Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The third profile in the series is Iowa's 1st Congressional District race.
Iowa's 1st Congressional District comprises twelve eastern counties: Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Jackson, Jones, and Scott.
Braley, an attorney, turned a Congressional district that had voted Republican by double-digit margins in 2004 (11.9 points) and 2002 (14.6) into a double-digit Democratic pick-up in 2006 (11.9 points). Braley helped bring about the first Democratic majority in Iowa's delegation to the U.S. House since 1976.
Braley serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Small Business. He is also chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology.
Hartsuch, a physician and State Senator, won his District 41 seat by 1.9 points in 2006 after successfully challenging an 18-year Republican incumbent in the primary.
Braley has more than the incumbency advantage on his side in his first defense of his U.S. House seat. Iowa has been a strong supporter of Barack Obama's presidential bid throughout his campaign, as has Braley's 1st Congressional District, which should give the freshman Representative an additional boost down the ticket. Obama carried 10 of the 12 1st CD counties during the Democratic caucuses back in January (Obama came in second in Fayette County and third in Butler County).