Polls close at 9 pm in Iowa, but there are already plenty of other election returns coming in to discuss. I’ll update this post after the jump throughout the evening. Spoiler alert: the media have already called Pennsylvanian for President Barack Obama.
10:10 pm: Iowa has been called for Obama. No path to 270 electoral votes remains for Romney.
12:34 am: Not all of the Iowa House races have been called yet, but it looks like Republicans may end up with a 53-47 majority, and several Democrats lost very close races. If the House Democrats had had the resources to contest more districts, they could have won a majority. Most of the money flowed to Iowa Senate candidates for obvious reasons.
1:09 am: Iowa Senate Democrats sound confident that they have won 26 seats. The last few results aren’t yet official on the Secretary of State’s website, however. Details are below.
WEDNESDAY: Unofficial returns show 1,558,252 Iowans cast ballots in the 2012 general election, an increase from 2008. That’s about 72 percent of the state’s eligible voters.
A bunch of my Facebook friends complained today that they didn’t get "I Voted" stickers in Polk County. Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald commented, "I’m not sure taxpayers want me spending their money on stickers. I know they’re fun, but given our current budget constraints, I don’t think we can do it."
No surprises in the first wave of states to close their polls (unless you believed Romney had a chance to win Pennsylvania).
Virginia is too close to call, with turnout reportedly exceeding 2008 levels. Romney leads in the early returns, but if I recall correctly, the Democratic-leaning areas of northern Virginia tend to report late.
8:33 pm: Several networks are calling Wisconsin for Obama already. The door is closing on Romney.
8:35 pm: CBS is calling New Hampshire for Obama.
9:02 pm: The CNN exit poll had Obama winning Iowa 52-46. The president’s early vote margin in Scott County is 62.3 percent to 36.7 percent, similar to 2008 ratio (64.3 percent to 34.8 percent).
9:07 pm: Florida is looking extremely close. Obama appears to have won one bellwether county (Hillsborough).
10:17 pm: The election has been called for Obama. He won Iowa and is winning Colorado.
10:27 pm: Networks are now calling Ohio for Obama. Romney still leads national popular vote.
11:56 pm: Finally, Romney is conceding. It looks like North Carolina and Indiana were the only 2008 blue states he managed to flip. Remarkable.
I’m still laughing at the Suffolk pollster who declared on October 10 that Obama had no chance to win Florida, Virginia, or North Carolina. Two out of three ain’t bad.
No calls in the most competitive Senate races yet. False rumors about Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin winning spread all over twitter.
Chris Murphy has won in Connecticut. Independent Angus King has won in Maine. Democrats Bill Nelson (Florida), Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) have all been re-elected.
Supposedly Tim Kaine was running a little ahead of Obama in the Virginia exit polls, and the presidential race is too close to call in Virginia, so that’s a good sign for the Democrats.
Elizabeth Warren is a little ahead in Massachusetts, but it’s too early to call. Ditto for Joe Donnelly in Indiana.
8:44 pm update: CBS called MA-Sen for Warren. I am truly surprised—expected Brown to pull that one out.
8:46 pm: Looks like Donnelly is winning IN-Sen. No chance of GOP taking the Senate now.
I would never have imagined that Democrats would be in this strong a position in the Senate with so many tough seats to defend.
9:12 pm: Networks calling Missouri for Claire McCaskill. Tea party primary victories combined with comments about rape and abortion cost the Republicans two U.S. Senate seats.
10:10 pm: Tim Kaine has won Virginia. No way for Democrats to lose their Senate majority.
11:25 pm: Baldwin leads with 65 percent of the Wisconsin vote in, but still no call there.
Republican Jeff Flake won the Arizona Senate race.
Nevada, North Dakota, and Montana are still too close to call.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Republicans held Arizona and Nevada, but Democrat Heidi Heitkamp won North Dakota, and Jon Tester held on to win in Montana. Remarkably, not a single Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent was defeated.
Democrats now hold 53 Senate seats, 55 if you count two independents who will caucus with the Democrats. There will be 45 Republicans in the Senate come January. I would never have believed it possible.
The incoming Senate will include 20 women, the most ever.
9:36 pm: Not looking good for Leonard Boswell in IA-03. With most of Polk County in, he barely leads Tom Latham.
10:00 pm: Latham and Boswell are both at 48 percent of the vote, but I assume that they are including all the Polk County numbers.
Obama is winning Polk County by about 32,000 votes, but Boswell only led Latham by about 4,000 votes in Polk County.
10:25 pm: Latham is starting to pull ahead now as more western Iowa votes are counted.
