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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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