The hits started early, with the caucuses, and are still coming a month after the election. Earlier this week, state officials certified Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ six-vote victory over Democrat Rita Hart in the state’s open 2nd Congressional District — making it one of two House seats that flipped to GOP control this year. If that excruciatingly narrow result withstands a challenge from Hart, it will leave Democrats with just one of Iowa’s four House seats.
That’s on top of Trump trouncing Joe Biden in the state, Democrats failing to dislodge GOP Sen. Joni Ernst and Republicans expanding their majority in the legislature. This month, the party is expected to release an audit of the caucus fiasco, just as Democrats begin to look ahead to the midterms and the presidential nominating calendar for 2024.
If it was only that Democrats in Iowa had a difficult caucus or suffered down-ballot losses, it might not have been so bad. The party did poorly in congressional and legislative races everywhere. But Iowa, because of its coveted place ahead of all other states in the presidential nominating process, had more on the line than any other state. And expectations in Iowa were unusually high after Democrats flipped two House seats in 2018 and Democratic voter registration shot up ahead of the caucuses, briefly surpassing Republicans for the first time in years. Biden appeared competitive enough there early this summer that Trump aired defensive ads in the state.