• Schuyler Beltrami

2022 Midterms Preview – Iowa


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The Millennial Agora continues our complete preview of the upcoming midterm elections for Congress with the state of Iowa. A state of just over three million people, Iowa is a largely rural state in the Midwest. More than a quarter of the state’s population lives in the metropolitan area of the state’s capital, Des Moines. The state is located in the heart of the so-called Corn Belt and is responsible for around 20% of the total production of corn for the entire United States. Politically, the state had been a swing state for most of the past two decades, but has swung increasingly to the right over the past two election cycles. In 2012, former President Barack Obama won the state by more than 5%, but Donald Trump won the state by more than 8% in 2020, representing a 13% shift to the right, mostly thanks to rural and suburban voters. In 2022, there will be elections in Iowa for the House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor. Iowa has four seats in the House of Representatives, and this number remained unchanged over the past decade. Currently, the state’s delegation in the House is split 3-1 in favor of Republicans.


House of Representatives

Iowa receives four seats in the House of Representatives, and all seats will be up for election in November. The overall CVPI for the entire state is R+6, making Iowa’s House races (taken as a whole) to lean favorably for the Republicans. (The CPVI, or Cook Partisan Voting Index, is the main metric to measure the strength of a political party for a particular House district or Senate seat. The measure was created and managed by the non-partisan Cook Political Report and uses historical data, as well as polling, to create the “partisan lean” of each district or state. A CPVI rating of R+15 would mean that on average, Republican candidates win elections in that district or state by an average of 15%, while a rating of D+15 would mean the same thing, but for the Democratic candidate. A district or state with a CPVI with double digits is considered to be non-competitive).


I. IA-01:

A. Current Representative: Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R)

B. Population Distribution: Majority Rural, Some Urban Areas

C. Demographics: 83% White, 6% African American, 6% Hispanic

D. Cook PVI: R+3 (Toss-up)

E. Outlook: Iowa’s first district includes the southeastern corner of the state and the cities of Davenport and Iowa City, as well as part of the state’s borders with Illinois and Missouri. This district, which was labelled as the 2nd district in the past voting cycle, was home to one of the closest elections in US history in 2020, when Republican nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who is the nominee once again for this district, flipped the district to the Republicans by only 6 votes, or a margin of 0.002%. This district became even more competitive due to redistricting, but the statistics may still be favorable for the Republicans. Republican candidates received around 4,000 more votes in the district’s closed primaries and Rep. Miller-Meeks has not trailed in any polls which have been conducted in the district, including those sponsored by her Democratic opponent. Rep. Miller-Meeks also leads in the aggregate polling data by more than 9%. A flip in IA-01 for the Democrats would be a welcome sign that they are doing better in more rural areas around the country, but in a majority white and rural district in a state which is trending red, the advantage still goes to the Republicans.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


II. IA-02:

A. Current Representative: Ashley Hinson (R)

B. Population Distribution: Majority Rural, Some Urban Areas

C. Demographics: 86% White, 6% African American

D. Cook PVI: R+4 (Leans Republican)

E. Outlook: The Iowa 2nd District includes the northeastern corner of the state and the cities of Cedar Rapids and Dubuque, as well as part of the state’s borders with Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Incumbent Rep. Hinson has represented the district since 2020 and won her first election with 51% of the vote. The district became slightly better for Republicans due to redistricting, but they will still have to contend with the strongly Democratic cities of Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Democratic candidates received around 700 more votes than Republicans in the district’s closed primaries, with candidates from both parties running unopposed. Still, Rep. Hinson has been either tied or ahead in all conducted polls, including those sponsored by the Democratic campaign. In the aggregate polling data, Rep. Hinson has a 9% lead. Similar to IA-01, a flip for Democrats here would have significant meaning for the party on a national level. Fortunately for Republicans, the margins are in their favor in a red state and a district which became more favorable for them.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


III. IA-03:

A. Current Representative: Cindy Axne (D)

B. Population Distribution: Mostly Rural, Some Urban Areas

C. Demographics: 79% White, 8% Hispanic, 6% African American, 5% Asian

D. Cook PVI: R+3 (Toss-up)

E. Outlook: The Iowa 3rd District includes the southern central part of the state and nearly all the Des Moines metropolitan area, as well as part of the state’s border with Missouri. Incumbent Rep. Axne has represented the district since 2018. This may be the Democrat's best chance to keep some sort of national representation in Iowa. Rep. Axne, who was reelected in 2020 with only 49% of the vote, slightly outperformed Joe Biden in the district and received around 1700 more votes than Republican candidates in the district’s closed primaries, although she did run unopposed. Similar to the two previous Iowa districts, national trends will play a key role in who comes out on top in these purple districts. Rep. Axne had been trailing in the aggregate polling data for months, but has closed the gap to just 0.6% at the time of publication. In late June, she was trailing by nearly 5%. As the national momentum seems to be keeping with the Democrats, Rep. Axne may have just enough support from suburban Des Moines voters to propel her to victory. Facing an otherwise red map, Democrats will need to hold on to IA-03 so as not to lose a crucial seat in the House of Representatives.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)


IV. IA-04:

A. Current Representative: Randy Feenstra (R)

B. Population Distribution: Overwhelmingly Rural

C. Demographics: 83% White, 10% Hispanic

D. Cook PVI: R+16 (Strong Republican)

E. Outlook: The Iowa 4th District is the largest and most conservative district in the state, encompassing the entire western half of the state and the cities of Sioux City and Council Bluffs. Incumbent Rep. Feenstra has represented the district since 2020 and won his first election with 62% of the vote. He received around 2.5 more times more votes than all Democratic candidates in the district’s closed primaries. By far the most partisan district in the state, the Iowa 4th District will be the only Iowa district to provide next to no drama on Election Night.

F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


Senate

Iowa, like all states, has two seats in the Senate, one of which will be up for election this year. Incumbent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is running for his eighth term in the Senate, having been first elected in 1980. Sen. Grassley, who is 89, would be the second-oldest person to ever win a Senate seat and would be 95 years old at the conclusion of his term in 2028. Sen. Grassley was reelected in 2016 by a margin of around 25%. Republican candidates received around twice as many votes as Democratic candidates in the state’s closed primaries. Sen. Grassley’s challenger, Democratic nominee Michael Franken is a retired US Navy Admiral and unsuccessful candidate for Senator in 2020. Most major media outlets have categorized this race as “Safe Republican” and Sen. Grassley has a 17% lead in the aggregate polling data.

Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


Governor

The third and final election in Iowa will be for the Governor. Incumbent Republican Governor Kim Reynolds is seeking her second term for the highest office in the state. She won her first election in 2018 by a margin of less than 3%. Her challenger in this election is Democratic nominee Deidre DeJear, a small business owner and unsuccessful candidate for Iowa Secretary of State in 2018. With both candidates running unopposed in their respective primaries, Sen. Reynolds received around 40,000 more votes. Most major media outlets have categorized this race as “Safe Republican” and Gov. Reynolds has a 19% lead in the aggregate polling data.

Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)


Analysis

The Millennial Agora is predicting that the House races in Iowa will finish 3-1 in favor of Republicans, with no gains for either party. The Senate and Governor races will end with a Republican victory as well, according to our predictions.


Thank you for reading our preview of the midterm elections in Iowa. Check back tomorrow as we preview Kansas, another Midwest state, and a reliably Republican state, which, however, made national headlines this summer as its voters chose to keep abortion legal in a statewide referendum.



The state of the House after our predictions. Made at 270towin.com

The state of the Senate after our predictions. Made at 270towin.com (States in light grey have no Senate seats up for election this year)

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