The Power of Political Disinformation in Iowa

Peter Slevin for The New Yorker:

Whatever their emerging record, Democrats must also overcome a fearsome wall of mistrust, and a broad willingness among Republicans to believe the worst about them. Nowhere is this clearer than in Iowa, where Republicans rolled to one victory after another last November, powered by support for Trump and disdain for the Democrats. Trump beat Biden there by eight points, a dozen years after the Obama-Biden ticket carried the state by nine. Senator Joni Ernst, once considered vulnerable, was outpolled by Trump, but still collected fifty-two per cent of the vote to defeat her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield. Democrats lost six state House seats and two congressional seats, including one by an excruciating six votes out of nearly three hundred and ninety-four thousand cast. (The Democrat, Rita Hart, is continuing to contest the results.) The other seat belonged to Abby Finkenauer, an energetic first-term Democrat, who was blindsided by her defeat.

Any Iowan paying attention knows how true this feels.

I keep returning to this:

In 2018, Bobby Kaufman, who’s dad is the Iowa GOP chair, defeated Jodi Clemons, who later was an organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, by 11 points and 1,700 votes.

In 2020, Kaufmann faced Lonny Pulkrabek, Johnson County’s Democratic sheriff for 16 years.

Kaufmann ran a TV ad suggesting Pulkrabek stood by while rioters defaced beloved Kinnick Stadium (meanwhile, Pulkrabek caught heat in his jurisdiction for a Facebook post expressing sadness at the spray painting).

Pulkrabek was relatively well funded and objectively a good fit for the district.

Kaufmann beat the Democrat by 20 points and 3,700 votes.