Opinion | Iowa Democrats need to step up in elections

While the GOP fell short in most of the country, Iowa was an exception.


Grace Smith

Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, Christina Bohannan, speaks during a watch party on Election Day at Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Evan Weidl, Opinions Columnist

The anticipated red-wave in this year’s midterm elections didn’t hit much of the country. But Iowa drowned in it.

Republicans completely dominated in Iowa’s elections, but the success they expected to have across the nation never arrived. Democrats retained control of the Senate and suffered fewer losses in the House of Representatives than expected.

Iowa Democrats must nominate candidates with more name recognition and working-class appeal in 2024.

Young people carried the Democrats to victory this year with the second highest turnout of people ages 19-27  from any midterm election, according to CNN.

CNN reported Democrats were the minority in each age group above the age of 45 years old by at least seven points but won the majority votes of people under 45 years old by 13 points. Without the efforts of young people, there is no doubt the Democrats would have been destroyed this year.

But Iowa was a different story. Republicans cruised to victory on all fronts. The GOP party retained the trifecta in the state, gained one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and reelected Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Iowa’s disdain for President Joe Biden fueled the Republican victories in the state. A whopping 61 percent of Iowans disapprove of Biden, according to The Des Moines RegisterAlmost three quarters of Iowans believe the country is not headed in the right direction.

One of the most prominent issues to hit the U.S. this year was inflation. Over 30 percent of voters said inflation was their top issue, and eight in 10 people said they experienced hardships due to inflation, reported CNN.

In Iowa, inflation is up over 5 percent from one year ago, according to U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

Among Democrats in Iowa, only 36 percent compared to 84 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Independent voters see inflation as a critical issue, according to The Des Moines Register.

The Democratic nominee for governor Deidre DeJear for governor did not have experience in office before running for governor. The lack of name recognition certainly put her at a disadvantage, especially when put up against a well-known incumbent.

Rep. Ashley Hinson is a prime example of the advantage of name recognition. Before she won election to Congress, she was a TV news reporter in Cedar Rapids. Her consistent appearances on the television gave her an upper hand when voters saw her name on the ballot.

Iowa Democrats should look to Pennsylvanian Senator-elect John Fetterman as a successful balance of experience and working-class appeal.

Known for sporting his signature look of shorts and a hoodie as opposed to a suit and tie, Fetterman became widely known across the country for his unconventional image.

While his persona may have been an outlier for a Senate candidate, his experience was not. He was the mayor of a small working class town and then lieutenant governor. The combination of these factors propelled him to an election victory in a blue collar swing state.

While Democrats had an impressive performance across the country, there is much work to be done in states like Iowa.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.