It’s been 10 days since the election, and with the cloud still hanging over the race for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a timeout needs to be taken to focus on what happened here in Iowa.
Republicans did very, very well. Democrats entered the campaign season with their sights set on regaining control of the Iowa House. Republicans held a slim 53-47 majority and control of the chamber seemed like it might just tilt toward the Democrats.
But that was based on polls. And polls don’t vote.
Not only did Republicans maintain control of the Iowa House, they expanded their majority to 59 seats. They won a couple of seats back in the Des Moines suburbs and picked up a few others across the state.
The Iowa Senate stayed in the firm grasp of the GOP, which really was never in doubt. But Senators Brad Zaun and Dan Dawson were two of the Democrats’ biggest targets and both survived. Dawson won his race by more than 1,000 votes while Zaun just about won by the same margin, instead settling on a 21,943-20,968 advantage.
Democrats did win the seat vacated by Senate President Charles Schneider. After Schneider decided not to seek re-election, Scott Cirksena gave it a try. He came up just short in a race that was decided by 167 votes. Based on what I had heard, this race finished much closer than many expected.
By my count, Republicans went 16-3 in Iowa Senate races that were contested. That includes a win against Sen. Rich Taylor, who fell to Republican challenger Jeff Reichmann. Incumbent Senators Pam Jochum and Eric Giddens were the other two winners for the Democrats.
In the Iowa House, Democrats incumbents Scott Ourth, Heather Matson, Jeff Kurtz, Andy McKean and Karin Derry lost.
We’ll look more into individual races and catch up with the winners, but for now, I want to stick with the 10,000-foot view.
Obviously, Sen. Joni Ernst emerged with a comfortable victory against Theresa Greenfield. And Republicans have appeared to win three of the four congressional districts.
Finally, President Donald J. Trump earned the win against Joe Biden. Trump finished with 53.1 percent of the vote while Biden had 44.9 percent. The President won 93 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Democrats had a big money advantage in the 2020 campaign. There is no doubt about it. They also had the advantage of the absentee voting push.
But Democrats could not overcome two key things — even with all the money and schemes to capitalize on the absentee voting.
They could not overcome Republicans’ commitment to getting out and talking with voters at their front door. Door knocking is the most effective way to campaign. It makes a huge difference. Republicans went out and worked in the midst of the COVID pandemic while Democrats hunkered down and tried to campaign virtually.
The other factor that tilted things in the GOP’s favor? President Donald J. Trump.
The guy has been on the ballot in 2016 and now in 2020. After both elections Republicans had a 59-seat majority in the Iowa House. One thing is clear, Iowans love President Donald J. Trump.
With straight-party voting not being an option in 2020 (it was in 2016), I wondered how many of those “non-traditional” Trump voters would make sure to go up and down the ballot.
The answer was more than enough.
There is zero doubt that President Trump had coattails in Iowa — all across the state. Yes, candidates put in a ton of hard work and spent plenty of time campaigning, but the Trump impact was felt throughout the state in these legislative races.
Two years ago, Gov. Kim Reynolds won re-election by 36,289 votes. The Democrats put a significant dent in the GOP’s advantage in the Iowa House. Republican Congressional candidates struggled.
Things did not appear to be headed in the right direction.
But two years later President Donald J. Trump saved the day for Iowa Republicans and bought them at least two more years of the trifecta.
Elected Republicans in Iowa owe President Trump an awful lot of gratitude.