Harnessing a Democratic wave in suburban neighborhoods, small businesswoman Cindy Axne has defeated Congressman David Young in a race many thought might be a long-shot for Democrats at the beginning of the 2018 cycle. WHO-TV projected early tonight that Axne would defeat Young tonight, largely thanks to a massive 40,000-vote lead out of Polk County.
Axne makes history with her victory as the first woman elected to the U.S. House from Iowa, and she may be joined in that distinction with Abby Finkenauer depending on the outcome in the 1st District. She is also the first Democratic woman elected to a federal office from Iowa.
Young was seen as a very strong incumbent even though he’s only been in office for two terms. He won by 14 points in 2016 despite Donald Trump carrying the district by just four points. But the moderate persona and nice-guy image he showed voters couldn’t save him from the series of unpopular votes he’d made, especially on healthcare issues. Much of the race centered around pre-existing condition coverage, something he insisted he had supported. Voters felt a different way.
The other problem for Young was that he seemed to have finally met his match in work ethic. Young is well-known for visiting all 16 counties of the 3rd District every month, and his constant presence in the district (learned from his former boss Chuck Grassley) helped him win over swing voters.
Axne, however, may be the most tenacious campaigner Democrats have ever had in this state. She destroyed Iowa congressional fundraising records while still seeming to be in every corner of the district at all times.
Finally, the fast-shifting partisan loyalties in the Des Moines suburbs decimated the traditional Republican advantage in this district. By Democrats cutting in to that independent and more moderate voting base in the suburbs, there simply wasn’t a large enough base of Republican voters in the rural counties to send Young back to D.C.
by Pat Rynard