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Election Profile: Iowa's 2nd Congressional District (2008)

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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 fourth profile in the series is Iowa's 2nd Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: David W. Loebsack (1-term incumbent)
Republican: Marianette Miller-Meeks
Nominated by Petition: Brian White
Iowa Green: Wendy Barth

District Geography:
Iowa's 2nd Congressional District comprises fifteen counties in the southeastern part of the state: Appanoose, Cedar, Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, Van Buren, Wapello, Washington, and Wayne.

History:
Loebsack, a former professor of political science at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, scored one of the biggest upsets across the country in 2006 when he defeated 15-term GOP incumbent Jim Leach. Leach's defeat was particularly surprising as he was a moderate-to-liberal Republican who had been a strong critic of the Iraq War prior to the election and had consistently denounced neo-con foreign policies. Loebsack won by 2.9 points in a district that had voted Republican by 19.7 points for Leach in 2004.

Loebsack serves on The House Education and Labor Committee and The House Armed Services Committee. Loebsack campaigned in 2006 to end U.S. involvement in Iraq as quickly as possible, but ending the Iraq War is not among the 14 priority issues listed on the Representative's campaign website.

Loebsack faces three challengers in 2008. Republican Miller-Meeks is an ophthalmologist who is campaigning to reform Social Security to allow personal savings accounts, simplify the tax code (e.g. fair tax or flat tax), revitalize the GI Bill, and reform health care by realigning health insurance through a national risk pool with multiple insurance players. She also believes the U.S. needs to develop a new 'industry of energy' that will help address energy concerns, environmental concerns, enhance American economic opportunities and productivity, and bolster U.S. national security.

Independent candidate Brian White is an attorney for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who is running on the issues of reducing the national debt through fiscal responsibility, preserving Social Security, and securing energy independence.

Iowa Green Party candidate Wendy Barth most recently ran for Governor in 2006, coming in third place out of five candidates with 0.7 percent of the vote.

Outlook:
Leach's decision not to challenge Loebsack to a rematch in 2008 nearly assured the 1-term incumbent's return to Washington, D.C. in the current political environment that is currently very favorable to Democratic congressional candidates. Barack Obama, however, was not quite as popular in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District as he was in the 1st. Obama won only 8 of the 15 counties in Iowa's Democratic caucuses - finishing in third place in 5 of them in the southeast rim of the state (aka Edwards Country): Appanoose, Davis, Van Buren Wapello, and Wayne Counties.

Previous post: Upper Midwest Delegation Votes 6-2 As $700 Billion Financial Industry Bailout Sails Through Senate
Next post: Election Profile: Iowa's 3rd Congressional District (2008)

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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