Boulton Blasts Off: Big Crowds Greet His Statewide Tour

The first leg in Nate Boulton’s long marathon to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination saw a common theme at his kick-off events in breweries, restaurants and coffee shops this week: energy. Boulton was met by cheering crowds in packed rooms where the atmosphere felt more like the weekend before Election Day, rather than an introductory visit a year and a half out. At several stops attendees stomped and clapped their feet to mimic Boulton’s announcement video. In years past, Iowa Democratic candidates have struggled to turn out even dozens of party loyalists to local meet-and-greets in cities large and small. Sure, you can get a […]

Democrats’ Gubernatorial Hopefuls Make Their Pitch In Rural Iowa

The Democrats’ quest to retake Terrace Hill kicked off in Quasqueton this weekend, a tiny, picturesque town in Buchanan County. Local Democrats held a county party fundraiser that five gubernatorial hopefuls attended. The contenders chatted with Northeast Iowa activists over a barbeque dinner before delivering their pitches in front of the room. With a loaded speaker lineup – 13 in all – the event stretched on for nearly four hours, but the 100 attendees – angered by recent Republican-passed legislation – stayed and listened intently long after the sun had set. The five gubernatorial candidates (or potential candidates) on hand […]

Take Our Video Tour Of Iowa’s Changing Voting Trends By Precinct

Here at Starting Line, I’ve written several posts looking at precinct-by-precinct results from both the 2016 election and the Iowa Caucus to give readers a sense of how and why Iowa’s voting trends are changing. No swing state shifted more than Iowa in the general election (from Obama +6 in 2012 to Trump +10 in 2016), but to really understand it all you need to look at individual precincts to see where the changes occurred. Fortunately, a data lover by the name of Ryne Rohla compiled the voting data for every precinct in the United States and put it all in […]

Voter Anger Boils Over At Ankeny Legislative Forum

Ankeny residents have had enough. A boisterous crowd of well over 400 packed the room at a legislative forum hosted by the local chamber of commerce at a community education building in Ankeny. Many spilled out into the hallway as they watched the panel of Senator Jack Whitver, Representatives John Landon and Kevin Koester and County Supervisor Steve Van Oort give their reports and take questions. The attendees were made up of many teachers, parents and public workers who were there to speak out against the changes to collective bargaining and the underfunding of public education. The Legislature passed the third-lowest education […]

What Iowa’s “Chapter 20” Is And Why It’s Important To Workers: An Explainer

The biggest battle at the Iowa Statehouse this year will likely center around collective bargaining rights for state employees. At issue is Iowa’s “Chapter 20,” the section in Iowa code that governs collective bargaining, and the sweeping changes the new Republican majorities want to make to it that would weaken or eliminate workers’ ability to negotiate parts or all of their contracts. But what is “Chapter 20”? Democrats and politically-engaged Iowans generally know the basics of collective bargaining, but many may be less familiar with that specific part of Iowa Code. Since Iowa reporters, legislators and activists involved in Iowa’s collective […]

How Dave Loebsack Beat The Trump Bump

Guest post from Grant Gregory In the 2016 presidential elections, Iowa shifted away from Democrats more than any other swing state in the country, realizing a total margin shift of 15.2%. This shift yielded large losses for Democrats down the ballot as well – Democrats in Iowa’s 1st District, 3rd District, and state legislative races across the state failed to secure victories. Interestingly, Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s 2nd District managed to defy odds and secure a win despite his district voting for Donald Trump by 4 points, a margin wider than both Iowa’s 1st and 3rd Districts. Loebsack performed so […]

How Dubuque County Went Republican For The 1st Time Since Eisenhower

The election of 2016 provided many surprising results to longtime Iowa politics watchers, but one county shaded in red stood out most of all: Dubuque. The working class Catholic river town of Northeast Iowa was won by the Republican presidential candidate for the first time since 1956, when it was Dwight Eisenhower on the ballot. With just under 100,000 residents, Dubuque is Iowa’s seventh-largest county, and often gives the Democrats healthy victory margins (about a 10,000 vote margin in 2008, 7,000 in 2012). Not in 2016, though. Barack Obama took Dubuque County with a 15-point victory in 2012, winning there 56.5% to Mitt […]

Many Important Topics Missing From IDP Chair Discussion

Some people fear a vacuum of power post-election, but the wide-open race for IDP chair has generated some much-needed discussion over what has gone wrong with our party, and what we need to do differently. Rather than having a hand-picked chair, the uncertain coming election has allowed a wealth of new ideas to get debated for a party struggling with how to move forward. It’s refreshing, and it’s been a joy to observe. However, one thing that struck me after watching the two forums last week and listening to a few of the conference calls, is how narrow the debate […]

The Key 2016 Iowa House Races That Will Determine The Majority

While only a small handful of Iowa Senate races seem like pure toss-ups at this point, there’s nearly a dozen Iowa House campaigns that could easily go either way. An unusually large number of incumbent Republican retirements, suburban swing districts possibly trending Democratic and voters everywhere frustrated with their top-of-ticket options has created a lot of uncertainty. Republicans outnumber Democrats 57 to 43 in the Iowa House. Capturing eight seats to retake the majority would typically be a tall order, but thanks to strong recruiting and open seats, Democrats are optimistic about their chances. They’re practically certain to pick up at least […]

Can Democrats Ever Hope To Defeat Joni Ernst?

People love Joni Ernst. A lot happened at Ernst’s 2nd annual Roast and Ride this weekend, where Donald Trump headlined with an immigration-heavy speech. What stood out to me, however, was Ernst herself and how she gives off a sort of effortless charm at these events. She really has an unmatched charisma that no other Iowa politician can claim. Democrats in Iowa like to tell themselves that Ernst is a nutty, unserious extremist who will be a welcome target for defeat in 2020. They should spend some time around her. They’d find a much more complex and compelling politician than the […]