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.
The CNN exit poll in Iowa showed Joni Ernst ahead of Bruce Braley by 51 percent to 47 percent.
9:08 update: Republicans picked up Senate seats in Colorado and Montana. Voters rejected the “personhood” referendum in Colorado even as they elected Cory Gardner, its advocate. Mark Warner and Kay Hagan could squeak through in Virginia and North Carolina. As I suspected, looks like Pat Roberts will survive the strong challenge by independent Greg Orman in Kansas.
9:12 update: Partial results are in from Polk County, and Braley’s only ahead by about 8,000 votes. In the third Congressional district, Staci Appel’s only ahead by about 4,000 votes. It’s unclear which precincts have yet to report, but those margins would not be enough for either Democrat.
9:22 update: More results in from Polk County, and Braley and Appel are still only ahead by about 8,000 votes and 3,000 votes, respectively. That won’t be nearly enough. Leonard Boswell outpolled Tom Latham in Polk County by about 4,000 votes in 2012.
The Colorado Senate race was called for Cory Gardner. This was one of the campaigns that turned sharply against the Democrat in August/September.
9:25 update: Jack Hatch speaking to supporters. WHO-TV has already called the IA-Sen race for Ernst.
9:45 update: Branstad is winning Polk County, but Brad Anderson leads Paul Pate here by nearly 20,000 votes in the secretary of state race.
In the Iowa House races, Joe Riding has lost to challenger Zach Nunn in House district 30. Riding was widely considered to be one of the most endangered House Democrats.
Democratic State Representative John Forbes was easily re-elected in House district 40. Republican Jake Highfill easily won a second term in House district 39. Other Republican winners: Chris Hagenow in House district 43, Peter Cownie in House district 42, Kevin Koester in House district 38.
Republican Crystal Bruntz leads Democrat Chaz Allen in the Polk County half of Senate district 15.
10:00 update: I can’t find the official Jasper County results, but Bruntz has apparently won Senate district 15. That’s a huge Republican pickup. If they win one more Democratic-held seat and hold on to their competitive races in Senate districts 39 and 41, they will have control of the upper chamber.
Looks like there is no path for Staci Appel in IA-03. She needed a bigger margin in Polk. David Young will be the next member of Congress.
Pat Murphy narrowly leads Rod Blum in IA-01.
So far Dave Loebsack and Steve King have big leads in IA-02 and IA-04.
10:05 update: With about a quarter of the votes in statewide, Brad Anderson is ahead of Paul Pate by 52 percent to 43 percent. Several statewide incumbents are way ahead: Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey (R), Attorney General Tom Miller (D), State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald (D).
Jim Mowrer is giving his concession speech in Boone. He ran a good race, but IA-04 is just too overwhelmingly conservative for anyone to have a chance against Steve King.
With almost all the Polk County precincts in, Braley leads by only about 7,000 votes, Appel by about 2,000 votes.
10:20 update: Apparently the absentee ballots have not yet been counted in Jasper County. Not sure Chaz Allen has lost the Senate district 15 race. Dan Kelley trails narrowly in House district 29, but two precincts are out, and it’s not clear where they are.
Steve King is giving his victory speech now.
10:30 update: More news organizations are calling the IA-Sen race for Ernst. There is no way Braley can do well enough in eastern Iowa. He hasn’t conceded yet, though.
10:40 update: Brad Anderson’s lead is shrinking in the secretary of state race.
Apparently Braley called Ernst to concede. She is giving her victory speech now and pretending to be gracious. I thought the losing candidate was supposed to concede first.
The last two Jasper County precincts came in, and they put Chaz Allen over the top in Senate district 15. That’s a huge hold for Democrats.
Republican Gary Carlson easily won the open seat in Iowa House district 91 (Muscatine area). Democrats need a new candidate here for 2016. John Dabeet ran twice and underperformed.
10:55 update: CBS exit poll shows that voters over age 45 comprised 63 percent of the Iowa electorate. Braley won younger voters, but not enough of them showed up.
Braley lost Scott County, which he represented for three terms in the U.S. House. He carried Polk, Linn, Black Hawk, and Dubuque counties.
11:00 pm update: The Secretary of State’s website is slow to add results in some of the key Iowa Senate races. It looks like Democratic incumbent Amanda Ragan is in good shape in Senate district 27, where Republicans failed to recruit a top-tier challenger.
Loebsack seems to have a comfortable lead over Mariannette Miller-Meeks in IA-02.
