Iowa election results discussion thread

Polls close at 9 pm in Iowa, but I thought I’d post this thread early for people who can’t wait to start talking.

Maybe some poll workers in Council Bluffs think Matt Schultz is already secretary of state. According to Matt Campbell’s Congressional campaign, some voters in Pottawattamie County were (wrongly) told they had to show photo ID in order to vote today.

In Pella, some Central College students were turned away from the polls. Disgraceful.

After the jump I’ve posted some statehouse races to watch.

UPDATE: Immediately after polls closed at 9 pm, MSNBC called the U.S. Senate race for Chuck Grassley.

9:17 pm KCCI says that with 7 percent reporting, Justices Streit and Baker at 55 percent yes on retention, Ternus at 54 percent. No idea which part of the state has reported.

9:26 pm Looks like urban counties reporting first, which is bad for justices and bad for Chet Culver. He’s virtually tied with Branstad with about 8 percent of the vote in. Fox has already called IA-Gov for Branstad; KCCI not doing so yet.

10:03 pm AP called IA-03 for Boswell. So far Miller, Mauro, Fitzgerald lead statewide races.

Comic relief: when my son heard the guy on tv say Leonard Boswell, he piped up, “Too wrong for too long” (catch phrase from a Brad Zaun tv ad).

Chuck Grassley couldn’t wait until Roxanne Conlin was done giving her concession speech–he stepped up so tv cut away from Conlin.

Geri Huser may lose HD 42 (east side of Des Moines and Polk County) unless absentees haven’t been counted yet. If result holds, that’s a district we should be able to win back in 2012 with a better Democrat.

10:18 pm Whoa–Associated Press apparently expects Iowa Republicans to pick up 6 seats in the Iowa Senate. That would reduce the Democratic majority to 26-24. Not a good result going into redistricting.

Kent Sorenson defeated Staci Appel in SD 37, and HD 74 (which makes up half of that Senate district) is too close to call. I saw Dennis Black was trailing in SD 21.

10:22 pm It looks like Iowa City voters defeated the effort to overturn the 21-only bar ordinance. If the result holds, that means 19- and 20-year-olds will not be allowed in bars after 10 pm.

10:27 pm All the Supreme Court justices are losing now that smaller county results are coming in, and Branstad leads Culver 52-44 with about 42% counted. In Polk County, Judge Robert Hanson has been retained; his 2007 ruling in Varnum v Brien struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. That case was appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.

10:30 pm All three Democratic Polk County supervisors were re-elected, which means Dave Funk fell short in his effort to unseat Tom Hockensmith.

It appears that Branstad narrowly carried Polk County, which would make it almost impossible for Culver to be re-elected.

Geri Huser lost House district 42 by about 140 votes. A write-in candidate took 432 votes in that race. All the other Polk County incumbents in the Iowa House and Senate were re-elected, and Ruth Ann Gaines easily held the open HD 65, where Wayne Ford retired.

10:35 pm The Associated Press called all five U.S. House races for incumbents: Democrats Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell and Republicans Tom Latham and Steve King.

10:38 pm Looking bad for Secretary of State Mike Mauro–he’s now virtually tied with Matt Schultz. Attorney General Tom Miller and Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald still lead their Republican opponents. Republican Auditor David Vaudt and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey have big leads.

10:43 pm Associated Press says Republicans on track to win 55 Iowa House seats. Dem incumbent McKinley Bailey losing to Stew Iverson in HD 9. Donovoan Olson trails Chip Baltimore narrowly in HD 48. Mark Smith barely ahead of Jane Jech in HD 43. Nathan Reichert appears to have lost HD 80 to Mark Lofgren. In the open HD 74, Democrat Scott Ourth narrowly trails Glen Massie.

Associate Press now saying Iowa Senate could end up in a 25-25 split. That would be a 7-seat GOP gain and much worse than Iowa Democrats were expecting. There would be basically no counterweight to Governor Branstad. Rich Olive is losing SD 5 to Rob Bacon. Bill Heckroth lost to Bill Dix in SD 9. Becky Schmitz narrowly trails Sandy Greiner in SD 45. Keith Kreiman barely ahead in SD 47.

LATE UPDATE: I fell asleep and missed Culver’s concession speech and the rest of the election night coverage. Unofficial results are at the Secretary of State’s website. Highlights:

Federal races: Grassley finished at 64.4 percent, not far below his usual 66 percent to 70 percent re-election total. Conlin was at 33.2 percent, around the same share of the vote previous challengers have received when they spent almost no money and barely campaigned.

I’m surprised they called Braley’s race so early, because unofficial results show he didn’t win by much at all: 49.5 percent to 47.5 percent. I predict he will focus a lot more on fundraising these next couple of years. Loebsack won 51.0 percent to 45.9 percent. Boswell won by a very similar margin: 50.6 percent to 46.6 percent. So Miller-Meeks did almost as well as Zaun despite running in a district that leans 7 point more Democratic. Latham and King slightly improved on their 2008 margins of victory: Latham 65.7 percent, Maske 31.9 percent and King 65.8 percent, Campbell 32.2 percent.

