Democrats look to leverage voter engagement for midterm elections

Bohannan and Mathis who face off against Republican incumbents are looking at an uphill battle to the ballot box.


Gabby Drees

Reporters interview Democratic candidates Liz Mathis and Christina Bohannan at a fundraising event at the Sutliff Farm & Cider House in Lisbon, Iowa. Mathis is pursuing a seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House while Bohannan is pursuing a seat in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House. Bohannan and Mathis spoke about polarization in politics, education, abortion rights, and healthcare at the event.

Liam Halawith, Politics Reporter

Iowa Democrats are looking to get voters to shore up a “blue wave” this midterm season. 

Democrats state Rep. Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City and state Sen. Liz Mathis, D- Hiawatha, are campaigning to claim two republican held congressional seats in the midterms, by mobilizing democratic voters. 

Mathis and Bohannan co-hosted a fundraiser and campaign event on Saturday at the Sutliff Farm and Cider House in Lisbon, on the border between the 1st and 2nd Districts.

Bohannan is running against Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Republican incumbent, in Iowa’s newly redrawn 1st Congressional District which covers southeastern Iowa including Iowa City and the Quad Cities. 

Mathis is facing Rep. Ashley Hinson, the Republican incumbent, in Iowa’s newly drawn 2nd Congressional District, which covers North Eastern Iowa including Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Waterloo, and Cedar Falls. 

Democrats are planning to use their lead in active registered voters to leverage a win over the republican incumbents. In the 1st District, according to voter registration numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State office, Democrats lead by 2,719  active registered voters. In the 2nd District Democrats lead by 805 active registered voters. 

Mathis said to the fundraiser attendees she realizes how important it is to get out the vote this November for Democrats. 

“We’ve gotta get out the vote,” Mathis said.“That’s what stands between Christina and me and victory. It’s the vote. We got to get the ball through the hope we gotta get the ball across the goal. That’s what we’ve got to do,” Mathis said. 

Mathis and Bohannan are looking to take a grassroots, “boots on the ground” approach to getting out the vote. 

“I am making every effort to get out and talk to people all throughout the district in Rural, Urban, small towns, larger cities,” Bohannan said in an interview with The Daily Iowan “I think it’s really important that we do that, these issues are all interconnected.” 

Mathis said she is looking to engage her rural voters having come from rural Clinton county herself. 

“I grew up in a small town in rural Iowa and so it’s really those who live in small towns in rural Iowa. It’s really about those who live in small communities,” Mathis said. 

Democrats’ uphill battle to claim two of Iowa’s House seats

Bohannan and Mathis’ races are both predicted to stay in incumbent hands as of Sept. 3, according to ballotpedia, with three major election forecasters saying Iowa’s first and second congressional districts are likely Republican. 

However, Democrats are banking on increasing voter turnout, even after the Iowa Republicans election omnibus bill passed in 2021 that shortens early voting periods, absentee ballot periods, and adds criminal penalties for election officials. 

RELATED: Iowa election officials navigating new GOP election law ahead of midterms

Bohannan said this election cycle could determine the “future of this nation,” with Politico predicting the U.S. House and Senate going under republican control after the midterms. 

“Our country is on the line in 2022. The future of this nation is going to depend on who holds the House of Representatives and the United States Senate and that is going to come down to a handful of swing district’s around the country,” Bohannan said.  

The odds don’t phase Mathis. She said that after her election to the Iowa Senate in a purple or swing district she’s confident she can win over voters. 

“We know that we can take what we learned in this purple district that I’m in as an Iowa State Senator and scale it up. That means talking and messaging to people about the things they want to hear solutions for, like the economy and inflation, reproductive rights, Medicare and Social Security,” Mathis said to supporters. 

Bohannan is confident in her district as well, because her incumbent opponent  only won by six votes in 2020

The district was seated by longtime incumbent Dave Loebsack from Mt. Pleasant  who decided to retire at the end of his last term. Miller-Meeks had run against Loebsack three times before and lost to the widely popular centrist incumbent. 

“I’m running against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks who won by six votes, so we can absolutely win this seat back and we are going to win this seat back,” Bohannan said. 

“Put an end to the culture wars”

Bohannan joined many other Democrats at the event in calling for an end to extremism, calling for compromise and unity. 

“As I’ve been talking to a lot of people, Democrats, Independents, Republicans, a lot of us agree on the things that we need to do. The problem is that extreme politics are getting in our way,” Bohannan said. “I’ve always thought that debate and that compromise make us better and stronger as a country. But what we have right now is not debate and compromise. It’s extremism and chaos.” 

President Joe Biden addressed far-right extremism in a primetime address Wednesday

“Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very republic,” Biden said.“Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: either they win or they were cheated.

Bohannan also called for unity at the event and vowed to listen to Iowans and their needs. 

“It is time for Democrats, Independents and Republicans– yes and Republicans – to come together and end this kind of political division and extremism that plagues our country,” Bohannan said.