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What is the future of Iowa voters? Historically a swing state, will Iowa continue down a "red road?"

Historically, Iowa plays a key part in presidential elections, especially in its role as a swing state. Former President Barack Obama carried Iowa in 2008 and 2016, but President Donald Trump won in 2016 and 2020. The Hawkeye State also has a legislature mostly composed of Republicans. So will the state continue down this "red road?"
Posted at 6:30 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 19:30:55-05

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) - Richard Witmer, a political science professor at Creighton University, said he's noticing a big shift in Iowa voters and how they are casting their ballots.

"We're starting to see in Iowa, people are becoming more entrenched in their political ideas, so one of the things we're seeing is a lot of the messaging is fairly negative towards the other party," Witmer said.

Iowans are engaging in hyper-partisanship. Witmer is noticing less split ticket voting and more straight ticket voting. University of Nebraska Omaha Professor Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado said states like Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are trending much more conservative.

"Most of what concerns folks in the Midwest today: high taxes, employment, restrictions on regulations in the environment are all things that speak directly to those populations," Benjamin-Alvarado said.

If Iowa were to trend "blue," Witmer says the party would have to achieve real results.

"If Biden is able to come in and we start to see over the next few years, some fairly specific results, the farm economy starts to improve, we see unemployment drop, we see opportunities for colleges and secondary schools and college debt, what are the results going to be?" Witmer said.

Ultimately, Witmer is most concerned about how the hyper-partisanship will impact voting trends in the future.

"Sometimes when you see this entrenched partisanship, good ideas get lost in that partisan shuffle, so if it comes from my opponent or party, it's not as good of an idea if it comes from us, so it creates more difficulty in compromise," Witmer said.

Benjamin-Alvarado said he believes Council Bluffs is an outlier in the Hawkeye State since Omaha is in close proximity. Since Omaha is known as the "blueberry in a strawberry patch" in the state of Nebraska, Council Bluffs could set its own path.