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Davis Brown Government Relations Report

Post-Election Review - November 10, 2016

The outcome and the scope of this election caught pollsters, pundits, experts and the American public by surprise. Below is an election results overview, an in-depth election briefing, including all Iowa results, is also available.

Over the next month, the Davis Brown Government Relations team will analyze the election results with a focus on how the results may impact Iowa employers. The team will share their findings at a client luncheon in December, as well as provide an in-depth regulatory update. For additional details or to reserve your seat, click here.

Election Results Overview

Presidential Race

President-elect Trump won with 290 electoral votes (270 needed to win) to Secretary Clinton’s 228 electoral votes. However, Secretary Clinton beat President-elect Trump in the popular vote by over 200,000 votes.  This is only the fifth election in history that a president has won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote.

In Iowa, Trump beat Clinton by nearly 10 points, 3 points more than the final polling and a 16 point drop from Obama’s support in 2012. Support for Clinton fell most sharply in the rural areas but also slipped in the urban areas. This margin had major down ballot impacts for Iowa’s Congressional and statehouse races as is evident below.


Congressional and Statehouse

The national Democratic Party picked up seats in both the U.S. House and Senate but not enough to gain control of either chamber.

In Iowa, the Republicans similarly ran the table with President-elect Trump carrying the state, retaining the U.S. Senate seat (Grassley) and three of the four Congressional seats (Blum, King, and Young), increasing their majority in the Iowa House, and taking control of the Iowa Senate by a shocking margin. Congressman Loebsack, the lone Democratic incumbent on the ballot retained his seat as well.


U.S. Senate - Republican Hold

In the U.S. Senate, predictions varied from a Republican hold, to a tie, to a Democratic takeover with a slim margin. It remained a Republican hold. In Iowa, Senator Chuck Grassley defeated former Lt. Governor Patty Judge 60% to 35%.  Senator Grassley never trailed in the polls and continued to widen his margin as the campaign went on.  Again, the outcome was predictable but the scope, a 25% margin was not.


U.S. House of Representatives-Republican Hold

In the U.S. House of Representatives, it was predicted that House Republicans would lose seats, and they did lose 8 seats, leaving them in control with a margin of 238-193 with some races yet to be called.  It was a night for incumbents in Iowa with the GOP successfully defending their three Iowa seats including the First Congressional District which was regarded early on as the Democrats’ best chance for a pick-up in Iowa.  Each incumbent won re-election by comfortable margins.


Iowa Congressional District 1-Republican Hold

This race has been on the national target list for Democrats to take back (and the registration was strongly in their favor) but freshman Republican Congressman Blum won by nearly seven points.  This seat has long been regarded as a potential strong Democratic seat but with Blum’s re-election and the success of Republican candidates taking state senate seats in this district, that analysis may need to be re-examined.


Iowa Congressional District 2-Democrat Hold

Congressman Loebsack won with a comfortable, but closer than expected, margin of six points.  For the next Congress, like the last one, Loebsack will be Iowa’s only federally elected Democrat.


Iowa Congressional District 3-Republican Hold

Freshman Congressman David Young successfully defended his seat by defeating Jim Mowrer by 14 points.  Congressman Young received widespread support in both the rural and urban parts of this district and Mowrer was unable to secure the needed margin in Polk County. This seat was regarded as winnable by Democrats throughout the campaign.


Iowa Congressional District 4-Republican Hold

Congressman King won re-election to his 8th term in Congress by a margin of 23 points.  This is not an uncharacteristic margin for Congressman King who also won a contested Republican primary when he was challenged by state Senator Rick Bertrand.


Iowa Statehouse

Iowa House of Representatives-Republican Hold

The House Republicans managed to increase their majority by two seats and now control the chamber 59-41 as the Democrats failed to pick up a single seat.  The Republicans won every one of their open seats and 1 Democratic open seat.  They were also able to unseat one incumbent, Patti Ruff (HD 56) leading to their 2 seat pick-up.  The Republicans successfully fought off vigorous challenges in suburban Des Moines where the Democrats had pinned their hope for the most likely pick-ups. 


Iowa Senate-Republican Gain

Going into election night, the open question was whether the Democrats could hold onto the Senate.  Conventional wisdom had the Republicans picking up 2-3 seats and taking control of the chamber.  As it turned out, the Senate Democrats lost potentially a third of their total members with the Republicans picking up 6 seats, including Senate Majority Leader Gronstal’s. It leaves the Republicans in control of the chamber 29-18 with one independent senator David Johnson (SD 1), one special election scheduled for December to fill the vacancy left by the death of Senator Joe Seng, and one race (SD 42) too close to call.

The biggest surprise came with the defeat of Senator Tom Courtney who, going into this election, was considered safe.  This margin is significant not just for the 2017-2018 General Assembly, but given which seats are up for re-election in 2018, it will be very difficult for the Democrats to regain control in the next election cycle.