Feb 25, 2022 - Politics

Polk Supervisors could go Republican, per analysis

 Illustration of a donkey and elephant dipping their tails into blue and red paint buckets.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Newly proposed districts for Polk County Supervisors and a sour political environment for Democrats may be enough for the GOP to pick up a seat in November's election and win majority control of the board.

Details: That's according to J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, who conducted an analysis on district voters following an inquiry this week from Axios.

Why it matters: Polk County is a longtime stronghold for Iowa Democrats who have held control of the supervisors for decades and currently have a 3-2 majority on the board.

  • A change in the majority makeup could have significant influence on local spending and policy decisions.

Driving the news: Newly proposed maps for Polk's five supervisor districts were published this week by the Iowa Legislative Services Agency.

  • Supervisors' chairperson Angela Connolly, a Democrat, is in the same district β€” No. 2 β€” as vice chair Robert Brownell, a Republican, under the proposal, setting the possibility for a race between two well-established incumbents.
  • A public hearing on the redistricting proposals is slated for next Monday. Supervisors will approve or reject the proposed map on Tuesday.

What they found: President Biden won in 2020 by single digits in the proposed No. 2 and No. 4 districts β€” those on the county's northwest and southeast corners.

  • County-level politics can still be parochial, but those districts would likely be labeled as "toss ups" if the same voter makeup was in a congressional district, Coleman said.

What they're saying: It's too early to assess the odds because the proposed maps could be redrawn, Gloria Mazza, chair of the Polk County Republicans, told Axios yesterday.

  • DSM's southside remains a Democratic stronghold and party leaders are confident about the district that includes Grimes, Johnston and Urbandale, Polk County Democratic chairperson Sean Bagniewski said.

Of note: This is the first redistricting cycle where the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency is handling the redrawing of Polk's supervisor districts.

A county-appointed commission previously drew the maps, which some Republican lawmakers criticized as "corrupt, corrosive and clearly illegitimate."

Data: University of Virginia Center for Politics; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios
Data: University of Virginia Center for Politics; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios
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