Government

Iowa's incumbent congresswomen lead races, Republicans ahead in open-seat contests

Rep. Abby Finkenauer is interviewed by journalists after meeting with Cedar Rapids city officials for an update on the c
Rep. Abby Finkenauer is interviewed by journalists after meeting with Cedar Rapids city officials for an update on the city’s flood control project on the east side of the 16th Avenue bridge on Thursday, July 16, 2020. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowa’s freshman congresswomen are leading their races for reelection while Republicans are ahead in open-seat races in the other two Iowa United States House districts.

First District Rep. Abby Finkenauer has a 10-point lead over Republican challenger, state Rep. Ashley Hinson, in poll results released this morning by the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. The race stands at 51 percent for Finkenauer to 41 percent for Hinson among all registered voters, with 8 percent undecided.

In the 3rd, where Rep. Cindy Axne is in a rematch with former Rep. David Young, the Democrat is leading 48 percent to 42 percent — a wider margin that she won by two years ago.

“At the current stage of the race, voters seem willing to give both Democratic incumbents a second term,” said Patrick Murray, director of the institute.

The tightest battle appears to be Iowa’s 2nd District, where 14-year incumbent Democrat Rep. Dave Loebsack is retiring. The 2nd was the only congressional seat Democrats held in the run-up to 2018. There, Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is leading Democrat Rita Hart 47 percent to 44 percent, which is within the margin of error, with 8 percent undecided, according to Monmouth.

“It looks like Republicans can breathe a sigh of relief in the 4th District with Steve King out of the picture,” Murray said. State Sen. Randy Feenstra, who defeated King in the June primary, is leading second-time Democratic nominee J.D. Scholten 54 percent to 34 percent.

In the 1st, Finkenauer has an 18 point edge — 57 percent to 39 percent — in the Black Hawk, Dubuque, Linn and Winneshiek counties, which she won in 2018. The race is virtually tied — 43 percent Hinson and 42 percent Finkenauer — in the remaining 16 counties, which former GOP Rep. Rod Blum won by 9 points combined two years ago. Men favor Hinson over Finkenauer 46 percent to 44 percent. Women favor the incumbent 58 percent to 34 percent.

Miller-Meeks is running for a fourth time after losing to Loebsack in 2008 by 18 points, but coming within 5 points of defeating him 2010 and 2014. She has a commanding 34 point lead — 61 percent to 27 percent — in the counties that Loebsack lost by a combined 14 points. Hart, a former state senator, has an 8 point edge — 50 percent to 42 percent — in the nine counties that Loebsack won by 23 points in 2018, including Johnson and Scott.

Men overwhelmingly back Miller-Meeks by 60 percent to 33 percent, while women prefer Hart by a 55 percent to 33 percent margin.

In a rematch of the 2018 contest that saw this district flip from Republican to Democrat, Axne has a small 48 percent to 42 percent lead over Young among registered voters. Axne has a 21 point lead in populous Polk County, which she won by 16 points in 2018. Young has a 14 point lead in the remainder of the district, which he won by 17 points two years ago. Men back Young by 49 percent to 41 percent for Axne, but women prefer the incumbent by a larger 57 percent to 34 percent margin.

The outlook for the 4th District race changed dramatically when longtime Rep. King lost the Republican primary to Feenstra. Scholten is hoping to improve on his narrow 3-point loss to King in 2018, however, the current poll results suggest otherwise. Feenstra has a commanding 54 percent to 34 percent lead over Scholten among registered voters, with 8 percent undecided.

Feenstra has amassed a 40 point advantage — 64 percent to 24 percent — in the remaining counties that King won by 17 points as a group two years ago. Scholten has a 7 point lead — 48 percent to 41 percent — in the six counties he won by 17 points in 2018, including Woodbury.

Feenstra leads among both men — 63 percent to 26 percent — and women — 47 percent to 42 percent.

The Monmouth University Poll of 1,665 Iowa registered voters was conducted by telephone and online from July 25 to Aug. 3. The margin of error ranges from 4.9 percent to 5.1 percent depending on the congressional district.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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