Legislative Lowdown: Identifying competitive Iowa elections in 2014

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March 27, 2014

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2014 Iowa Legislative Lowdown

Table of Contents
Majority control
Margin of victory
Competitiveness

Other 2014 Election coverage
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By Ballotpedia's State legislative team

Both chambers in the Iowa State Legislature feature a small gap in partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans; two in the Senate and six in the House. Additionally, a large number of districts held competitive or mildly competitive elections in 2012. Three House districts are notable in that they will feature just one major party candidate in the general election after holding 2012 elections with a margin of victory less than 5 percent. In House District 80, incumbent Larry Sheets (R) is the only candidate filed to run after winning by a margin of victory of 0.8 percent in 2012.

March 14 was the signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for Iowa State Senate and Iowa House of Representatives. Elections in 25 Senate districts and all 100 House districts will consist of a primary election on June 3, 2014, and a general election on November 4, 2014.

See also: 2014's state legislative elections; Iowa State Senate elections and Iowa House of Representatives elections

Majority control

Heading into the November 4 election, the Democratic Party holds the majority in the Senate while the Republican Party holds the majority in the House, making the state one of 14 with a divided government. Iowa's office of Governor is held by Terry Branstad (R).

BattlegroundRace.jpg
The Iowa State Senate and Iowa House of Representatives are each one of 20 state legislative chambers noted by Ballotpedia staff as being a battleground chamber. The Iowa Senate has a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republican of two seats, which amounts to 8 percent of the chamber. In 2012, when 26 seats were up for election, a total of 12 districts were competitive or mildly competitive. One of those districts, District 49, is up for election again in 2014. That district had a margin of victory of 9 percent in 2012.
Iowa State Senate
Party As of September 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 26 Pending
     Republican Party 24 Pending
Total 50 50
BattlegroundRace.jpg
The Iowa House has a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republican of six seats, which amounts to 6 percent of the chamber. In 2012, a total of 27 districts were competitive or mildly competitive. There were 18 districts where the margin of victory was 5 percent or less in the 2012 elections. Another nine districts had a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.


Iowa House of Representatives
Party As of September 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 47 Pending
     Republican Party 53 Pending
Total 100 100
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Margin of victory

Senate

All 25 even-numbered seats in the Senate were up for election in 2012. District 49 was also up for election. Four of those districts held competitive elections with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Another eight districts held mildly competitive elections with a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent. There were four districts where only one major party candidate appeared on the general election ballot. District 49 is the only district up for election again in 2014.[1]

Mildly competitive

  • District 49: Incumbent Rita Hart (D) will face off against challenger Brian Schmidt (R) in the general election. Hart won election to the chamber in 2012 after winning by a margin of victory of 9 percent.

House

All 100 seats in the House were up for election in 2012. Fifteen of those seats held competitive elections in 2012 with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Two other elections were mildly competitive, with a margin of victory of 5 to 10 percent. There were 25 districts where only one major party candidate appeared on the general election ballot.[2]

The districts with elections in 2014 which held competitive or mildly competitive elections in 2012 are:

Competitive

Mildly competitive

Previously Competitive, Now Unopposed
One district that held a competitive election in 2012 has only one major party candidate in 2014.

  • District 39: Incumbent Jake Highfill (R) is opposed in the Republican primary by challengers Taylor Egly and Jerry Kinder. No Democratic candidate filed to run. Highfill won by a margin of victory of 4 percent in 2012.
  • District 56: Incumbent Patti Ruff (D) is the only candidate filed to run. Ruff won by a margin of victory of 2 percent in 2012.
  • District 80: Incumbent Larry Sheets (R) is the only candidate filed to run. Sheets won by a margin of victory of 0.8 percent in 2012.

Competitiveness

Using the official candidate lists from each state, Ballotpedia staff analyzes each district's election to look at the following circumstances:

  • Is the incumbent running for re-election?
  • If an incumbent is running, do they face a primary challenger?
  • Are both major parties represented on the general election ballot?