Bruce Braley is ahead of Ben Lange in IA-01, Dave Loebsack is ahead of John Archer in IA-02, and Steve King leads Christie Vilsack in IA-04.
Blue Dog Ben Chandler lost KY-06.
Democrat Alan Grayson won FL-09.
Democrat Annie Kuster beat a GOP incumbent in NH-02.
10:40 pm: The Associated Press called IA-02 for Loebsack.
KCCI-TV reports that Boswell has called Latham to concede. He is pulling away with 52 percent of the vote.
10:58 pm: Boswell gave a brief concession speech.
11:02 pm: Christie Vilsack is giving her concession speech in IA-04.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: With almost all the votes counted, it looks like Braley won by 56.7 percent to 41.8 percent (more than a 57,000 vote margin).
Loebsack won by 55.2 percent to 42.8 percent (more than a 45,000 vote margin).
Latham won by 52.3 percent to 43.6 percent (more than a 33,000 vote margin).
King won by 53.0 percent to 44.8 percent (more than a 31,000 vote margin).
Although Iowa retains its “perfect” record for never electing a woman to Congress, the incoming House will have at least 77 women representatives.
10:00 pm: Early returns show Democratic incumbent Steve Sodders trailing Jane Jech in Senate district 36.
10:25 pm: Sodders has taken the lead, but lots of votes still remain to be counted in SD-36, and it’s not clear where they are.
10:15 pm: The results from Iowa Senate races are extremely slow to come in.
10:28 pm: With about a third of the vote in, Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm is slightly ahead of Merlin Bartz in Senate district 26, 51 percent to 49 percent. Without knowing where the uncounted votes are, no idea whether that will hold.
10:39 pm: Democrat Nate Willems trails Dan Zumbach in the open Senate district 48.
10:50 pm: As expected, Democrat Liz Mathis was re-elected in Senate district 34.
Democrat Rita Hart is ahead of Andrew Naeve so far in the open Senate district 49.
Republican Mike Brietbach is slightly ahead of John Beard in the open Senate district 28.
Wilhelm is still a little ahead of Bartz in Senate district 26.
Republican Matt Reisetter leads Democratic incumbent Jeff Danielson in Senate district 30. Democrats probably need that seat in order to hold their Senate majority, unless things turn around in Senate districts 48 and 28.
Republican Larry Kruse leads Rich Taylor in the early Senate district 42 returns. Democrats need to hold that open seat.
Republican incumbent Tim Kapucian was re-elected in Senate district 38.
As expected, Republicans are winning the open seats in Senate districts 4 and 6.
One bright spot for Democrats is that Chris Brase is leading GOP incumbent Shawn Hamerlinck in the early returns for Senate district 46.
KCCI is reporting that Gronstal is headed for re-election in Senate district 8.
11:12 pm: It’s official, Republican Mark Segebart beat Mary Bruner in Senate district 6 by 57 percent to 43 percent.
11:15 pm: with almost all the votes in, Wilhelm leads by fewer than 100 votes in SD-26.
Democrat Brase seems to have beaten Hamerlinck in SD-46.
But Republican Reisetter seems on track to defeat Danielson in SD-30.
As expected, Democratic incumbent Brian Schoenjahn is leading in Senate district 32.
Republican Dan Zumbach defeated Nate Willems in SD-48 by 563 votes (50.9 percent to 49.1 percent).
Results are very slow to come in SD-42, SD-36 and SD-49. Democrats need those seats.
Republican Amy Sinclair won the open Senate district 14.
KCCI TV has Gronstal ahead 55 percent to 45 percent with more than 80 percent of the votes counted.
11:27 pm: In the open Senate district 4, Republican Dennis Guth has a narrow lead over Bob Jennings.
11:45 pm: It’s official, Gronstal has won 55 percent to 45 percent.
Wilhelm defeated Bartz by 120 votes in SD-26.
Hart has been declared the winner in SD-49.
Sodders is on track to win SD-36, it seems, and Schoenjahn leads in SD-32, but that won’t be enough for a majority unless Danielson can turn things around in SD-30 and Taylor can turn things around in SD-42.
Quick Iowa Senate math:
13 Democratic incumbents were not up for re-election.
The following Democratic incumbents were re-elected tonight: Gronstal, Mathis, Jochum, Courtney, Dearden, Wilhelm, Schoenjahn. That makes 20. If Sodders wins, that would be 21.
Hart and Janet Petersen won open seats. That’s 23.
Brase is ahead of Hamerlinck. That would be 24.
Democrats still need either Rich Taylor in SD-42 or Jeff Danielson in SD-30 to tie, and both to win a majority.
