Democrats lose in midterms, Republicans celebrate success


Catherine Dunbar, member of the College Democrats, reacts to the projection of the Iowa state senate election results. Republican Joni Ernst defeated Democrat Bruce Braley and helped the Republicans secure the Senate during the Nov. 4 election.

Alex Hanson

Iowa Democrats lost their battles for U.S. Senate and House seats in Districts one, three and four and the race for Iowa Governor.

The highly celebrated victories for Republicans also made Joni Ernst the first woman to be elected to Congress in Iowa’s history following her win late on the evening of Nov. 4.

Ernst, the Republican who is currently a state Senator from Red Oak, defeated Congressman Bruce Braley, the Democrat in the race. FOX News was the first national outlet to project Ernst as the winner at 10:22 p.m. and the Associated Press followed just before 10:30 p.m. Both outlets also called the balance of power for the U.S. Senate, projecting a Republican Majority for the next two years.

Statewide, Gov. Terry Branstad easily defeated state Sen. Jack Hatch to win his sixth term as governor. Congressman Steve King was able to fend off Democrat Jim Mowrer. Outside of Ames, David Young defeated Staci Appel in Iowa’s open third congressional district. Rod Blum also won an open seat in Iowa’s first district, defeating Democrat Pat Murphy.

Jonathon Laudner, president of the ISU College Republicans, was excited following the call for Ernst.

“It’s big, it’s kind of gratifying,” Laudner said, following Ernst’s win. “It was tough two years ago with Romney losing, this is one of those things with Iowa being such a purple state but seeing it go so red this year, it really shows that Iowa, and America in general, is sick of status-quo. Six years of the status-quo has been Democratic control and we’re ready for some change.”

Zoe Kustritz, president of the ISU Democrats, was disappointed with Braley’s loss.

“Most likely I will cry,” Kurstriz said. “I was an intern for him for fall semester last year. I’ve been doing this for a while. I’ve made phone calls from my room since last fall.”

The race was one of the most contested in this year’s election cycle. Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, has been representing Iowa in the seat since 1985 and has decided to retire when his term expires this January.

Braley was considered a favorite early on to win the race while five Republicans jumped into a primary to challenge him. Ernst was an underdog in the primary race, but several television ads boosted her popularity. In the June 3rd race, she received 58 percent of the vote and the Republican nomination.

Kelly Winfrey, lecturer in leadership and education for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center, said that electing the first woman, regardless of party, is a good step for a future with more women in politics.

“We were one of the few states in the county [to not elect a woman], so tonight was a success,” Winfrey said.

Winfrey said with Ernst now elected as a female to Congress, more women are likely to stand up and come forward to run for office in the future.

As for the U.S. Senate as a whole, Winfrey talked about the possibility of more gridlock or a Republican majority in both houses of Congress that negotiates with President Obama.

“It’ll probably be one or the other,” Winfrey said. “It’s an opportunity for Republicans to show that they can legislate, that they can actually get things done. When they have control over both houses, they either have to get things done, or it might hurt them [in 2016].”

At her victory speech in Des Moines, Ernst repeated her famous line to the roaring crowd one final time during her closing thanks.

“We did it!” Ernst said. “Thanks to you we are headed to Washington D.C. and we are going to make them squeal!”