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United States Elections

2020 Iowa House Races: Predictions and More

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2020 Iowa House Races

Come and get your predictions for the four 2020 Iowa House races.

We know that Iowa was a consequential state in 2020’s politics already, though perhaps not for all of the reasons they may have liked. They were consequential in electoral politics in 2018 as well, and for certain not for reasons Republicans liked. Democrats turned a 3-1 deficit in Iowa House seats into a 3-1 majority, this happening in a state won by Donald Trump in 2016. In fact, they almost won all four of them, but there were three very close races last time.

Iowa has a reputation as a swing state, or at least one that gives both Republicans and Democrats a chance at various levels. Its six electoral votes will be watched carefully in November, but what about its House districts? Given how competitive the state was in 2018, it’s a sure bet. In just moments, you will scroll down to see our current predictions, updated as the situation requires.

US House Rating Scale

Take a look at our chart showing how we rate these 2020 Iowa House races. No race will be rated as a tossup.

Election Rating Chart

2020 Iowa House Races Current Prediction Summary: August 10

2020 Iowa House Races - 10-31-20 predictions

Current Iowa US House Map

2020 Iowa House Races - pre-election map

Iowa-01

Iowa-01 US House

Democratic Hold - Weak Lean IA-01

The Democrats’ young freshman congresswoman, Abby Finkenauer, will be charged with holding onto her flipped 2018 seat, which is an Obama-to-Trump district. There is of course no guarantee Donald Trump will carry the seat again, but this is a district of some big recent swings. To go from Barack Obama to Trump, the vote swung about 8.5 percent towards the GOP. However, when Finkenauer won, the vote swung away from the incumbent Republican by about six points. In recent decades, this is the definition of a swing seat and Finkenauer will not have an easy ride, but the national political current will give us some clues as to how this race goes.

Iowa-02

Iowa-02 US House

Democratic Hold - Weak Lean

RATINGS CHANGE. OCT. 31: R1 to D1

This seat has flipped back into the Democratic column.  The Miller-Meeks strength in the polls is gone and the Republicans will now struggle to watch Trump and Joni Ernst win here.  We do not completely rule out a Republican win, but it’s now unlikely.

RATINGS CHANGE: D1 to R1

August 10: Iowa’s 2nd could be a rare bright spot for House Republicans on election night.  Mariannette Miller-Meeks is polling well and Trump is competitive in the state (as of today we believe he will win it), so no top-down drag on the ticket.  Even if the Democrats do well in the general House picture, it’s rare for all the flipped seats to break one way (2006 was the last time this happened).  This is not us tossing the GOP a bone, however: Miller-Meeks has a legitimate chance at winning this open seat.

April 25: Dave Loebsack is on his way out, and Democrats have coalesced around one candidate, Rita Hart. Loebsack had some close races over the years but usually avoided the nail-biters. This was also an Obama-to-Trump district, so we need to proceed with some caution here and start the rating cycle with this as a Democratic weak lean. Had Loebsack run for re-election, he’d have this at a strong lean. We will need to see who emerges from the GOP primary.

Iowa-03

Iowa-03 US House

Democratic Hold - Weak Lean IA-03

Boy, there are a lot of competitive races in Iowa this year, just like in 2018. This is one of the few states in the country, maybe the only one with more than one or two districts, in which you can say every seat is in play. The 3rd District is no exception, as this was another Democratic flip in 2018 behind Cindy Axne. This Des Moines-anchored seat is potentially squaring up a rematch between Axne and the incumbent she defeated, David Young. And hey look, another Obama-to-Trump district. It’s going to be close and we will give Axne the slight nod for the time being due to incumbency.

Iowa-04

Iowa-04 US House

Republican Hold - Safe IA-04

RATINGS CHANGE: R2 to R3

June 3: Incumbent Steve King lost his primary on June 2nd, so this seat is safe for the Republicans. It’s hard to see the Democrats picking this seat up against a run-of-the-mill conservative Republican in a heavy-Trump district. Democrats would have had a chance against a wounded King but not against Randy Feenstra.

April 26: Steve King has a knack for creating controversy, but until 2018, he also had one for winning big in the 4th District (for the most part). He had an unexpected close call last time around, leaving Democrats to wonder what they can do here in 2020. The answer is probably not as much as they would like unless Republicans continue to abandon King. For now, while we await the GOP primary results, we are accounting for the district’s typical trends and considering this a “strong lean.” King winning the primary may still work out for the GOP, but having a congressman who is stripped of all committee posts takes away the experience angle. A generic Republican might have this seat “safe” but this is one case where we will have to see if the incumbent can match that himself. We do know that King’s main GOP opponent, Randy Feenstra, is fundraising well and is getting outside help to win the primary.1

References

1: Dave Dreeszen, “Republican Super PAC to pour in $100,000 for Randy Feenstra’s bid to oust Steve King,” Sioux City Journal, April 23, 2020, https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/republican-super-pac-to-pour-in-100-000-for-randy-feenstras-bid-to-oust-steve/article_f58934c1-c75f-515b-a111-c5f48b00dd8b.html/)

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