Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

A "red wave" hit Iowa. Hard.

Data: Iowa Secretary of State; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Iowa Secretary of State; Chart: Axios Visuals

While the expected "red wave" didn't sweep the U.S., it crashed hard in Iowa.

Why it matters: Iowa has shed itself of any remaining "purple state" remnants from a decade ago when former President Barack Obama won the state in the 2008 and 2012 elections.

  • "I don’t see it going back anytime soon," said Peter Hanson, a political science professor from Grinnell College on Iowa Public Radio.

Driving the news: While some races are still too close to call, Republicans in the Iowa Senate are guaranteed a supermajority for the first time in 50 years, which will allow them to pass any gubernatorial nominations without a Democrat's vote, IPR reports.

  • Meanwhile, Republican challengers ousted Democratic incumbents U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

What changed: White, blue-collar Americans shifting from blue to red following Obama's tenure, Hanson said.

  • About 90% of Iowa's population is white, while only 30% of it has a college education, according to 2020 U.S. Census Bureau results.

Zoom in: Despite his inflammatory style, many working-class Americans found relatability in former President Donald Trump's populist messaging back in 2016, Hanson said.

  • Meanwhile, Republicans nationally tied issues like defunding the police and increased crime to Democrats, which hurt their appeal to working-class Iowans, Rachel Caufield, a political science professor at Drake, told IPR.

Plus: The Democratic National Committee isn't investing in Iowa anymore, putting their sights on urban areas with younger, diverse populations, Caufield said.

  • "Our state party has atrophied a bit," Caufield said.

The big picture: Democrats now have a bigger advantage among white college graduates than they do with nonwhite voters, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.

What's next: This is bad news for keeping the caucuses first in the nation for Democrats, Caufield said.


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