Statewide results: Many polls this year have shown Branstad around 52 or 53 percent, and he finished right at 52.8 percent to 43.1 percent for Culver.

I feel terrible for Mike Mauro–he has done such an outstanding job, but he lost to Matt Schultz 49.7 percent to 47.0 percent. He outperformed Culver (unlike in 2006, when he underperformed Culver), but with only one term in office, he just didn’t have the name recognition to survive a 10-point win by Branstad. Alternatively, some people think a German name like Schultz is better for seeking statewide office in Iowa than an Italian name.

Treasurer Fitzgerald and Attorney General Miller hung on, just like they did in the 1994 landslide. Fitzgerald only won 52.85 percent to 47.0 percent, which suggests to me that Republicans could have taken him out if Dave Jamison had had more money to spend on the race.

Republicans moved heaven and earth for Brenna Findley, but she only got 44.4 percent of the vote compared to 55.6 percent for Miller. Will Findley go back to working for Steve King, or will Branstad give her a post in his administration?

Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey won 62.8 percent to 37.1 percent for Francis Thicke. I wish Thicke had run in 2006–the strong Democratic wave might have pulled him over the line. In retrospect, maybe the money that went into Roxanne Conlin’s campaign would have been better spent on Thicke. With an extensive television advertising campaign, he might have been able to beat Northey or at least raise Iowans’ awareness about many issues.

Auditor David Vaudt took 56.5 percent of the vote to 43.4 percent for Jon Murphy. Considering how little money Murphy had to spend on his campaign, he did quite well. Now that Iowa has a Republican governor, I think we won’t hear any more gloom and doom talk on the budget from Vaudt.

The Iowa Water and Land Legacy trust fund constitutional amendment passed easily: 62.7 percent to 37.2 percent. I don’t support a sales tax hike now, but at least if Branstad tries to move us in that direction he won’t be able to avoid giving more funds to protecting natural resources. I would like to see state legislators appropriate money directly to this trust fund.

Iowans voted down the constitutional amendment on calling a constitutional convention: 67.1 percent no, 32.8 percent yes. It’s a good thing so many Republicans were afraid to push for this one.

Sadly, the Supreme Court justices were all voted out of office. Ternus received 45.0 percent yes votes, Baker 45.75 percent and Streit 45.6 percent. It looks like all the lower-court judges were retained.

Iowa Senate races: Democrats lost five seats and only held on to two others by extremely narrow margins. That works out to 27 Democrats and 23 Republicans in the new Senate. I’ll have more details on that in a separate post. It’s really too bad Steve Warnstadt retired in district 1 (Sioux City).

Iowa House races: A few districts were decided by extremely small margins. Assuming recounts don’t change anything, Democrats lost 16 seats and Republicans lost only one (Democrat Muhlbauer took HD 51, Rod Roberts’ old seat). That would produce a Republican majority of 59 to 41, and a huge mountain to climb for Democrats in 2012, when redistricting will scramble things up. More details on those results in another thread.

A quick note on national results: it looks like Republicans will gain between 60 and 65 House seats and six to eight Senate seats, leaving a small Democratic majority intact. Republicans would probably have taken the Senate if the tea party movement hadn’t helped such weak candidates win primaries in Delaware and Nevada.

Iowa Senate:

Five Democratic-held seats are fairly good targets for Republicans.

Senate district 1: Should have been easy Democratic hold, but Steve Warnstadt retired. Rick Mullin is in a tough race against Republican Rick Bertrand.

Senate district 5: On paper, looks like an inviting target for Republicans, who lead in voter registration. Democrats seem very confident that Rich Olive will pull through. If he loses to Rob Bacon, we could be looking at an ugly night.

Senate district 9: Democrats reduced spending here some weeks ago, in effect throwing in the towel for Bill Heckroth. This was the most Republican-leaning Senate district held by a Democrat in terms of voter registration.

Senate district 37: Staci Appel is the number one Republican target, and I am not feeling confident about her prospects tonight.

Senate district 45: Becky Schmitz has campaigned hard, but she got a very tough opponent in Sandy Greiner.

All other Senate districts held by Democrats are considered safe, but in a year like this we could easily lose a flukey race here or there. If a senator I haven’t already mentioned goes down (like Daryl Beall, Dennis Black, Keith Kreiman, Herman Quirmbach), it’s going to be a bloodbath.

Iowa House:

Three Republican-held seats are open and are reasonably good targets for Democrats. If Dan Muhlbauer wins in HD 51, Scott Ourth wins in HD 74, and/or Kurt Hubler wins in HD 99, Republicans are likely to end up with only a small majority, and Democrats could even hold the chamber.