Rod Blum has taken a slight lead over Pat Murphy in IA-01. It’s not clear which counties are still out. Democrats should be able to take that seat back in 2016 if Murphy loses.
Senator Chuck Grassley is introducing David Young, who has won the open seat in IA-03. It could be worse–Matt Schultz could have won that primary.
KCCI cut away from Young’s victory speech to carry Braley’s concession. He is being gracious: we are lucky to live in a country where we have the freedom to be disappointed in an election result. We should be thankful we have the opportunity to vote–in some countries people don’t have that. He says this is not a bad day for Bruce Braley. A bad day is being 23 years old and losing your father. A bad day is losing 39 year old neighbor to cancer. A bad day is when your 17 year old niece, whom you love, takes her own live. This is a day to celebrate what people can do when they work together. His biggest fear is that the young Democratic activists he’s met during campaign will be frustrated. You have the power to change lives and the future of this country. I am going to be there for you, cheering you on, supporting you and making this a better place for all Iowans and all Americans. I’m here to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m full of hope and optimism. I wished Joni Ernst the best because Iowans know the way forward is to have hope and optimism for future.
In other news, this is looking like a very big Republican wave. Pat Murphy is conceding to Blum in IA-01.
Democrats not only lost the Florida governor’s race, they lost governor’s races in Maryland and Maine. Democrats lost the Kansas governor’s race, where GOP incumbent Sam Brownback had trailed in most of the polls.
In the Iowa House, Democratic incumbent Dan Muhlbauer lost to Republican Brian Best in House district 12. Not too surprising.
Sad to say, Paul Pate has taken the lead over Brad Anderson in the secretary of state’s race.
Looks like slightly better news in the Iowa Senate races. Democrat Kevin Kinney has picked up the open seat in Senate district 39, beating Mike Moore. That’s a Democratic pickup.
In Senate district 41, Democrat Steve Siegel is ahead of GOP incumbent Mark Chelgren but it’s not clear where the outstanding precincts are. Hearing rumors Chelgren will pull through.
Democratic incumbents Rita Hart and Tod Bowman are ahead in Senate districts 49 and 29, respectively, but not all the returns re in.
Amanda Ragan held Senate district 27, and Herman Quirmbach held the Ames-based Senate district 23.
Outgoing Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz won the Madison County attorney’s race.
11:40 update: The Des Moines Register says Chelgren pulled through in Senate district 41 with 50.8 percent of the vote. Democrats should have picked up that district.
In the Iowa House, several Democratic incumbents held their seats: Curt Hanson in House district 82, Phyllis Thede in House district 93, Scott Ourth in House district 26, Dan Kelley in House district 29, Bruce Bearinger in House district 64.
However, Democratic incumbent Frank Wood lost House district 92, and Daniel Lundby is behind in House district 68.
Looks like a heart-breaker for Democrats in the open House district 55: GOP nominee Darrel Branhagen is 31 votes ahead of Rick Edwards with all precincts reporting. Doubt there will be enough late-arriving absentee ballots to affect the outcome. That would be another pickup for the GOP.
Democrats have not defeated any Iowa House Republicans tonight and are not ahead in any races that have yet to be called. So it looks like Republicans could have a net gain of five seats, putting their majority at 58-42. That’s almost as bad as the 60-40 majority they had after the 2010 rout.
12:00 am update: Forgot to mention that unofficial results show Democrat Charlie McConkey is ahead by 73 votes in the open Iowa House district 15. Assuming the lead holds, that would be a Democratic pickup.
So, Republicans might have a net gain of four Iowa House seats rather than five. They are picking up House districts 12, 30, 55, 68, and 92.
12:15 am update: Unofficial results show Democratic incumbent Rita Hart held Iowa Senate district 49 with just under 52 percent of the vote. Likewise, Tod Bowman held Senate district 29, but he didn’t even get 55 percent of the vote against an incredibly weak challenger.
Democratic Senator Daryl Beall was the only incumbent to lose (in Senate district 5). But Kevin Kinney’s victory in the open Senate district 39 made up for that. Two more years of a 26-24 Democratic majority.
I am disappointed that with this map, the majority wasn’t expanded to 27 or 28 seats. Failure to recruit a strong challenger in Senate district 7 allowed Republican incumbent Rick Bertrand to cruise. He was barely elected in 2010 and should have been given a run for his money.
Democrats should have been able to defeat Mark Chelgren in Senate district 41 as well.