It has been more than 60 years since the last time Republicans held all U.S. House and Senate seats in the Hawkeye State
The 2016 cycle was a banner year for the Republican Party in Iowa – seeing its presidential nominee win the state for just the second time since 1988, taking back control of the state senate for the first time in more than a decade, padding their double-digit seat advantage in the state house, and holding on to two vulnerable U.S. House seats in the 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts.
As a result, the Iowa GOP may be a little more optimistic than warranted heading into the 2018 midterms, but the party is not taking its foot off the pedal.
Three-term State Representative Bobby Kaufmann is currently eyeing a 2018 challenge against the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation – Dave Loebsack of the 2nd CD.
Loebsack won his sixth term last November by 7.5 points in a district Donald Trump carried by 4.1 points.
Iowa Democrats are crossing their fingers that an unpopular president come November 2018 will help the party hold the 2nd CD and buoy their nominees to successful runs in the 1st and 3rd CDs against two-term Congressmen Rod Blum and David Young respectively.
Meanwhile, the GOP is hoping that the momentum gained by the party in 2014 (picking up a long-held Democratic U.S. Senate seat) and 2016 could be the spark they need to finally unseat Rep. Loebsack and give them a lock on all six seats on Capitol Hill for the 116th Congress.
If Iowa Republicans are successful, it’ll be a feat not seen in the state for over 60 years.
The last time the GOP held every seat from Iowa in both legislative chambers was during the 84th Congress after the Election of 1954.
Republicans had won every U.S. House seat for the previous six cycles dating back to 1942 and swept all eight seats during the ’54 midterms.
In 1954, the lone Iowa Democrat in D.C. – Senator Guy Gillette – was defeated in his reelection bid by nine-term Congressman Thomas Martin to give the GOP control of all 10 seats.
The Republican stranglehold lasted for only one cycle, however, as minister Merwin Coad ousted six-term Congressman James Dolliver from his 6th CD seat two years later in 1956.
Iowa Democrats have held at least one U.S. House seat ever since with the exception of the 104th Congress after the 1994 Republican Revolution. The Iowa GOP held its four seats that cycle and picked-off 18-term Democrat Neal Smith in the 4th CD. Senator Tom Harkin was in the middle of his second term and not on the ballot that cycle, so Democrats still maintained a presence in the state’s D.C. delegation for the next two years.
Overall, Republicans have held all U.S. House and Senate seats for the entirety of 21 Congresses since statehood:
- 1859-1875: 36th through 43rd Congresses
- 1877-1879: 45th Congress
- 1895-1903: 54th through 57th Congresses
- 1905-1907: 59th Congress
- 1917-1925: 65th through 68th Congresses
- 1945-1949: 79th through 80th Congresses
- 1955-1957: 84th Congress
Republicans also held all congressional seats at the convening of the 47th Congress in 1881 and the 69th Congress in 1925 but eventually lost one seat in each due to election contests.
Republicans lost the 6th CD on the last day of the 47th Congress when Democrat John Cook successfully contested the election of Marsena Cutts and served for one day on March 3, 1883.
During the 69th Congress, Democrat Daniel Steck successfully contested Iowa’s 1924 U.S. Senate election against Smith Brookhart and took his seat in mid-April 1926.
Democrats, meanwhile, have only controlled every U.S. House and Senate seat in the state twice, during the 30th (1847-1849) and 32nd (1851-1853) Congresses.
[During the 29th Congress, Democrats held both U.S. House seats but the state legislature failed to elect U.S. Senators to the chamber so both seats remained vacant].
Overall, Republicans have been victorious in 81.3 percent of general and special U.S. House elections in Iowa since the party first appeared on the ballot in 1854 – winning 534 of 657 contests.
Democrats have won a majority of U.S. House races in the state just 10 times since the Civil War: during the Elections of 1890 (6-5), 1932 (6-3), 1934 (6-3), 1936 (5-4), 1964 (6-1), 1974 (5-1), 1976 (4-2), 2006 (3-2), 2008 (3-2), and 2010 (3-2).
Despite the momentum currently enjoyed by Republicans in Iowa, Democrats are likely to still control at least two statewide offices after the 2018 cycle, provided two long-serving politicians run for reelection.
Michael Fitzgerald has been elected to nine consecutive terms as treasurer of the Hawkeye State dating back to the 1982 midterms, making him the longest-serving state treasurer in the nation.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Tom Miller has served nine terms since 1978 – interrupted only by a failed bid for his party’s gubernatorial nomination in 1990.
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