Living in Society

Reaction to 2020 Voting

Another victim of the coronavirus pandemic was Democratic hopes to make inroads into the Iowa Republican majority. Republicans held their own in the Iowa Senate and added to their majority in the Iowa House in yesterday’s election. Handicapped by a self-imposed ban against door knocking and in person events, the Iowa Democratic Party fielded a slate of good candidates and supported them by telephonic, digital and mail outreach because of the pandemic. It wasn’t enough to win.

Republicans felt few constraints in voter contact, with Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kaufmann saying they completed 3 million voter contacts in a state that turned out 1,688,088 voters, according to unofficial results. Late on Nov. 3 House Speaker Pat Grassley told Radio Iowa this story,

“We recruited good candidates. We raised good money and honestly, we worked,” Grassley said. “We had a great ground game that the Democrats did not have and I think they’re going to wake up tomorrow morning and look at themselves and say: ‘That can never happen again.’”

Radio Iowa Nov. 4, 2020

When Secretary of State Paul Pate decided to mail absentee ballot requests to all Iowa voters, it sealed the deal for Republicans with record voter turnout that favored their candidates.

Vote counting has not ended in Iowa. Mailed ballots postmarked Nov. 2 and received by election officials through noon on Monday, Nov. 9, will be counted. That will be important as in Iowa’s Second Congressional District Republican Mariannette Miller Meeks leads Democrat Rita Hart by 284 votes. Enough absentee ballots could arrive to change preliminary results, so this race is not final until Nov. 10.

President Trump had a decisive Iowa victory winning 890,444 (53 percent) votes to Joe Biden’s 754,609 (45 percent). His margin of victory is basically unchanged from 2016. He was expected to win Iowa.

Despite the fact that Theresa Greenfield was the best U.S. Senate candidate Iowa Democrats fielded since Tom Harkin, she lost with 750,400 votes to incumbent Joni Ernst’s 858,040. This was a decisive win for Ernst.

In our local state house race, Republican Bobby Kaufmann defeated Democrat Lonny Pulkrabek 11,062 to 7,299 votes. Pulkrabek’s 40 percent margin represents a decrease from 2012 and 2018 races against Kaufmann when Democratic candidates garnered 44 percent. Pulkrabek’s vote total was highest among Democrats in the five elections since 2011 redistricting.

Increased turnout due to universal absentee ballot requests provided the most help for Kaufmann since he ran unopposed in 2016.

This house district may enter the dustbin of history as the decennial U.S. Census is complete and the legislature re-draws district maps in 2021. If I were a Republican, though, why would I change it as it consistently produced Republican wins since it was formed.

I spent 12 hours at our polling place on election day volunteering as a poll observer for the Democratic Party. There were no problems and poll workers worked hard and well to accommodate every voter.

Turnout at the polls was 555 voters of whom 411 voted for Donald Trump and 128 voted for Joe Biden, a 3.21:1 ratio of Republicans to Democrats. When added to the preliminary early votes, Donald Trump won the precinct 671 to Joe Biden’s 635.

I was working to flip the precinct to Democratic this cycle yet fell short. I better understand why after watching everyone vote yesterday. Younger people born in the 1970s through 1990s are turning out for Republicans more than I expected. The reason I know this demographic is my poll observing seat was within earshot of people stating their name and birth date for the poll worker.

There is not enough information to understand the results of the election. Suffice it that at 4 a.m. the day following voting we don’t have a winner in the presidential race and enough U.S. Senate races haven’t been called to know which party will control the upper legislative chamber. There is no precedent for what’s going on in the White House this morning where Trump falsely claimed victory and asked for vote counting to stop. Nonetheless it felt important to get these reactions to the election down in writing before being engulfed in the pressing events of the days ahead.