11:54: Danielson pulled slightly ahead in SD-30! There must have been student precincts left to report. But not all the votes are in, and he has a very narrow lead.
11:57 pm: I forgot about Senate district 28, where Republican Breitbach leads, but not by much. If Democrat John Beard pulls that out, he could be the 25th or 26th senator.
12:06 am: Brase has officially defeated Hamerlinck in SD-46. Huge pickup there. No final numbers from SD-30. If Danielson pulls that out, all Iowa Democrats owe the University of Northern Iowa community big time.
Returns slow to come in from SD-36, SD-42.
12:11 am: The Iowa Senate was split 25-25 in 2005 and 2006. Leaders had a deal whereby no legislation came to the floor unless both parties agreed. I’m sure Gronstal would insist on nothing less if the chamber is tied for the next two years, so Republicans couldn’t force votes on bills coming out of the Iowa House.
12:40 am: Sodders did win SD-36 by 54 percent to 46 percent. But so painful: Beard lost SD-28 by only 43 votes.
Democrats hold 24 seats, with SD-30 (Danielson-Reisetter) and SD-42 (Taylor-Kruse) still not fully counted.
1:09 am: Senate Democrats believe both Taylor and Danielson have won, although that’s not reflected on the Secretary of State’s website yet. Winning those two districts would give Democrats a 26 to 23 majority, with Republican-leaning Senate district 22 to be filled in a December 11 special election.
1:34 am: John Deeth points out in the comments that late-arriving absentee ballots and/or provisional ballots could still change the outcome in Senate district 28. I’m skeptical because recounts in two Iowa Senate races in 2010 didn’t even change results by 5 votes, and Beard has to make up a few dozen.
1:36 am: Results at KCRG’s site are more complete than the Secretary of State’s site. They have Danielson winning by 390 votes in Senate district 30.
They have Breitbach 37 votes ahead of Beard in Senate district 28.
9:13 pm: Early returns on the Polk County auditor’s site suggest Democrat John Forbes is winning House district 40 in Urbandale. Democrat Susan Judkins is leading Chris Hagenow in House district 43, but I don’t know which precincts haven’t reported yet.
Early returns show Democrat Joe Riding ahead of Jim Carley in House district 30, but it’s close. If Altoona precincts are already in, Riding could lose.
Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy leads the early returns over “constitutional sheriff” Dan Charleston. I SO hope that holds. 9:37 pm: McCarthy has 58 percent of the vote with almost all the precincts in.
9:21 update: Heartbreaker in my home district, House 43. Unofficial returns show Hagenow hanging on by 29 votes: 8729 to 8700 with all 11 precincts counted.
On the bright side, Forbes defeated Mike Brown by 1,000 votes (53 percent to 47 percent) in Urbandale’s HD-40. That’s one Democratic pickup. (open seat because Scott Raecker retired)
Riding’s still ahead in HD-30, but three precincts haven’t reported yet.
In House district 39, Republican Jake Highfill defeated Kelsey Clark. That should have been an automatic GOP hold, but looked questionable after Highfill defeated House Republican Whip Erik Helland in the GOP primary.
9:28 pm: Joe Riding has won House district 30 by a margin of 52 percent to 47.8 percent. That’s two Democratic pickups. (open seat because Kim Pearson retired)
9:57 pm Forgot to mention that Polk County voters approved ballot measure A, the water and land legacy bond. “Yes” needed 60 percent to pass, and with almost all the precincts in, “yes” is above 72 percent.
10:30 pm: Democrat Art Staed defeated Renee Schulte in House district 66 (Cedar Rapids). Schulte defeated him by 13 votes in 2008. That’s another Democratic pickup.
Forgot to mention that Republican Kevin Koester was re-elected in House district 38 (Ankeny and part of the east side of Des Moines).
10:34 pm: House Democrat Phyllis Thede was re-elected in House district 93 (Scott County), 56 percent to 43 percent.
10:43 pm: In the open House district 95 (Linn County), Republican Quentin Stanerson leads Kristin Keast by less than 100 votes with two precincts remaining to report.
10:46 pm: Huge result for Democrats in Sioux City (Woodbury County): In the clash of two first-term incumbents, Democrat Chris Hall defeated Jeremy Taylor in House district 13. Meanwhile, David Dawson won the open House district 14, defeating Greg Grupp. That’s another Democratic House pickup.
10:59 pm: Republican David Maxwell defeated Rachel Bly in the open House district 76.
Very close race between Democrat Joe Judge and Larry Sheets in House district 80.
Democrat Curt Hanson has held House district 82.
