Republicans will continue to run all of Iowa government following tonight’s elections after a blue wave failed to reach Iowa and Kim Reynolds held off Fred Hubbell’s challenge. Reynolds currently leads by about two percentage points, but several news outlets have called the race for the governor.
While numbers are still coming in, the key to her victory may be winning several Eastern Iowa counties that shifted hard to the right for Donald Trump in 2016 and did not bounce back for Democrats tonight. Reynolds carried Muscatine and Jackson counties, and she’s nearly tied in Clinton County.
Hubbell racked up a much larger margin than usual in Polk County, thanks in large part to swings in the suburbs, and he lost Dallas County by just three points, a huge improvement from past Democrats. But it was not enough to offset the rural and blue-collar areas that simply did not return to their Democratic roots yet.
Democrats should make some decent gains in the Iowa House, currently picking up a net of six seats. They swept the Des Moines suburbs, capturing five seats there, won the Molly Donahue race in Marion and ousted Walt Rogers in Cedar Falls. The Decorah-based race with Kayla Koether is in recount territory with her down only eight votes. Republicans picked up the Fort Dodge seat, and the Fairfield district is still close.
It was not a good night for Senate Democrats. They defeated Rick Bertrand in Sioux City, but lost in many others. Republicans beat Tod Bowman and won Rita Hart’s seat, as well as the Newton-based district. Democrats came up short against Jack Whitver, Julian Garrett and the Marianette Miller-Meeks race in Ottumwa.
There were positive spots for Democrats beyond the House races. Rob Sand won the State Auditor position, and both Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer defeated Republican incumbent members of Congress, making history in doing so.
Turnout was much higher over 2014 numbers across Iowa today, but it appears that may have been Donald Trump’s base that he activated in 2016 coming back out to support Republicans up and down the ticket. Democrats saw slightly better performances in counties that swung hard to Trump in 2016, but they didn’t bounce back enough to make a difference.
Starting Line will have more coverage on all the races tomorrow.
by Pat Rynard