyone not participating in the election is considered to have voted against the union. So a successful recertification requires yes votes from a majority of all employees in the bargaining unit.

The law hasn’t accomplished its goal of destroying large unions that typically support Democratic candidates. The vast majority of bargaining units have voted to recertify in each of the past four years. This fall, all 64 locals affiliated with the Iowa State Education Association voted to keep having that union negotiate their contracts. AFSCME Council 61, which represents most Iowa state and local government workers, was nearly as successful, with 64 out of 67 units voting to recertify.

I decided to return to a question Bleeding Heartland first pondered in 2017: how many candidates for other Iowa offices could declare victory under the system Republicans forced on labor unions?

I found that even after Iowa’s highest-turnout election in decades, our state would have no representation in Congress if contenders needed a majority vote among all constituents. “Winners” could be declared in about a third of state legislative races.

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Lessons of 2020: Win or lose, Rita Hart was a good fit for IA-02

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

Democrat Rita Hart’s campaign has asked for a recount in all 24 counties of Iowa’s second Congressional district, where Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks led by 196,862 votes to 196,815 (49.92% to 49.90%) after the canvass. It’s the closest U.S. House race in the country, and one of the closest in Iowa history.

The lead has changed twice since election night: first, when fixing a tabulation error in Jasper County put Hart slightly ahead, and then when a correction in Lucas County moved Miller-Meeks back into the lead.

Recounts in Iowa rarely produce big changes in vote totals, so Republicans are confident they will pick up this seat. However, overcoming a deficit of 47 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast is certainly possible in a recount.

Either way, one fact is clear: Hart performed much better than a generic Democrat, perhaps better than any nominee not named Dave Loebsack could have in these circumstances.

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