Less than 300 votes separate Democrat Rita Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the 2nd Congressional District, ensuring a longer wait to find out the partisan makeup of Iowa’s federal delegation.
As of 12:50 a.m. Wednesday, Miller-Meeks leads Hart 196,769 votes to 196,487, with 100% of precincts reporting, according to unofficial election results.
“Ballots are outstanding and over the coming days we will ensure that Iowans’ voices are heard and that remaining votes are counted,” Hart’s campaign manager Zach Meunier said in a statement. “Iowa election law is incredibly clear that absentee ballots postmarked by the day before the election and received by a county auditor by November 9, 2020 must be counted.”
Currently we know Randy Feenstra defeated J.D. Scholten in the 4th District, Congresswoman Cindy Axne was reelected in the 3rd, and Sen. Joni Ernst secured a second term. The 1st District hasn’t been called by The Associated Press, but Republican Ashley Hinson leads Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer by 2.6 percentage points.
The 2nd District, encompassing 24 counties in southeast and eastern Iowa, is represented by outgoing Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack. Loebsack wrested the seat from 30-year incumbent Republican Rep. Jim Leach in 2006 and has held it ever since.
The margins appear to be smallest in Jefferson County, home to Fairfield, where Hart leads by 142 votes. In Burlington’s Des Moines County, Miller-Meeks leads by 376. Hart has a sizable lead in the more populous counties of Johnson, Scott and Clinton.
Election forecasters considered this a vulnerable seat for Democrats given its partisan mix and its swing from Barack Obama to Donald Trump in 2016. Outside money was heavily invested here, with Democrats’ independent expenditures totaling $6.6 million and Republicans’ $7.5 million, according to Daily Kos.
Late-arriving absentee ballots can still be counted, so the final result of this race may not be known until next week.
Iowa’s election results are unofficial until ballot canvasses are conducted. County officials must hold canvasses in all 99 counties by Nov. 10. The statewide canvass will be completed by Nov. 30 and then the Iowa Executive Council certifies the results. Absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by noon Nov. 9 will be counted.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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