Lots of Democratic-held seats are open. In Sioux City, absentee ballot numbers are strong, raising hopes that David Dawson will hold HD 1 and Chris Hall HD 2. If either of those seats go, it’s extremely bad news for Democrats.

Other Democratic candidates in open D seats: John Wittneben (HD 7), Susan Bangert (HD 8), Kurt Meyer (HD 14), Anesa Kajtazovic (HD 21), Mary Wolfe (HD 26) Sheri Carnahan (HD 84). Holding three or four of those seats would be great news for Democrats.

Republicans have targeted more Democratic House incumbents than I can ever remember, including some who haven’t been seriously challenged in several cycles. It’s a very bad night for Democrats if any of the following incumbents lose: Mark Smith (HD 43), Donovan Olson (HD 48), Geri Huser (HD 42).

I assume Larry Marek (HD 89) is gone. Could be tough for Mike Reasoner (HD 95) too. Other incumbents facing tough challenges include McKinley Bailey (HD 9), Andrew Wenthe (HD 18), Bob Kressig (HD 19), Doris Kelley (HD 20), Eric Palmer (HD 75), Nathan Reichert (HD 80), Curt Hanson (HD 90). I’m sure there are others I left out–the playing field is just massive in the Iowa House.

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  • Judges

    I’m going out on a limb to predict that all three Supreme Court judges will be retained.  My prediction is based on one mock election at a southeast Iowa high school, which picked Miller-Meeks over Loebsack, but still voted to retain the judges.  Even people who disagreed with the gay marriage ruling were wary of politicizing the courts.

    • if Polk and Johnson are in

      and judges are only around 54-55 percent yes, it looks bad for them.

      A friend was phonebanking over the weekend and reached an 80-something Democrat in Linn County who was voting for Culver etc but against the Supreme Court justices.

  • judges

    that’s what I supposed as well, but if the judges lead so far 55 % voting for retention. Current numbers also have Chet Culver leading Branstad, which seems to have to do with large parts of Johnson county having reported already

    • KCCI said Culver's margin in Polk was about 6,000

      When he beat Nussle in 2006, he carried Polk by about 21,000 votes. Not looking good at all.

      Culver is unlucky to have Branstad as an opponent–I think he would have beaten BVP easily.

  • DMR election website down

    Is the DMR election website down for anyone else?  Super annoying that the one day a year I need to refresh the DMR every 30 seconds, they’re website goes down.  Do you think I caused it?  Seriously, tech guys f-ed up pretty bad tonight.

  • Shame on Judicial Retention...

    But not much sympathy for Congressional Dems.  

    Last words spoken to me by John Conyers when we handed him the smoking gun on fraud committed by then Vice-President Cheney,

    “Sorry kid, but Pelosi will never let me touch this.”

    If these bastards really make an attempt to impeach Obama?

    Not my problem, I helped give the Dems evidence of actual, factual criminal activity. You’re on your own and my heart is stone.

    • Gun?

      What smoking gun are you talking about?

      • Options on 40,000,000 shares of Halliburton stock

        That did NOT go into his blind trust when he took office, and absolute proof that he violated federal law by ensuring Halliburton was given a no-bid contract in Iraq.  

        High crimes AND misdemeanors means exactly that.

  • Judges

    If Iowans vote out three Supreme Court judges, I wonder how that will affect the quality of future prospects.  Some very high caliber judges and lawyers may be reluctant to serve because this election has so politicized the Court.

    • Politicization of Court overblown

      I doubt it. Typically they appoint lower court judges.  What lower court judge wouldn’t want to be an Iowa Supreme Court Judge?  It’s sad to say but as the WWII generation passes on, gay marriage will not be the hot button issue it is now.  In 20 years, we’ll all wonder what all the fuss is about.  Scott and Bruce, I know pronounce you husband and husband.  No one will care.  We’ll just congratulate them.  

      • it will be interesting to see

        what happens in 2012, when Justice Wiggins is up for retention. Will public opinion on gay marriage have shifted enough by then to save him? Looks like the remaining three justices who concurred in Varnum v Brien aren’t up for retention until 2016.

  • Scott Ourth

    My friend Scott Ourth even lost and Sorensen is now a State Senator?  What a mess for Iowa Democrats, Mike Mauro even on the ropes, good heavens!

    • I'm surprised about Ourth

      He worked extremely hard for more than a year on this race and had strong absentee ballot numbers in his district. Staci Appel ran a poor campaign, though. I think the Sorenson coat-tails pulled Glen Massie over the line.  

  • I think it's the judges.

    Turnout was unreal all day today and I kept thinking it might be good for Democrats.  But now I think that the confluence of Citizens United and the judges got the GOP voters out.

    • I also think

      the focus on getting rid of the justices probably cost us some Iowa House seats. We lost some very close races there and could have lost four or five more.

      Statewide, turnout didn’t end up being that much higher than in 2006.