11:04 pm: Close race in House district 91 between GOP incumbent Mark Lofgren and John Dabeet.
Democrat Frank Wood defeated GOP incumbent Ross Paustian in House district 92.
11:08 pm: Democrat Scott Ourth is still ahead in the open House district 26, but not all the votes are in.
Democratic incumbent Dan Kelley was easily re-elected in House district 29.
Republican Greg Heartsill leads Megan Suhr in the open House district 28.
Republican Rob Bacon defeated Becky Perkovich in the open House district 48. No results have been reported in House district 47.
In House district 59, only six votes separate Democratic incumbent Bob Kressig and Republican Jim Kenyon.
Also very close in House district 63, but Republican Sandy Salmon is a couple hundred votes ahead of Bill Heckroth.
Democrat Bruce Bearinger won the open House district 64. That’s a Democratic pickup.
Wow, Democrat Daniel Lundby defeated incumbent Nick Wagner in House district 68 (Linn County suburbs) by 99 votes. Lundby is the first openly gay person to be elected to the Iowa legislature. His late mother was longtime Republican Senator Mary Lundby.
In Marshalltown’s House district 71, Democrat Mark Smith won re-election by a surprisingly large margin over Allen Burt, 59 percent to 41 percent.
In the open House district 72 next door, Republican Dean Fisher defeated Nathan Wrage.
Bobby Kaufmann, son of retiring House Speaker Pro-Tem Jeff Kaufmann, is winning House district 73.
Republican Dawn Pettengill was easily re-elected in House district 75.
Democrats lost one Iowa House seat: John Wittneben was narrowly defeated by Republican challenger Tedd Gassman in House district 7.
But conservadem Dan Muhlbauer easily held House district 12 by 61 percent to 39 percent.
Republicans Mark Brandenburg and Mary Ann Hanusa won both of the Iowa House seats in Council Bluffs (districts 15 and 16), even as Gronstal was re-elected to Senate district 8.
12:19 am: Ourth has officially won House district 26, which is a Democratic pickup.
Republican Heartsill won the open House district 28.
Democrat Joe Judge (the son of former Secretary of Agriculture and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge) lost by just 113 votes in House district 80.
Sara Sedlacek fell about 1,000 votes short in House District 88; Republican Tom Sands wins.
I wonder if there is a mistake on the Secretary of State’s website—they have Cindy Winckler losing House district 90 in Davenport by more than 6,000 votes, which hardly seems possible. UPDATE: The Secretary of State’s website flipped the results—Winckler was easily re-elected.
Republican Lofgren held his Muscatine seat in House district 91.
Republican Stanerson narrowly defeated Kristin Keast in House district 95. That’s a tough open seat loss for House Democrats.
Republican incumbent Julian Garrett beat Katie Routh in House district 25, but only by 167 votes.
Democratic incumbent Roger Thomas held House district 55, but only by 180 votes.
Democratic challenger Patti Ruff defeated Bob Hager in House district 56.
I’m surprised that Republican Brian Moore was able to hang on in House district 58.
Republican Sandy Salmon defeated Bill Heckroth in House district 63 by just 152 votes.
1:49 am: Susan Judkins has not conceded; there may be provisional ballots, undervotes, or absentee ballots postmarked November 5 that remain to be counted.
The Des Moines Register’s site has John Wittneben winning re-election in House district 7, but the Iowa Secretary of State’s site still has Wittneben losing.
Seems like Democrats will end up with 47 or 48 House seats. So close! They could have won the majority with more money to spend in a few key races.
Iowa Supreme Court retention
Polk County voted to retain Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins by about 35,000 votes (59.4 percent to 40.6 percent). He’ll need big margins in the urban counties.
11:07 pm: Yes on Wiggins is ahead statewide so far, 54.3 percent to 45.7 percent.
11:45 pm: Yes on Wiggins still has 53 percent of the vote; KCCI called it for Wiggins.
12:15 am: Yes on Wiggins is at 54 percent with more than 80 percent of precincts counted. No Wiggins concedes:
Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowans For Freedom committee that spearheaded a campaign to oust Wiggins, conceded defeat late Tuesday. However, he said the apparent small margin for retention was “not a great validation for Justice Wiggins.”
Thousands of voters on Tuesday repeated the message sent two years ago that they didn’t want the courts to make law, Vander Plaats said. “I think the courts understand that people of Iowa still have a voice if they chose to go outside their constitutional boundaries.”
In 2016, the last three Iowa Supreme Court justices who concurred in Varnum v Brien will be up for retention. By then a “no” campaign will have no chance.