Democrats are not planning to wage a serious war over Iowa in this year’s general election and are effectively conceding it to President Trump, Politico reported Monday.
“Whoever Wins Iowa, They Won’t Be Back,” Politico declared in a headline on the day of the Democrat caucuses in Iowa. While all eyes have been on Iowa in recent months, the Hawkeye State may not receive the same kind of attention after the Democrat Party selects its nominee and gears up for the general election matchup.
Iowa has carried its status as a “quintessential general-election battleground” state, but Politico asserts it “won’t be the case this year,” citing Democrats who no longer consider it a true battleground and are, therefore, conceding it to President Trump.
As Politico reported:
Few states received more time and attention from Barack Obama during his White House campaigns than Iowa. Part of that was due to its pride of place in his political ascent; Iowa, after all, was the state that vaulted him from longshot to Clinton slayer. But there was also as widespread view back then that Iowa was up for grabs in November. Now, less than five years removed from his presidency, Democrats talk openly about not contesting the state at all.
“The trends here are much more red than purple. I could see that swinging back at some point, but probably not with Trump on the ballot,” says Ben Foecke, who served as executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party four years ago. “It became clear to us in 2016 that this was the path we were heading down, at least in the short term, so I’m not surprised when I hear these conversations or read these memos explaining that Iowa isn’t really a swing state in 2020.”
Indeed, Iowa remained a Democrat stronghold for over a decade, going to the Democrat presidential candidate in 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000. Former President George W. Bush managed to squeak out a narrow victory in 2004 by less than a full percentage point, but the Hawkeye State ultimately went with former President Barak Obama in both 2008 and 2012. President Trump, however, managed to defeat his Democrat challenger, Hillary Clinton, in Iowa in 2016, winning by nearly ten percentage points.
According to Politico, Democrats are not planning on putting up a fight this year, largely due to the GOP’s strength among rural voters:
Moreover, there’s recent history to consider: Democrats flipped two Republican-held congressional seats in the 2018 midterms, giving the party control of three of the state’s four districts, and also won a number of bellwether legislative races in the suburban areas around Des Moines. These victories, on top of ousting the Republican state auditor, gave some Democrats confidence of being able to compete statewide with Trump’s apparatus in 2020.
And yet, embedded in those 2018 results were trendlines that demonstrate just how distinct Trump’s advantage in Iowa has become. Despite overall midterm turnout spiking by some 180,000 votes compared to 2014, Republicans were able to hold both chambers of the legislature and several statewide offices, including the governorship, all while growing their advantage in active party registration. The reason: Even in a terrible environment for the GOP, driven by suburbanites fleeing the party, Republicans performed even better in rural areas than they did in the 2014 cycle, one of the best in modern history for the party.
However, some Democrats, such as former Iowa Democrat staffer Pat Rynard, believe Democrats should use Iowa as a “training exercise” to better court voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — three states Trump secured in 2016.
“Competing in Iowa, if nothing else, should be a great training exercise for Democrats to win in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. If you can win over some of the swing voters here, you can win them over there,” he said, according to Politico.
“So even if the Democratic nominee doesn’t come back to Iowa in the fall, they’ve at least learned some key lessons here that will help them win those other states—and hopefully, the Electoral College,” he added.
The current RealClearPolitics averages show Trump defeating Joe Biden (D), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the Hawkeye State.