So said our own Steve Hayward to a college Republican group in Minnesota last week. For your daily dose of schadenfreude, check out the New York Times’s lament over Iowa’s swing to the right:
There is little to suggest a future for the [Democratic] party here in this once reliable Democratic stronghold, at least in races on the national level. President Trump easily carried this county in the 2016 election, and Iowa as a whole; the only counties Hillary Clinton won were in metropolitan areas or university towns.
Iowa’s dramatic change has been both abrupt and a long time in coming. In 2008, the state propelled Mr. Obama to the White House. A year later, it was the first in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage. But last November, Mr. Trump won Iowa by a larger margin than he won Texas. And now Republicans control the governor’s office, the Legislature, both Senate seats and three of four in the House.
Was Iowa really a “once reliable Democratic stronghold”? It voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but in 2004 it voted for George W. Bush. It went Democrat four times in a row from 1988 through 2000, but before that, from 1968 through 1984, it went Republican five times in a row. And four of Iowa’s last six governors have been Republicans.
The Times portrays Iowa as a sort of Appalachia of the Midwest, focusing on a river town called Clinton that has not fared well in recent years. The paper proclaims, with a straight face, that Iowa is turning red because its population is getting dumber–its failing economy, exemplified by Clinton, drives away college graduates.
Like many towns in Iowa, they have been losing more college-educated voters than they retain, leaving a less educated and less mobile group of voters more likely to vote for Republicans, whom they see as more in touch with their lives and beliefs.
It is true that Iowa has slightly fewer college graduates per capita than the national average, but the Times’s portrayal of the state as economically depressed is ridiculous. Between 2010 and 2016, Iowa’s real per capita GDP increased by 9.7%, compared with the national average of 7.0. If Iowa is turning red because economic decline is driving away college graduates, then we can expect such blue states as Delaware (1.3% per capita GDP gain over the same period), Connecticut (-.1%), New Jersey (3.7%), New York (5.4%), Minnesota (7.1% ), and–hey, why not?–the District of Columbia (-4.5%) to go Republican any moment now.
The reality that the New York Times can’t face is that rural and small town America, from Florida to Alaska, has turned decisively against liberalism and the Democratic Party. The Democrats have been reduced to urban enclaves, of which there aren’t any in Iowa. For a more insightful analysis of what has happened in Iowa, see my post titled “Democrats Struggle to Survive In Iowa,” where I wrote, among other things:
The percentage of whites in Iowa increased after 2010? I don’t think so. What did happen is that white voters grew increasingly tired of the Democrats’ endless yammering about “white privilege,” an idiotic concept that the Dems can’t possibly sell to an Iowa farmer or implement dealer.
The Associated Press article on which I commented quoted one observer:
It’s difficult to go into the rural areas of Iowa and find anyone who will admit to being a Democrat.
This is true across small town America. If the Democrats at the New York Times don’t want to face reality, that’s a good thing for the rest of us.