The meltdown of 2020 leaves Iowa Democrats on the edge of a precipice

The strikes started early, with the caucuses, and are still going up a month after the election. Earlier this week, state officials validated Republican Marianette Miller Mix’s victory with six votes over Democrat Rita Hart in the state’s second congressional district – making it one of two seats in the House that has tipped over to Republican control this year. If that result is too narrow Withstands a challenge from HartIn the House of Representatives, only one of the four seats in the House of Representatives will be left in the state of Iowa.

This is in addition to Trump’s victory over Joe Biden in the state, the failure of the Democrats to remove Republican Senator Johnny Ernst, and the Republican expansion. The majority of them are in the Legislative Council. This month, the party Expected to issue an audit From the caucus failures, just as Democrats began looking to the half-term and presidential nomination calendar for 2024.

If the Iowa Democrats had had a tough squad or lost the ballot, it might not have been that bad. The party performed poorly in legislative and congressional races everywhere. But Iowa, because of its coveted place ahead of all other states in the presidential nomination process, has been at stake more than any other state. Expectations in Iowa were unusually high after Democrats flipped two seats in the House in 2018 and Democratic voter registration soared ahead of caucuses, briefly surpassing Republicans for the first time in years. Biden looked competitive enough there early this summer that Trump was defensive Ads in the country.

It was easier to forget about the caucuses – implementation failed, results were delayed and initial reports seemed to contain errors – The Democrats had either fired Ernst or made Biden Iowa blue.

Instead, Biden lost the state by more than 8 percentage points, with Trump carrying all but six of the state’s 99 counties – just as he did in 2016. Ernst beat Teresa Greenfield by nearly 7 percentage points, losing Democrat Representative Abby Finkenauer. In a bid for a second term, Representative Cindy Axon, the only successful Democratic candidate, barely grabbed her seat.

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“I’m tired of being a Democrat,” said Chris Adcock, chair of the Democratic Party in Page County in southwest Iowa. “It’s just stressful.”

Adcock, who unsuccessfully ran for a legislative seat, said she has “eternal hope.” But “six [votes] Miller Mix? Oh, that’s tough. Then Abby [Finkenauer] Losing? Oh, my God, it’s heartbreaking. “

Not even the Republicans believed their good luck. I never expected – never expected – never expected that we’d spend the night we spent, ‘said Jeff Kaufman, president of the Iowa Republican Party.

Democrats blamed their failures in Iowa on a similar convergence of factors that had dragged them down in other states that Trump had won. The President beat Biden in the rural areas, where the Republican turnout exceeded expectations – and where the Democrats failed to deliver. Democrats have faced obstacles due to their lack of knocking on doors amid the coronavirus pandemic and ineffective messages about the economy.

The coronavirus toll and the impact of Trump’s trade policies on Iowa agricultural economy have not hurt Republicans as much as Democrats had hoped. Polls show Biden not only lost the rural vote in Iowa, But also in the suburbs. Because Iowa has never been a primary swing state, Biden did not campaign extensively there.

“Our campaign with Biden was as if we were playing a football match without the midfielder,” said Dave Nagle, a former congressman and Democratic Party president in Iowa. “We were running without air cover, we were running a bad campaign in the Senate … It was the perfect storm for the kind of catastrophe we’ve been through.”

The Democrats might have expected it. Even before the caucus disaster, there were indications that everything was not going well in Iowa. Trump’s dismissal of three of the top five presidential candidates has been withdrawn from the state in the run-up to the caucuses. The highly anticipated Des Moines Register / CNN / Mediacom poll was canceled at the last minute due to a survey error. Once Biden won the nomination – thanks to the subsequent vote in South Carolina and Super Tuesday – his poor fourth place in Iowa made the state appear less important than ever and highlighted its lack of diversity.

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The road back to the connection will be arduous, with profound ramifications for a national party seeking to regain a permanent foothold in the Midwest. After the election, Mark Smith, the state’s current party head – who stepped in after his predecessor, Troy Price, resigned after the caucuses – He declared that he would not seek re-election. Although a handful of Democrats have already indicated their intention to run for the position, some of the state’s most prominent Democrats, including JD Scholten and Deidre DeJear, were recruited for the position but told their colleagues that they would not run – something confirmed all From Scholten and DeJear.

It is an unwanted job. Few Democrats expect the state’s fortunes to improve in the midterm elections, when the president’s party has traditionally faced headwinds. As in other countries, the party is torn apart by internal strife – what a prominent Democrat has called “the psychiatric wing at present in terms of the battle between progressives … and moderates.”

The audit report that the party plans to release at caucuses is unlikely to help tear open old wounds – and provide a new platform for critics of Iowa’s prominent role from outside the state. The report is expected to place a broad network of blame for the collapse of the vote count, according to many Democrats, which could lead to an escalation of tension between Democrats in Iowa and Democratic National Committee officials who fought over caucuses earlier this year.

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William Owen, a member of the Democratic National Council from Tennessee, said this week that Democrats in Iowa “have discredited them and they should not be taken seriously,” calling on the party to move from a party system to a statute.

“I imagine it will generate a wave of bad stories about the caucuses,” said Jeff Link, a Democratic strategist in Iowa. “Iowa is not in a great place.”

It is possible that if Biden seeks re-election in 2024, the potential lack of competitive primaries will reduce pressure on Democrats for re-election. Calendar. Additionally, the expected departure of DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who has been fiercely critical of caucuses, is seen by Democrats in Iowa as an opportunity to keep them in some way.

“Do I think we’ll continue,” said Kaufman, a Democrat ally in the party’s effort to keep state caucuses [the caucuses]? yes I do. Do I think it will be a bigger battle than I had hoped? yes I do.”

Kaufman said he still considers Iowa a swing state – an important political center for both parties. But for the Democrats, making this argument is more difficult than it was a month ago.

“It’s always darker before dawn,” former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a former Obama secretary of agriculture, said in an email. DeJear said she saw more groups of Democrats in the state “come together” after the election than ever before – with a “huge mission ahead,” but said it was “very possible to accomplish”.

Scott Brennan, a DNC member and former head of the state party, said that while the November results were “disappointing here,” they were similar to “many places nationwide where we thought we’d get all of these seats, and none of them were true.” “.

However, Brennan said: “The year 2020 is forgettable for many reasons. Policy has not made it better.”

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