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Election Profile: Iowa's 2nd Congressional District

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of Upper Midwestern congressional races leading up to the November 2nd elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The second profile in the series is Iowa's 2nd Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: David Loebsack (2-term incumbent)
Republican: Marianette Miller-Meeks
Constitution: John Tack
Libertarian: Gary Sicard

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 somewhat 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 enjoyed a more comfortable 18.4-point win for his second term in 2008 against GOP nominee Marianette Miller-Meeks, aided by another Democratic wave.

Loebsack has served both of his terms on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.

GOPer Miller-Meeks has returned for a rematch in 2010, and is hoping to become the first Iowa woman elected to Congress. Iowa is one of just four states that has never had a woman serve in Congress (along with Delaware, Mississippi, and Vermont), and is one of five states to never have elected a women to D.C. (joined by North Dakota).

The 38.8 percent won by Miller-Meeks in 2008 was the best performance for a female Republican running for Congress in Hawkeye State history, across the 642 general and special election U.S. House contests and 35 popular vote U.S. Senate elections that have been conducted since statehood.

Two third party candidates are also on the ballot - Libertarian Gary Sicard and the Constitution Party's John Tack.

This marks the first time a Constitution Party candidate has appeared in an Iowa U.S. House contest. The best performance by a Libertarian in a 2nd CD race was Kevin Litten in 2002 at 2.0 percent, just shy of the 2.1 percent statewide mark set by Russ Madden in the 2000 1st CD race.

Outlook:
Barack Obama carried the 2nd CD by 21 points in 2008 and John Kerry won it by 11 points in 2004. Miller-Meeks should make the race more competitive this time around, but the district's +7 Democratic Partisan Voting Index score makes it just the 304th most Republican district in the nation.

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Previous post: Third Party U.S. House Candidates Spike to Largest Midterm Election Mark Since 1934
Next post: Election Profile: Iowa's 3rd Congressional District

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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