It was among the first states to legalize gay marriage and served as the 2008 campaign liftoff site for the first black president, but in other arenas Iowa isn't quite so progressive. Iowa is also one of just two states to never elect a woman governor or member of Congress.
Senate and House seats are open in 2014, and many thought this could be the time for a woman to break through.
But after several women took themselves out of consideration, the prospects are unclear. Experts attribute the gender gap in part to the state's small-town farming culture, which views politics as men's work. They also cite the lack of term limits, which means there are few open seats for women to pursue.