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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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Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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