Iowa Democrats seek to retain control of the House of Representatives in back-to-back elections for the first time since 1988/1990. Democrats won control of the House in 2006 with a 5-seat gain (as projected by Smart Politics), ending a 14-year reign by the GOP.
In 2008, Democrats take a 53 to 47-seat advantage into November’s elections. While third party candidates and those nominated by petition can still file for a few more days with the Secretary of State, the major party candidates have already been determined.
There are several reasons to expect Democrats will expand their lead in the state’s lower legislative chamber:
· Democrats will run 49 incumbents, compared to just 38 for the Republicans. That means Republicans will be defending 9 open seats compared to just 4 for the Democrats.
· Republicans will also have to defend 11 of the 19 districts that were competitive in 2006 – those decided by 10 points or less.
· Democrats also enjoy the advantage of running more than three times as many candidates in districts unchallenged by the GOP (17) as Republicans running in districts without Democratic candidates (5).
Overall, the Democratic and Republican parties did a better job fielding candidates for House races in 2008, compared to 2006. In 2006 there were 41 contests without major party challengers out of 100 races. That number dropped to 30 this year – a healthier sign of electoral competitiveness and democracy at work in the Hawkeye State.