DES MOINES — Iowa Democrats Liz Mathis and Christina Bohannan are staring into the face of blustery political headwinds.
They are running for federal office in the first election since their party took power in the nation’s capital. And the president, a member of their party, has low approval ratings across the country — 42%, according to a new Washington-ABC News poll — and even more so in Iowa.
Yet Bohannan and Mathis, the Democratic candidates for Congress in the newly redrawn 1st and 2nd districts in eastern Iowa, were upbeat and confident when talking about their campaigns Saturday evening at state party fundraiser.
Mathis and Bohannan both said they are feeling that enthusiasm as they talk to Democrats across their respective districts. “The enthusiasm (from Democrats on the campaign), I didn’t expect that. It was there,” Mathis said during an interview at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty & Justice fundraiser, which brought roughly 600 Iowa Democrats to the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines. “The enthusiasm is really helpful. Because, you know, the doom and gloom about midterm (elections), right? And this didn’t feel like that.”
Mathis, a state legislator and nonprofit leader from Hiawatha, is facing Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson in the 2nd District. Bohannan, a state legislator and lawyer from Iowa City, is facing Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the 1st District.
Both districts have political balance: Democrats have an active registered voter advantage in both districts, but by just 2.1 percentage points in the new 1st District and just 1.4 percentage points in the new 2nd, according to the most recent Iowa Secretary of State voter registration data available. And no-party voters make up roughly a third of voters in both districts.
Democrats won the White House, U.S. House and U.S. Senate in 2020. When that happens, historically the party in power loses seats in the next midterm election — 2022, in this case. And historically, congressional candidates face longer odds when the president is from their same party and has a poor approval rating.
Mathis and Bohannan insisted the voters in their districts can buck those historical trends, and said they are working not only to motivate their core Democratic voters but also reach the no-party voters in their districts.
“I think the message is really resonating,” Bohannan said. “I am talking about working people. I am talking about rebuilding our small towns, making sure that people can get to work, making sure that people are rewarded for hard work.”
There are no primary challenges in the 1st and 2nd district campaigns. Iowa’s general election is Nov. 8.