In Iowa's 2014 elections, those circumstances break down as follows:

  • There are 15 open seats (12.0%) in the two chambers.
  • A total of 10 incumbents (9.1%) face a primary challenger.
  • Just 53 districts (42.4%) will feature a Democratic and Republican candidate on the general election ballot.

The following table puts the 2014 data into historical context. Overall index is calculated as the average of the three circumstances.

Comparing Iowa Competitiveness over the Years
Year  % Incs retiring  % incs rank  % Incs facing primary  % Incs primary rank  % seats with 2 MPC  % seats with 2 MPC rank Overall Index Overall Index Rank
2010 13.6% 22 16.2% 33 68.3% 21 36.9 29
2012 26.2% 14 7.4% 39 67.2% 22 33.6 23
2014 12.0% Pending 9.1% Pending 42.4% Pending 21.2 Pending

Senate

The following table details competitiveness in the Iowa State Senate.

Iowa Senate Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
20.0% 20.0% 44.0% 28

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 14 of the 25 districts up for election in 2014, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of eight Democrats and six Republicans are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.[3]

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 11 of the 25 districts up for election.

Primary challenges

A total of four incumbents will face primary competition on June 3. Five incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 16 incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition.[3] The state senators facing primary competition are:

Retiring incumbents

Five incumbent senators are not running for re-election, while 20 (80.0%) are running for re-election.[3] Incumbents not running for re-election, two Democrats and three Republicans, include:

Name Party Current Office
Nancy Boettger Ends.png Republican Senate District 9
Hubert Houser Ends.png Republican Senate District 11
Dennis Black Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 15
Jack Hatch Electiondot.png Democratic Senate District 17
Sandra Greiner Ends.png Republican Senate District 39

House

The following table details competitiveness in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Iowa House Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
10.0% 6.7% 42.0% 19.6

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 58 of the 100 districts up for election in 2014, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of 31 Democrats and 27 Republicans are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.[3]

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 42 of the 100 districts up for election. Fifteen of those seats held competitive elections in 2012 with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Two other elections were mildly competitive, with a margin of victory of 5 to 10 percent.

Primary challenges

A total of six incumbents will face primary competition on March 18. Ten incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 84 incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition.[3] The state representatives facing primary competition are:

  • District 25: Incumbent Stan Gustafson (R) is opposed in the Republican primary by challenger Joan Acela. No Democratic candidate filed to run.
  • District 28: Incumbent Greg T. Heartsill (R) is opposed in the Republican primary by Jon Michael Van Wyk. Megan Suhr (D) will face the Republican nominee in the general election.
  • District 39: Incumbent Jake Highfill (R) is opposed in the Republican primary by challengers Taylor Egly and Jerry Kinder. No Democratic candidate filed to run.
  • District 60: Incumbent Walt Rogers (R) is opposed in the Republican primary by Jason Welch. Karyn Finn (D) will face the Republican nominee in the general election.
  • District 84: Incumbent Dave Heaton (R) is opposed in the Republican primary by challenger Ralph Holmstrom. No Democratic candidate filed to run.
  • District 85: Incumbent Vicki Lensing (D) is opposed in the Democratic primary by challenger Ron Varner. No Republican candidate filed to run.

Retiring incumbents

There are 10 incumbent representatives who are not running for re-election, while 90 (90.0%) are running for re-election.[3] The following table lists all incumbents, four Democrats and six Republicans, who are not running for re-election.

Name Party Current Office
Jeff Smith Ends.png Republican House District 1
Tom W. Shaw Ends.png Republican House District 10
Mark A. Brandenburg Ends.png Republican House District 15
Jason Schultz Ends.png Republican House District 18
Roger Thomas Electiondot.png Democratic House District 55
Anesa Kajtazovic Electiondot.png Democratic House District 61
Tyler Olson Electiondot.png Democratic House District 65
Mark S. Lofgren Ends.png Republican House District 91
Steven Olson Ends.png Republican House District 97
Patrick Murphy Electiondot.png Democratic House District 99

See also

External links

References