2014 election results discussion thread

Polls across Iowa close in just a few minutes, and I’ll be updating this post with results throughout the evening. Any comments about any of today’s races, in Iowa or elsewhere, are welcome in this thread.

Many races on the east coast and in the Midwest have already been called. As expected, Republicans picked up the U.S. Senate seats in West Virginia, Arkansas, and South Dakota. Louisiana will go to a runoff in December. Jeanne Shaheen held the New Hampshire Senate seat for Democrats, but Kay Hagan may be in trouble in North Carolina, and in a potentially stunning upset, Mark Warner is behind in Virginia. He needs a strong turnout in the DC suburbs.

As state-level results come in, these are the key Iowa Senate races to watch, and these are the key Iowa House races to watch. For the last four years, Democrats have held a 26-24 Iowa Senate majority. For the last two years, Republicans have held a 53-47 Iowa House majority.

UPDATE: Polls are closed and further updates will be after the jump. News organizations called the governor’s race for Terry Branstad immediately.  

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20 Iowa House races to watch tonight

Thanks to Iowa’s non-partisan redistricting process, we have an unusually large number of competitive state legislative districts. In any given general election, depending on candidate recruitment, between one dozen and two dozen of the 100 Iowa House districts could be up for grabs. Democrats and Republicans spend big money on a much smaller number of districts; this year, only seven Iowa House races involved a large amount of television advertising. But the parties and candidates invest in direct mail and/or radio commercials in many more places than that.

Republicans go into election day favored to hold their Iowa House majority, which now stands at 53 seats to 47. Carolyn Fiddler has pegged seven “districts to watch” at her Statehouse Action blog, and in September, the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble discussed five districts he viewed as “key to Iowa House chamber control.” I see the playing field as much larger.

Follow me after the jump to review 20 Iowa House seats that will determine control of the chamber for the next two years.

Caveat: most years, there’s at least one shocking result in an Iowa House district neither party had their eye on. I’m thinking about Tami Weincek defeating a longtime Democratic incumbent in Waterloo in 2006, Kent Sorenson defeating a Democratic incumbent in Warren County in 2008, three Democratic state representatives who had run unopposed in 2008 losing in 2010, and Democrat Daniel Lundby taking out the seemingly safe Republican Nick Wagner in the Linn County suburbs in 2012. Wagner had run unopposed in the previous election.

So, while I don’t expect any of the “favored” seats discussed below to change hands, I would not rule out a surprise or two. That would be excellent news for the stealth challenger’s party.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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Crowded Republican primary coming in Iowa House district 91

Kevin Hall reported for The Iowa Republican blog yesterday that a fourth candidate is planning to seek the GOP nomination in the open Iowa House district 91. Republican State Representative Mark Lofgren is vacating the seat to run for Congress against four-term Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack. It’s a swing district where President Barack Obama outpolled Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, even as Lofgren was re-elected.

Hall provided some background on Gary Carlson:

Carlson is an executive with HNI, the parent company of HON Furniture in Muscatine. HNI is a global company, with 10,000 employees. Prior to being a vice-president at HNI, Carlson was the president and CEO of the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce. He also served as the vice-president at the Bandag Corporation, where he managed Bandag operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa from 1974-1997.

I wonder whether all three other declared GOP candidates in House district 91 (Emily Lofgren, Mark LeRette, and Mark Cisneros) will follow through before the filing deadline next March. So far only one Democratic candidate has announced in the district, John Dabeet.

Speaking of Mark Lofgren, I find it pathetic that ten days into the federal government shutdown, he’s said nothing about the situation on his Congressional campaign website, twitter feed, or Facebook page. Most of the Iowans running for Congress have given some idea of whether they favor a “clean” continuing spending resolution to fund the federal government, or whether they would insist on conditions such as defunding/delaying the 2010 health care reform law. Lofgren is doing lit drops and attending Republican fundraisers, but he has nothing to say to a wider audience about the most important job of Congress: passing a budget. If Mariannette Miller-Meeks takes another shot at IA-02 (and I think she will), I hope she destroys Lofgren in the primary. She crushed three GOP rivals in 2010 before losing the general election to Loebsack.

UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user Columcille points out in the comments that Emily Lofgren dropped out of the House district 91 race on October 11. She says she will focus on getting her father elected to Congress. Lofgren ran her father’s 2010 Iowa House campaign against a Democratic incumbent.

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Mark Cisneros running as Republican in Iowa House district 91

Kevin Hall reports for The Iowa Republican today that Muscatine County GOP Vice Chair Mark Cisneros plans to run for Iowa House district 91 next year. The seat is open because two-term incumbent Mark Lofgren is running for Congress. I expect House district 91 to be among a dozen or so districts that will determine control of the Iowa House after next year. Click here to view a map and the latest voter registration numbers.

Cisneros moved to Muscatine from California five years ago and owns a local business. According to Hall, former State Senator Jim Hahn “first approached Cisneros about running for the seat two months ago.”

Two other Republicans, Mark LeRette and Emily Lofgren (Mark Lofgren’s daughter) have already announced their candidacies in House district 91. Cisneros told Hall that the primary rivals “will sharpen each other, making the primary winner strong in the general election.”

Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa House districts

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district, state by state. Last week the Iowa numbers were added to the database. I took a first stab at previewing the battle for control of the Iowa Senate next year, using data including the raw vote totals and percentages for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in each district.

The Daily Kos database includes Obama and Romney vote totals and percentages for each Iowa House district here. After the jump I’ve incorporated that information and other factors to predict which Iowa House districts will be competitive in 2014. Writing this post has been challenging, because every election cycle brings surprises, and many more seats in the lower chamber will be in play. Unlike the Iowa Senate, where only half of the 50 members are on the ballot in each general election, all 100 Iowa House members are on ballot in every even-numbered year. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber.

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