It was a strong Election Day 2022 for Iowa Republicans. Here are 5 major takeaways

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Iowa Republicans secured victories up and down the ticket in Tuesday’s midterm election ― from a double-digit victory in the governor’s race to winning a congressional seat by less than a percentage point.

Republicans won all four of the state’s congressional races and returned Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley to office. They also unseated longtime incumbent attorney general Tom Miller and treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, both Democrats, and expanded their majorities in the state legislature.

Democrats had few victories but saw some silver linings, including the defeat of Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, in the cycle’s top-targeted state legislative race. And it remained unclear Wednesday afternoon whether state Auditor Rob Sand would win his race, holding off complete Republican control in statewide offices.

As the election results continue to come into focus from across the state, here are five major takeaways from this year’s races.

More:Three Iowa counties to conduct recounts Thursday as state aims to finish counting votes

Iowa posted the second-largest midterm election turnout

More than 1.2 million Iowans voted in Tuesday’s midterm elections, the second-most ever in a midterm election, according to Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

As of Wednesday, a handful of precincts had not reported their full vote totals, so the exact number of voters will remain unofficial until the election certification deadline Dec. 5. But this year’s tally won’t top the state’s record for midterms, set in 2018, when 1,329,930 Iowans cast their ballots.

Neither year came particularly close to the state’s overall turnout record — years when there is a presidential election tend to attract far more voters, such as in 2020, when 1.7 million Iowans voted.

One clear area where 2022 lagged behind 2018 was absentee voting. More than 40% of the votes cast in the midterms four years ago were early or absentee.

It’s unclear how many votes, specifically, were cast early or absentee in this year’s election, but based on detailed vote counts for individual races from the Secretary of State’s office, it appears about one-third of the total votes fall into those categories.

More:Des Moines metro legislative election results: Konfrst, Whitver, Andrews reelected

Since the previous midterms, Iowa Republicans have used their legislative control to tighten laws around absentee voting. Absentee ballots must now be returned before the polls close, as opposed to having a postmark before Election Day.

Early voting was cut from 29 days to 20. And the Secretary of State’s Office did not mail absentee ballot request forms to all Iowans as it did in 2020, since the Legislature passed a bill prohibiting that action.

Gov. Kim Reynolds won a second term, and Libertarians are poised to win major party status

Gov. Kim Reynolds coasted to victory Tuesday, securing a second full term as Iowa’s governor. She will return to office alongside wider Republican majorities in the Iowa House and Senate, giving Iowa Republicans more power to execute their agenda.

During her victory speech, Reynolds previewed what she said will be a “bold, conservative agenda” in the coming years that will include building on the tax cuts and parental choice school policies she has pushed as governor.

The Associated Press called her race soon after polls closed at 8 p.m. As of Wednesday afternoon, unofficial election results showed her with a nearly 19 percentage point lead over Democrat Deidre DeJear.

DeJear had struggled with fundraising and name recognition throughout the race. She encouraged her supporters not to give up Tuesday night, saying her campaign’s emphasis on more public school funding, reproductive rights and other issues were “reasonable fights.”

Meanwhile, Libertarian Rick Stewart appeared poised to exceed the 2% vote threshold, meaning the Libertarian Party of Iowa will qualify once again for major-party status, giving them the ability to hold state-run primary elections and for the party to appear as an option on voter registration forms.

More:Republicans appear poised to expand majorities in Iowa Legislature after election red wave

Two longtime Democrats were wiped out in a red wave

Tom Miller and Mike Fitzgerald have served as Iowa’s attorney general and state treasurer, respectively, for 40 years each.

But voters rejected the two longtime Democratic statewide officeholders Tuesday night, instead electing Republican Brenna Bird as attorney general and Republican Roby Smith as state treasurer. The Associated Press called both races on Wednesday.

Democrats’ lone hope for holding onto a statewide office rests with State Auditor Rob Sand, who narrowly led Republican Todd Halbur as of 3 p.m. Wednesday. The AP has not called the race.

More:Republican Brenna Bird defeats Democrat Tom Miller in Iowa attorney general race

The Iowa secretary of state’s office has ordered administrative recounts in Warren and Des Moines counties, which could affect the final vote totals.

Suburbs delivered key Democratic victories, but Republicans saw more success

Republicans are poised to expand their majorities in both legislative chambers following Tuesday’s election. Wider margins will give them more power as they look to continue passing tax cuts and other conservative priorities over the next two legislative sessions.

Bright spots were few and far between for Democrats, but they did appear to net some victories in the Des Moines metro suburbs. Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-West Des Moines, defeated Republican Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, in Democrats’ top-targeted race of the year. It was the most expensive legislative race, bringing more than $1.5 million in spending.

Democrats Heather Matson and Molly Buck also led in a pair of Ankeny-area House races. The Associated Press had yet to call those races Wednesday afternoon, but wins for Democrats would regain territory after they lost ground to Republicans there in 2020.

More:Kimberly Graham elected Polk County attorney, turning page after 30 years of John Sarcone's leadership

However, Republicans saw significant success in many other suburban races around the state.

Republican Rocky De Witt unseated incumbent Democrat Jackie Smith in Sioux City, and Republican Dawn Driscoll unseated Democrat Kevin Kinney in a battle of two incumbents running for a seat that includes Washington, Iowa and part of Johnson counties. And Republican Mike Bousselot led in an Ankeny Senate seat, although the race had yet to be called as of midday Wednesday.

As of mid-October, Republicans had outraised and outspent Democrats in nine of the 10 most expensive legislative races.

Republicans win a clean sweep of Iowa’s congressional seats

Beginning next year, Republicans will hold all four of Iowa’s seats in the U.S. House and both of its seats in the Senate.

Iowa Sen. Zach Nunn defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne in a close race for Iowa’s 3rd District. Republican incumbents held onto their seats in the 1st, 2nd and 4th districts.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican, also defended his seat against Democrat Mike Franken.

Republican victories in Iowa are just one piece of the national puzzle. Nunn’s flipped seat brought Republicans one step closer to a majority, but it remained unclear Wednesday afternoon which party would gain control of the U.S. House and Senate.

Ian Richardson covers the Iowa Statehouse for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at, at 515-284-8254, or on Twitter at @DMRIanR.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

Katie Akin is a politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at or at 410-340-3440. Follow her on Twitter at @katie_akin.

Tim Webber is a data visualization specialist for the Register. Reach him at, 515-284-8532, and on Twitter at @HelloTimWebber.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: 5 takeaways from Iowa Republicans' strong election night results