For those paying attention to this fall’s elections, you aren’t surprised to know that there are many competitive races across Iowa. Whether it’s the Presidential, US Senate, or one of the three Congressional races, Iowans are being inundated with TV ads. Just recently, we are seeing more ads for Statehouse races. 


Democrats have expressed a whole lot of confidence in their chances of flipping the House this cycle – in fact, sources tell Iowa Field Report that at their recent PAC update, they were bragging about how none of their incumbents are at risk this fall. But their TV spending tells a very different story.


Republicans went up on TV a full week earlier than Democrats, and immediately went on offense in several Democrat-held seats. 


Most notably, Republicans have targeted House Democrat Leader Todd Prichard. 


Prichard likes to portray himself as a middle of the road, moderate legislator but Republicans are reminding his constituents that as the Democratic Leader, he is technically the Nancy Pelosi of Iowa and the figurehead of an extreme, left-wing caucus. 


Take a look at this mail piece that Republicans recently sent to voters in the district:



Not only is this resonating with voters, but Republicans are also clearly getting in Prichard’s head. This week, Democrats placed a $70,000 TV buy to bail out their Leader. 


But Prichard isn’t the only notable incumbent who is having to defend his liberal voting record on the airwaves. As of today, 9 Democrats are up on TV in seats that Democrats already hold compared to 9 GOP-held seats. Perhaps more notable is that many of these TV buys are in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids markets, which are very expensive. That means Democrats are being forced to spend a significant amount of resources to play defense and protect their current members rather than going after new seats. 


It also shouldn’t be overlooked that Democrats are having to defend incumbents in the suburbs. This is an area that Democrats believed they had nearly locked up due to recent trends that we’ve seen during the Trump presidency. Turns out that promising to defund and abolish the police isn’t a winning message in the suburbs.


Statewide, Democrats have spent or are scheduled to spend just over $1.7 million, with almost $700,000 being used to protect their own seats, through October 4 (the day before early voting begins): 

  1. Andy McKean (HD58) – $172,058
  2. Todd Prichard (HD52) – $146,011
  3. Scott Ourth (HD26) – $116,329
  4. Mary Gaskill (HD81) – $60,575
  5. Jodi Grover (HD64) – $59,605
  6. Kenan Judge (HD44) – $52,518
  7. Karin Derry (HD39) – $36,985
  8. Steve Hansen (HD14) – $24,195
  9. Sue Cahill (HD71) – $9,525


With early voting on the horizon, Republican’s early investment in key races looks to be a smart decision so stay tuned. It’s pretty clear that Democrats do not have the easy path to a majority that they were trying to sell just a week ago.


That being said, control of the Iowa House will be one of the most interesting campaigns to watch this fall.