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The Scarlet & Black

Republicans win Poweshiek; Democrats win Grinnell

The Midterm Election results in Poweshiek County illustrated political divides between city and country. On Tuesday, Grinnell voters overwhelmingly cast ballots in support of Democrats running for national positions as Poweshiek County remained a Republican stronghold.

According to unofficial results released by the Iowa Secretary of State, Poweshiek County voters selected Republicans over Democrats in three of the four competitive statewide elections, including the race between Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Democrat Fred Hubbell. The only exception occurred in the race for state auditor, where Rob Sand, a former Iowa Assistant Attorney General, defeated Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman.

In the race for the First Congressional District, Poweshiek County voters selected Republican Rod Blum over Abby Finkenauer, but Finkenauer succeeded in collecting more votes in other, more populous areas of the district to win the day. Finkenauer lost Poweshiek County by approximately 100 votes. Her campaign, which emphasized her youth and working-class background, drew national attention, and now Finkenauer and Cindy Axne of Iowa’s Third District are the firstwomen elected by Iowans to the U.S. House. Finkenauer will also join Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York’s 14th Congressional District as the first woman in her twenties to be elected to Congress.

Within Poweshiek County, Grinnell voters consistently supported Democratic candidates, and in the 6th precinct, where many Grinnell College students live, about 80 percent of voters cast their ballot for Democrats. Between all four Grinnell precincts, about two thirds of voters voted for Democrats over Republicans in competitive races, while in the six other Poweshiek County precincts, about two thirds of voters selected Republicans over Democrats.

While Iowa Republicans won three new seats in the state Senate, increasing their majority to 32-18, Democrats managed to pick up five seats in the state House, narrowing the GOP majority to 54-46. In the race for House District 76, however, Republican Dave Maxwell handily won a fourth term by emphasizing his experience in office and as a farmer in rural Iowa. Despite increased Democratic enthusiasm in Iowa and a new Democratic challenger, Ann Egley, Maxwell won under 59 percent of the vote, a margin of victory similar than in previous elections. Despite Egley’s loss, she wrote in a Tweet on Wednesday, “Lost my race, but not my spirit.”

Merle Doty, a Republican, and Jason Roudabush, a Democrat, won the four-way race for the Poweshiek County Board of Supervisors with 29 percent and 26 percent respectively. They will replace Larry Wilson, who chose not to seek reelection, and Trevor White, a Republican incumbent who fell to fourth place in the race with 21 percent of votes. Republican candidate Bart Klaver, who was appointed as County Attorney earlier this year, won a full term as County Attorney, defeating Democratic candidate Dave VanCompernolle.

According to the Secretary of State, more Iowa voters voted in this midterm election than any prior midterm. Almost 61 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in Iowa. In Poweshiek County that number was slightly lower at 57.13 percent, but turnout was still greater than the 2014 midterm elections, when 53.31 percent of registered voters cast a ballot statewide and 51.28 percent of Poweshiek County’s registered voters participated.

In one Iowa State House election and outside of Iowa, several Grinnellians ran for elected office this year — and their races aren’t quite finished. Kim Butler ’83 ran for a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly, losing her election to Gae Magnafici. But in Illinois, Laura Ellman ’87, who ran for the Illinois State Senate, was 12 votes behind Republican Michael Connelly as of November 8. And in Iowa House District 55, Kayla Koether ’12, who challenged first-term Republican Michael Bergan, was eight votes behind Bergan as of November 8. In both Ellman and Koether’s races the margins of victory were small enough to automatically trigger recounts, and the official results will be known in the coming days.

This map illustrates how Iowans voted in the gubernatorial election between Republican Kim Reynolds and Democrat Fred Hubbell. Overwhelmingly, rural areas came out to support Reynolds while urban areas voted for Hubbell. Despite the geographic disparity, Hubbell lost by only three percent.
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