Research Associate Matthew Klein contributed to this report.
After a dismal 2022, Iowa Democrats find themselves totally shut out of federal office for the first time since 1954. Part of their problem is redistricting: although state law tasks nonpartisan civil servants at Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency with drafting maps, the legislature may accept or reject their plans. In 2021, Republican legislators rejected an initial proposal that would have created Democratic-leaning seats in Des Moines and eastern Iowa and ultimately approved a second plan that kept the state’s four major Democratic vote troves — Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Ames — separated in four different congressional districts.
Although two-term Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne came close to keeping the Des Moines-based 3rd District, Republican Zach Nunn defeated her 50.3%-49.6%. Democrats fell much further short in the eastern 1st and 2nd districts despite waging multi-million dollar campaigns against GOP Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson. Democrats are likely to focus most of their energy on the 3rd District in 2024, though Axne just took a new appointment at the Department of
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