United States House Elections Primer: Iowa


Over the next month, as we prepare for the 2020 elections, Yesh Ginsburg and Steen Kirby will give a general overview of all 435 United States House of Representatives races. This is a basic overview to introduce you to the major candidates. All Partisan Lean numbers are taken from the Cook Partisan Voting Index. We will update this page as the races progress if anything noteworthy arises.

Iowa has four Congressional Districts, three of which will likely be very competitive in November. The fourth district also could have been competitive, but Iowa voters chose not to re-nominate controversial (to put it politely) Congressman Steve King in the primaries.

Iowa’s 1st Congressional District

Incumbent: Abby Finkenauer (Democratic, first term)

Partisan Lean: D+1

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Abby Finkenauer (D) 169,496 50.9
Rod Blum (R) 153,077 45.97
Troy Hageman (L) 10,239 3.08

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Rod Blum (R) 206,907 53.74
Monica Vernon (D) 177,403 46.08

Republican Candidate:

Ashley Hinson (campaign website)

Hinson is a relatively conservative Republican looking to flip back this swing district. She is focusing on lowering taxes and healthcare costs, while also taking a tough on China foreign policy stance. She is also proposing local, conservative solutions to renewable energy issues.

Democratic Candidate:

Abby Finkenauer (campaign website)

Finkenauer flipped this district two years ago, and both parties are working hard to win this race in 2020. Finkenauer is a moderate Democrat who is focusing on local issues with moderate liberal solutions to issues like healthcare, energy, and the economy.

Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District

Incumbent: Dave Loebsack (Democratic, seventh term)

Partisan Lean: D+1

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Dave Loebsack (D) 171,120 54.78
Christopher Peters (R) 133,051 42.6
Mark Strauss (L) 6,176 1.98
Daniel Clark (I) 1,839 .59

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Dave Loebsack (D) 198,571 53.66
Christopher Peters (R) 170,933 46.19

Republican Candidate:

Mariannette Miller-Meeks (campaign website)

Miller-Meeks is a State Senator who tried for this seat twice in the past decade, both times coming within 5% of unseating Loebsack. With Loebsack retiring this year, though, she has to feel like she finally has a chance to win. Miller-Meeks is a conservative Republican, arguing against left-wing positions and proposing general conservative solutions to a plethora of issues.

Democratic Candidate:

Rita Hart (campaign website)

Hart is a State Senator and moderate Democrat who talks of her experience and background as a farmer, as well as someone who can work on a bipartisan basis with generally moderate ideas. Democrats have held this seat since Loebsack first won it in 2006, but both parties are spending, and expect this race–like much of Iowa–to become a battleground.

Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District

Incumbent: Cindy Axne (Democratic, first term)

Partisan Lean: R+1

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Cindy Axne (D) 169,888 49
David Young (R) 164,667 47.49
Bryan Holder (L) 7,005 2.02

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
David Young (R) 208,598 53.45
Jim Mowrer (D) 155,002 39.71
Bryan Holder (L) 15,372 3.94

Republican Candidate:

David Young (campaign website)

Young is an interesting candidate, trying to win back the seat he relinquished in 2018. He is very conservative on some issues–like taxation and energy–while he is incredibly moderate, and could possibly even be described as somewhat liberal, on issues like student debt and immigration. He has a war chest left from earlier elections, and if the campaign so far is any indication, Young is very willing to spend it to win this seat back.

Democratic Candidate:

Cindy Axne (campaign website)

Axne is a liberal Democrat who flipped this seat from Young two years ago. She supports a Pete Buttigieg-style “Medicare for all who want it” healthcare plan, is pursuing climate change related legislation, and wants to fight dark money in Washington.

Iowa’s 4th Congressional District

Incumbent: Steve King (Republican, ninth term)

Partisan Lean: R+11

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Steve King (R) 157,275 50.33
J.D. Scholten (D) 146,737 46.96
Charles Aldrich (L) 6,315 2.02
Edward Peterson (I) 1,940 .62

2016 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Steve King (R) 226,719 61.23
Kim Weaver (D) 142,993 38.62

Republican Candidate:

Randy Feenstra (campaign website)

Feenstra unseated King after King had his committee assignments stripped by Republican leadership. Feenstra is a conservative Republican running to keep this seat in conservative hands after King became weaker due to his comments over the years.

Democratic Candidate:

J.D. Scholten (campaign website)

Scholten is a very moderate Democrat (he could even be called conservative on some issues) who came within 5% of flipping this district away from King two years ago. He definitely would have had a chance again with King as the nominee, but this seat is probably safe for Republicans with Feenstra on the ballot.


Democrats currently control three of these four seats. The Republicans should hold their one, but the other three will all be battles to watch in November.

Interested in the rest of our primers for other House races? We have them all listed on our primer home page.


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