Iowa’s current congressional districts

The Des Moines Register and Mediacom released a poll on Tuesday night that shows Republicans with an advantage on a generic ballot in all four of Iowa’s Congressional Districts.

Currently, Democrats hold three of those seats, two of which were flipped in 2018. The poll of 800 Iowans including 667 likely general election voters asked, “If the elections for the U.S. House of Representatives were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your congressional district?”

Those polled had to choose between the Republican or Democratic candidate. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percent for the full sample and 3.8 percent for likely voters. Republicans only hold a lead outside the margin of error in Iowa’s 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts. The poll was conducted between March 3-5, 2020.

Here’s the breakdown by congressional district:

Iowa 1st Congressional District

  • Republicans – 49 percent (45 percent certain, four percent leans)
  • Democrats – 46 percent (44 percent certain, two percent leans)

U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, represents the district that encompasses 20 counties in the northeastern part of the state that include cities such as Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Waterloo. Finkenauer defeated former U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, a two-term Republican congressman, 51 percent to 45.9 percent, in 2018.

The district voted for President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a four point margin, but Democrats have always had a voter registration advantage in the district. Currently, there are a little more than 30,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Finkenauer will likely face State Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, a former TV anchorwoman, as an opponent in the general election.

Iowa 2nd Congressional District

  • Republicans – 49 percent (all certain)
  • Democrats – 41 percent (39 percent certain, two percent leans)

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, currently represents the the district of 24 counties in the southeastern part of the state that include cities such as Davenport, Iowa City, Clinton, Burlington, and Ottumwa.

Loebsack has served the district since 2007, but he is retiring at the end of his current term so Republicans have an opportunity to flip the seat.

The district also voted for Trump in 2016 by four points, but Loebsack won re-election by seven points. Democrats, without running a popular incumbent, are vulnerable.

The presumptive Democratic nominee is former State Senator Rita Hart who was the party’s nominee for Lt. Governor in 2018. The Republican Party has a contested primary between State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, and former Illinois Congressman Bobby Schilling who moved to the district several years ago.

Like Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, Democrats have held a voter registration advantage. Currently, there are under 33,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

Iowa 3rd Congressional District

  • Republicans – 43 percent (42 percent certain, one percent leans)
  • Democrats – 42 percent (40 percent certain, two percent leans)

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, represents the 16 counties that make-up the district in the southwestern part of the states that include cities such as Des Moines and Council Bluffs.

Axne defeated former U.S. Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, in 2018 by 2.2 points – 49.3 percent to 47.1 percent. Young was a two-term member of Congress and won re-election when Trump was on the ballot outperforming Trump, who won the district by three points, by 11 points.

Young in 2018 saw Democrats take back the registered voter advantage and saw his support slip in the suburbs amidst significantly higher turnout by Democrats.

2020 will likely see a rematch between Young and Axne, and she still holds a voter registration advantage a little more than 15,000 registered Democrats than Republicans in the district.

Iowa 4th Congressional District

  • Republicans – 51 percent (49 percent certain, two percent leans)
  • Democrats – 40 percent (38 percent certain, two percent leans)

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, represents the 39 counties that comprise the district in the northwestern and north central part of the state that includes cities such as Sioux City, Ames, Boone, Mason City, and Ft. Dodge.

This is the only district in the state that is a safe district for Republicans.

Even with a targeted campaign against a nationally unpopular incumbent, Democrats still lost the 2018 race by 3.3 percent representing over 10,000 votes.

It’s unlikely that the 2020 general election will be as close as the 2018 election. Trump won the district in 2016 by 27 points the highest margin anywhere in the state.

King’s biggest challenge is a five-way primary where he has been significantly out raised by State Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull, and barely leads former Irwin Mayor Bret Richards in fundraising. Feenstra, Richards, and Sioux County Supervisor and former state representative Jeremy Taylor all appear to have stronger organizations than King.

King has the power of incumbency and name recognition in the district which will be difficult to overcome.

Should King prevail in his primary, he will have a rematch with Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten who will likely go unchallenged in the Democratic primary.

Republicans hold a 63,000 registered voter advantage in the district.

U.S. Senate Race

The Des Moines Register and Mediacom also polled Iowans about whether they would vote for U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, or consider someone else. A plurality favors Ernst, but, overall, 51 percent said they will vote or will consider voting for someone else.

  • 41 percent said they would vote for Ernst.
  • 31 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else.
  • 20 percent said they would consider someone else.

Ernst’s favorability rating is higher than her unfavorable rating (47 percent to 38 percent), but that is down from February where 57 percent of Iowans said they have a favorable rating and only 30 percent said that they didn’t.

The junior, first-term U.S. Senator faces a statewide voter registration deficit. Democrats currently have over 14,000 more registered voters than Republicans.

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