Joni Ernst wins reelection, remains as Iowa representative in U.S. Senate

Joni Ernst was reelected to be an Iowa representative in the U.S. Senate, surpassing Theresa Greenfield.

Mallory Tope

Joni Ernst will represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate for another six years.

Ernst won reelection against Democratic opponent Theresa Greenfield. Ernst won by 6.6 percent, according to The Associated Press.

This race became the most expensive U.S. Senate race in Iowa’s history as Democrats saw this race as an opportunity to flip the control of the U.S. Senate, spending over $234 million.

In 2014, Ernst won by 8.5 percent against Democrat Bruce Braley. Ernst became the first elected woman to ever be seated in the U.S. Senate from Iowa. Ernst also became the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Ernst served on five Senate committees over the last six years: Armed Services; Agriculture; Nutrition and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; Judiciary and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Just days before the election, Des Moines Register polls showed Ernst leading Greenfield 46 percent to 42 percent.

Other polls such as RealClearPolitics had Ernst up by 2 points, while FiveThirtyEight called the race a toss-up with Greenfield slightly ahead.

“This race has been more competitive than many people thought it would be,” said Zack Bonner, political science lecturer.

Although results were not as competitive as expected, the buildup to Election Day showcased the competitiveness of this race.

Iowans were flooded with television ads, phone calls and texts, asking voters to support a particular candidate.

The amount of money poured into this race shows the competitiveness of the race, Bonner said.

“It takes money to make all those things happen so … the more competitive the race is the more money is going to be poured into it,” said Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Ernst and Greenfield combined have raised over $70 million. Outside groups have contributed to the remaining $164 million.

Iowa is one of the 13 races that could change the majority party in the Senate. Currently the Republican Party holds the majority with a vote of 53-47.

“Both parties kind of realized that this was one of the more potentially easy seats to flip, so I think both parties have really focused on this race because of that,” Bonner said.

Other states that could flip the Senate are Colorado, North Carolina, Maine, Georgia and Alaska.

With Ernst keeping her seat it does not mean Republicans can definitely maintain control of the Senate, but it makes it more likely, Winfrey said.

Democrats need to gain four seats to take majority or if former Vice President Joe Biden wins, his Vice President Kamala Harris could act as the tie-breaking vote if they won three seats.

Although Greenfield raised over $20 million more than Ernst, it did not secure Greenfield a win.

Ernst raised $23.5 million and spent $21 million. Ernst received her funds through small individual and large individual contributions, along with receiving almost $3 million from political action committee (PAC) contributions.

Despite receiving numerous ads opposing or bashing her from outside political organizations, Ernst won reelection.

“Ernst had received countless attack ads about her record and losing touch with Iowa or voting with Trump too often,” Winfrey said.

Over $94 million was spent on advertisements against Ernst and her campaign by outside groups such as the Lincoln Project and the Senate Majority PAC.

Greenfield tweeted to her supporters after her loss to Ernst, “Folks, it’s been a long night and unfortunately we came up short. I couldn’t be more proud of the work we all put in. This race was never about me — it’s about creating a future that works for all Iowans. And that fight doesn’t stop tonight. Thank you.”