Iowa in the 2016 Election

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Spencer Soule is a sophomore honors student at the University of Arkansas, where he is pursuing a double major in political science and history. A native of North Little Rock, Spencer is an active member of the University of Arkansas Young Democrats and has done volunteer work for the Democratic Party of Arkansas. After college Spencer hopes to obtain a law degree and practice criminal law.

Though it may not carry many electoral votes, Iowa is poised to be one of the most unpredictable states in the 2016 election.

Since 1984, when Ronald Reagan swept 49 states in the most one-sided election in modern United States history, Iowa has voted for the Republican candidate only once: in 2004, during George W. Bush’s reelection. This might strike some as surprising, given its demographics: According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2010 Iowa was 98.1% white, a demographic that often swings states towards Republican candidates. According to a report by the Washington Post, Mitt Romney won 59% of the overall white vote during the 2012 election. However, one possible explanation for the continued success of Democrats in Iowa is the fact that more than 50% of the voters are female. Females have historically supported Democratic candidates.

When looking at Iowa in this election, it is important to remember that during the primaries, Donald Trump lost Iowa to Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton won Iowa by a very slim margin over Bernie Sanders. This would suggest that neither candidate is overwhelmingly popular among Iowa voters, and thus it is hard to predict which candidate will win them over in the general election.

According to Nate Silver’s 538 election forecast, the polls in Iowa have fluctuated since both candidates won their respective party nominations, but Hillary Clinton currently has a healthy advantage. White voters gave Hillary some of the most trouble during the entirety of the Democratic primary, while Donald Trump was carried to victory almost exclusively on the backs of white voters. The current polls could simply be in response to the recent surfacing of Trump’s 2005 comments about women, or his less-than-spectacular performance at the second debate.

Prediction: I suspect that the polls will get closer as November 8th approaches, and both candidates will have a legitimate chance of winning the 6 electoral votes offered by Iowa. However, considering that Iowan women make up more than 50% of the electorate, and that Democrats have historically done well in Iowa, I predict that Hillary will edge out a slim victory and win over the Hawkeye State.

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