Iowa Congressional Districts

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Iowa has 4 congressional districts. We’ve generated 5,000 sets of randomly simulated districts according to the relevant criteria. Three of these plans are shown here, along with the actual enacted map.

Partisan Features

In Iowa, Democrats win about 46% of the vote in a typical statewide election. Proportionally, that would translate to 1.8 Democratic seats out of 4 total.

But proportionality isn’t guaranteed, even in a fair redistricting process. In our simulated plans, Democrats won anywhere from 1.0 to 1.7 seats on average, with 1.2 being the most typical. In contrast, we expect the enacted plan to yield 0.5 Democratic seats on average, which is less than 100% of all simulated plans.

The graph below breaks this down in detail, showing how each district of the enacted plan compares to the set of simulated districts.

Gerrymandering metrics

There are other ways of measuring the partisan skew of redistricting plan. The graph below shows two these metrics. The deviation from partisan symmetry measures the expected difference in each party’s share of seats if they each won 50% of the statewide vote. The efficiency gap is calculated as the difference in the number of wasted votes for each party.

Learn more about these metrics here.

Traditional redistricting criteria

Factors other than partisanship are important for redistricting, too. The graph below shows the geographic compactness and the number of counties which are split into multiple districts. As far as compactness, Iowa’s enacted plan scores a 0.33, in line with the simulated plans (a higher score means more compact). It splits 0 counties, compared to an average of 0 counties for our simulated plans.

Political Geography

These two maps show the partisan lean across Iowa in a typical statewide election, and the share of minority voters around the state.

More information

Download the data for Iowa.

Learn more about our methodology.

Redistricting requirements

In Iowa, districts must:

  1. be contiguous
  2. have equal populations
  3. be constructed only from counties
  4. be geographically compact, as defined by two compactness measures:
    1. length-width compactness, which measures the total absolute difference between the length and width of a district, across all districts
    2. perimeter compactness, which measures the total perimeter of all districts


If you see mistakes or want to suggest changes, please create an issue on the source repository.