Early next year, Iowans will take to the caucuses, leading the nation out of the blocks in picking the next president of the United States.
The Democrats posted solid results in the November 2018 midterm races. Closer to home, it was good for the Democrats but not great as the Republicans enjoyed Gov. Kim Reynolds being re-elected in Iowa, split six statewide races and continued to widen their margin in the Iowa Senate (and the U.S. Senate). The accomplishments, both domestic and foreign, of President Donald Trump in the period after the midterm election until the ending of the federal government shutdown this month have him positioned well against the rest of the pack for next November.
Domestically, Trump has history, the electoral map based on the 2018 results, and a compelling economic growth story working in favor of his re-election, with Iowa critical not just for going first, but for possibly providing the crucial margin of victory.
The electoral map based on the 2018 elections is also promising for Trump.
Based on those results, Arizona and Iowa go Democratic in 2020, causing Trump to lose by the electoral vote margin from these two states. Since 1952, Arizona has gone Republican all but one time; and never this century. The one time Arizona went for a Democrat, in 1996, it was due to Ross Perot draining nearly 8 percent of the votes from the Republican.Trump won more votes in Arizona in 2016 than any presidential candidate in history, including when native Senators John McCain and Barry Goldwater were on the ticket for The White House. It is tough to imagine Trump losing Arizona in 2020.
That same case can be made for Iowa in 2020 based on the Republican wave of the last decade in the state.
In 2009, two-thirds of the Iowa Senate was Democratic. Now two-thirds of it is Republican. The GOP again increased its margin in 2018. Reynolds won her first full term in office. Of the 43 presidential elections in Iowa, it has been carried by the red party 29 times. In 2016, Trump received more votes in Iowa for president than any Republican in history.
As a state, Iowa is at its crest. US News & World Report picked Iowa as the best state in America to live in 2018. Cited were its top ranking in infrastructure and broadband access, No. 3 for health care, No. 4 for opportunity, No. 5 for education and No. 9 for quality of life. This helps explain why the population of Iowa has increased by nearly 110,000 since 2010.
Under Trump, the economic performance of the United States is also peaking. The stock market is up and energy prices have fallen. The Dow was under 18,000 in November 2016. Now it is close to 25,000. Oil has fallen double digits recently with America becoming a net oil exporter in November 2018 for the first time in 75 years. At 3.7%, unemployment is at its lowest in the United States since 1969 with robust job growth. Trump has been successful in reducing the amount of regulations on businesses imposed by the federal government.
In the short term, the federal government shutdown was certainly no victory for Trump. His base has held firm on the matter of support for him, though. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Ia.), up for re-election in 2020, declared last month that, “They are inadmissible, they are illegal immigrants. And its not just about our southern borders. It is about every community, every town here in the United States. No Trump backer expects him to commit political suicide. But they know that he will fight back for them. He certainly proved that during the shutdown. Whoever the Democrats nominate next year now has Nancy Pelosi as his or her running mate along with her 7-day “excursion” to Europe during the shutdown that Trump refused to let her take on an American military aircraft as he wanted her to stay in DC and work with him to resolve the matter.
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen wrote about the shutdown that, “Trump openly embraced compromise. The Democrats rejected it.”
Trump goes by his own rules in politics and it is difficult to imagine anyone coming out ahead against these attacks in a campaign. As to how well Pelosi plays before the American people, she was Speaker of the House when the Democrats lost a record 63 seats in 2010. Her most appealing campaign pledge to her own party in being selected as Speaker again after the November election was that she would step down after four years. That is hardly a vote of confidence in what she offers as a spokesperson for the Democrats. Don’t expect either for a Democrat to select her as a running mate in 2020 as she is a mega-wealthy, ultra-liberal career politician who never set foot in a public school, hails from San Francisco and turns 80 in March 2020. But you can certainly count on Trump making it seem that she is on the ticket thanks to her actions during the shutdown.
Jonathan Yates worked for members of Congress and state legislators, both Democrats and Republicans. He taught “The Politics of Sports” at the University of Iowa as an adjunct.