5 things to watch in every state: Iowa

I’m not going to lie, there are more than 5 elections, I am going to watch in this state.

  1. U.S. Presidential Election: Iowa voted for Barack Obama twice.  This state looks like the strongest swing state for Donald Trump, thus far.  How can that be?  This election cycle is mainly going to be decided on the turnout of the white non-college educated voters.  They are going for Trump and Iowa has a lot of them. Giving Trump a built in advantage in the state.  If you add that with the state not being that diverse, you get Iowa flipping back to Republicans after voting for Obama in the last two Presidential elections.  Iowa will give us an indication of how Clinton did with white non-college educated voters and give us a very good snapshot of the election.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, Iowa’s 1st Congressional District: Bruce Braley was the Representative of the district and received 56.9% of the vote in 2012 in his re-election bid.  In 204, while he was busy losing the Iowa Senate race, his district flipped to a Republican, who won with 51% of the vote and about 6,500 more votes than the Democratic opponent. If we assume that the Presidential election is going to turn out more Democratic voters, then we might be able to assume the District flips back. If, on the other hand, Trump does better than expected in Iowa plus the incumbency advantage for Rod Blum, it may stay in Republican hands for this election and the forseeable future.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District: This district should probably be considered a safer Republican seat but if Iowa, somehow flips, and Trump does worse than what we’re currently expecting, then this seat might flip, too.  If Democrats want to take back the House, then this is probably a district that should be worth watching.  Republican Tom Latham was able to win re-election in the district in 2012 with 52% of the vote.  David Young who ran for the District as a Republican in 2014, won with 52% of the vote.  Young is running for re-election and has a Libertarian Party spoiler running against him, as well.  But Jim Mowrer, the Democrat, has to make up between 30-34 thousand votes to be able to put this one in play.  While it’s worth watching, I’m not sure it’s going to flip.
  4. Iowa State Senate, District 26: Now we’re on the State elections portion of the post.  This is my personal favorite, mainly because it cuts against the argument that your vote doesn’t count.  In 2012, Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm was able to defeat Republican Merlin Bartz by 126 votes (there were 30,934 votes cast).  Wilhelm is running for re-election in 2016 against Republican Waylon Brown.  Is it going to be another nail biter?  I don’t know but I am excited to find out. If Democrats want to hold onto their majority in the State Senate, they need this seat.
  5. Iowa State Senate, District 28:Republican Michael Breitbach won the election for this seat in 2012 (a Democratic year) by 34 votes (29,700 votes cast) against Democratic challenger and not Arrested Development TV anchor John Beard.  This time around, he is facing Jan Heikes.  And trying to help her out is Libertarian Party candidate Troy Hagerman.  We get to watch whether or not the Libertarian Party can spoil another election for the Republican Party.  This will give Democrats a better chance of holding the State Senate if they are able to pick up this seat, so it’s well worth watching.
  6. Iowa State Senate, District 30: This one is on the Republican Party’s radar.  They have decided to target this seat as part of their State Legislature drive.  It’s not that hard to see why.  Democrat Jeff Danielson won the election in 2012 by less than 700 votes.  If Donalt Trump is able to do well in the state, that could easily flip.
  7. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 7: While Democrats hold the Senate in Iowa, Republicans hold the state House of Representatives by a comfortable margin.  While it doesn’t look like they can take the House, making inroads will be critical.  Democratic incumbent John Wittneben lost his re-election bid in 2012 by 44 votes to Republican Tedd Gassman.  This is kind of an odd turn of events, seeing as Democrats generally did better in the 2012 election, so you would think that Wittneben would have been able to win.  But in 2014, Gassman was able to win re-election by a much more comfortable margin, about 1,700 votes out of 11,531 votes cast.
  8. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 15: This is an even weirder district than District 7.  Republican incumbent Mark Brandenburg won re-election in 2012 over Democratic challenger George Warren Yaple by 400 votes.  Brandenburg did not run for re-election in 2014.  John Blue won the Republican primary by 1 vote in 2014.  Blue, then went on to lose to Democrat Charlie McConkey by 75 votes.  McConkey is running for re-election in 2016.  The Republican challenger is Bill Riley.  This will be an interesting election to watch. If only, because a Democrat was elected in 2014.  This might flip back in 2016, or it is proof that the district has become much more liberal from 2012 to 2014.
  9. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 30: One of my favorite district playbooks.  Joe Riding, the Democrat won the 2012 election for this district by 720 votes (16,808 votes cast).  Riding was defeated by Republican Zach Nunn by about 1,600 votes (13,056 votes cast) in 2014.  There will be a rematch between Riding and Nunn in 2016.  If it is a better year for Democrats in Iowa than 2014, then I think Riding has a shot to win the re-match.
  10. Iowa State House of Representatives, District 55:  Democrat Roger Thomas was re-elected in 2012 with 7,781 votes beating his Republican challenger, Michael Kilmesh by 226 votes.  In 2014, Thomas did not seek re-election.  Rick Edwards ran for the Democratic Party.  He lost by 27 votes to Republican Darrel Branhagen (11,897 votes cast). After a close primary Democrat Pat Ritter became the nominee for the Democratic Party in this district.  Ritter will try to defeat Republican nominee Michael Bergan, which will likely be a close election.