Throughout the 2020 election cycle, Iowa’s three congressional seats held by Democrats have been rated a toss-up by most election forecasters. Today, The Cook Political Report decided to shift Iowa’s 3rd District race between Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne and Republican David Young from toss-up to “Lean Democrat.”
In a new analysis published Thursday, The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman predicts Democrats are “poised to expand” their majority in the House and “Republicans no longer have a realistic path to picking up the 17 seats they need for a majority.”
Democrats currently control the chamber 232-197.
There has been very little public polling in the 3rd District — or on any of Iowa’s House races for that matter — save for a Monmouth University poll over the summer that showed 48% of registered voters supported Axne compared to 42% for Young. A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll from September found 48% of likely voters supported the district’s Democratic candidate at the time of the poll, compared to 42% for the Republican candidate. (The poll did not ask specifically about Axne and Young and had a rather small sample size. It asked likely Iowa voters whether they were more likely to vote for a Republican or a Democrat in their congressional district.)
Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics also moved the 3rd District race toward Democrats at the start of October, citing Joe Biden’s rising strength in the Midwest, but Politico has kept it a toss-up.
Axne and Young have debated twice this month and are scheduled to meet for a final time on Monday for a debate hosted by the Des Moines Register and KCCI-TV.
Axne, who unseated Young in 2018, hammered the former congressman for his multiple votes in the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While this was an issue of great importance in the race two years ago, health care accessibility and affordability has taken on a new sense of urgency this year as the Trump Administration and Republican attorneys general across the country wage a legal battle in the Supreme Court to try and repeal the 10-year-old law.
“Unfortunately, my opponent can say whatever he wants to,” Axne said during Wednesday’s WHO-TV debate, referring to Young’s insistence that he supports affordable health insurance for people with preexisting conditions, “but it just comes down to this; he voted to repeal the ACA. He voted to remove coverage for people with preexisting conditions. He voted to take people off of their parents’ plans up to age 26. He voted to raise the price on older Iowans as much as five times. They had years to get a bill done and my opponent had four years to find a replacement. And we’ve said all along, put something out there. They haven’t come to the table with anything this country liked and therefore this is where we’re at.”
Young’s chief complaint against Axne is that she has utilized a new voting mechanism instituted in the House, known as proxy voting, which allows a member of Congress to cast a vote on behalf of a member who is not physically present in the House chamber. Proxy voting was instituted in the House this year to allow lawmakers to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Axne explained in both debates, she instructs a member on the House floor to cast her vote as if she was physically present.
“Absolutely not,” Axne replied, when asked by the moderator whether a House member voting on her behalf cast a vote in conflict with how she would have voted if she was there in person.
“As a matter of fact, there are so many guardrails put in to make sure that the vote that I brought was the vote for Iowans in the 3rd District, so to say anything otherwise is a complete lie,” Axne said. “I have always voted in the best interests of Iowans. My vote has always been my vote, it will continue to be my vote, and it will continue to be the words of the people that I represent.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
Iowa Starting Line is an independently owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.